A/N Hmm... I want to write something. Really, anything could go in this document- I have no plan, so I don't have much of an author's note.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, regret nothing and let them forget nothing.
There was a group of people outside. The sky was purest blue. People thought this was unfitting for a day like this, but I thought it fit it right. I had some papers in my hand as I walked onto the stage. I looked at the group of people; I recognized every single one of them. I placed my papers on the podium and took one last look at the people before I drew in a breath, shaking off my nervousness.
"My friends," I started, "this is going to be a bit long winded, so bear with me. Thank you all for showing up."
I didn't know why she insisted on me keeping my eyes closed with one hand and my other in hers, but I listened to her, as I always do. She led me through... somewhere, I honestly had no clue, and wouldn't relent when I asked her at the five, ten and twenty minute mark to let me have use of my eyes again.
"Trust me, Luigi" she had chuckled, taking a brief stop.
"I do trust you," I replied with a muted annoyance. "I'd just like to see."
"Don't worry. I'm not going to get you hurt," she insisted, and that was it, she kept going with me in tow. I didn't even bother saying anything else because I knew she wasn't going to be swayed. She was very stubborn like that, but I was okay with it.
We went on for another seven minutes in the same manner, and it wasn't exactly comfortable- I was hunched down half the time, and with someone of my height and fitness brought on a feeling quite similar to trying to bend a twig in half.
Finally, she announced "We're here."
"Oh thank god," I sighed in relief.
"Wait- don't you open your eyes yet," she reprimanded me, digging her nails into my hand as preventative measures.
"Seriously?" I openly whined, disgruntled; she had seen me do so many other embarrassing things that a whine was about as dismissible as someone mispronouncing a long word.
"Man up," she demanded with a giggle, punching me in the arm with her free hand. I winced, and she laughed harder. "Just... trust me," she repeated.
"I will, Sheik, will," I replied with a laugh.
She stopped giggling, and told me "Thanks." I smiled, and I had a feeling she was as well. Every time she told me to trust her, the conversation went the same way- I told her I did, she thanked me, and we both shared a smile. I never questioned it, it was just the way things were.
I felt her coax me into a sitting position, and I complied. She then tilted my head backwards, causing me to lie down. Her touch was strong and insistent, but not harmful. She just barely gave me enough freedom to make me comfortable, but I never minded. It was just the way she worked.
"Keep your eyes shut," she repeated. She let me go, and I lay there, wherever I was, for a few moments. I tried to figure out where I was by the texture of what I lay on- it felt like plain dirt. I tried reaching my arms out to see if I could recognize the feel of the ground. I confirmed that it was, indeed, dirt.
"Hey, thanks for doing it for me," I heard her tell me as she lay down, settling into my arms. I felt her hair brush up against my face, and it made me smile, the familiar texture spraying across my closed eyes, and so I didn't bother moving it.
"Hey, goof," she whispered, and I felt her words as they hit my ear directly, scratching by my neck on their way, "you can open your eyes now."
Really, I could have spent the entire night like this, her lying next to me, hair in my face, my arm wrapped around her and her words tickling my skin. There was a reason for that, and that was because it was otherworldly, to be this close to someone. But I had a feeling if I didn't she'd have a quip about how I had spent the whole trip whining about not being able to see and now I wouldn't open my eyes, and by god, I couldn't let her have the upper hand.
I opened my eyes at long last, and the first thing I saw was... her hair, which was still splayed across my face. I moved the strings out of my sight and took a look around me. It was quite a surprise, at first sight. I saw tall, green poles around me in numerous numbers, by the hundreds. On each of those poles were leaves. Okay, so those were... stems... wow, what was I thinking, a bunch of green poles? I noticed some yellow petals higher up and then it clicked.
