By Olivia Arieti
Adele was ill, so ill she might have believed she’d passed away. Only the sunrays sneaking through the curtains and the ticking of the clock assured her she was still in this world; both were unnerving, though. Darkness and silence before departing would have been better. Her bag was ready–it had always been–and Edward’s car was waiting for her… no matter how long ago it was supposed to have arrived.
She asked for a mirror; although the image was blurred, a bright face smiled back without wrinkles or swollen eyes, without the cadaverous hue that had already made her look like a ghost.
Once again, she was the girl whose beauty mesmerised everyone, including Edward, a handsome but dubious fellow.
His sudden wealth nourished the most unpleasant rumours; nobody believed it was due to an inheritance from a distant relative.
Adele’s parents fiercely opposed their wedding. The girl resolved to elope, so intense was the feeling that had rooted in her soul and gnarled around her heart.
That night, the palpitations were so loud that they drowned out the ticks of the clock, and frightful nightmares disturbed her sleep. An eerie figure shrouded in black kept glaring at her and shaking its head.
A premonition of a pending tragedy?
Adele, rosy and youthful, and yet as old as she had truly grown, relived the early morning that had changed everything. Her stern determination dissipated all fears, and the crack of dawn found her by the window casting wistful glances at the barren street.
No sooner had the car stopped in front of the house than she had snatched her bag. She would have run out if her father’s imposing figure hadn’t stood on the threshold. His fulminating glare paralysed her will.
Edward, devoured by atrocious doubts on not seeing her arrive as they’d planned, began roaming around like a madman. Mist and despair acted as accomplices; they prevented him from seeing the car that sped down the street towards him. He was hit and killed on the spot.
Grief was merciless. His death stole away Adele’s emotion, buried her desire. A sullen apathy entered the soul while the mind remained fixed on bygone memories. She couldn’t understand why her response to true love deserved such a cruel punishment.
She never visited her beloved’s tomb as she refused to see love buried in a limited space under the cold and hostile soil. Edward was lying in her heart, kept warm by its consuming throbs.
Old age fell upon her silently. Her maladies grew more and more devastating.
At last the rays of sunlight ceased their intrusion upon the room, but the tick tock became louder, with tones sometimes as sharp as a shriek, others as heavy as a toll.
Shivers pervaded Adele’s body as she looked upon the shadow at her bedside.
“Edward, you have come at last,” she muttered feebly.
The ultimate arrangements were made, then the figure vanished unseen by anyone. . . Nothing could prevent her from answering what certainly would be his last call.
An instant later, Adele was running to the window. She hurried down the stairs past her father, now immobile and silent as a ghastly statue, and into the arms of her dearest. Edward’s car that had seemed as if in another life to have stopped before her door was now moving backwards. . . a reverse motion in time. Finally, the magic portal had opened. Her fear that it would be a privilege for only the dying was dismissed at once.
The timeless area had been reached, that deceitful spot in which hallucinations are swept away, nostalgia yields and bygone wishes are fulfilled; at last, the lovers were reunited.
Overjoyed, Adele closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep where eternity prevailed. The clock kept at its job, carelessly disturbing the deadly yet romantic quietness of the room.
Olivia Arieti lives in Torre del Lago Puccini, Italy, with her family. Her stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies like Enchanted Conversations, Enchanted Tales Literary Magazine, Fantasia Divinity Magazine, Cliterature, Forgotten Tomb Press, Horrified Press, Thirteen O’Clock Press, Infective Ink, Pandemonium Press, and Sirens Call Publications.