The golden years were certainly golden for Zahra and Fabian. They had never been so relaxed together.
When Zahra suddenly sat down at the chess table while Fabian was practicing and challenged him to game, the significance was not lost on Fabian. Zahra had been a ranked chess player in her youth, but somehow she’d never wanted to play with him. She only caught the occasional game with Charles.
Then one night Zahra’s eyes flickered open in the wee hours. She slipped out of bed and found her way down to he sitting room, knowing what she would find.
This moment that she had longed for so long was somehow awkward. She cleared her throat. “Excuse me?”
Cyclone looked up. His ghostly face was unreadable. Slowly he closed the book and stood. Zahra’s breath caught.
“Hello!” he said cheerfully. His hollow voice echoed through the house. “I’m Cyclone Sword. This must be your place I’m haunting.”
Zahra felt a sob well in her throat. She forced it down. She was a scientist. Whatever her youthful fantasies, she’d known for a long time what to expect.
Still, her voice quavered as she said, “Sample. You took my name when we were married and became Cyclone Sample. Can you possibly remember?”
He stared at her for a long time. “I knew you, didn’t I? You’re the reason I haunt this house.”
“Yes!” Zahra breathed. “We were married. Your son is all grown up now. You’re about to be a grandfather!”
“Whoa,” Cyclone said. “That’s a lot to dump on a fellow all at once.”
“I know that only part of you projects from the Netherworld, but is our entire life together erased? Can you remember any of it?”
“I,” Cyclone said, then stopped. “I held Charles in my arms. I taught him to read. But, wait, I held you in my arms and taught you to read. It’s so confusing!”
Zahra’s heart lept. “It was a pretty strange romance,” she admitted. “But yes, both of those things are true.”
“I’m going to be a grandfather,” Cyclone said. “Wow.”
“Why did you come back to me now?” Zahra asked. “Why when I’m an old woman?”
Cyclone chuckled. “Something tells me that this is a very funny thing to say. I was an old man when I met you. Older. I was already dead, wasn’t I?”
“Yes,” Zahra admitted. “I said our love was strange.”
She knew better than to ask, but still she heard herself say the words she had rehearsed so many times as a young woman. “I know that the Netherworld is far off, and you are only part of yourself, but… is there any chance you love me still?”
“My lady,” Cyclone said. “I am dead. I can’t describe it. We will have to talk about all this when you get here. But if our love was true then, there is something now.”
Then he stiffened. “I’m sorry, but I have to go.”
And he was gone, leaving Zahra alone with her thoughts.
Fabian let her sleep in the next morning so long that she was late for work. “Why didn’t you wake me?” she demanded as she rushed about getting ready.
“I woke up last night and you weren’t there,” Fabian said. “I figured you’d need the extra rest.”
Zahra pulled Fabian into her arms and hugged him fiercely. “Things are going to be complicated when we pass on,” she said. “But I wouldn’t change anything.”
“I know,” Fabian said. “It’s what I signed on for when I fell in love with you.”
“Thank you, my love,” Zahra whispered. “For everything.”
At last! Cyclone is manifesting like a normal ghost! And I have complete set of legacy ghosts. Maybe that won’t be so cool a few generations down the line, but now it’s awesome!
It is midnight, and I so shouldn’t be taking the time to write this, but I’ve so missed the Samples.
Oh, yeah, and I have no particular reason to highlight this in the story right now, but Zahra and Fabian have been little bunnies since they became elders. One of them always has the wish to Woohoo or romance the other. It’s so sweet.