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By Victory Witherkeigh

Content Warnings: Death, depression.

‘Hello.’ My voice cracked as I spoke. I hadn’t opened my mouth in the days since everything came crashing down around me. ‘I’m here to pick up my husband’s ashes….’ 

The assistant’s voice washed over my ears like my body was submerged in a thick, black mud bath. I can’t honestly say I remember any of their words or the paperwork I signed. The white, plain, unassuming urn sat heavy in my hands as they handed it to me, the thick porcelain sinking into my arms as the tiny hairs on my forearms rose.

It’s really him. He’s really gone…

I was the last of my girlfriends to get married. While they all walked down the aisle in gaudy white dresses in their mid to late twenties, I struggled and starved in a studio apartment, trying to kick off a dream writing career. I’d given up on the thought of sharing my life with anyone other than a few trysts as I turned thirty-two, settled with writing awards and publications around the world. But he showed up, wholly unexpected, with red hair and hazel eyes, taking me around the globe from Reykjavik, Paris, London, Papeete, and eventually, our future home of Luxembourg. 

In hindsight, being so far away from everything I knew would end up being his downfall when the virus spread. What had seemed a million miles away soon came to my home in hacking coughs, gasping breaths, and burning from the inside out. Then visions of IV drips, needles stabbing into my skin, and the beeping of hospital machinery with the stale taste of sterile plastic. Thin sheets and hot flashes replaced the warmth from the nook in his armpit as the fevers rose and fell. By the time I came out of it, the grief was all-encompassing, a wash of drowning as I lived while he had not.

It took so long to get his ashes to our bedroom, cold and dreary from the lack of sunlight. I’d refused to change our bedsheets, trying desperately to keep the scent of his sandalwood and spicy cologne on them as long as I could. The heat from his kisses, the warmth in his eyes as he’d look at me was all I dreamed of, willing my body to stay asleep as long as I could to prolong the forever we’d never have. 

We only got two years…

I stared at the urn, mocking me from his side of the bed with memories of our last taste of each other, the way his fingers mapped my skin as he explored my body. Despite the tears streaming down my face, my skin flushed, lost in the fantasy of his lips. My fingers traced the same trail, the same paths he took to bring pleasure from my mouth and skin. Sweat and tears dripped along my fingers as I dipped them into the urn, desperate for him to be connected in me one more time.

Together... Forever and ever...

Victory Witherkeigh

Victory Witherkeigh is a female Filipino/PI author originally from Los Angeles, CA, currently living in the Las Vegas area. Victory was a finalist for Wingless Dreamer’s 2020 Overcoming Fear Short Story award and a 2021 winner of the Two Sisters Writing and Publishing Short Story Contest. She has print publications in the horror anthologies Supernatural Drabbles of Dread through Macabre Ladies Publishing, Bodies Full of Burning through Sliced Up Press, and In Filth It Shall Be Found through OutCast Press. Her first novel, set to debut in December 2022 with Cinnabar Moth Publishing, has been a finalist for Killer Nashville’s 2020 Claymore Award, a 2020 Cinnamon Press Literature Award Honoree, and long-listed in the 2021 Voyage YA Book Pitch Contest.

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