Excerpt for Our Last Fantasy (A short story) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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I stared at the shore, as the waves disrupted the moon’s reflection shining off the surface. Memories of our time together came flooding back to me. As time kept on ticking, the inevitable ending was near.

We were never going to beat the odds, but we were foolish enough to try, anyway.

Foolish enough to develop feelings for one another neither one of us had felt before.

Being in a long distance relationship was challenging. There were times, where all I could do was close my eyes, and hope for the best. With the foundations of trust strained, it was either going to break us or set us up for a beautiful life together. So, we thought.

Beating those odds was only the beginning.

Soon after, the focus turned to the inevitable decision so many couples struggle with. ‘Where do we go from here, and where will we live?’

She lived in America, while I lived in Portugal. So, the question formed, which one of us was going to leave it all behind, and take a leap of faith?

To this day, I’m not sure I can be the man she needed me to be that night. Someone who could throw caution to the wind, and trust that everything would work out.

That particular night was set in Lisbon. The city I was brought up in, and often longed for when I went away. She knew how I felt, but still, she insisted on coming over, to try and convince me otherwise.

As I made my way back home to her, from the chilly presence of the sea, I came to my final decision. I was to leave it all behind and we would go our own separate ways.

Little did I know she was sat only a few metres away, behind the famous horse statue that resides in the centre of Commerce Square. Her surprised reaction as I stumbled upon her, did not allow her enough time to wipe away her tears. As I approached her, I noticed her exposed arms had goosebumps, as she shivered from the breeze. With only her lioness curly hair serving as warmth for her shoulders, I placed my jacket around her. Usually, she would’ve fought back, and told me to keep my jacket on, but that time, not a word was spoken.

The silence prolonged as time passed. Tears began streaming down her face. She buried her face under my arm, attempting to hide them.

“Such a big city. What are the odds we both come to the same place to think?!” I didn’t understand the question at the time, but she was trying to point out how alike we were, and she was right, of course. For so long, I had searched for someone who could make me feel like a beautiful melody, despite the dubious lyrics of my life. Frankly, there was nothing quite so beautiful in my life, as the smile,she wore around me. She orchestrated my heart in such a way, I actually felt like I was worth something. It was a feeling I wasn’t too familiar with, but then reality hit hard. She had a flight to embark on in the morning, and travel to a different corner of the world, where an ocean kept us apart. I was once again at crossroads.

She carried on talking, stating how she wasn’t good enough, and wondering if that was why I was ending what we had. I placed my arm around her and held on tight.

That’s not it at all. I should’ve said that, but no words came out. It was I who wasn’t good enough. A couple of weeks earlier before she arrived, I had chased the ghost-like man that is my father. Having never spent two days in a row with him, I was hoping a reunion could provide me with some much-needed closure. Instead, it only brought me heartache and doubts. If I wasn’t good enough for my own parents, how could I be good enough for her?!

I asked myself if I was the best she was ever going to get. The answered seemed obvious. My heart ached as my actions led her to think so lowly of herself, but I couldn’t find the inner strength to carry on.

For her sake, I had to persevere and stay away. I convinced myself she would move on, and I, well, I will forever have the wonderful memories we created.

With our time was running out, all I could do, was what I often did when silence triumphed. I lit up a cigarette. She had complained about the smell of those ill-tainted sticks, for so long. Even then, she didn’t ask me to put it out or go elsewhere with it. She only ever wanted me to be happy, even if happiness came from dark clouds of smoke curling out of my mouth.

Despite her silence, the sad look on her face spoke volumes. My heart wrenched some more, as I guiltily carried on smoking. Perhaps for the first time in our whole relationship, I did the right thing and threw away the cigarette. I clenched my arms around her instead.

Her entire body trembled, as she sobbed uncontrollably into my chest. I smelled her peach scented hair for the last time that night.

I remember thinking at the time that I was making a mistake in holding on so tight, but I couldn’t help it. From the moment she told me she was coming to Portugal, I fought with myself to keep her at arm’s length. Yet, there I was, giving into my heart’s desires.

Eventually, the tears stopped, and she gently pulled away. She made a remark about my hands smelling of smoke. She was okay, at least for the time being.

We talked, for another hour or so, about life, Lisbon, and what my decision meant for both of us. She claimed she would never be able to move on and find anyone else. I remained silent, thinking to myself, how I was likely going to end up hating myself for that decision later on. A good while later, I was finally able to make her smile again, as we made our way back to mine.

Not much was said, as we walked past the famous Arch of Rua Augusta on the other side of Commerce Square. It was noticeably quiet down the long corridor of street lights. There were many thoughts occupying my mind during that walk. The most prominent one was the fear that that night would not be like the ones before.  I had been able to resist the temptation to go over to the guest room, where she laid.

Walking motionlessly through the streets ahead, we made our way up the building and into the house. I headed straight to my bedroom, as she went to the bathroom in the hallway. ‘Maybe if I close my eyes now, I’ll be asleep by the time she walks out’, I thought.

