Till Death Do Us Part

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Bob strolled through Golden Gate park. The fresh scent of eucalyptus trees mingling with ocean air filled his nose. He took a deep breath, turned his face up to the sun, and smiled. The park felt full and alive. The grass was green, birds were singing and couples walked hand in hand holding quiet conversations. The day was exactly as he remembered. A perfect day.

Bob stopped under the shade of a large tree and ran his withered fingers across the bark, tracing the jagged outline of a heart surrounding the words "A + B forever." The memory of the day he carved this was still sharp in his mind, and pierced his heart like daggers. Alice stood by his side giggling in delight as he worked his pocket knife through the thick layer of bark. Two years later he proposed to her below the shady branches of this very tree, and she accepted. It was the happiest day of his life.

Bob wiped his eyes and moved on, stopping at a small bench a few yards away. He waited. They would be arriving soon.

A young couple approached, holding hands and smiling at one another as if nothing else in the world existed. Alice's yellow dress, dotted with tiny white daisies shone brilliantly in the sun. She laughed as the man next to her whispered in her ear. Bob watched with fondness, and as usual wished he could run up to her, hold her, and tell her how much he's missed her these past five years.

The couple reached the tree, and Alice stopped to run her fingers along the heart, just as Bob did earlier. The man whispered something, and Alice smiled, placing her hands over her eyes. The man nervously fished around in his pocket, then knelt in the shade of the tree, holding out a small yellow box. Her favorite color.

"Okay open them" he knew the man was saying as she lowered her hands and looked down. He heard her beautiful voice ring clearly through the air "Oh Bob, yes!" she said and fell to her knees in front of the man, kissing him and laughing.

Bob's eyes stung, and a tear rolled down his wrinkled cheek. He missed her so much. They both thought they would be together forever. Neither of them took the time to consider that death would one day pull them apart. They never had kids. They couldn't. But they were happy together. Now Bob had nobody.

Everyone said it would get better with time, that the pain would become tolerable. They were all God damn liars. He lived with this pain every day for five long years. Those people didn't understand. Each night he sat alone, a TV dinner on his lap, wishing his heart would give out and put an end to his misery. Every day he struggled with the need to brush his fingers along her cheek, and tell her he loved her one last time.

He rose from the bench. "I love you" he whispered, then walked away. Every week he came to watch the same scene. Every week he whispered I love you, knowing she couldn't hear, but needing to say it anyway.

He got up and returned to the assigned transport location. He couldn't remain in this timeline, even though he wished he could. He couldn't live in his own timeline either, couldn't live knowing Alice would never again hold his hand or kiss his cheek. He felt helpless.

*
"Good morning Mr. Mercer" the cheery Timeline Attendant said as he approached the gray and white booth.

"Mornin Sue" Bob replied. "Same timeline as usual."

A look of pity crossed Sue's face, and she nodded, punching in the correct coordinates. "Leave all belongings in the dish. Do not bring money, and do not make contact with anyone."

Bob nodded and emptied his pockets, throwing his old pocket-knife, keys and wallet in the dish before stepping into the monochrome booth.

The door slid closed with a soft whoosh and the air pressure changed. Colors and sounds flew past faster than he could make sense of them. In an instant the booth was gone and he was standing on the sidewalk, a few blocks from the park.

Instead of continuing toward the park as usual, he made a right turn down a residential street, stopping outside an old yellow Victorian era house. He bent down, ran his hands under an old rosebush, and retrieved a bronze key.

He stood in the doorway. The smell of Alice's perfume still hung in the air. A grey cat rubbed against his legs and purred in recognition. Memories threatened to choke him, but he forced himself onward, down the hallway with the creaky wooden floor, and stopped at the small room he used as an office.

A fly buzzed around a half eaten bologna sandwich. He remembered he was too nervous about the proposal to eat the whole thing, and left it on his desk. He jiggled open the bottom desk drawer, pulled out a Smith & Wesson, and loaded the chamber with a single 9mm bullet.

Tucking it in his pants, he headed out, shutting the door on his old apartment for good.
Bob made it to the park earlier than expected. Instead of sitting at his favorite bench, he lounged behind a tree, nearly hidden in overgrown shrubbery. He waited.

Alice's voice rang through the air "Oh Bob, yes!"

Bob knew her next move by heart, and lowered the site. Alice dropped to her knees kissing the man in front of her. Bob closed his eyes "I love you, Alice" he whispered. He squeezed the trigger.

BANG!

The shot rang through the air. Alice's lifeless body slumped forward into the man's arms.
Don't worry, Bob told himself as walked back to the pick-up location, you're better off this way. You'll avoid the heartache to come later.

Bob smiled. When he returned home tonight, life would be different.

About the Author: 
R. May is an amateur writer, living in California and toiling away at a marketing/copywriting job by day. She enjoys reading (fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, horror) writing, cooking and blogging.