Amor Ardet Aeternam
By Taylor Huff
Light a match, and light the world. The use of a match is a simple concept in this day and age. When a match is stricken with friction, its potential is high, and its future, bright. Flame licks the edges, setting ablaze the stick of balsa wood. A scent of faint smoke wafts through the air, a scent common in cold areas. Wisps of the smoke follow the flow of air, throwing the scent around; to the cracks in a worn and beaten door. A faint heat spreads from the area of the match, warming the hands of an elderly man, as he stares around the room, and then into the night...
"Won't be long now. I'll join you soon Maureen." He says, with no one but the wind to hear him.
With steady hands, and a well practiced gesture, he lights a single candle, and says a small blessing to whoever will take him to his dearly departed. The wind howls, but the elder doesn't even shiver. Many a year he has stayed in this cabin, this house made of fine wood, the kind that will stand for many, many decades.
The wizened old man looks out his window, and from his vantage point, all is as it should be. He never had the chance to have a son, to teach him the ways of this world, but he isn't complaining.
'Youths are so loud and boisterous these days..'
He was never like that. Nope, not at all. A small smirk graces his face. Ah, the trouble he used to get into... But those days are long gone now, and his old crowd, deceased. It seems he's the last one left, the one that outlived the rest. Even still he isn't phased. He has a few good friends from the younger generation, friends that will miss him dearly... If his wife was still here, she would swat him for thinking such things.
'And she always knew too..' He mused.
Sometimes her ability to see into people was uncanny. She could read your mind like a book, however much you tried to think otherwise. The match is shaken out, and the small flame it produced dies. It served it's purpose, even outlived it.
'Just like me.'
Then, there is a knock at the old door.
"Still alive, old timer?"
The old man nearly scowls, and simultaneously smiles. Blasted doctor always checks on him, and makes him take his heart medication...
"Yeah, yeah. Come in."
Perhaps some company wouldn't be so bad. She seems to sense the somber mood, for after a moment she asks: "How are you holding up?"
"Fine, just fine." He says, they both know he's lying.
The elder gestures to the chair at his right, and the doctor sits.
"There was a time when I thought I was invincible, that I would never get old, never perish. Heh, seems like just yesterday.." He trails off, remembering quite a few things at once.
"But those days have passed. I've grown old, and it's been proven that I'm not invincible, many times over."
The doctor just nodded, listening, but not having much to contribute. "And now, it looks like I'll be joining her soon, I'm not long for this world..."
"Do you have any regrets?" The doctor asked gently, she wasn't about to argue with him. His heart couldn't take it. He chuckled a bit.
"A few." He allowed.
"But, you don't get to be as old as I am without at least that much." He stated, eyes staring into the distance. The wind picked up again, it was quite a chilling night. The doctor could tell that the old man was privy to something she wasn't aware of. Sometimes the elderly just knew things. It must be an insight born of age, or something... Perhaps wisdom, or perhaps something more.
The candle flickers, and the elder moves his eyes to gaze back at it. Flame, like love, can be found in the most unlikely of places. Here he sits, in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, contemplating his life. How he missed his wife, fiery one that she was. Spirited too.
'But it doesn't matter now, soon I'll be up there, getting hit by my wife for missing her.. And I won't even care.' He cracks a wry smile at that.
All the while, the doctor watches his facial expression soften, and his grip on the chair becomes a little less tense. She sits there, not daring to move a muscle, for fear of ruining his ruminations. For the longest moment, they both just sit, thinking in companionable silence...
And just a moment later, one of them fades away, lost to the annals of memory, and lost to this world. The doctor slowly gets up, and looks at the candle he was staring at. It may have gone out, but his love never died. It burns on, it burns... Eternal.