The Game Ch. 10bySara and Ron©
Chapter 10: Redemption
Redemption, if that's what it was, came not all at once, but in a slow, agonizing drift as the seconds, minutes, and hours drifted by like leaves on the surface of a slow moving river. Every minute that passed seemed to increase the odds of survival, but the passage of one minute to the next did not guarantee it.
For the first hour Rachel and I sat in stunned silence, with our arms crossed over our chest as our brain processed the reality of our situation. The first hour was the worst except perhaps for the dying hour which would come later. I just didn't know if later was this afternoon or at some point 40 years hence. Did anyone really?
The tears came next, and mine and Rachel's started within moments of each other. They were hot tears that spilled from the corners of my eyes slowly at first and then with increasing rapidity. They were not the tears of sadness or regret. Those would come later. These were the tears of fear and each one that fell only increased that fear in exponential rapidity.
I felt trapped by time itself. There was nothing to do but wait. Patience is a virtue, they say, but what was I waiting for? Each minute that past moved us ever closer to relief or death and I was powerless to stop the flow of the river of time. It was terrifying beyond what written words can express.
The sobs came next and my hands shook in nervous jitters and I wondered if this was the product of my emotions or some hellish poison that coursed through my blood. Rachel and I found each other and we clung to each other like shipwreck victims in a frothing, angry sea.
Her tears were as hot as mine and we held each other closely, and fiercely. A single thought occurred to me as I held her. What if she went before me? 'God please no', I prayed. I could not bear witness to the hell of watching her die before my eyes, knowing that nothing could save her. And also knowing my own death loomed perhaps only minutes after hers.
I shivered and pulled her closer to me. "I love you." I whispered between the shivering sobs that racked my body.
And I did love her. The sound of my voice was racked with fear and sadness, and Rachel sobbed harder at my words.
When the sobbing subsided in slow choked gasps, I kissed her face tenderly and she kissed mine. Her tears tasted salty, and I was overcome with a terrible sense of loss. I smiled at her beauty, for she was beautiful even in what might very well be her death.
She smiled back with wet eyes and tear streaked cheeks. Even now there was the radiance of life in her. 'This can not be happening', my mind screamed, but it was happening. And it was hell.
"I think I have bad taste in men." Rachel said trying to turn the corner of her mouth up in a smile, but not quite able to force it to come.
I laughed in emotional release, more than humor. I would not have thought it possible, but somehow she could still bring laughter to me. And the fact that she could still radiate that glow that was uniquely Rachel touched my heart beyond anything I have ever felt before.
"Well I have had my share of bad dates Rachel, but I don't think anyone will top this." I replied finding that sarcasm and humor were as a good a defense against how I really felt as any.
She grinned at me with humor but also with a sadness that twisted in my heart. I would remember that face for as long as I lived, which might not be a very long time at all.
We hugged again tightly each taking comfort from the warmth of the other.
"I am so fucking sorry." She said as she pressed her body into mine fiercely.
"Me too." I said. And we cried again; two lost souls clinging to hope in a frothing sea of anguish.
* * * * * *
What seemed like years of hell later, I looked at the clock in the kitchen. It read 2:47 pm which my mind translated into 2 hours since we began our death watch, as I had come to think of it. We estimated that we had ingested Chad's hellish cocktail at around 9:00 pm the night before. That left us with 12 hours or so to wait for whatever may happen.
We had no basis for this theoretical deadline, but if felt right and I was learning to trust those feelings. Only hours left to redemption, or maybe much less than that to death.
The more time that passed the more I was convinced that this was a cruel game of God's.
Each minute that passed seemed to give more hope, but rather than sooth me, the clock seemed to be marching toward death. Unstoppable and irrevocable time marched toward death that lurked near enough that I could feel its cold breath on my skin. Was it seconds away? Minutes? Hours?
I feared that should I dare hope, that it would be snatched away just when I dared to believe in it. How cruel would that be?
