"I came, just like I promised." the voice was soft and trembling, though not from fear. She knelt down, placing her palms on the tops of her thighs in a gesture she thought might look regal and hoped it didn't look supplicating. She smiled at this. What a thing it would be to submit to the dead! Her smile turned to a muffled sob as she realized he would have found it funny too.
The tears fell as she looked up, away from where he lay, and remarked that this was a holdover from the past. She'd been unable to look at him when she was crying for years. She always hated that and a surge of anger flooded through her at this realization that she was still unable to look at him.
"Damn you!" she said, loudly causing several birds to take flight and this made her laugh again.
"You're such a jerk." she said, looking back at his resting place. All she saw was the cold unyielding stone that was all that was left to mark the presence of a man she felt so dynamic, so much larger than life. She stroked the top of the stone and felt a fresh, raw surge of sadness at it's cold, unyielding surface scraping against her skin. There was none of the warmth, softness or hidden strength that she'd felt in his arms as they'd wrapped around her, making her feel safer than she'd ever been.
"Not a jerk. You're an asshole!" her anger rose again.
"You left me. You left us! How could you do that you selfish prick? Did you know they ask about you every day? Did you know we all cry ourselves to sleep with-"
"They really ask about me?" came a voice making her jump up so fast that she bumped her head on a tree branch. She whirled around ready to give this intruder, this stalker a piece of her mind---how dare he interrupt her grieving---but the sight she beheld caused her knees to buckle. It was him.
Defying all logic and all reason, he stood before her. She felt her knees go weak and she clenched her fists vowing not to faint, if for no other reason than she hated women who fainted at shocking situations. Though there was an honest fear that if she fainted he would be gone when she came to.
"Brian?" she asked in the same soft and trembling voice she'd used when she'd arrived.
"In the flesh." he said, flashing a lopsided grin that had always made her melt in life, but now his flippant tone did nothing for her.
"You can't be here." she said, her tone incredulous.
"But I am." he replied, his tone light. He came closer, a literal spring in his step and he enfolded her in his arms. He felt her melt into him for just a moment and then her coldness took over and she shoved him away.
"WHO ARE YOU!?" she screamed, giving into the shock. His face fell, the happiness dripping away to fear.
"I'm Brian." he said,
"Babe it's okay."
"Don't you 'babe' me!" she spat.
"How dare you! How dare you do this to me!" she sobbed, and did, at last fall to her knees, though to her credit she didn't faint. He touched her shoulder gently trying to reassure her in that infuriating way he'd had in life.
"You're dead. You died. We buried you. There isn't any resurrection. You can't be here." Her voice was now desperate. Her need for this to be true was equal only to her need for it to be untrue.
"All the more reason you should be happy to see me." he said gently. His voice shook, but it wasn't fear or sadness, it was . . . effort. He was straining.
"Well I'm not." she said with finality.
"I understand." he said simply, but his eyes pleaded with her for understanding for acceptance.
"Why should I be? If you're here then there are a handful of reasons why," she ticked the points off on her left hand.
"One, you're really dead and I've finally lost it, which would mean I was far more dependent on you then either of us wanted; if I've somehow resurrected you in my head to help me cope. Two, you aren't dead and there's some kind of elaborate reason you faked your death, which would lead to some extraordinary thing like 'Witness Protection' or some other shit like that which would mean you came to say good bye; which means I'm about to lose you all over again and that's just the shittiest thing you could do to a person. Three." she choked on the word.
"Three, you've been genuinely resurrected which would imply the existence of something that had the power to do that which would mean my entire belief system (or lack thereof) is wrong. Now, which of these people do you want to be?" she looked squarely at him, challenging him to declare himself as the harbinger of her mental infirmity, and insensitive clod or the proof of divinity which she denied.
"I'm Brian," he said simply, stroking her hair.
"I'm the Brian you know and I came to say goodbye, that's true." and then he laughed, loudly and deeply, a belly laugh that reminded her of watching him play with their children.
"And I'm in awe of you. As usual." he said smiling.
"So, you're real? And this is what? It is a witness protection thing?" she said, her eyes icy, but within herself she couldn't deny how happy she was to see him standing before her.
"I'm real. And I've come to say goodbye my love. But the rest . . . " he trailed off.
"Oh no! Don't you do that!" her voice was angry again, and he laughed again and this made her even angrier.
"Why are you laughing at me?" she cried, her anger giving way to tears once again.
"Look at you!" He said,
"So beautiful, so full of fire, so sure of yourself that even given the final goodbye that no one ever gets you're picking a fight with me. You're a joy to behold." his voice then gave way to sobs and he grabbed her hands.
"And I don't know how I got here or how long I'll be here, but you have to believe me. I came for you. I came across time and space and death and reality just for you. Just to say goodbye. And you're fighting with me." he gave a little laugh at that last,
"I can't believe you're fighting with me."
"I'm not trying to fight." she said softly.
He stood, his energy crackling with intensity.
"Well of course not. I mean why would you? I mean, it's clear you're just trying to cope with something you can't understand because it's inexplicable. Do you think I wanted to go?" his voice returned some of her anger now,
"Do you think it was fair? There's no fairness in the Universe. This is all there is." He reached out and touched her breast, over her heart.
"And it was enough to bring me back to you. To say good bye. So. Say it."
"No." she said defiantly.
"No?" he asked, hardly able to comprehend.
"No," she nodded,
"I mean why should I? I don't know what you are or why you're here or if any of it is real. What if I don't want closure? What if I don't want to let you go or say goodbye because I want you here always?" she touched her heart over his hand,
"Besides. You're not real. Jerkface. You can't be."
"Oh I'm real." he said and his hands were on the back of her neck and he pulled her into a kiss. Long and deep and slow. She did melt into him this time and though her eyes were closed she was aware that he was glowing and she knew then, without knowing why that it was ending. She wrapped her arms around him desperately.
"No!" she screamed,
"No don't leave again! I don't even know why you're here."
"Because I am," he said,
"Because the universe is big. It's vast and complicated and ridiculous and sometimes,
very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles...
and that's a theory. But it's something you can believe in that doesn't require faith. Theories can be proven by science." he winked at her. The light surrounding him was blinding now.
"Or disproven." she said.
"I'm going to miss fighting with you." he said.
"I'm going to miss fighting with you." she responded, reaching for his hand. He reached out though there was no longer any solidity to his form and her hand passed through his.
"No!" she cried.
"No, no, no." she repeated it over and over again, mournfully. Sinking to her knees once more, placing her palms open on the tops of her thighs staring at the headstone that would once again be all that was left of her lover, her partner and her friend.
"Goodbye my love." she heard him as if from a great distance and she closed her eyes against the tears.
She was still for a long time after that before opening her eyes and standing up. She glanced at the stone that was all that remained and she whispered his name, giving it a lingering touch. She knew she'd never know if what happened was real or imagined but she had to acknowledge that whether real or imagined the experience had left her feeling something she hadn't felt since he'd died. It left her feeling loved.