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By Eleanor All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Mystery

On Immortality

Surely immortality is not about living forever but concealed in the knowledge that you will live forever. It's hard to tell, of course, because if you die believing that you'll live forever you'll be a little too dead to find out if you actually do.

 But then, maybe it's a good thing dying thinking you're immortal in a certain sense because you'll never have to disappoint yourself with finding out the truth.

 Either way, you're dead, so how could you be immortal?

 He told me we were immortal. He told me that we are everywhere in that forest, our names carved into trees and under rocks, our footprints in the mud on the riverbank, our laughter still rustling through the trees with the leaves. He told me that fifty, a hundred years from now a couple like us will find our names and run through the forest trying to find out what happened to us.

 I told him that in fifty or a hundred years they would have cut down the forest anyway, the pretentious gas-guzzling gits that they are.

 He told me not to have any fear, and then we both went to university - different universities - and didn't see each other for six years until I rented out the bottom floor of my house and he moved in.

 We went through the forest again this summer, finding our names and initials and declarations of love everywhere, talking, laughing, him trying to kiss me at random moments, me turning my head suddenly and pretending not to notice.

 Then, one night, I didn't turn my head and he kissed me and it was wonderful and we became immortal again.

 I suppose immortality could be eternal youth, because that's what it feels like now. I feel like I'm sixteen again and it's the middle of the night and we're both soaring through the air with our feet planted on the ground.

 I suppose, in that sense at least, we are immortal.

  But, as I mentioned earlier, it's quite hard to know when you're dead, and I found his body this morning.

It was seven o'clock and work started at eight. I'd heard him leave quietly the night before but fell asleep before he came in again, and he wasn't there in the morning. I was not particularly surprised; indeed, he often went out and observed night life in the woods, but normally he would leave a note or something on the door to say not to make breakfast.

 However, I'd slept in that day. I had half an hour to get ready if I wanted to get to work on foot (I couldn't afford a car) and so I rushed and left some cereal on the kitchen table so he could help himself. 
At half past six I began to worry. He wasn't answering his phone and although this was not unlike him he would usually pick up on the sixth or seventh call at worst.
I went out to look for him, figuring that it was on my way to work anyway - I can walk through the woods to get to work, it just takes longer.
I searched for twenty-five minutes and then found his body at the bottom of a cliff and then pulled out my phone and then called someone, and then screamed and screamed and screamed until the ambulance came.
They had to treat me for shock, and now I'm wrapped up in a blanket sipping cheap coffee at the police station where I should be working. I am a detective, after all, and it suddenly occurs to me that I will probably have to work out who did this.

I recall that I don't actually like coffee, and as the thought pops into my head my mouth fills with the bitter taste. I almost spit it out but remember that most of the people here are my colleagues, so I swallow it instead and start retching and gagging.

This makes me think of when I found his body. 

His neck was twisted at an odd angle. His eyes were open, but I couldn't bring myself to touch him to close them.

 That's right. I was in love with him. I am a policewoman, which means I should be brave and fearless. But I couldn't bring myself to touch him so that I could put him to rest. The paramedic had to do it for me.

 "Wren, are you OK?" Mae is coming over to me, eyes wide. "Wren?"

 Suddenly, I remember that my name is Wren. "Yes," I say, but I don't see how she'll believe me because my eyes are all red and puffy and there's coffee all over my lap and my hair is full of leaves from when I fell over.

"Would you like a glass of water?" she asks carefully. I nod.

"Yes, please."

 She leaves and I watch her go. Another person comes over to me. "Wren, do you need to go home?" 

"No," I say. "I want to find out what happened to him." 

He frowns. "Are you sure? This is going to be difficult for all of us but you most of all. You two were . . . very close." 

It's so tempting, so tempting to just leave, but I owe it to him. "I'm sure," I say.
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1. On Immortality
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