My mind was no longer numb, but surprisingly full of lists. My mind seemed to speed ahead as if in some race against the Devil himself, burning up the emotional energy churning through me by making list after endless list. Lists of friends I wanted to say good bye to. Lists of people I had wronged and should apologize to. Lists of regrets and opportunities lost. My whole life seemed reduced to lists and lists.
When I was a young woman in college, there was a game we used to play in our dormitory. We would sit around in a circle of someone's drinking cheap beer, hoping that our R/A did not smell the alcohol or marijuana smoke that drifted through room. Those were the days when I was young and sure that I would live forever.
The game didn't even have a name, but we played it several times on nights when there just didn't seem like there was anything better than being with good friends drinking cheap beer.
It always started with the same question, "What would you do if you found out you only had 1 day to live?"
We started at random and went around the circle telling the group what we, the immortals, would do if we found out we were mortal and on a short clock. This idea was clearly ridiculous, because when you are 19 you can not die. It's against some primal law of nature, and no one is surer of that law as the young. Just ask one.
The answers always were fun and always ended up in the same place: a 24 hour orgy of sex, drugs, and all things hedonistic. The more depraved the squandering of those 24 hours, the more right the idea felt. In retrospect this game was our way to rage against the passage of time as each of us marched slowly toward the final reality of death.
Today I didn't rage, but whimpered and cowered as the death clock marched on toward whatever lie ahead.
And I made lists.
I was also surprisingly full of energy. My lists upon lists piled up in my mind, but there was one list that always was on top of the pile. This list had but one word written upon it: Ron.
I paced up and down the hall and across the living room as my mind whirled. I noticed crumbs on the floor from where I had eaten cookies while watching a movie the week before. I bent to pick up the offending crumb and thought how ridiculous that was. I dropped it back on the floor. Suddenly I had a violent desire to grind it with my foot into the carpet until it was nothing but dust. But then I may soon be dust myself, and I let the crumb lie where it fell. I felt my stomach roll threatening to empty itself onto the carpet next to the crumb. How far down the path of madness had I traveled?
Rachel sat stone still on the couch seemingly adrift in her own thoughts. Death is surprisingly personal and lonely even when you are not alone. She did not move or speak as I communed with the crumb. I wondered what hell she was living through, but did not ask. Death was personal.
I considered the phone and had dialed 6 of Ron's 7 digits before my thumb froze over the last button as I considered how utterly selfish I was being. I pictured him sitting at his desk at his home office in that stupid Hawaiian shirt he sometimes wore when working from home. The image made me smile even in my current situation.
I imagined the smile on his face as he picked up the phone and heard my voice. Then I saw that smile turn from a smile to worry and finally to horror.
He loved me and I loved him. What hell it would be for me should our roles be reversed. Would I want to watch him die? Of course not, but I would. Nothing would stop me from going to him if he was on the other end of the phone, and I knew he would feel the same.
I pictured him here with me watching the death clock tick down to zero. I imagined the hell he would be in if suddenly I collapsed in a gripping seizure that no one had the power to stop. What could he do besides watch me die? I shivered at the thought of him standing over me as the life violently washed from my body in spasmodic twitching, vomiting, and pain. I would deserve Hell for asking for that of him.
I loved him and I would not ask him to bear that. This hell was mine and I would not impose it upon him. I hung up the phone as tears once again streaked my face.
* * * * * * *
The next few hours passed in agony. Sometimes Rachel and I huddled together on the couch; sometimes we sat in silence. Mostly we watched the hands of the death clock make its slow but relentless revolutions around its malevolent face. If there was a tomorrow I vowed to throw that fucking clock into the garbage.
At one point Rachel got a glass of water from the kitchen. As she drank she hiccupped and water rolled into her lungs instead of her throat. She coughed violently expelling the water from her throat.
My back was to her and for one horrible instant; I thought the end had come. My heart raced and sweat broke out on my face. My own chest seemed to knot and I was sure it was the beginning of the seizure I had imagined a million times today.
A moment later she had managed to stop coughing although she had spilled the water all over herself. We stared at each other in horror and then burst out in tears and laughter mixed together. I hugged her to me as we laughed and cried hysterically.
