Even with his failing eyes, he could still appreciate the beauty of the dawn that filtered through his windows. Its rosy hues had long been one of his favorite sights, once he had risen most mornings to see, bathing in its deep reds, its fire orange, the purple dancing ‘round the edges.
I will miss you most of all, my dear. He thought, then remembered the family gathered around his bed. Hazy against the white hospital walls. They waited, dry-eyed, for the moment their potential grief would be codified into fact. Well… almost the most.
He wished he could still speak, there was so much he wanted to say, so much love he had left to express. The old man, the dying man, only hoped that how he felt had been evident by how he treated those he cared most for in life. There was nothing left now but the waiting, and the moment grew nearer and nearer.
Who knew how much time passed before the inevitable seized him. Minutes? Hours? Days? But they were there at the end, holding his hand, speaking in soft tones words he no longer understood. But he knew they were of the same love that he felt for them and he tried to smile. He hoped they saw that smile before… a small hiccup, and he was gone.
…and then he returned.
He blinked. Bathed in harsh lights. Back in the hospital? Was he… alive? But no, no, this was a different room. Outside of the lights hovering directly above him, the rest was shrouded in black. A vague shape hovered before him. He could not see its face, only its emerald gaze. Its gleaming, laughing eyes.
“It will take some time for your sight to return to what is was. It has been… a while since you last used your senses.”
“No, no, you know the rules. Well, you used to, and you will remember. But only on your own time.”
The breathing darkness bent down, but the shadows did not leave its features.
“Tell me… do you feel stronger? Can you tell me who you are?”
“I… I…” The dead old man struggled to remember the life he had just lived, but it all seemed so very far away. Like a dream. The realities of the world he returned to called to him, the siren song of the past. “I was…”
“It’s coming back to you, I can see it in your eyes.”
Indeed, his sight was growing stronger. He could see the voice before him emanated from smoke, where within danced two bejeweled orbs, marked with mischievous intelligence. He could see the light source, it was the air itself. Directly above his bed burned a small sun. He could feel the bed beneath him, and knew it was built of the same darkness that filled the room, forged from the anti-matter that was the foundation of this world. His world.
“I am Forever.”
“Yessss,” The smoke before him danced with joy at his remembrance. And the once-old man knew that if he chose to, he could remove his sight from himself and look at his form as he was. And he would see the same smoky flesh as the creature that drifted before him. Where within would dance two rubied orifices. They were… kin, evolved beyond the traditional bonds of family. Their likeness was deeper, and more forever. There was ritual here that must be completed.
“You remember Brother, so we finish with the traditional words. Call and response as it were. Tell me who you are.”
“I am one who has transcended death, one of the everlasting. I am beyond flesh.” As he spoke, more and more memories returned. Of the millennia, of eons of light and darkness. Spent contemplating the nature of life, the purpose of grief, a memory that must every so often be refreshed. And so they become men again, take form again. They remember being born. They remember love. They re-experience death.
“Tell me why we do this, ‘Brother’.”
“Without grief, we would not appreciate what we have accomplished. We would forget what we left behind, and in so doing, we ensure it will catch up with us once more. We must experience death, again and again, to out run its occurrence in truth.”
The smoke flitted closer, turned pinkish, then ruby red. Its self-directed eddies and currents caught by the self-perpetuating light. This creature was beautiful, and the once-man, now returned to itself, remembered the… love (words, though insufficient would have to suffice for now, the need for language had not yet left it) they felt for each other, filial, romantic, greater than both combined.
“Well done… ‘Brother’. Are you ready? Do you feel enough yourself to travel?”
“I think I can manage. I think I…”
And, without thinking, he lapsed into the wordless communication that was their custom. Of emotion and passion, the essence that made these creatures. That they continually replenished in re-enacted lives, ensuring their immortality.
Good. They emoted in unison. Then we shall rejoin the others.
The two creatures of smoke joined, diffusing themselves so that they filled the space of rebirthing, so exiting and rejoining the cosmos, where the other ‘Forever’s await.