When she did come out, I was still awake, unable to keep my eyes closed. She came into my room like nights previous, but not just to say goodnight. She came in half-naked and finished getting undressed before slipping into the bed beside me. Her head resting on one hand, as the other ran over my chest. I remained speechless as she proceeded to kiss me, and I, incapable of stopping her, let her. “I can’t do this to you,” I pleaded. She reacted by placing a finger over my lips. “I know I can’t have you, but just tonight,” - she paused in an attempt to hold back the trickling tears - “let me fantasise that all our problems aren’t real.”

I remained still. Her greenish-blue eyes focused on me like they had done many times before. Only that time, there was no smile.

As she drew her finger away from my lips, I went in for a kiss, and so our last fantasy had begun.

I turned her below me as we carried on kissing. With my hands on top of hers, and our breathing intensifying, our clothes rapidly came off as our bodies unified. I had to stop and ask, “Are you sure about this?”

She closed her eyes yet again, before reopening them and responding with a simple nod. My heart pounded like it was about to explode out of my chest.

As I came to the realisation that we were sharing our absolute final time together, I hung my head down in fear. I didn’t want to look at her and run the risk of changing my mind. She had other ideas though, as she tilted my head up so I could see her vulnerable self.

The truth is that I hadn’t felt that way since I first laid eyes on her. The vulnerability, the fragility and innocence of our feelings.

It all came back to me, all those nights we spent talking on the phone, where we would close our eyes and try to imagine we were physically beside each other.

“Will you love me forever?” She would ask. “Yes,” I answered back.

“What if someone prettier than me comes along?”

“You are all I have eyes for,” I meant it.

“What about when I get old and wrinkly and begin suffering from memory loss?” I smiled at the thought of having her beside me until old age.

“I’ll remind you of the wonderful memories we end up creating,”  I concluded.

Unlike anyone else I had ever met before, she made me feel like I was the only person in the world that mattered. I knew I shouldn’t have let her, but selfishly, I allowed it.

During our time together, we had deflowered our past, as we shared all of our fears and nightmares. We overcame the demons that troubled us and planned for the future ahead.

That night, we only shared the moment.

Her hands continued caressing my chest, as she placed herself above me. She positioned herself over me but refrained from kissing me. Her breath getting heavier.

My hand slid down the curve of her back to pull her closer in.

The warmth I felt amongst my upper body intensified, by the contrast of her wet inner walls gripping me. I knew it was close as she dug her nails deep into me. The wishful thinking that the moment could go on forever, was one we both shared. As we culminated at the exact same time, we brought forth a delicately beautiful ending to what had been the focus of my entire adult life.

There was a rugged sense in the air, as we pulled away from each other, drawing breath, in complete silence. We knew that a mere few hours later we would cease to be. Maybe, it was that soberness of the moment that stopped me from saying anything more to her, at the time. A few moments later she talked, slurring her words, “How can you remain so sure, after such a magical moment?”

She had touched my self-numbed heart, as her voice creaked.

I attempted to hug her, unable to hold back my feelings any longer, but she fought me off.

“I am sorry, baby.” Respecting her wishes, I stood by, reminding myself that for all her wonderful characteristics, she could also be rather naive.

I needed to remain strong and prevent her from throwing away her entire life. Especially when it was for a good-for-nothing like me, whose own parents wanted nothing but distance since birth.

I thought sooner or later, I would screw it all up and end up hurting her even more than I was doing, at the time.

Keeping my distance like she wanted, I sat by the corner of the bed, as she eventually fell asleep. I was tempted to hug her one last time, but there was no going back now. She had helped me so much since I met her, and maybe, I did that too, but I had nothing more to offer her in return.

She deserved someone capable of giving back to her what she had to offer. Someone who lived in the same country as her and could do for her all the things I could never.  I pulled the blanket over her and kissed her on the head. It was time I let her go, and allow her to find true happiness.

The following morning went by slowly, as we sat at the airport awaiting our flights. Lightning struck ferociously through the steel grey sky outside. Not a single word had been spoken about the night before.

The announcement had just been made and her flight was leaving soon. My chest clenched tighter as I prepared to say goodbye. We shared one last kiss. It wasn’t a long one, or particularly romantic, just enough to remind myself how much I loved her. It was one last moment for me to change my mind, and for an instant, the thought of her going for good, did just that. The woman I loved was about to leave. The only person to have ever made me feel this way. Who will ever make me as happy as she did, I wondered. Could I really allow her to go?  

As much as I wanted to say something, no words came out, as demons plagued my mind, once more.

“You’re going to let her down sooner or later.”

“She will regret it.”

“You’re not good enough!”

My silence prevailed. She, visibly exhausted, merely apologised, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be good enough for you,”

I stood by paralysed, watching her leave. “I love you,” I whispered.

My eyes soon filled up with tears, as I could finally stop hiding my pain. As much as I wanted to run after her, I couldn’t. I knew I was a ticking bomb, and I didn’t want her around when the detonation happened.

When she crossed the airport security, she looked back my way, with a faint smile. Afraid of what might’ve happened if I stuck around any longer, I took a deep breath, turned around, and walked away.

Our fantasy had played out its final act.

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