"These are... sunflowers, Sheik?" I asked. She nodded, smiling, as if she had just revealed a surprise she had long wanted to show me, and that just made it a lot cooler. I traced the outline of her lips again, as if I hadn't memorized it by now. They were very thin, but very catching; the red a bold contrast to her skin. They weren't heart shaped; they didn't have a named shape, but they were smiling, and that's all I really needed to know.
I noticed that her lips had captured my attention for a full minute, and I turned red, because I hadn't even taken a look at the sunflowers yet. And it was such an interesting perspective, too, being on the ground, like bugs in a forest. The sunflowers were easily six to ten feet tall at average. We were in a natural path between two waves of them, and it was somewhat exhilarating, if only because it was something I had never seen before, this viewpoint. Little things like that interested me; it's as if I'm collecting everything life has to offer like a boy scout getting all his badges or a kid collecting all the happy meal toys.
"This is beautiful," I muttered, moving my arm so that she was just a bit closer to me. The hint did not go by unnoticed from her, and she made a move that was a bit bolder, facing me and wrapping her leg around mine oh so subtly, but enough. Oh, man, that is unequivocally sexy; I know it, she knows it, and she knows I know it. It's enough of a connected mind boggle to make a half assed Inception joke. I make a mental note to remind her that I've noticed how sexy she is later.
It's insane how seconds feel like minutes when I'm with her, but I like it. It's spiritual; surreal.
In the present, she nodded, and it took me a second to remember what the conversation was. She took this opportunity to speak. "I've always loved this place. My thinking space. I wish I had shown it to you earlier, but I felt that I needed a place all my own, as everyone does."
"I can respect that," I reassured her simply.
"I always felt so small when I lay under the sunflowers. But then I remember that someone so small still has more than anyone could ask for, and I realized it's alright to be small because we're still blessed." She sighed as she leaned into me. "Does that make sense?"
"In a cosmic sort of way, yes."
I smiled, placing my hand on her face. Her skin is just as smooth as it's always been, and I still shuddered when I touched it, because I still couldn't believe she was mine. I don't think I'll ever comprehend how lucky I was.
We spent a short amount of time gazing into each other, and she leaned closer so that her chest was against mine. I felt my heartbeat against mine, and I closed my eyes in content. When she did this, it was better than a kiss. Our lips could say anything and everything, true or not. But our hearts was where the raw honesty and truth of our love lay, and that was how we shared it with each other.
She leaned out of the heart connection in order to talk again. "Would you like to walk around, Luigi?"
"It'd be great, yes. How big is this field?"
"A few miles, actually. We don't have to traverse all of it, but I can show you some of it."
"Wow, that's amazing."
I laughed at her random inclusion of Germany. Just one of her many quirks, to single out a word to be said in a different language. She did that once in awhile as to not be predictable. It was sort of an in-joke, and I loved in jokes.
She smiled, and I could read on the smile that she felt an accomplishment in making me laugh. It was so beautiful that we could feel such accomplishment in causing us happiness.
We walked through the trail through the sea of sunflowers, silently taking in its beauty. She seemed to know every trail in the field, as she had been here many many times. It was a second home, a sanctuary of serenity. And she had let me in.
I knew this place was going to be a significant memory, a time and place where everything, for one final time, was going to be right. That's the beauty of moments like this. You can forget all the frustration and trials of the world and lose yourself in the seconds that tick by and the surroundings around you. Nothing else matters until you leave, hand in hand with the most amazing person in your life, and I was entirely grateful for that.
"This is my favorite part," she eventually announced, and I could see why. The flowers, bright red in petals and dark green in stem, created a canopy in the pathway around the four foot mark. We were in a dip on the field's hillside, and the canopy was the safe place. Perhaps the one safe place in the entire world. I wondered if the sunflowers had been here in the entire existence of the world. If it had bore witness to other couples like us, who had crawled under the canopy like we were doing right now.
It was a bit of work to get under there- we were both around six feet tall, and my back was starting to ache again. But eventually we were lying next to each other again, the sunflowers our guard and security.
