‘I love you.’ You hear the words like the sound of a storm ending. It has ended. Your eyes move in Doppler-Effect patterns; the world swims before you, the three words he speaks over and over again like a mantra into your explosion-soiled eardrum reverberate off of the walls. You stop muttering when you realise that through his promises, fear is crackling through, burning away the veil of fortitude that he is fighting mercilessly to hold together. You realise you’re scaring him; your teeth slap shut on your bottom lip, stopping your tears. ‘I know you do. I love you, too. I promise. Whatever happens. I love you, too.’ But whenever you attempt to raise your eyes to the desecrated canvas of his face, you can feel them, bashing through your composure like a battering ram through a castle gate. You know you can’t look up. You speak-gasp to the floor. ‘I love you.’ Your voice crunches like gravel. Suddenly, a smell. Chemicals. Burning. The men outside begin to howl; a moment ago you didn’t even know they were there. Throwing yourself against him, your head whirling in a maelstrom of screeches and white noise, you listen as they wither. The light has long since diluted when their bodies sink with dull thumps to the ground. You can’t look at him. You’re trembling too hard to move. Then the wind carries with it more cries. They tear at the door, pleading. You take his hand, your grip on it stiflingly resolute as you crash through the debris, up the destroyed staircase, through the hallway, into the home you once made together that now is frosted with white silt and smells of charred bone. The city begins to shake, the pane-empty window showing scenes of cinders and snow.
You wish you could say something, anything. But all of the right words seem to have disintegrated, obsolete in comparison to the choruses of screams and chemical scars. Your arms wrap around his scarred body, his blood matting your hair, your tears soaking his skin, memories of kisses and Sunday mornings jut from your soul like scrap metal; delicate reminders of everything that you thought would never end. Another song creaks to life in your head, the last line reverberating in the emptiness. ‘Both of us knew how the end always is.’ It is everything that your world has become: a mass of endings and goodbyes. You wish a touch of your lips would wake both of you, that one romantic verse would dissolve this nightmare.
But the spell won’t break, not with a thousand kisses, and the last love song on earth isn’t audible. It is a silent, eternal embrace.