Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eternally Young

She wore a bright red, sleeveless evening gown. The lipstick matched the colour of her dress. She dyed her hair black, a stark contrast to her bright dress. She carried a black clutch and paired her dress with black heels. Her eyes glittered black and were kohl-lined heavily, to hide the crow feet and the slightly baggy look underneath.

Her face was heavily made up - a pathetic attempt to hide her 54 years on earth. She had been moisturising her hands and feet for several years now, and yet it looked as if in a few years, the gnarled look would slowly take over. The red finger and toenails somewhat distracted from the weathered look, but not for long.

She eyed herself critically and what she saw passed muster. She would never regain the first flush of youth, surely, but nor was she out of the race. Yet.

She checked the time. As the clock struck 6, the doorbell to her suite rang. He was punctual, as she had expected. She smiled at her reflection and adjusted her lips to get it right. She tried different expressions and finally settled for what she thought was a smouldering look.

The bell rang again. She walked quickly to the door, paused, took a deep breath in, put on the smile and opened the door.

He stood there in bottle green full sleeve shirt with dark blue jeans. She realised with a pang that he didn't look a day older than the first time she had met him almost 10 years ago, when he was just 32 or so. He moved back, seeing her dressed as if playing a part. The dismay was evident on his face though he smiled by way of greeting.

She put an arm on his shoulder and reached up to touch his cheek. Reluctantly, he leaned closer.

"I have ordered dinner in the room," she said in a husky voice.

They sat across the table and she served him wine. "So... How have you been?"

He shrugged and picked up the glass. "All well?" he asked, as if saying too much would get him in trouble.

"How is your girl?"

He took a deep breath, sipped the wine and started to say something evasive when she smiled with an eyebrow raised. "I remember the day we met so clearly."

"Do we need to go there? I have got the papers for you to sign."

She leaned back . "Oh, what's the hurry. Is my presence so abhorrent now? I can remember the day you pleaded with me to marry you. Remember, that day?" He was silent, so typical. "I even pointed out the age difference, but you didn't seem to care."

"You were right then. Happy?"

She laughed, a pleasant, throaty one. "Sometimes one likes to be wrong. But looks like you were! You thought you would love me always, no matter how old I became. But you couldn't, could you?"

"Look, this is getting us nowhere... I was wrong, you were right... So..."

"You do know you will not be young always, don't you?" she asked sharply, moving forward.

He inhaled sharply.

"What a pity," she studied his face without blinking. Nervously, he gulped the drink. He felt his throat burn. He coughed. "What a pity... But no... I love you too much."

"Look," he began but choked. He coughed some more and she affectionately patted the top of his head. "I love the way you are. I would hate to see you grow old..."

He got up, clutching his throat. She leaned back, an arm casually flung across the back of her chair. "People discard you when you grow old. It hurts, hurts deeply. Especially when it is someone you love." She looked at him as he went on his knees, coughing still, eyes popping. "I won't let you grow old and wizened and weak and abandoned. I want to remember you the way you were when we first met," she said, her eyes glowing dreamily, away from his prone form, struggling for breath, the veins in the neck  standing out from the struggle. Suddenly, she got up and sat next to him. "No, you cannot grow old and be forgotten, like me." She took his hand and said softly, "I love you too much to let you hurt yourself."

He fell back limply, his body still as the final breath racked his body. "No," she murmured, stroking his hand gently. "You will remain forever young."

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