The day seemed to fly by all too quickly. John and Ava Maria spent the day together wandering from museum to museum taking in the breath taking pieces of art. As the day drew to a close, they knew their time was nearly over. Together, they walked hand in hand to find a quiet restaurant to take their final meal together.
The walk to the restaurant took only about ten minutes. John turned toward Ava and pulled her into his arms.
“Oh, my sweet, sweet Ava!” His voice broke as he tried to choke back emotion. “How can I live without you? How can I go on?”
She nuzzled his neck. He smelled of citrus cologne. It was a scent that always took her back in time to their first meeting. It was on this very same block. They had been riding the small train. She was off to college and he was leaving for boot camp. They were seated next to each other in the streetcar. He wore the same cologne that she knows now as only she would; is his scent, as much a part of him as his intense hazel eyes. That first meeting was the beginning of a beautiful journey together. At the time only she knew how it would end.
“My love, you have been there for me each and every step of the way. I have not once been lonely or afraid. Please understand this is something I must do. My death will be only a moment in time, but my life will continue forever. I will save thousands.” Ava Maria patiently explained again her resolve to give up her own life to save many.
Ava, did not discover the cure to cancer, she was the cure to cancer. Ava Maria’s body would become the medicine. Each person who received certain cells from her body would in turn receive the gift of life. The long list of children around the world with leukemia will be given a chance to grow up. Maybe, just maybe, one of those children would become the doctor who would create more medicine. In doing so, the flow of life would continue from generation to generation. It would all begin with Ava.
Tears spilled down his cheeks as he pulled her tightly against him. His heart was beating so hard he could hear it pound in his ears. What kind of love she must have for humanity! There was no selfishness in her small body at all, not a drop. Suddenly, without his control, a cry of anguish erupted from somewhere deep inside him. John’s heart was breaking. His breath quickened as his body shuddered, wracked with unimaginable emotional pain. How could she be taken from him so soon? He was so in love he could not fathom a life without her to love him back. Ava held tightly onto John. She wished with all her might that she could help him. She was so willing and able to help countless others, but she was torn with guilt that she could not help the one person who loved her above all else.
Finally, after taking a few deep breaths, John pulled back. He held her face between his palms and lowered his lips slowly to hers. When their lips met, it was as if a smoldering fire had ignited. Heat, love, and passion made the world disappear for them both. It didn’t matter that the elderly folks across the street were clucking their tongues and shaking their heads at the public display. It didn’t matter that the streetcar was sounding its bells waiting for the last of the passengers to board. No. The only thing that mattered was each other, in this moment. Time stood still for the young couple. It had to. Neither was willing to break the embrace. This was it. Today, their time together was over. It was indeed bittersweet sorrow.
When the spark dimmed, John wiped the tears from his face. He was shaking but he took her hand and led her into the restaurant. The lighting was dim. A single tall white candle with a gently flickering orange flame illuminated each table. Their hands parted only long enough for each to sit down in the elegantly designed wooden chairs. Soft cream suede covered the seats. Delicate classical music filled the room. It was so soothing it felt as though one could float on the drifting notes.
John stroked the backs of Ava’s hands with his thumbs feeling the smooth skin. She is so young and beautiful he thought. It just doesn’t seem real.
“Maybe, this is all just a bad dream.” John whispered and looked into her blue eyes, bloodshot from withholding her own tears. He shook his head slowly. Ava withdrew one of her hands and stroked his cheek. His five o’ clock shadow was rough on her fingertips. The sensations made her smile, and even blush. She was remembering another time she felt that stubble against her heated skin. The smile was fleeting and the reality of what she was about to do gripped her.
I can do this. Ava told herself and looked up into John’s eyes again. He was looking intently back at her. The loving gaze was lost shortly as the waiter approached their table. They ordered their food. In silence, they ate slowly but their eyes would meet and they would softly smile at one another.
Once the meal was over and the bill was paid, John led her outside and once again pulled her into his arms. He rested his chin and cheek on top of her long soft hair. She smelled of lavender and vanilla. He inhaled deeply. When he opened his eyes, he saw her elderly father across the street. John took a deep breath and squeezed her tight. Ava held him. She never wanted to let go, but she knew she must lest she lose her resolve.
Ava turned and saw her father.
“Good-bye my love.” She was gone.