Outside the little square window, there is a fetal moon hanging by an invisible thread. It floats over billows of silver clouds. Everything else is black, save a few pinpricks called stars.
I rest my head on his shoulder. Flight BA 256 glides smoothly across infinity. We have been together (atleast on paper) for exactly three years now. Our jobs keep us busy, often apart across the country, and holidays are either visiting my loud in-laws or my louder family. Those rare weekends we are together, exhaustion closes in. Bills to be paid, grocery to be bought, laundry to be done and before I know, I am at my desk again, coding. Between us, there are just a few emails. I write epics. He answers in smileys and “hmmm-s.” My husband, Mr.No-frilly-silly-Romance who has never read a novel, let alone a piece of poetry! (His favorite book probably concerns Quantum mechanics. Yes, I could literally cry!)
And this is his gift! I swear my heart DID stop beating for a while. “To celebrate us in style,” he had said handing me those tickets. Early April. Under a light off-season drizzle. I had kissed him like a hormonal teen on the curb! I lace my fingers in his, and think of the rolling hills of Cumbria, the foxgloves, the larkspurs, deep blue lakes, churches, steeples, castles and whisper in his ears, “going so far to come closer. Doesn’t it sound strange?”
“Not far enough. I could go further for you,” he says quietly.
He smiles that crooked little smile and I know he’s not answering my question. But even after so many years, that smile still makes me all nervous. My fingers tingle. The way his dark eyes twinkle. Like fireflies, I mouth soundlessly and shut my eyes, breath in a sigh.
“There was this scientist.”
“There was who?” I am jerked out of the limbo by this sudden announcement.
“Whao! Where did that come from?”
He ignored me and continued. “He loved a girl. But as Fate had it, she died. He missed her, missed her so much-”
“So much that he wanted her alive.” (A story? Stupid girl! That is impossible! Is he trying to trick me into meeting some eccentric scientist on my dream holiday? So many questions bare their fangs inside my brain. I shake my head and pay close attention, ready to attack in case he is.)
“Yes. He wanted her to come alive. So much that he shut himself away, setting out to find a way to bring her back. Years passed, he kept experimenting, “there has to be a way,” he said, “a way to bring back the dead.” The entire house was overgrown with creepers. The garden was so gnarled you might think elves and goblins lived there. The windows were sheathed in moss and fungi so dense that neighbours thought he must have died when an experiment went wrong. The kids said the house was haunted and never ventured near.
One day, the scientist made a discovery. Think of it like cloning, okay? And he kidnapped a girl, injected some of ‘her’ into her genes. But she was far from perfection. It is not his lady-love, it was not even close. Disappointed, he tried again. And again. And finally he found the glitch. His discovery cannot work on a woman. There has to be a Y-chromosome for the perfect transformation to take place. But he didn’t want to turn a man into her.”
“So he gives up?”
“Standing in a dim pool of candle-light, he made the final decision. To turn himself into her. He would reduce himself to nothing if it only felt she was close. Somewhere, inside the fuzzy details of nerves and genes and chemicals, they would be together again.
As his consciousness died, she slowly woke up.”
I eye him with disbelief. (He told me a story? Should I pinch myself? Or did I miss something? Is this mad scientist real?) Too much sci-fi flicks, is my verdict on the plot. “Wasn’t that-”
“This is how far I would go to be close to you,” he suddenly says.
The air is sucked out of my lungs. With my breath hanging half-way like that autumn morning when I first saw him more than a decade ago, I can only gape.