“We choose our sorrows long before we experience them”—Kahlil Gibran
I regained consciousness to the aroma of autumn, the smell of wet leaves carried on the crisp cool breeze that blanketed my face, complemented with a hint of flowery fragrance. I refused to open my eyes, thinking just for a moment that I would find myself in heaven. I inhaled the sharp cold air deeply into my lungs, basking in the subtle warmth of the sun. I heard a voice ask if I was waking up before I noticed the warmth I felt wasn’t the sun but soft hands stroking my head and caressing my face.
“Hey, D, wake up.” It was the most wonderful sound to my ears as I instantly recognized Celeste’s voice. I still refused to open my eyes, afraid I’d open them to the realization that my hallucinations were imaginary. I wanted Celeste to be real to me for as long as possible. She was at this moment so real I could feel the dryness of her lips when she kissed my forehead and cheeks; so real, I could feel the warmth of her tears instantly cool on my face when the soft breeze once again cooled with the smells of impending winter.
“Come on, D. Please wake up.” With my eyes closed, I could almost believe this beautiful redhead loved me. The slight falter in her voice convinced me so. I really didn’t want to wake up, but as my thoughts of reality started to overrule my hopes and fantasy, I couldn’t help but open my eyes and face reality.
There she was; my beautiful Celeste. Still the green-eyed redhead of perfection even though opening my eyes reminded me of her disguise. I was welcomed with the brightest smile I’d ever seen. She pulled herself closer to me, hugging me and kissing me, sincerely happy to see me awake.
“Well, good to see you made it, Daniel,” said another familiar voice, only this time it was the nurse who had helped me in the hospital. “I’ll just leave you two alone.”
“Celeste, how did I….” I wanted answers, but for the moment forgot what to ask, wonderfully distracted by the soft tender kisses with which Celeste bathed me.
“D., please make love to me,” she whispered in my ear as she unbuttoned the shirt I couldn’t remember wearing, “Please.”
Celeste’s body was hot, keeping me warm even in my nudity, even hidden within the barren trees whose foliage was long lost in the early fall storms. Feeling her on top of me, feeling her breasts touch my chest and her erect nipples brushing against my skin resulted in the most delicious combination of sensations. We were openly naked and exposed for all the world to see and we didn’t care. At that moment there were no others. When she took me inside her, the heat from her body emitted a passion incomparable to anything I’d ever experienced. She held me close as she swayed her hips slowly and melodically, building up for her, the most explosive climax she’d ever had. I felt her legs quiver uncontrollably as small glistening droplets of sweat traced the contours of her forehead before I felt her go limp on me. I sat up just enough to wrap my arms around her, pulling her into me tightly before I rolled her onto her back so that my body now laid on hers. I felt her legs wrap around mine as we both became a perfectly tuned song, until we both felt the tension and release of climax. I melted once again into her, both of us sweating, both of us breathing hard, both of us lost in our moment. “I love you, D.” she whispered in my ear. “Don’t ever forget, I love you.”
We remained silent as we dressed, stealing every glance, every small touch we could from each other. She helped me onto my feet, holding me erect as I positioned my crutches under my arms. “You know how to use these right?” she asked me.
“Yes, all too familiar I’m afraid,” trying to steal another smile from her. She stood before me, her arms wrapped around my waist, her eyes staring into mine. She didn’t say anything. Her eyes told me. The happiness we’d just experienced was painfully brief. She knew. I knew. We would never be together. We would never again see each other. I had been chipped and her mission, our agenda, was much bigger than our love affair. So in our final moments together, we cried. We held each other and cried.
“Don’t ever forget I love you, D.” Once again she gazed into my eyes, holding my hands, before backing away from me until our fingers no longer touched. “You’ll want to take that road,” pointing to the north, “it’ll lead you into town.” Then she turned her back to me and started walking away.
“Celeste….I love you, too.” I watched her get into the car with the other nurse. I stood in shock, motionless as I watched the car pull away from me, waiting for her to turn around just one more time. But she didn’t. And before I knew it, she was gone and I was completely alone.
I’d never been in love before. Not to the point of physical pain. The pain I experienced at that moment exceeded anything inflicted on me from the car accident. I ached so deeply inside I couldn’t even pinpoint an exact location. This pain left me feeling lifeless and lost.
It was this good-bye that brought me here, in the morgue of an abandoned hospital, wishing I was one of those bodies crammed into little spaces in the wall. I am no longer part of the agenda and there is nowhere for me to hide. The chip is the size of a pin head and inserted into my blood stream, flowing through me with every heartbeat, making it virtually impossible to detect and remove. My only consolation is hoping, no…knowing Celeste and her team are successful.
As the first snow in November makes its debut today, bathing the remnants of this city in a blanket of white cotton, I reflect back to Celeste’s puzzle. Such a huge task that puzzle would have been, with so many choices. She only showed me two, poppies and flames. Each of us a separate piece interacting and entwining, sometimes perfectly, sometimes not, with the pieces that surround us. I sit here in the dark, documenting my legacy on crumbled pieces of paper that once defined this hospital in which I hide, I can’t help but chuckle at the irony my life has become. I started this journey alone and depressed, until ‘purpose’ paid me a visit in the form of a beautiful redhead. And now, with nowhere to go, I will most likely die alone and depressed. I no longer have my good looks or strong legs, I no longer have a home or a family and most sorrowfully, I no longer have my freedoms. Yet as life would have it, I still have choices, and my battle to make a difference isn’t over, even if my final attacks are in the form of a pen and some paper. There will be someone who finds a way to remove these chips. There will be an enlightenment found in the ashes of burnt cities and dead hate. And from the flames that spread destruction, will be the fertilization that feeds the poppies.