I gently traced each sunken crevice. Whole valleys and mountain ranges of your skin beneath my gnarled fingers.
Your paper thin eyelids carefully blinked. Open. Close. Open. Close.
Your breath became raspy at the undulations of your chest. Up. Down. Up. Down.
You grasped my calloused hands in yours, wincing from the pain of moving your swollen joints; those great big balloons of knuckles seemingly aching to burst out of your skin.
It wouldn’t be difficult.
Raised veins on the back of your hand formed a river delta flowing to nowhere. The only escape now was that abyss of darkness. The vacuum of souls.
You croaked those three (stupid, ridiculous) words you’d been saying since we first kissed in the girls’ loo after school that night.
“Stay golden, sunshine.”
I wanted to slap you playfully like we did in our younger days. But I couldn’t bring myself to. You were on the brink of that abyss. My slightest transgression could’ve sent you tumbling over.
I wanted to kiss you more though. For one final time, feel our lips interlock and the world cease to exist as if we we’re the only thing that mattered- the only thing with matter.
The undulations of your chest slowed then.
I’d known it was coming. It didn’t make it easier.
I grabbed each withered limb and hauled them onto the bed. Our bed. Your ashtray sat on the bedside cabinet, your final cigarette butt still glowing faintly in the fading golden light. Your next packet of cigarettes lay unopened on the floor; knocked off the table by some half-delirious fidgeting session. I peeled off the wrapper, took a cigarette out, and then searched your pockets for your lighter. It was in your corduroys. I lit it and took a long drag.
“This one’s for you, my dear,” I whispered.
I traced again the sunken crevices of your forehead. The valleys seemed deeper somehow.
I closed your eyelids, careful not to tear them like paper.
Then, turning off the light, I must’ve yawned and settled in for yet another night.