When she faced me again, she had tears in her eyes. I started to wipe them off, tracking them down like Pac Man after fruit and round white dots. She smiled, taking my hand and placing it on her face again. I wasn't going to argue with that.
"It really is beautiful," she repeated, her voice shaky.
I smiled with a bit of deviousness, and, in a quest to return the favor, stated "Looks gooooood," in a drawn out and goofy voice. She giggled through her tears and plethora of emotion and kissed me on the top of my head. In my head, I once again thanked Conan for this inside joke.
She gazed at me again, and started to talk. I knew this is what she was building to say, because her emotion started to seep through the cracks. "Luigi... fifty two years, three children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren... five jobs, one career, three houses, more friends than we can count, many adventures winding down, near death experiences, and two brilliant lives... and we've survived through it all."
We have. We were in our seventies by now. I wasn't as spry, a bit crochety, and complained about my back. She took up knitting despite insisting in her thirties that she'd never do old lady stuff like that, and spoiled our grandkids rotten. I felt tears stinging my eyes as hers increased, because I knew our biggest adventure was going to conclude.
And we were survivors. We've survived people trying to kill us when we were younger, the occasional fight that would get so bad that we wouldn't speak for a week, the adjustment to mundane life that was very much welcome, a heart attack on my behalf, and our old bones winding down as our time drew near. We survived as humans, and we survived as lovers. But we couldn't survive forever.
I didn't know what to say. Her way with words were so gorgeous because she spoke for both of us. She knew what I was thinking, because she had five decades to study me. I loved her more than anything, and I always will.
I looked at her, gathering my courage, and stated "We are survivors. We've survived our entire lives together. We've never left, we've never split. We've stayed together and supported each other ever since we met. And I've loved you more than anyone, and I always will. Until my bones turn to dust and are placed next to yours."
I was centimeters from her and I could feel the words impact her as they brushed against her pure skin. She started to cry, and I heard her sobbing. But she wasn't entirely sad. She was happy. She knew we accomplished what most of the heroes and beloved people in the world haven't been able to do. And I felt myself well up stronger, and I started to cry as well. She embraced me tighter than she ever did before, and I felt my heartbeat hammer against hers. It just made me cry harder, with all my mixed emotions.
"Bravo," she stated simply. "Bravissimo."
I started laughing through my tears, and she did as well. We were serendipitous, finding that one place where our emotions could run free and no one would worry or care. It was the time that would be the last chapter of our story. And we were okay with that. Saddened, but okay. How could we be angry? Look at all we've been given. All we've worked to receive.
She started to kiss me, with the passion of a lover, stronger than the thankful affection. I returned her passion, soaking up every bit of my time with her and letting it course through my veins. Our hearts beat against each other and our lips connected. I knew that we were going to make our time last, and this would only be the start. We knew that her health was failing and that it would finally surrender without a fight. But we had nothing to lose. It was not a loss. It was a conclusion.
And I never could have concluded our time in a better way. And Sheik deserved no less in her departure from this Earth, her last bit of time with me.
I love you, Sheik. And I always will.
Tears ran down my face as I concluded my speech and stepped down. My voice was scratchy but still had that Italian lilt on it. Subtle, but there. I disappeared into the crowd, the last to speak. My children, grown and mature, wiser and more loving than I ever would have thought, and I thought so highly of them. My grandchildren, on their way to become like their parents or just starting to take their example. The great grandchildren, who innocently explained how sad they were but how much they loved their grandmother, who truly deserved the great. They had all spoken.
Look what you've done, Sheik. You've blessed the world.
The crowd was not over affectionate, but they did show compassion. I let my old, lifelong friend Daisy envelop me in a hug like the sister she always was. Her hair was as colorful as ever, along with her livelihood, and she'd never age, I could tell. David was next. He was still alive into his eighties, and even as he began to wind down, he still had such a strength to him. He shook my head and stated "I'm sorry about your loss."
