Blood and Bone
“I’m tired, Jules,” Samantha said.
“I know, girl,” Jules answered, staring out toward the horizon.
“You’re not going to try to talk me into prolonging my life again?”
“I would if I thought it would do any good, Sam.”
Tiny beads on the silver anklet jingled as Samantha dug her toes down into the soft sand of the shore. Jules patted her arm in an effort to be comforting.
Samantha was tired. Exhausted. It felt as if she had been fighting to stay alive for an eternity. Each infusion of new life deep in the marrow of her being wreaked havoc on her soul. She had made the decision to stop fighting. Everything around her seemed like a cancer. Humanity itself was a cancer. A blight on this gem of a planet and she was so tired of it all.
“I’m afraid,” Jules said.
“Why are you afraid?” Samantha laughed. “I’m the one who’s dying.”
“I’m afraid of being alone.”
“You won’t be alone. You have your friends.”
“You know I hate them all. The only one I could ever stand was you.” A tear slid down Jules’ cheek. Samantha pressed her own fragile, wrinkled skin against her friend’s smooth face.
“They need you, even if they don’t want to admit it. You have always been the best of us,” Sam whispered. “Try. For me.”
“I’ll try,” Jules whispered back.
Samantha straightened up and chuckled, trying not to let the rasping cough take over the moment. “I really didn’t think it would take this long to die.”
“Well, you’ve never done it before.”
“I’ve watched enough people depart this life. How many? It feels like a million. More.”
“I know what you mean,” Jules said.
Sam fell back in the sand, silver hair spilling all around her. “Remember me when I was full of purpose. Not broken and worn out.”
“What difference does it make?” Jules said bitterly. “Do you even remember what we used to care so much about?”
“I remember,” Sam said. “And so do you.”
“If you did, you wouldn’t just give up.”
Samantha was quiet for a long time, the rising tide lapping at her feet. Jules pushed back to avoid the water.
“I guess that’s true,” Sam finally said. “But I have a bigger problem right now.”
“I don’t think I can get up again,” Sam said with another gruff laugh. “You have no idea how hard it is to be this old!”
“I never plan to find out,” Jules said smugly, pulling on her friend’s arm to help her sit. She lovingly brushed the sand out of Sam’s hair with a sad smile before catching the steady gaze of crystal blue eyes. Centuries passed between them before Jules broke the spell and turned back to stare at the ocean.
Sam drew in a deep breath, as if she could bring the whole universe into her lungs before releasing it in an ungraceful sigh.
“I suppose I can go a little longer, just to keep you company.”
Jules’ eyes widened but she turned her head away as the air crackled with the rush of energy. She stared at the tall grass in the dunes behind them, watching as the green spikes began to wither and die, turning to dust in an expanding arc around where they sat. She glanced toward the water to see dead fish and kelp being deposited by the waves, flaking and disintegrating into the sand. She could feel the heat radiating from her friend. She never liked watching others go through the messy process, blood and bone reforming within the husk of human skin.
A trembling, youthful hand finally reached over to grip hers.
“What’s another thousand years between friends?”