Harper and Graham lay quiet, intertwined in the afterglow of a particularly good lovemaking session. It had not always been like that. As in their whole marriage, they had worked at communication in language and love. It had not come easy, but the fruit of patience, honesty, and some healthy head butting had produced a passion they had not even experienced with youth and vitality. Harper was drifting off to sleep when Graham whispered softly in her ear, “If I died would you remarry?”
Harper was instantly awake. “What did you say?”
“You heard me. I’m just curious if you would.” Graham played with her hair and a white curl flopped down across her eyes.
“Are you kidding me? Well . . . if you’re serious, I would have to say no. Definitely not! When I think of how much time and work has gone into getting us to the place we are today, I just can’t imagine having the will to start over—especially with some eighty-year-old Sir Galahad. She smiled and touched his nose. You realize this is a weird time to discuss it. But how about you?”
“Oh, absolutely! As soon as that coffin hits the ground, baby, I’ll be on the make for the next available hottie!” He thought he was very clever and laughed out loud. Harper punched him in the stomach. Hard. It was a little harder than she had intended, but he proceeded to tickle her till laughing and squirming she begged him to stop.
They lay back again, breathing hard. “No seriously, Harp, I don’t think I would either. I can’t imagine finding anyone else who would put up with all my quirks. We have something good now, don’t we? Special?”
“Yes, we do. We really do.” And she kissed him lightly on the mouth. “But just so we’re clear, I’m planning to kick off first so I don’t have to live alone without you. But probably not till I’m like, ninety-five. Oh, and I don’t ever want to do the taxes by myself, just so you know.”
“But what if I went first? I think I’d want you to be happy, whatever that meant. I think I would want you to let me go.” Harper still lay wrapped in his arms, and she could see them, but for some reason, she couldn’t feel them the same anymore. His face became lighter, almost translucent, and his voice was rippling in waves. “I’d want you to let me go . . . let me go . . .”
She reached for him as dark blue light filled the room, but her hands only met thin air.
“Where are you? Don’t go, Graham . . . Graham!”
“Let me go . . . let me go . . . let me . . .”
Her flailing desperation faded into stillness; and in that moment, she knew it had all been a dream. But why couldn’t she wake up. Graham was gone. Of course, he was gone and had been gone for such a long time now. The reality of it settled hard upon her as she woke from her muddled state. She was still living alone. All alone. But yet . . . as her fingers had thrashed about, she thought she felt something in the dark. Her eyes wouldn’t open. Was she awake or asleep? She tried and tried; they wouldn’t move. But the fingers on her left hand moved and seemed to be holding on to something . . . someone.
“Harper, are you awake? Let me know if you’re there.” The voice vibrated in her head. “Harper, please let me know you’re there. Can you squeeze my hand a little? Open your eyes.”
She tried hard to lift her eyelids, but they wouldn’t budge. Her thoughts were sharp and clear; but when she tried to speak, her mouth wouldn’t form words. “I’m here; I’m here!” she yelled in her head. “Don’t leave me! What’s happening to me?”
Harper felt a warm, moist touch to her forehead. And another soft voice echoed her own thoughts: “Don’t leave me. Please, don’t leave me . . . Harper, come back.”
All of a sudden, there was a jumble of voices and bright lights on the other side of her eyelids. She felt touched and tugged, and still she could not open her eyes—as hard as she tried. Time was indeterminant as sounds and feelings swirled, as did the vision behind her eyelids. She started to feel queasy but couldn’t let anyone know.
“It looks like she might be coming out of it, but those may have only been involuntary twitches. We can only hope, but It might be days still—if at all. I’ll send up the neurologist in the morning to check her out. Hang in there.”
“Thank you, Doctor; I’ll just stay here so she’s not alone.”
The room grew quiet once more except for a few beeping sounds and some muffled faraway voices. She wasn’t sure how much time passed; but all of sudden, her eyes fluttered, almost with a will of their own. The room, though still spinning slightly, started to take on form and color. When she was able to focus, she saw him, his head lying face down on the side of her bed. Locks of his auburn hair lay over her left hand, and she moved her fingers to touch them. At the motion, Blaise raised his head and looked into her open eyes, tears streaming down his face. “Thank you, my Lord. Harper . . . you’re back.”