Birds were singing in the trees that cast cooling shadows across the path in the small graveyard. It had been many, many years since she had walked along the narrow, red gravel path but her heart was leading the way. The stones crunched beneath her feet.
Their friendship had always been unique. “Love at first bite,” he had joked on occasion after their first intimate encounter. An encounter that would last a lifetime.
Both of them knew the dangers associated with the secret they’d shared. Both of them watched family and friends grow old and pass. Both of them had watched each other remain exactly the same as if time itself stood still.
In the small village, local friends and neighbours started to notice. Rumours began to spread and, eventually, they both knew it was time.
Late into a mid-summer’s evening they had debated with each other as they hatched their plan. It was a plan to be together forever but one that would mean a lifetime apart. Both of them knew in their heart that this was the only way.
The day of his “funeral” had been a hot and humid June day. As they’d gathered at the graveside, the mourners were plagued by midgies that had swarmed incessantly around them. Keeping his sermon brief, the minister had blessed the “deceased” and offered up a prayer of thanks for his long and healthy life.
She had been the last to leave the graveside. Kneeling down, even although she knew he wasn’t actually buried deep below the freshly turned soil, she had wept then dropped a single Forget Me Not into the depths of the grave.
Two days later she had left her cottage in the village’s main street never to return….until now.
A hundred summers had passed since she had last entered the graveyard. The world had moved on. Technologies and fashions had evolved and come and gone. She, however, remained exactly the same. Her hair and clothes identical to the day she had said her last farewell.
Many times, over the years, she had thought to seek him out but her love for him held true and she kept her promise to only return on the agreed date.
She was early by less than an hour, still loathing to be late for anything.
Stepping from the gravel path onto the lush green grass, she found the grave with ease. A smile formed on her lips as she noted that a Forget Me Not had been engraved on the edge of the otherwise plain headstone. She noted too the series of numbers engraved beside the detailed flower. Seemingly meaningless to others but to her they were the confirmation that she had the date and time of their reunion correct.
Time passed quickly as she waited. After all, what was forty eight minutes when compared to a hundred years? She passed the time meandering through the cemetery, reading the headstones, noting the graves of former friends and neighbours. Her heart ached as she realised that no one from her previous life in the village was left. Her friends were long gone.
What if he never came? A wave of panic swept through her.
Could she stay here without him? Rebuild her life in her old cottage? Would she want to if he wasn’t finally there to share in it?
What if he’d made a better life for himself elsewhere and forgotten their pact?
Anxiously she made her way through the labyrinth of granite stones to stand by his grave.
A cool breeze wafted across her pale cheek. For a second, she thought she felt the air behind her stir. A familiar musky aroma teased her senses, tugging at her heart.
She felt a hand rest on her right shoulder and gasped.
Looking to her left, her view obscured by the bright sunlight, she saw his profile. His left hand was extended towards her, palm up. In the centre of his long slender hand lay a single Forget Me Not.
“You came,” she breathed.
“Did you ever doubt I would?”