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alkaemist's short story and poem anthology

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He was trapped in a nightmare.

It was the same one that had haunted his sleep every single night, for the last four years. It never got easier. He stood in a graveyard, empty but for one single grave. The sky was painted red, and blood rained down, like some perverse corruption of his worst memory.

It had been a graveyard just like this one, where she was buried. The sky had been somber, rain falling heavily, as if the heavens themselves mourned her death. He had stood there, face emotionless, vacantly staring at the grave. It had been hours since the others had left, but he remained. Someone had handed him an umbrella, but that had been long since forgotten, and left to the side.

A part of him knew she was gone, but a larger part fought back. She couldn’t have. She had promised him that she would never leave, and there was no world where she would break his trust like that. She would never. He knew her, better than anyone. He had faith. No ‘disease’ would make her leave him alone, empty and afraid. She would never break him.

A creaking jolted him out of his nostalgia. His senses returned to his nightmare, his prison, as he waited for it. It happened every night, without fail.

The soil above her grave cracked, shifted, and a blood covered hand emerged. Slowly, he watched as she pulled herself out, bit by bit. She was just as beautiful as she had been when she was alive. Her arms, bloodied and torn. Her face, ethereal even when painted red. Her body, perfectly sculpted, the image of Aphrodite herself. And in her chest, a large gaping hole, right where her heart would have been.

“You did this to me. You killed me.”

He was used to it by now. He simply ignored her words, choosing to instead admire her beauty. She hissed, before turning away, and walking towards the entrance of the graveyard. He started. This was not something that happened every night. Where was she going? She was supposed to forgive him, and then they would embrace, and promise to be together, forever. He voiced his question, a tremble of insanity flowing through his voice.

“I am leaving. For good, this time. For years I hoped you would see the truth, but I am the one who was blind, for not seeing that you are too far gone. This is the last time we will see each other, for your own good, and for mine. This is our last dance.”

And then she was gone. He stared in horror, shock marring his features. He ran to her grave, digging at it with his bare hands. As he tore apart soil and stone, his hands hit wood. Frantically, he opened the casket, and let out a howl so miserable, it seemed to reverberate through the very heavens. It was empty.

He woke up with a wordless scream, his hands scrabbling at his chest. Hurriedly, he tore open his shirt, and inspected it. He breathed a sigh of relief, looking at the stitches. They were still there. He patted his chest, feeling the heartbeat underneath, and calmed himself down. She was still there. She would never leave him. It was just a nightmare.

After all, her heart still beat within his chest.