Prompt Day #185: Craft a new piece using this sentence as your opening line: “The abyss doesn’t always gaze back into you, he thought, as he peered into her motionless eyes.”
An alternative title for this piece might be something like “This is what happens when someone else writes my opening line.” This was REALLY hard for me. I started with this line and then I sat here staring at the blinking cursor (it did not stare back into me either) until I saw motionless eyes laying on the table like a pair of thrown dice. So I started to write thinking “this guy is one creepy dude, what the hell is he doing with a pair of eyes on the table” But then he said “I’m not creepy, I’m heartbroken. I want my wife back, I can’t let her go.” And I cried and he cried and then this….
Abyss of the Heart
The abyss doesn’t always gaze back into you, he thought, as he peered into her motionless eyes. They had been so beautiful, but like all living organs, they wouldn’t last. He grabbed the glass ones he’d painted and pushed them into the empty sockets. The other ones, the ones he’d stared into for the last twenty years, he dropped into the formalin solution. They were sticky on his fingers. Strangely, this bothered him more than any part of the process so far.
When she was first diagnosed, he could pretend it wasn’t real, wasn’t happening. Her eyes were always so bright and full of life even as her body withered away. Those prismatic icy blue orbs held the universe inside them. When they made love, he’d beg her to look at him and as he climaxed, he would have sworn he saw galaxies exploding. Now she was gone and he was taking her apart piece by piece.
He turned the page in the taxidermy manual. He’d never done this before but he was meticulous, reading and rereading the pages. Oh how he wished she was still here with him. She’d be leaning over him, her breath light on his neck, and she would say something like “Hmm, I’d put a little more filling in the cheeks” or maybe “I’ve always wanted to be a C-cup, go ahead, you know you want to.” He smiled. He could hear her saying that. The body lying before him used to have perfectly perky 38 B’s before the cancer suckled at them leaving lifeless sacs of skin in their place.
As a mortician, it wasn’t easy not to think about this day. Watching her body change as the weeks turned to sand in an hour glass. Every so often he had to recalculate the supplies he’d need to make her perfect, the woman his hands knew by heart. When the funeral was over, everyone was told she would be cremated. Of course that wasn’t going to happen. He would keep her with him always and when he too was gone someday, they would find her and bury them together.
This morning he sat holding her hand while she used every ounce of energy left to move her diaphragm. Each expiration, a shudder. He knew the time had come.
“Look at me” he’d said, just as he had so many times before when she lay beneath him. He turned her head towards him with the palm of his hand on her sunken cheek. She opened her eyes. He stared deep into the abyss, galaxies and stars imploding now, becoming a massive black hole that swallowed every last bit of light. She was gone. He closed first her eyes, then his own and kissed her.