Rebecca Myles stood amongst the dusty contents of a 6×8 storage locker. It had only been four days since her husband of fifty-one years had passed away and the shock still left her numb. Fifty-one years, nine months and four days.
“This doesn’t have to be done so soon,” Dee said, placing a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “The funeral is enough stress for one day.”
Rebecca shook her head. “I didn’t know this space existed until yesterday. I need to find out what Arthur stored here.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?”
Dee enveloped her friend in hug. “Call if you need me.”
Rebecca surveyed the stacks and reached for a box at eye level. She sat in a plastic patio chair with the box on her lap and lifted the tucked flaps. Medical journals. She smiled at the memory of the pride Arthur carried for his cancer research. Just last month, he felt sure a vaccination was close. Her throat tightened. Before his heart attack. He was a good man- stable and reliable. She refused to fault him for what was missing when he gave her so much.
She slid the journals aside. Off to her left, a glossy white box tied with blue ribbon caught her eye. When she lifted the lid, she thought it strange the box didn’t have a coating of dust like the others. Inside, she found a stack of hand-written letters. Unfolding the first yellowed, brittle page, she noticed the shimmering blue and black butterfly at the top. She scanned the script with vague familiarity, though the writing wasn’t hers or Arthur’s- the letters were a century old.
The poetic proclamation of love caused raw emotions to fester to the surface. Tears dripped from her eyelashes, soaking the linen paper. She rushed to wipe the wetness away, smearing the ink into a black smudge. She gasped. “No! Oh, no… it’s ruined!”
The hairs on her arms raised, as if charged by an electrical current. Rebecca moved to smooth them down and the paper slipped from her arthritic fingers, drifting to the ground on an unseen breeze. Her eyes widened as the butterfly’s wings lifted from the page. In stunned silence, she watched as it flitted toward her and landed on her shoulder. A ripple of fear rushed through her, followed by a serenity like none she’d felt before.
Warm fingers brushed the side of her cheek. Rebecca’s eyelids lifted, breath momentarily suspended when she caught sight of the handsome dark-haired man beside her. She looked up and saw a spray of stars across an inky sky rather than the metal storage unit ceiling.
She returned her gaze to him. “Antonio?” Confusion clouded Rebecca’s senses. She ran her palms along the back of her arms to ease the chill, shocked that her fingers weren’t bent and arthritic and her age-spotted papery skin had transformed into a soft, youthful glow. “What’s going on?”
“I’ve spent the last hundred years figuring out how to change our course.”
Rebecca sat up. “What?”
“Caroline, from the moment you wed Joseph, I’ve searched for a way to get our time back.”
“I-I don’t understand. I married Arthur.”
“In your last life, my love. Arthur was Joseph a century ago.”
“I don’t believe in reincarnation.”
Antonio sighed. “Or time travel?”
“I don’t know anymore.” She took in their surroundings. It felt like a different era. She glanced at her hands, absent of raised blue veins, and couldn’t find another explanation.
“Your tears brought you here. If my letter no longer stirred emotion, I would’ve let you be.”
Brows furrowed, she searched his face. “Were you Leonard?”
He smiled. “It killed me to step away again, but this is the moment I’d waited for.” He cupped her face in his hands. “Our second chance.”
Her cheeks warmed when he grasped her hands and pulled her into him. The electricity she’d felt when the butterfly neared her before returned. It beckoned her to choose passion over practicality.
“You’re to wed Joseph tomorrow, Caroline. Marry me tonight.”
She searched Antonio’s eyes for truth. She’d sometimes wondered where alternate paths would’ve led, and in that moment, she couldn’t help but think the rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.
This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly challenge which is to write a response in less than 750 words (mine is 712) and (1) use “The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.” as the final sentence, and (2) make some kind of reference to the media prompt (a trailer to Love in the Time of Cholera.)
The challenge is open to anyone, so click on the badge above to view Speakeasy’s site with the complete guideline information.