There is a fine line between laughter and sadness; tears and joy; hate and love; sanity and madness. At no point in my life had that thin line grown as transparent as it did in this eternal afternoon.
And the death clock ticked on.
* * * * * * * * * *
By six o'clock we were emotionally empty. There were just no more tears in me.
I had written a letter to Ron which I did hurriedly in case the end came before I could finish. I then tore it up and started over. I did this three times in as many hours. What could I say that would make any difference? I ended up with three paragraphs that I needed to express.
Rachel also wrote to her mother. I was not surprised by this, and I did not ask her what she had said. She would tell me if I asked, but to ask would be such a violation of her privacy that I shivered at the mere thought of it.
Death is a personal business even when you share it.
After that Rachel and I decided that watching the clock had become too hellish, yet we were not strong enough to stop. Neither of us dared take the clock down from its perch on the wall, as if touching the clock would anger death and surely bring him to find us where we hid.
We settled on lying together on the extra wide couch with our backs to the clock. Now neither of us dared to turn to look at it as if to do so would tempt fate.
And so we held each other our bodies curled into two spooning questions marks, and no one who had ever played the game with me in college would believe the miracle of the next few moments.
Surely no one would be able to accomplish this miracle, let alone two people in the same predicament.
But this was not a game. This was real. And it was not a choice really. It was one fact that none of us in those wonderful old days of immortality could understand: waiting on death was exhausting business. And so the miracle happened to both Rachel and I at the same time.
The miracle was sleep.
* * * * * * * *
I awoke in darkness and I wondered if this was death. As I rose from the depths of sleep I noticed the VCR clock, and I thought it unlikely that the first glimpse of Heaven or Hell would be blue lights under a 27 inch television. The clock said 1:14 AM. I blinked twice at it, not daring to believe.
Rachel was still pressed against me but she did not move. For one horrible second I thought she was gone, leaving me alone, and I thought knew that this was hell after all. But then she turned to me coming out of her own slumber.
Her eyes fluttered open and met mine. As she focused on me, she blinked twice in surprise and then whispered, "Are we......"
I smiled at finished her thought, "Alive? I think we are." I said not entirely sure of anything but so wanting to believe.
We both sat up quickly and looked at the death clock. The long hand was on the 3 and the short one stood one quarter of the way between the 1 and 2. The clock was the same, except for the malevolence I sensed in it before was gone. It was just a clock.
Belief hit us both at the same instant and we hugged each other tightly and cried again. These tears were good tears: tears of joy.
I don't think I have ever felt joy before this moment. Nothing in my entire existence could qualify as even a shadow of the joy I felt now. It was like seeing the sun for the first time after a lifetime of darkness. My joy burned brilliantly and mixed with Rachel's in a cacophony of happiness that threatened to burst from us and fill the world with a wonderful glow that would wipe away all petty hatred and anger.
I kissed Rachel on the mouth urgently. This was not sexual attraction, but the kiss of passionately loving life. We kissed deeply in celebration of the appreciation of that beautiful gift of life that we shared. Her hands found mine and we hugged, and kissed, and laughed like we shared a secret of divine proportion, which of course we did.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The cab driver thought we were crazy, but I didn't care. Rachel and I sat in the back seat holding hands and smiling. We could not stop smiling. The world was new again and we had been given a second chance at life. It was now 2:30 and we were going to the one place I had to go.
We made one brief stop behind my building before getting on the Eisenhower Expressway. I stepped out of the cab, ran to the dumpster, and deposited that fucking clock with a violent toss. And then smiling I ran back to Rachel in the cab.
At 3:15 we pulled up a long driveway in a subdivision on the outskirts of Chicago. I could feel the draw of Ron's house and a warm glow that only I (and perhaps Rachel) could feel pour out of it. That glow was love and my love would not wait until morning to be shared. Time was short. It always was, but I could feel it slipping away now, and not a moment should be wasted.
I paid the cab driver and he was gone before we reached the front stoop. I fished my key to Ron's house out of my purse and decided instead to ring the bell. No reason to be shot as an intruder before the lights came on. God had the ultimate sense of humor and irony, and I dared not tempt either.