I shook my head. David had always been a lone soldier, and had never been truly enveloped in a love that became a religion of sorts. "I'm sad. But I haven't lost. It's just the end."
He nodded, saying nothing because he knew he couldn't say much. I walked through the crowd and accepted hugs and condolences, some wiser than others but even the most misunderstanding accepted because I knew they loved and cared for me.
Finally, I came to my brother. He gave me a knowing, sympathetic but not overwhelming smile and hugged me like the caring, loving brother he was. He didn't say anything, because he knew how I felt all too well and knew that I had the same wisdom he had gained.
He motioned to the coffin that my love lay in. "Are you ready?"
"Ready as I'll ever be."
He nodded, carefully synchronizing with me as we lifted the coffin up and into the hearse we had arrived in. I made sure she wouldn't go anywhere on physics' accord, and then followed my brother to the front, taking the passenger's side.
The three hour drive was silent, full of quiet understanding. We finally approached our destination and lifted her out of the back.
Even in my age, I was able to handle the three mile walk to her burial with a strength I never knew I had. He did notice this, commenting "You are a loyal individual, you know that?"
I grinned. "That means a lot, bro," I stated, and it did. He wasn't one for a lot of compliments, having spent them all on his late wife, Peach. But when he did, it was the thing that made a difference.
Finally, we passed through the first trail, and the sunflowers greeted us. A strong wind blew through them, and they waved at myself and my brother. And at Sheik. They were incredibly knowing.
I knew the path by heart. I made it through several turns and intersections because I made sure to memorize every one of them. Finally, I saw the canopy of sunflowers. Our protectors. Those kind enough to give us one last moment and guard us through it.
I had already dug into the canopy, to make room for her the day after she left. It took hours, due to my declining state of strength, but I did it. For her. I placed the coffin containing her into the dugout, and made sure she fit in the dimensions. She did. I was glad for that.
After we secured her in, I opened the coffin, taking one last look at her. She hadn't decayed yet, and she looked gracefully asleep. I took a few minutes observing her; the shape of her beautiful lips, her white hair that had retained its strength. Her smooth, beautiful skin. And her chest, where her heart, however inactive it may be, contained her love for me as it always would beneath her empty bones and skin.
Silently, I placed the speech on her chest, so that my love, my heart, would lay next to hers as I always loved to do. Mario looked on with respect, saying nothing. I didn't want to shut the coffin because I didn't want to lift my gaze off of her. Just like I always wanted to, to lay in her gaze forever.
But I did. It was the bravest thing I had ever done. I could fight off a mansion of ghosts and terrible creatures taking over my world, but I had never done anything scarier than say goodbye to my love.
I knelt down and said a short prayer. I could never be mad at God, I was still busy thanking him. For everything. I let him know that I'd love him like the father he was and that I'd never forget his kindness, even when it was my turn to follow Sheik into the dark.
To add security, I found two wooden signs I had painted white words on. It read
The conclusion and burial of Sheik Segali
Lover, wise woman, friend, mother, grandmother
Please respect her legacy. Don't walk over her grave.
With tears in my eyes, I finished placing them into the dirt. I smiled, because I had done it. Mario knew it as well, and I was grateful that he did not try and help me. He knew this is what I had to do.
I looked at what I had constructed for her and I whispered my final farewell, and my final declaration of love. Not that she'd ever forgotten.
Mario patted me on the back, and I knew it was because he was proud. We started the walk back to the hearse, and to wrap up the final years of my life before the next steps. Maybe I would meet her again. Maybe not. Who's to say?
Either way, we had ended on a high note.
That's the best thing I could ask for.
A/N Wow, how this story progressed. From Shegi... Luiek... Sheikigi... fluff to a profound story about life, love and how they coincide. I'm proud of it. I really am.
Also, I want to announce my excitement and thanks for the victory I had received in Souldin's contest. It meant a lot because I'm proud of Paradigms, and I was glad it was recognized. Thank you guys.
That was Survivors. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.