She Lived

Jul 12, 2013 by

Blade-Runner-2-RachaelIt’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?

It was hard to kill that question in my mind. After we ran, it lingered like a bad taste from a drink at your favorite bar that usually sold pretty damn good drinks. It’s the middle of the night and I should be sleeping. The flickering light from a huge grid ad spills into the window–some ridiculous commercial with an alien touting about how puny humans will enjoy coke. I’ve seen it a million times from the window and I hate it already. But I watch it anyway, because it’s better than remembering what Gaff said, over and over and over again.
I didn’t want to keep remembering.
I wanted to gather Rachael up right then and there; bruise my mouth against hers desperately to remind myself she’s alive. I’m alive. We’re alive together. I wanted to feel her skin. I wanted to take my fingertips along her hip and tap out words I’d never say: living isn’t pretty, but it’s real.
It was easier than thinking about how much time we had left. Scratch that; how much time she had left.
I’ve done a lot of things in my life that have put me so close to death I could smell it.
None of them frightened me more than the concept of time and how much Rachael had left. It brought me to cold-sweats, my mind fluttered through images of sorrow faster than leafing through ancient books. I kept seeing her stilli and cold and kept seeing myself old and broken. Every second brought her closer to the end, every night my stomach clenched as if bracing for a punch that would never happen and never end.
The commercial had stopped playing and had moved on to another–but I turned my head to glance to the pillow beside me and find her dark eyes open and studying me, my profile in the dim light. For a long while I didn’t have anything to say really but helplessly stare back. She searched me, my face like it was the last message in a bottle someone lost on an island could send–and then she smiled. Just the corners of her mouth really, but it held so much. So much life.

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At night, I’d always doubt. Alone in my hotel room surrounded by empty bottles and empty memories, I’d hear what Gaff said: It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does? Did she live? Did I let her live? Would she have been better without me?
But then I remember that night–that night when I caught her staring before she smiled.
Everything about that smile told me different. Rachael had lived more of a life in her short time than I ever would.
She lived, I thought back to an invisible Gaff. She lived, and that’s good enough for me.
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