No, not her... anyone but her, please not her...
He knew pleading would do no good. There was no-one listening.
Judith Hart looked out of the front window at the sunbathed streets of another summer morning. "Looks like it's going to be a nice day again," she remarked. She sat down in her usual armchair opposite the living room door, next to the sofa where her daughter was sitting. "Feeling any better, Sarah?" she asked. Sarah just shook her head, tears held back in her sunken eyes. They both knew she didn't have long. Her once flowing golden hair had long since gone, and the energetic youthful enthusiasm of her early twenties had slowly been sapped until she had nothing to live for. Sarah looked out the window at the children playing in the sun, knowing she would never be able to enjoy the summer in the way they took for granted. She looked away, feeling more tears well up, and forced herself to stop thinking about it, staring at the floor in front of her. She knew her mother was doing the same.
She was relieved for the distraction when the living room door opened and Judith's younger daughter Rachel entered, her long black hair dancing as she breezed into the room. "Hi mom," she said and went over to Sarah, the pretty innocence of her face tainted with a sadness she never deserved. "How are you today?" she asked quietly. Sarah looked up at her with teary eyes and whispered, "Not good." Rachel had to hold back her own tears, and went over to sit on the arm of Sarah's chair, putting her arms around her beloved sister. Judith watched and could no longer stop herself crying. This is so stupid, she thought. I put myself through this every day.
He walked, alone as always. The sun was shining but he wore a long black trenchcoat and a black pastor hat, seemingly oblivious to the heat. Still, people barely noticed him as he walked, slowly but with a purpose, toward his destination. If anyone stopped long enough to look at the shaded face under the hat they would see a strange glint of ancient wisdom in his eyes, a wisdom dulled by an unimaginably vast despair, and a weariness lining his features. He didn't look old, yet somehow he looked as if he had witnessed the birth of everything.
He knew the end was near, and felt both fear at the thought of his own nonexistence but an overwhelming relief that soon it would all be over. Even the bright sunlight piercing the perfect blue sky was a mere echo of greater times. The world is empty, he thought. The air is dull. As he walked he remembered times past, ancient days when the earth was the playground of the gods. The air was alive, the world was wild and free. He longed for the forests, the rolling hills, the sight of fields burning at night, when life was rich and he could stand on the hilltops and summon rain. All that was gone, and nothing was left but a life of suffocating grey.
He was tired and broken, but he carried on walking, drawing ever closer to her. Why her? Why must I do this? He thought that he had been beyond caring long, long ago, that all the fight had gone out of him, but he had never had to do this before. He had loved her once, in ages past, and her spirit was strong. She kept coming back. Each time she was blissfully ignorant of his existence, but he always knew her when he saw her. She was unmistakable. None of that seemed to matter now, he had no choice but to follow this through to the end.
Judith looked out the front window. The blue sky was disappearing beneath a mass of ragged grey clouds which fled from some unseen terror. There was a warm, restless breeze in the air and a light rain began to fall. Judith sighed quietly. "It's been such a nice morning too." She sat back down, trying not to look at her frail daughter, a sight which made her feel sick with helplessness. Sarah knew what her mother was doing, and quickly tried to strike up normal conversation. "Rachel's taking her time," she said. "Yes," replied Judith suddenly, as if she had been waiting for an opportunity for normality. "You know how she is when Stu comes round for her, spending hours trying on thousands of outfits." They chuckled quietly, welcoming the opportunity to talk about someone else.
Their hollow laughter was soon cut short by a knock on the door. "That must be him," Judith said, getting up to answer it. She opened the door to a tall man dressed in a long black coat and hat. He looked young but his face was troubled with burdens too heavy for anyone his age to bear. "I need to speak to Rachel," he said softly. Judith stood eyeing him suspciously.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"None of you know me, I just need to speak to your daughter," he replied, a strange urgency underlying his soft manner.
"Why? What about? Is she in some kind of trouble?" Judith was clearly nervous yet ready to be fiercely protective.
"Please," he said. "I need to come in."
"Not until you tell me why," said Judith sternly.
"I have to give your daughter something," he said sadly. "I must see her."
Still without a satisfactory reply, Judith closed the door with a mixture of anger and motherly fear. She walked back into the living room and went to the phone. "I'm calling the police," she said to Sarah. "I don't know what he was up to but he was very strange."
Upstairs, Rachel came out the bathroom and walked back into her bedroom, closing the door behind her as she wondered vaguely who had been at the front door. She turned around and let out a gasp - sat on her bed was a tall young man in a long black coat, a man who had not been there when she entered. "Hello, Rachel," he said. His tone was not menacing; in fact it cut through her thoughts of escape because it sounded as if he had known her all his life. There was something about him - she felt as if he should be familiar, but she couldn't work out why. He patted the space on the bed next to him, and she slowly walked over, strangely calm and unafraid. She somehow knew she was safe with him. She sat down next to him, and he looked into her eyes. She immediately felt a sympathy for the weary regret which filled his demeanour, and he reached up and softly cradled her face in his hands. "I need to give you something before you go," he said.
Judith and Sarah sat, looking out at the fitful grey day outside, the rain now lashing down hard. They heard the front door open. "Is that you, Rachel?" Judith called. There was no reply, but out of the window they saw Rachel walking barefoot down the front path, half-dressed and already drenched in the hammering rain, her wet hair blowing in the warm breeze. Judith arose to see if she was alright, and got to the still-open door just in time to see her wander into the road. In a fraction of a second too short even to scream she saw Stu's car screeching to a halt and sliding in the rain, slamming into Rachel with a sickening thud and throwing her several yards down the road into a limp, wet heap. As Judith ran to her and Stu scrambled out his car, amidst all the panic and tears, no-one saw the tall young man dressed in black who had stood and watched the whole thing happen without even moving. His job done, he turned and began to walk away slowly, his head bowed.
He walked, the tears streaming a path down his face like a flashflood through a dry riverbed. This time she wouldn't be coming back. He knew he would never, ever see her again. They never came back after he had been there, and now he was walking toward his own end. There was no happy afterlife where they would be together forever. He thought he had long ago sunk irrepairably past heartbreak, but he now knew he was wrong. The moment he knew what he had to do was the moment he realised he still loved her. That is why he showed her, moments before her death; he showed her how much he had always loved her, and for the first time ever she knew. He showed her how hopeless the world is, how futile its death throes were as it sank silently toward the inevitable. He showed her how small she really was, and that everything must die.