The Red Glow of Mars

My darling, my darling. Dusk is here, why aren’t you? The daisies I picked this morning are losing their petals to the heat. Each fallen petal sings and then weeps, “He loves me … He loves me not.” Venus shines brightly in the western sky. Mars is to the southeast, clocking its way toward Venus. They make such a lovely pair. It’s too bad Earth stands between them, but perhaps they’ll get close enough to share a kiss tonight.

Before dusk gives way to night I gather bergamot leaves and rose petals, grind them, and sprinkle the powder into one of the clam shells we found on the quiet shores of the bay. I add several drops of cedarwood oil and a teaspoon of clover honey. I take a flaming match to the mixture, creating the incense of you and me. The scent of ‘us’ fills the room.

I tug at a red satin ribbon tied neatly around a wooden keepsake box. As the ribbon slides off, I lift the lid and pull out your last letter. Your handwriting is inviting, but I don’t read your words. There’s no need, I know what the letter says. I’ve read it a hundred times. You love me. You want me. All of your thoughts circle back to me. You ended with, “Look for the red glow of Mars. Find my presence there.”

The turntable plays one of our many songs. It’s a sad yet beautiful tune.

I sway and turn with the music and find you standing there, extending your arm. Your pointed gaze hits the center of my soul. My eyes mirror your intensity, but my nervous laughter gives me away. Are you real or just a dream? Perhaps you’re nothing more than a haunting memory. I fear I’m losing touch with reality.

You take my hand. My troubles begin to melt away. Soon, I’m lost in your arms and nothing matters except for us. Time pauses. The night is young and so are we.

“I’ve made up my mind,” I say. “It’s here, dancing with my soulmate, that I want to stay.” It feels good to say it out loud. “Stay with me. Forever.”

Your lips brush against mine. This is my reality. You. You are my reality. The decision has been made.

The record skips. It’s stuck on the saddest part of the song.

“Don’t go.” My plea is too late. You’re already gone. I begin to wonder whether or not you were ever here, but Mars’s steady red glow assures me that you were.

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