Free on Smashwords
By Mary Ann Bernal
Flair opened her eyes and glanced upon the sand filtering through the hourglass as her life ebbed away. She was grateful for the moonbeams that filtered through the solitary window as she pondered her fate in the darkened chamber while watching the crystalline particles trickling, ever so slowly, through the slender neck into the lower chamber. Her breathing was raspy, her body racked with pain as the contagion spread throughout the mortal vessel that held her soul. She knew in her heart there would be no escape and Death would claim her for himself, yet she had no reservations about honoring the terms of her covenant with the feared reaper because Death had kept his word and Brice thrived.
Gentle sea breezes embraced the shoreline and rippling waves broke softly upon the beach, leaving frothy bubbles in its wake. Seagulls foraged for food in the shallow waters near the massive cliffs, their squawking sounds mingling with the melodious tunes of the rolling breakers against the jagged rocks.
Flair ran barefoot along the water’s edge as she made her way towards the hidden cove where Brice waited, but she occasionally looked over her shoulder since she feared she might have been followed. She hummed her favorite songs as the wind whipped through her hair while the sea mist embraced her face and sea salt lingered on her lips. She laughed when she noticed two birds fighting over a dead fish that had washed upon the shore as she skirted the jagged coastline and headed towards the concealed inlet where she found Brice basking in the sunlight, his face hidden from her view.
Flair stopped abruptly when she noticed that Brice appeared to be asleep. She quietly sat beside him, not wishing to disturb his rest as she watched the storm clouds gathering over the horizon. Her thoughts returned to the day when she had taken shelter in a nearby cave when nature had unleashed its fury and rain pummeled the earth. She remembered the faint sound of trickling water and soft cries of disturbed creatures scurrying about the darkened cavern as she ventured deeper into the cave while trying to find the source of the translucent stream of light that illuminated the earthen walls. She shivered and her hands became sweaty when her mind’s eye saw, once again, the hourglass nestled amongst the serrated rocks, its whitened crystals glowing in the darkness, the sparkling grains falling at a snail’s pace through the narrow neck, the lower chamber floor scarcely covered by the remnants of time.
Flair could still envision her shaking hand as she tried to touch the ornately-carved wood, and she relived her mounting fear when she recalled how his shadow had shrouded her entire being as he wrapped her against his ice-cold essence before pulling her towards him. She had stood still while beads of sweat dripped down her face and a cold chill ran up her spine, but his voice had been soothing when he whispered comforting words into her ear as his fingers caressed her neck before he had encased her with his cloak. It was while she had been in this unwanted embrace that everything became clear. The hourglass held her life in its glass enclosure, each fine particle representing a period of time, whether seconds or years, she did not know.
Flair had tried to escape his firm hold, but Death would not set her free, showing her instead snippets of a life yet lived and promises of a love to be embraced. He had spoken ever so quietly, his breath a cool mist that enveloped her very essence, his words enticing her soul as visions of Brice’s bloodied corpse passed before her. Within that brief moment, she had understood why, and she knew what Death expected of her. Yes, she had willingly agreed to remain with Death once the grains of sand filled the lower chamber, but only if Brice survived the battle.