Tthey sat together as the bombs fell.
The screams were loud, horrible. The floor shook almost regularly, like a giant’s heartbeat. Except it was killing, not living.
They both knew it was the end.
John reached out and took her hand.
“So, we finally find out.”
She lifted her head, the cascade of black hiding her eyes until she brushed the strands aside automatically. The glimmer of annoyance in her eyes still made his heart melt, as did the tilt of her jaw. More lines now, but still so beautiful.
“Find out what?”, her lips pursed, puzzle frown lines crisscrossing her forehead.
“If God will take me. If he’s there to take me, and if so, what he’ll do with me.”
A joke. Kind of. John had never believed, Beth was founded in her faith.
She smiled. “Why did you never ask to marry me?”, she asked, staring directly at John.
It melted his heart, as ever.
“Because you were married to Daniel, silly.”, he answered. Tone light, almost playful. But inside he shook.
“I waited, you know.”, she said after a pause. “For nine years. I prayed and prayed, but you never asked. I dreamed of feeling your lips again, touching your back like we did.”
John scrambled to his feet.
“That should never have happened. I got you drunk. That’s what I did. I bloody well used you. I made you betray that bugger in the sky, your family, and most of all yourself.
Why didn’t I ask? Because I’m not worthy of you. It was right to find Dan, right to have the beautiful twins.”
she laughed. Sad, soft, soul deep.
“What is right, damn you man? Don’t tell me what is right. I will face my God when it is time.”
The room shook, and a window exploded, a gust of hot air shrieking through them.
“Now, I expect”, she continued, “well, almost. So it doesn’t matter now. I married Dan because eventually I had to have someone. And I loved him, I really did. He was like the best friend I should have had, but not the man I gave my heart to.” She dripped a tear onto the table.
“I bought a house on the same street”, John said, sitting down.
“I took your kids to school because it was on the way to work. That’s what I said anyway.”
“I was uncle John.”
“I know that too.”
“I made Dan my best buddy, so I could be friends with all your family.”
“I know I know I know. She shouted now, tears and words burning fiercely.
“All you ever had to do was hug me. That’s all. I was always yours.”
John sighed, and covered his eyes with his hands.
“He always knew, didn’t he?”
She nodded. “Poor beautiful man. He knew. He thanked God every day for letting him have another sunrise with me. I know, I heard him once when he thought he was alone.”
“He was a good person. No, a bloody great person,” John agreed. “He didn’t me, of all things, to be in his life. He loved you with all his heart.”
Beth bit her lip, softly, then harder. “He loved you to, you know. He so enjoyed your company. It was agony for him, but you were a brother.”
“Where is he?”, John asked. “Still alive?”
“I think so,” she said. He was before. I said I was going to be with you. Once the twins were dead. He smiled, kissed me, and drove away."
They hugged, and Beth shrieked when the roof was torn off. John never knew if they managed to kiss or not, because the white burning light was so hot they melted away together, even as his thoughts were still moving through his body