“Kill me, darling, kill me...” Ellen’s plea was so pitiable that Suzan wept as she murmured over and over again, “What have I done? What have I done? Please forgive me, my love, please forgive me! God, forgive me!”
The doctor suppressed an urge to scream. What now sat staring at her through rheumy eyes was not the Ellen she knew, but a hideous, shrunken, shriveled shell of a woman, her flesh paper-thin and intersected with swollen blue-gray veins, her facial features barely visible through a maze of sunken furrows.
In just one night Ellen had aged to well over a hundred.
“Kill me,” the creature begged again with barely enough breath to speak.
Suzan lurched back, the woman’s stench overpowering. Yet this was Ellen, her Ellen, the Ellen that she had loved only last night, reduced now to a living corpse. Over and over again, the doctor played the same anguished thoughts: Where had she gone wrong with the formula? Why had it worked so quickly and caused an adverse effect? What could she do now to save her love? There had to be something...
But as Ellen gave her another pleading, torturous look through those sunken rheumatic eyes, Suzan felt utterly at a loss.
“Please,” Ellen wheezed, obviously in pain. Her hands, so thin and gnarled, clutched the edge of the piano keyboard to keep her from falling over. “Suzan, if you love me...”
“I do love you!” Suzan sobbed, “God, I love you!”
“Then kill me.”
Volatile emotions rocked Suzan to the core. She couldn’t do as Ellen asked, couldn’t kill the one thing she loved most in the world. Yet as she gazed at Ellen, what was left of such a beautiful vibrant creature, she knew what had to be done, not only as a loved one but as a doctor, even if it would brand her a murderer...forever.
Hurrying down to the cellar, Suzan grabbed a clean needle and prepared a solution that would cause a quick, painless death. Her fingers shook badly but she managed to fill the hypodermic and then place it in her robe pocket. When she returned to her lover, Suzan gently lifted Ellen in her arms and carried her to their bedroom. Carefully the doctor laid her patient along the bed, Ellen’s legs like stalks of thin, dried, withered wheat. As tears spilled down her cheeks, Suzan placed the duvet over her lover’s emancipated body, the least she could do to make Ellen warm and comfortable in her final moments.
Then, extracting the hypo, Suzan slowly brought it to Ellen’s arm and slipped the needle beneath the thin, parchment flesh. Please, dear God, please forgive me from what I’ve done! And please Ellen, darling, please forgive me for what I’ve done to you! I didn’t keep my promise, I failed you so miserably!
A moment later Suzan heard her lover let out a small gasp as death claimed her. Ellen, oh Ellen! Between her sobs of anguish and despair, Suzan managed to extract the needle and close her lover’s eyes. Now, instead of the tortuous, pinched look of pain on her face, Ellen had a serene, soft look about her as eternal peace claimed her. Just for a moment Suzan swore she saw Ellen as she had been just 24-hours ago, exquisite, alive, golden, and ethereal.
And at that moment, Suzan wanted to jab the needle into her arm, join her lover in blissful death. She had just enough of the poison left to do the deed. Yet, suddenly, she remembered Ellen’s words as if the beautiful creature herself stood beside her and whispered them in Suzan’s ear: If anything should happen to me, my dearest, I want you to live on. Promise me that, please!
Yes, oh, yes, Suzan acknowledged as she dropped the hypo on the floor, I promise, my darling Ellen, to continue on. Not only will I cherish your memory, but I’ll take good care of all that you left me.
At least this would be a promise she could finally keep...