Stale wind flutters past dusty curtains that droop sadly by an open window: summer was here and accompanied with it was heat no one asked for. Gregory lay in bed, a hammer pounding internally among his bruised heart, a cold sweat glistening atop his forehead, and a repressed smile he tries to fight merging between the wrinkles on his face. This night wasn’t like most other nights, tonight was a special occasion.
A visitor appears through the open doorway in the dark, all the lights had been shut off but in the moonlight he could still see the beauty among her. His bed sinks in slightly as she lays next to him facing the window. She doesn’t say anything while pulling the weathered quilt back and over herself (indicating this was routine), and presses up against him.
“I’ve missed you,” Gregory mumbles. His arm slides over her stomach and locks with her hand.
“I’ve missed you as well, my love.”
“Why do you do it, Nancy? Why do you leave me?”
The moon’s glow exposes a worried expression on his face. “Because, we’re not together,” she says. “You divorced me, remember? I only come back because of my promise. I will admit though, I still can’t get used to sleeping alone. It’s nice to visit you and do this, I feel secure with you next to me.”
He puts his bearded chin against her shoulder and pulls her closer. Surely he missed it, he’d be a fool not to take advantage of a temporary void to fill his impending loneliness. But when she left again he knew a piece of his heart would be taken with her, as she always did.
She looks out the window and winces. “It’s so hot, why must it be so uncomfortable of all nights?”
“I’m sorry,” he replies before pulling the tattered blanket off of her legs. She arches her foot and slides it in-between his legs.
“Sorry for what?” she asks.
“Everything, I should never have divorced you.”
Still facing the window she asks, “Where is this coming from?”
“It’s been on my mind, I wanted to tell you last time but couldn’t force the words out. It seems we never have enough time to get everything out.”
He runs his fingers through her thinning hair as she responds, “Can’t change the past, Greg. All we can do is accept it as it is, I made a promise to never leave your side on your birthday, no matter how much we argued, or if we ever separated. I can’t say I don’t miss it other days, but for the most part this is for you.” She rubs her fingers on his rough palms.
“How long will this go on? For how long?” he asks with uncertainty.
She rolls over exposing her skeletal outline, decomposed flesh stuck to parts of her once beautiful face. Graveyard soil crumbled in-between his fingers as he continued to massage her balding head. She frowns with maggots twisting under what remained of her bottom lip: her one remaining eye managed to show sadness behind her glare.
“When you get over me. Until then, your love, your heartache, your deepened sadness will keep the promise I made alive.”
He pulls her deteriorating corpse closer, while she whispers, “Happy Birthday, Gregory.”