She looked up at him, tears streaming down her face and matting her auburn hair against her face. The blue light behind his head encircled him like a mournful halo, the background room fading away.
Then the moment passed. The flashing blue lights outside the window revealed the weapons and duffel bags on the bed. Gruff voices began to shout outside the door and the metal clinking of an end began to approach the flimsy door.
“We messed this one up! I know what I said, but I wish–I wish… I am not as strong–” she struggled with the words, her voice quivering as he reached out for her, “What if I lose you? I don’t know? But what? I love you, but what if?“
He pulled her into his embrace. It felt like home. It felt like a thousand homes and all she wanted to do was to hide in there from the horrid world and its raging waters.
“Don’t worry, it’ll all be fine, my love. We’ll eventually reach it,” he whispered, hoarsely into her ear, squeezing her tightly, “Remember, we are the immortals who swim through the river of time. One day, my love, one day we will reach the ocean and, no matter what, I want you to kn–“
Just then the door blasted inwards.
He opened his eyes and she was lying next to him. She was always lying next to him, in every life every time and every way.
Across millennia, they were each other’s constant.
He smiled, propped himself up on his elbows and leaned over to kiss her, softly moving her auburn hair out of her face. He froze, as the memories of the last death came back…
Pushing the darkness down, he kissed her again and whispered her immortal name into her ear. Not the name her first father had given her or any of the thousands of other names she had carried through lifetimes. No, he whispered the name that they had given each other. The name that only he alone in all the cosmos knew while he gently kissed her again and again.
Slowly, she opened her eyes. He was the first thing she saw, framed by the soft light of the moon behind him and smiling down at her with only the smallest hint of darkness from their last death hidden in the corners of his eyes.
“My love,” she sighed, smiling and reaching up to hold him, “My love, it is good to swim with you again through the river of time. May the waters be gentler this time and our ocean be near.”
Sometimes it was days or years, sometimes it was decades or even a century or two between reincarnations.
This time it had been an entire age and the world was now filled with lights, plastic and emptiness. Poisonous people paraded as leaders and broken people hid as society. Mankind had reached for the stars as his world failed, but he, himself, had failed and fallen back down to Earth as a broken species on a failing planet.
The two of them had woken up in the end times.
From the first dirty creatures in caves to dusty fanatics in deserts, the two of them had had a beginning and seen all the middles and all the ends thereafter. From the disintegrating Roman Empire to death descending upon Hiroshima the ages had each ended while the two of them had kept living and living.
Eventually, they knew and they had discussed it countless times across endless ages, there would be an end to the river of time.
A final End, their ocean.
Everything that had a start, must have an end. Each of them had been born separately. That had been their beginning. Across the plains of Africa across lifetimes, they had found each other–fellow immortals entwined–and, thereafter, had remained forever bound together in their eternal love.
What of the end? Their End?
Much as this world would eventually end, they knew they must surely end with it too? For what would immortals in mortal bodies do without their world?
The blackened, burnt Earth felt the white light before it saw it. Gently, the frigid wasteland began to warm but then quicker and quicker, the light became unbearable as it swept over the dead planet engulfing and consuming it.
Only two people in old, worn bodies–with older souls–stood atop a bunker that led deep below the planet’s surface. Like cockroaches, mankind’s leftovers had survived in tunnels cut into the planet’s husk but, eventually, the End had come and the two of them were the only witnesses.
As the intense white light rushed towards them, the two old people held each other tightly; the man gently kissing the woman and whispering her immortal name into her ear, again and again…
And then the Earth was no more, and neither was mankind.
He opened what he thought was his eyes and she was floating next to him wreathed in cosmic light against an otherworldly backdrop. They had no bodies. It was just light.
They were the light.
Eternity stretched around them. Black and endless, terrifying and vast, filled with infinite colours and the cosmic dust of countless stars that had beginnings and then had birthed worlds with their ends.
He smiled, floating his cosmic light towards hers. He was craving to reach out and touch her, kiss her, and hold her.
But all he did was think of her immortal name and he felt her light wake up. Her soul stirred with infinite colours. He knew she was looking at him as he knew that she knew he was looking at her…
Their two incredible cosmic lights floated together and they began to swirl around each other in a blinding, ethereal dance. No words could or needed to be said. It was just pure energy. They both knew what was the beginning and what their end would be, and as their two swirling lights came together in a great cosmic kiss, a star was born.
A star that had a beginning and would birth entire worlds with its end.