She lounged in the heat, her skin selfishly soaking up every bit of sunshine as though it, too, were aware of this rare blessing. Soon, beads of sweat rolled between her breasts and down her temples.
Her narrow brick balcony had space for two deck chairs and a small, round diner table. She sipped the bitter-sweet iced coffee as the perspiring glass beaded and dripped onto the tabletop, leaving a generous ring on the unstained wood. She took a deep, meditative breath.
This was her last day, and it was good.
Most people, upon realizing they were on their last day, may not have taken time with the sunscreen. Or the mascara. Why bother? She might have sunbathed naked, were she more inclined to ‘live a little’.
It wasn’t just that, though. Most people, knowing they were on their last day, would fly to Vienna. Take a train to Amsterdam. Jump out of a plane with no parachute. Drive a car to the border of Germany and get lost in the dark forests, surrounded by nature. Surrounded by life, before theirs were cut short.
She didn’t. She didn’t need to. Camille Anderson had done enough for this lifetime, and she was ready for the next. This one had been safe, sure. But safe was mundane, and her destiny was anything but.
She glanced down at her watch. Seventeen minutes… fourteen minutes… nine minutes. She gulped the last of her iced coffee, which had gone a bit warm. Four minutes… three. She scratched an itch on her nose. Two. She glanced down again. Still two minutes. She admired the rare azure skies, the circling gulls, the barking echo of a dog down the street, the zipping of a scooter, the ring of a bicycle bell, the distant wail of the train. The spanning brick and gray buildings with white-framed windows. The russet cobblestone streets.
POP. “Ah, there you are. Right where I left you.”
Camille arched an eyebrow. “Hello, Casper,” she said.
“Hello,” the celestial replied brightly, ruffling his raven black hair. “Enjoying the sunshine?”
“You didn’t do this for me, did you?” she inquired.
He smiled, his white teeth in perfect contrast to his bronze skin. “I knew how much you missed it.”
“Tell me the next life will be in sunny California. Or better yet, Australia. I’ve always fancied the accents.” She smirked.
His face twisted. “Spiders,” he said simply.
She frowned. “White sandy beaches.”
He folded his arms. “Crocodile-infested waters.”
“Hm,” she said, “so, not Australia?”
“Afraid not,” Casper patted her knee, grimaced, and wiped the sunscreen grease onto his pant leg. “Ready?”
“I’ve got nowhere else to be,” she said playfully.
He stood and pulled her gently to her feet. He was of a height to her. She’d once joked that a celestial ought to be towering and intimidating. He’d been shocked by the idea.
“I was thinking Canada this time,” Casper grinned.
“Canada–” she groaned, but took his upheld hands in hers. “Casper…”
He leaned in and kissed her on the mouth, then, and murmured against her lips in amusement, “I’ve always wanted to take you skiing.”
“Man-killing moose,” she muttered.
“Rocky mountains,” he replied.
“Minus fourty degrees celcius with windchill,” she countered.
“Maple syrup,” he whispered. “Bacon.”
She kissed him. “Alright, I’m convinced. Let’s go.”
Without warning, her soul was ripped from her body. She felt Casper pull her into his embrace as they soared out of the material plane. She gazed through the white expanse as they flew through the beyond, toward her next body. Everything was temporary. Everything was eternal.
That was the price one paid for falling in love with a celestial.
No. That was the price one paid for running from a god…