They met with four hours left. He had hung up his cell phone and stared at it for a second, suddenly out of people to call. When he finally looked up, he saw her across the street, holding the same pose – wondering, he knew, if she had forgotten anyone, but slowly realizing that there was no one left.
He had to convince himself to wait for the commuter rail to pass – one car, only three passengers – before he dashed across the street to her. She pulled out of her reverie, and looked to him as he stopped a pace away.
“What’s the count?” she asked. She wasn’t afraid of him.
He glanced at his phone, suddenly urgent. “Four hours. Will you marry me?”
“Wh… yeah. Yes. Yes.” She nodded, looking anxious.
He laughed once, a single burst. “Thank you! I just… I don’t want to… be alone at-”
She nodded again, dropping her purse and taking his hand. “Go ahead.”
He leaned forward to kiss her.
She snapped her head back, tugged on his hands. “No! Wait. Vows.”
He winced. “I’m sorry! Sorry.”
“It’s okay. Don’t worry. Go ahead.”
“Okay. Our first fight.” They both laughed, and in a moment, he collected himself. “Okay. Um…” He took a deep breath, and held her gaze. Her eyes were bright blue. “I swear, by everything I am, that… I will protect you, and… stand by you… for the rest of our lives. Whatever happens, I am yours.” He swallowed hard.
She pressed her lips together, sobbed once, and said, “I… promise you that I will be with you for the rest of our lives. I will love you… with… everything. That I am. And nothing will separate us, ’till death do we part.”
Then, they kissed.
They jogged to a hotel a block away and grabbed a set of keys from the rows laid out on the counter. He held her in the elevator, pressed close with their eyes both shut tight. Once in the room, they made love recklessly. They laughed when they accidentally bashed their foreheads together, and clutched each other when they cried. Time crawled.
With ten seconds left, they sat together on the floor, leaning on the bed, wrapped in each other.
“Thank you,” he said, and the last tear blinked from his eye.
She smiled and squeezed him. “It was a good idea.” She lifted her head, and her smile shifted sideways. “I’m Melanie, by the way.”
He had to chuckle. “Jeff.” He removed one hand from her back and offered it to her.
She took it and shook. “Nice to meet you.”
They kissed, and the lights shut off. Along, they knew, with life support. Then, it was quiet. Much more so than either of them had expected.
After a minute, Melanie shuddered. “Honey?”
She drew in her legs. “I’m cold.”
Jeff, without a beat, reached behind him and tugged the rumpled comforter off the bed, wrapping it snugly around himself and his wife. “Better?”
She closed her eyes. “Yes. Thank you.”