Status: completed, editing / 20 recs / 13 subs? you're too nice / thank

Black Flies


—— ambrosio ——

My hands shook as I picked the petals off the rose, one by one, taking care not to tear them. I went down to the greenhouse—the garden—to fetch another rose, and came back with two, along with two black cables that I slung over my shoulder. I could see Matthew’s boat receding into the waves; he’d be gone a few hours yet. I waved, but did not run to him, thankful that he couldn’t see my expression.

I didn’t warn him away from the water, though I should have; the fog had come back wit a vengeance, drowning light and sound.

Shortly before I anticipated his return, I went through the house and lit every candle. I went to the the en suite and filled the bathtub with cool water from the ocean, diluting it with some of our remaining desalinated water. I took a little more seawater than necessary to bathe; a bottle full, to be precise.

Leaving the door to the en suite open behind me, I eased into the water and scattered the petals around me. They stood out against the iridescent russet tiles that coated the room, lit up via the candles and wide window that hung over the tub, which was large enough for me to comfortably lay back, closing my eyes. I took the other rose and set it on the ledge near my arm, careful not to drop it into the water. I knew that I would emerge from the water with salt coating my skin, but I didn’t mind.

The front door creaked open. The air was sickeningly sweet with the song of candlefire.

“Amor,” I called.

His footsteps were muffled by the carpeting, carpeting that ended where the tiles began. I didn’t need to open my eyes; I felt him standing in the doorway. My hand rested on a switch that he couldn’t see.

“Ambros,” he said, my name hardly more than a sigh.

The tiles gleamed brighter than they should have.

Concrete pillars crumbled into the sea.

“Amor,” I said again, eyes open, bringing the rose on the ledge beside me to my nose. My voice did not break, as I’d anticipated; my pulse did not race. “Join me.”

With bare feet, he stepped onto the slick tile. I hesitated. In his eyes, I saw a fogless sky, but the softness that I once knew was gone. Or perhaps it had never been there; there was a distinct possibility that I had crafted this light and love by myself, that he was—had always been—unfathomable as the sky before the end.

He leaned over to kiss me, but I stopped him. “How many are left?” I asked, careful to keep my voice low, to not speak in an accusatory way.


“After your…mercy.”

He narrowed his eyes, pensive. “I don’t know. Thousands, still?”

“I have one more question.”

I reached up and pulled him into one last kiss, one that felt as timeless as this little eternity we’d shared. The ashes of the bridges fell into the sea; immortality was cut short as my thumb twitched half an inch, as I nudged him back an equal distance, because Newton had told me all those years ago that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

“Can all souls be saved?”

I soon discovered for myself that one hundred milliamperes is enough to stop a human heart.

The water hissed. The current found Matthew’s veins before he had a chance to realize what I’d done—

No. He realized it; I saw it in the pain that cut through his crystal eyes, in the way that his lips parted, my taste still written across them. He realized it, but he had no time to react before a convulsion screamed through his heart and he made one final and desperate attempt to reach me, fingers splayed and twitching. I heard my name in his trembling jaw, but it never left his mouth.

Does that look like the end?

I held the rose to my face, my tears running through the petals like rain. I dropped it into the water in front of me and braced my arms against the ledges of the bathtub. But before I was able to join Matthew where he lay on the tiles, the shorted sparkplugs blew in one last flurry of gold, the generator having taken too much.

The generator cooled. I was left in silence.

Near silence; I could hear the ocean resounding from the open window in the other room, calmed again to a rhythmic pulse. Matthew’s did not answer it.

I edged out of the water and slid to the floor, where Matthew lay on his side, staring at something that I could not see. I settled across from him as I had every night for three years and a week. Understanding had not yet taken me as I gingerly closed his eyes.

He felt too light as I lifted him into the bathtub, as the petals in the water stirred and arranged themselves around his lifeless form. I tore up the remaining rose let the fresh petals rain over him, placing two over his eyes.

Wan sunlight streamed in through the window, scattered by the fog and candlelight.

I’ll join you in time. I don’t remember whether I said it or thought it. It didn’t matter.

That was how I left him.


The island became a stranger to me as I ran along a crepuscular beach, the waves whispering forward to cover my tracks. A beacon of light burned behind me, a house that was once a bright blue. The dark and the haze rushed in to make it disappear.

A child of the sea, I caught myself adrift.
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7/7, I need to go write something happy to cleanse my soul...except I really can't.