"I'm not a child, and you can't treat me like one!" snapped Aylisha.
"Now look Auntie, the doctor says if you don't have your medicine you won't get better, so I'll just stick it here, okay?" Her grandniece fled before Aylisha came up with a few more suggestions of where she could stick it.
Aylisha sighed. It was ridiculous that a woman of eighty-two was being treated like a six year old. She grabbed the glass angrily and flung back the foul mixture. She felt sleepy rather than better.
She heard her niece Sara talking to her brother downstairs. She had helped to raise them. Jonathan's wife Liz had given birth to a twin boy and girl, and Jonathan's daughter Debbie had continued the tradition.
Sara and Simon looked after her now, returning the favour. Aylisha smiled as she thought of them. What a grumpy old cow she was. They were only trying to help. It was just she hated being so dependent on them. If only Imhotep could see her know.
She saddened at the memory of her dark priest. Nearly sixty years had past and there still wasn't a day she didn't think of him.
Her mind wandered back to that all too brief night she had fallen in love with him. No, she thought, that's not true. I'd loved him for a lifetime, two in fact. It just took me a night to realise it.
Aylisha remembered the aftermath of his death, skipping over the actual event. The pain was till too deep.
She recalled how her parents had taken her away from his lifeless body back to her house. The papers had been awash with the strange events of the night. Museum staff missing, two men murdered in act of robbing Harrods, mysterious bugs found dead in street… the list was almost endless.
Luckily none of what happened had ever been traced back to Aylisha or her parents, so life had in many ways continued as normal. She had flung herself into her work to avoid the pain, and the advent of Jonathan and Liz's children had been another welcome distraction.
She had become a respected authority on Ancient Egypt, not only in Britain but the rest of the world, and had still managed to raise her grandnephew and niece as well. She had never married, and had therefore never had children, but had found raising two lots of other people's children quite enough for one lifetime.
So here she was. Old and tired, with no purpose in life other than to take her medicine and sleep. Huh, she thought, when she got better she'd show them… She was just drifting off to sleep when she felt another presence in the room. So, Sara had sneaked in to check she'd taken her medicine, eh? She'd soon see about that!
She cracked one eye open slightly, and was so surprised by what she saw that both it and its companion popped wide open. There, standing by the bed, was Imhotep! As her jawed dropped, he grinned at her.
"Imhotep?" It was more a question than a statement.
"Yes my love, I have returned to you."
She smiled at him. "It's about time." As he returned her smile, her look saddened "I'm an old woman now; you don't want me." She looked ruefully down at the wizened form beneath the covers.
He smiled again and reached out his hand to her. "You are as beautiful as ever, my princess. Come." She shook her head, almost not daring to believe he could still want her.
Imhotep could not help laughing. "You are also as stubborn as ever." With that he bent down and lifted her out of the bed onto her feet.
Aylisha clutched at the strong arms; it felt as though she had never left them. Then something in the bed caught her eye. She jumped with shock. There, lying peacefully in death, was her body! Her shocked eyes flew to Imhotep's.
"Yes, my love. Perhaps I should have said you have returned to me." She looked down at herself. Wrinkled flesh had regained its youthful vigour, while wasted muscles were firm and strong again.
Imhotep was amazed when she began to cry.
"Beloved, what is the matter?" The shocked concern was audible in his voice as she buried her weeping face in his broad chest, protected in the circle of his arms.
"It's all a dream, isn't it? Even you. None of it's real. When I'll wake up I'll be alone again."
He tilted her chin up, in gesture he had done so often over two lifetimes, smiling tenderly down at her tearstained face.
"No, am more real, and more alive than I have been in the past three-thousand years, because you are with me at last. "
With that he kissed her, long and hungrily. She returned it with the passion of a soul that has known too much of pain and sorrow to let happiness slip away again.
In the warmth of his embrace, she spoke in small voice, almost fearing to ask the question that preyed upon her mind. "Imhotep, will we be together now… for always I mean?"
His arms tightened around her. "Yes, our waiting is at an end; there have been punishments enough. However, the rewards are…" he broke of as he trailed a sensuous finger down her face, causing her to catch her breath, "…more than sufficient." He smiled. "There will be no more pain, and no more suffering; an eternity of love awaits us."
As he lowered his head to hers, she felt him whisper softly against her lips,
"Death is only the beginning…"
Many thanks to everyone who was kind enough to review - I hope you enjoyed it!