What would you do if you knew you would die before the end of the night? What would you do with your last night on Earth? I know what I would do, what I did. I lit a fire, found my favourite book and listened to the rain. There was a thunderstorm, raging outside. It was comforting. When I was younger I never understood why people were afraid of thunder. My favourite time was when there was a power cut and the weather raged outside and my room was lit by candles. Sometimes I would go outside in the heaviest rain just to feel the raw power of nature. It took my breath away as the sky bled and roared far above.
I finished the book a little before two in the morning. Setting it down gently and stroking the cover lightly, I hoped that my death would not somehow damage the book. That would be a pity. The stormed continued to roll outside and rain hit the windows. I stood and looked out at the darkness. Wind howled and lightning flashed, thunder almost instantaneously following. As I watched the weather show its strength I saw a reflection and sighed. It would be him. Of all the people who could have been sent, it would be him. “Jim.” I said softly.
“Hello Maria.” He said equally softly. I didn’t turn. I wanted to go back a few hours and live them over and over again. I didn’t want to die. My breath caught in my chest and tears stung my eyes.
“Why you?” I asked. It wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t change anything.
He came closer and I tensed. “I asked. After all this time it felt right.” He brushed my hair over my shoulder and stroked my neck gently. I closed my eyes and a gasp escaped me. Not quite a sob but close. He made soft hushing noises and wrapped his arms around me from behind. I wanted it to be over, and I didn’t. “Relax.” He murmured.
“I’m scared.” I whispered, starting to cry.
“You knew this was coming.” I nodded. “Why didn’t you try to run?” He asked, still holding me.
I opened my eyes and let my head rest against his chest. “I wouldn’t have escaped. I know that. And if I had run, whoever found me would make sure I regretted it. Anyway, this way I got some peace.” The rain was lessening. I wondered if I would have until the rain stopped.
Jim loosened his hold on me and I tensed, waiting for him to kill me. But he just turned me around slowly and I looked up at him. He wiped the tears away from my cheeks. “I wish you had run in some ways.” He smiled at me. One of his genuine smiles which were gentle and made me wonder what happened to make him turn out so cold so much of the time.
It was time to finish this, I couldn’t keep waiting. “Just do it quickly.” I stared up at him.
“Why are you in such a rush to die?” He asked, pulling back slightly. I shook my head slightly, mostly to give myself thinking time.
“I’m as at peace with the idea of my…my death as I am going to get and the longer you wait the more scared I get. I want the last person to see me to remember me going bravely into that good night.”
“Almost Dylan Thomas.” He said with a slight smile. “Although I think it was ‘do not go gentle into that good night’.”
“‘Old age should burn and rave at close of day’. I don’t think that I count as old really. I’m not sure that it really applies to me.” I smiled, not really meaning it.
"The good die young because God needs them.”
“You don’t believe in God.”
He shrugged, “Does that matter if the idea might bring you some comforted?” And pulled me over to the settee.
I lay with my head in his lap and he lightly stroked my hair. “The rain is stopping.” I said.
I felt him shift slightly. “It’s going to be dawn soon.” I sat up and looked out of the window at the lightening sky. I could just see the sea to the east. More to the south I could see a line of mountains, slightly darker against the brightening sky. I felt Jim just behind me again as I watched the sky lighten and then the rim just peaked above the horizon. I smiled at the sight and felt a sudden pain in my arm. I turned to see Jim holding a hypodermic needle. “I’m sorry Maria.” My body felt heavy and I swayed. He helped me down to the floor slowly. I found his hand and clutched it.
“The light isn’t dying.” I murmured. “It’s being born.” I looked back out at the sunrise over sea and slowly I fell into an everlasting sleep as Jim stroked my face gently.