Burn Memory Burn
A dying fire burns in the hearth, grey smoke unfurling and twisting into the open air. Dust particles alight beneath the breaking of a new day. And he sits in his chair, old, decrepit, half-mad, as old thoughts bring fresh wounds.
The first thought is of her smile: how it crinkled her face and brought the world into sharper focus. How it was so distinctly angelic that all the bad things seared away beneath its power. Her happiness, however rare, made life a worthy cause.
His second thought is of her eyes: so blue they were almost grey, on the verge of becoming a different hue altogether. In them, he found eternity, a longing in which he could lose himself, and in those moments, discovered that he could indeed evolve into a better person.
His last thought is of her name: the only syllables in their native tongue that could elicit within him a vibrant warmth and, in the same breath, a nervous exhalation.
But with these musings comes a certain shame. A guilt that erodes to the point of no return. She is naught to him but a lingering memory now, a memory that houses so much of his mind that it leaves little room for his wife.
His wife… sleeping in the next room.
And yet he cannot help these feelings. A piece of his heart will always belong to her. His soul is heavy with remembrance, with regret. But he did not think it possible to move on. How could he?
The fire lowers into a coal bed surrounded by mounds of grey ash. Time ticks on. The sun pushes above the horizon, its light streaming through the window. In his hands is a crumpled piece of paper on which he wrote her a small note. For decades, he kept this on his person. A reminder… so close and yet… and yet. He heaves a sigh and slowly climbs to his feet. In a manner befit his elderly status, in a slow, methodical rhythm, he perambulates toward the bedroom, to where his wife lay breathing softly, peacefully, and leans over to peck her on the forehead, and then, on instinct, covers up her barren shoulder with a blanket.
Love is a many-faceted concept.
Burn, memory. Burn and keep with you the torch of tomorrow.