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He fell in love with starry blue eyes seventy-odd years ago, he thinks. But it's hard to remember now that everything is hazy, a cataract over his mind.
There are memories, sometimes, hesitant fish surfacing in the stagnant pool that his thoughts have become. There was a meadow behind his house, maybe, flowers, wild, in the spring. Neighborhood dogs. Laughter. And the smallest, most timid fish of all. Her. They walked in the meadow once. But--it's hard to say.
Now the memories swim less and less to the top of his mind, and there is only now. The white hospital bed, the IV line, the heart monitor measuring his vital signs. One day soon it's going to stop.
He falls asleep this afternoon and dreams of days past, of her and the meadow. When he wakes up it is time for dinner. But the nurse who brings the apple sauce and tapioca is not there. Instead, she drifts in. Her face is lined and wrinkled and her body shrunken, but her eyes are the ocean deep blue of when they first met. She smiles.
"Sariah," he gasps, his voice crusty from silence, "I thought you were gone."
"I never left," she says simply, glowing.
"But the car crash-- and you-- died, the doctors said--"
"Only my body. That's not all."
"Oh. Why have you come back?"
"Why do you think?"
He shakes his head in silent mirth. "I don't care. You're here."
"Good." She extends her frail hand as if to grasp his bony one, and the barren whiteness of the hospital walls waver to the palest green.
"I can't." He gestures at the paraphernalia that keeps him alive and dead. His cot is soft now, like grass, and he can hear the faint rustling of the meadow grass in an imperceptible breeze.
"You can." There are violets in her ivory hair and on the bed rails. The ceiling is blue like her eyes.
He breathes deeply, inhaling the sweet scent of the flowers. Then he takes her hand, and their fingers, arthritic as they are, twine like teenagers'.
"Come. Let's take a walk." He climbs out of bed, feeling life flowing back into him, seeing her grow taller and her hair turn back to that beautiful auburn. He remembers now.
The meadow is there, alive, buttercups and cowslip. Butterflies flit lazily amongst the flowers, sometimes darting out of the protective grass and swooping delicately towards the sky in ever larger circles. Thick grass cushions their steps.
And for you it might grow misty and fade to darkness, but for them it is always spring and they are always fifteen. Just walking.