Entwined beneath an afternoon sun, two lovers work in a tiny graveyard in an orchard gone to seed. Sweat pearls their limbs and beads their hair. Their voices moan and echo. The moment passes. As evening shadows begin to sing, they kiss and sigh.
“You sure you want this?” Dean asks. “No changing minds later.”
“I want to be young and in love forever.” Leandra replies
Dean nods, kisses the hollow of her throat. Her blue veins shed warmth. Her life beats there. He can drink it when the time comes. Already they’ve been drawing each other’s blood with needles and sharing it to deepen their bond.
Dean lies back on a grave, drawing Leandra down beside him. They wait, holding hands as their last sunset comes creeping. Shadows stretch. On the horizon, earth colors of red and yellow give way to metallic purples and pulsing blacks. Darkness caresses daylight into oblivion.
Leandra sits up. “You hear it?”
Dean joins her. “Yes. They’re coming!”
A humming seeps from the air. The night sky blossoms, as if god has set off fireworks meant only for them. Brilliant scarlets and muted maroons build a backdrop against which gold and white droplets spray. An image of a great raptor appears, striking from ebony space.
Dean closes his eyes against the glory. “The Angel!” he shouts.
Leandra says nothing. Her eyes are open; they bleed crystal tears with razor edges.
The angel lands with a snap of crimson pinions. It is legion; its eyes are moonlets.
“No,” Dean pleads.
“We seek forever,” Leandra counters.
The angel wraps its wings around the lovers, containing them within its umbra. From a spider’s mouth of chelicerae, the being extrudes a single fang upon which gleams a venom-pearl. Leandra licks the pearl. It bursts on her tongue into oily rivulets of purple, blue and green. Dean will not open his eyes but she shares the venom through a kiss. Spasms strike them both. They jerk and writhe, convulse and scream. Limbs twist; bones snap. From human, they are reborn. Into nothing human.
Leandra recovers first. Her eyes are wider now. They see the electromagnetic spectrum in infinite shades. Her ears are opened. They hear the beat of hearts across miles, the scurry of beetles under her feet, the twisting of worms beneath the earth.
“Thank you,” she says.
The angel holds out a tentacle and pulls her to her feet. She feels a weight at her shoulders, the fast-growing wings that will give her the sky. Laughing, she turns to her lover. Dean lies still, as if with exhaustion. She calls his name. He opens his eyes; they are ruins of rot. She cries out and drops to her knees, touching his face. He mewls from a mouth of blackened tongues and the stumps of broken teeth.
With tears, Leandra looks up at the angel. “What happened?” she pleads. “Help him!”
“The venom did not take,” the angel replies. “This is as far as he goes. We’ll have to leave him for the beast.”
“No!” Leandra protests. “It was supposed to be both of us. Together. Forever.”
No mercy in the angel’s voice as it speaks again. “You’ll find better lovers where we’re going. Come. Or stay. Your choice.”
Leandra glances at Dean. He doesn’t seem to recognize her. He grunts like a toad as his broken limbs scratch in the soil as if to burrow. Leandra stands. Her tears are of sorrow, and of joy, as the angel and the once-a-woman rise and arrow toward the portals of heaven. Behind them in the dirt, Dean digs his slow way to Hell.
∼ Charles Gramlich
© Copyright Charles Gramlich. All Rights Reserved.