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Maroon Midnight

You open the door, pulling your jacket close. There’s a man in a black suit with maroon undertones and a maroon fedora waiting for you. He leans against the post of your decks entrance. Smoke curls around his hidden face as he exhales. That’s okay, you know what lies behind that hats brim.

You say nothing, only shut the door behind you. The lock clicks. You step up to the man, nose filling with a metallic fragrance. He pulls away his finished cigarette, a brand you could never find. He stomps it out with one polished shoe. He offers a gloved hand. You take a breath, then grab hold. His hand is warm under your palm as he guides you down the steps and towards his car. Tinted windows stare back, reminding you of the empty sockets of skulls.

He opens the door, you slide in, careful of the ends of your midnight skirt. It’s cold in the vehicle. You don’t mention it, even when he sits down, turns the key, and begins driving off down the road. You think a little cold might be good for you tonight.

Neither of you speak. The radio stays silent. The world beyond the glass is silent, still. The world holds its breath as your companion leads you away from the warm safety of your home. You wish you could have stayed home, but you both knew that tonight was unavoidable. Inevitable. That doesn’t stop you from wishing tonight could be different.

That you could have instead, invited you companion inside. Let him set aside his coat and hat, slip off his shoes and join you for a warm drink. That you could have looked into those beautiful emerald eyes. Tasted those smoke-stained lips. That you could have warmed each other under the silken covers of your bed, gentle and unhurried.

You lament all those dreamed nights and days. That life you wish you both could have experienced. The breakfasts you could have shared, those quiet afternoons filled with steaming tea and soft gazes. You imagine, far from this day, where you could have welcomed him into your home, followed by the pitter patter of small feet. A sweet haven you could have made together. Away from tonight, the cold, and —

The engine cuts off with a click. You jerk back to reality, colder now without the warmth of your daydream. You have arrived at your destination. Droplets of rain begin to fall, splattering gently against the windshield. You both sit quietly, softly breathing. You tilt your head, he’s still hiding. You reach over, he takes your offered hand. Squeezing gently yet firmly, fingers flexing. You smile. At least he wasn’t happy about tonight either.

You let go first. Both of you climb out of the car. You sink slightly into the damp earth and wonder if you should have worn more sensible shoes. You wait as he comes around. In one hand he holds a bouquet of navy-blue blossoms dotted with small white flowers. You swallow, eyes burning. He offers his arm, mouth pressed into a thin line. You still can’t see his eyes.

You take the offered arm, and together you march towards the single spot of light in the dark. Towards a deep hole in the earth, marked by a headstone with your name etched across its obsidian surface. You clutch at you lover’s arm. The man you owed your life, and who would now send you on your way. You pull him close as you keep marching. You open your mouth to ask — you don’t know what. But as always, he beats you to the punch.

“One more dance, my beloved?” He asks, even as he pulls you close, one hand curling against the small of your back, the other clasped with yours, the bouquet crushed between. You welcome the awkward hold as music drifts around you. You clutch at his shoulder as he finally raises that brim, finding equally damp eyes staring back.

You smile, despite everything. How could you not? You dance, it’s the best waltz you have ever danced, even with the earth trying to trip you up at every opportunity. You laugh, you cry, you dance with the love of your life. You spin in your box step, round and round, until he pulls away to spin you. You spin and spin, until your held aloft only by the strength of his hand behind the bouquet, and your heel against the edge of your grave.

“I love you.” You say, as he dangles you over the precipice. “I always will, you hear me?” He sobs. You let go, shutting your eyes, smiling so wide it hurts as you fall into the hole. Into oblivion.

There are worse ways to die, you suppose.


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