They lit the signal fire in the night.
We had come so close. We rationed proteins, we doled out water in scant mouthfuls. If we were careful, there would be just enough. Then we ran out of fuel. Outside, a blue-green world rotates tantalizingly out of reach. I lick my dry lips and send another mayday.
It is nearly light and I have not slept. Pine boughs scrape the windowpanes. “Stay,” she murmurs when I stir, but the name she whispers is not mine. She drifts in and out, clutching the covers to her chest. Frost limns the window, and yet I lie here and burn.
Somewhere amongst the detritus of my younger days—the moldering books, the broken music-box, the worn-out dancing shoes—is a letter that contains your signature and a broken promise. Our entire history could be read in its creases and ragged edges, if I cared to find it.
The Perseids dart overhead, a school of fish in a boundless dark sea. I count them for you, trace a path along a river of stars. Trace, also, the pale curve of your shoulder. "What did you wish for?" I ask. Your eyes are bright. "An eternity of this."