I rang the bell and lights began coming on. First upstairs and then painting a path of radiance through the house toward the front door as Ron, the love of my life, came to me.
He opened it dressed in boxer shorts and a t-shirt. He looked confused, concerned, and still half asleep, but he was the most handsome person I had ever encountered in this moment.
"Sara is everything al....." he began, but his words would not be finished as my mouth covered his. There would be time for explanation, but now was the time to feel his love and spirit intertwined with my own. He hugged me tentatively at first, but as my mouth covered his and my body pressed against him, he hugged me back fiercely.
He knew nothing of the hell I had walked through to get here, but he sensed what I needed most right now was him. And so without question he gave himself to me and hugged me.
I loved him for that all the more.
After our first embrace, I stepped into the foyer and I was smiling from ear to ear. Rachel followed behind us.
"What's this all about?", Ron asked obviously confused. I didn't even know where to begin.
"I am so in love with you." I said as if this explained everything.
Ron glanced at Rachel knowing it was unlike me to say such personal things in front of others and then back to me. I was still grinning.
"I love you too." He replied.
"I know." I said. I took his hand in mine and led him to the bedroom.
I led him down the hallway to the bedroom. Ron did not speak again, although he must have been confused and full of questions. Instinctively he knew that what I needed right now was him, and he trusted me to give himself over to me without question or protest.
It was at that moment that I knew in my heart as well as my mind that this was my one. The one person who would fill my heart with the one thing every person needs: contentment. Life was new and wonderful beyond words.
Rachel left us at the foyer knowing that this moment was for Ron and I alone.
This was about love between us and although, I loved her this was different.
I kissed Ron and began unbuttoning his shirt.
As if in release from the hell I had been caged in, my pussy twitched and flooded with excitement. Lust and love was a powerful mixture of the human condition. Perhaps it was the most powerful, and I let myself ride the tidal wave of joy and pleasure as they commingled through me.
My nipples went erect and burned with desire and without guilt or regret. My panties slid down my legs as Ron urgently undressed me. Ron's cock sprang free as I pushed his boxers urgently down. I gripped him in my hand and stroked his member as it grew.
We fell together on the bed, and into an ocean of passion and intertwined bodies.
This was not the urgent sexual drive, empty of love, but a plunge into the depth of our humanity. This was not exciting because it was 'wrong', but because it was so 'right'. Perhaps a deviation from the extravagant sexual game we played, but a welcomed one.
Ron moaned as I stroked his cock gently, yet urgently. I kissed him deeply as I masturbated his dick in long, purposeful strokes.
My hand left Ron's cock to hold his face between my hands as I explored his mouth with my tongue. I then licked the palm of my hand and used it to lubricate Ron's rock hard shaft.
His fingers found my sex and I groaned as they lovingly entered me. I ground my hips slowly into him as I stroked his thick cock that oozed pre-cum.
I slid on top of Ron and positioned his cock at the entrance of my wanting pussy.
I kissed him again as I lowered myself onto him. I felt him slide deeply inside of me and I reveled in the feeling of complete fullness that only he gave me.
We rocked together. We climbed higher and higher as if reaching out toward God in the most intensely beautiful sex I have ever experienced.
Ron filled me deeply and perfectly. My hands holding onto his shoulders and my hips rocked up and down. I rocked harder against him, urgently needing to feel the base of his cock rubbing against my clit.
Ron erupted inside of me and we cried out together in this one act that defied death in one pleasurable moment. This was not sex, so much as communing with pleasure and life. It felt so wonderful and intense at the same time that I felt as if perhaps I had died and gone to Heaven through my own pleasure.
We came together and he filled me with love, passion, and of course his cum.
We collapsed together in exhaustion as our orgasm slowly ebbed and flowed all around and out of us. The two of us curled together holding each other basking in the love of life we felt.
* * * * * * *
After we made love, I held Ron and listened to his breathing. It was long and even as he slumbered next to me. I could not sleep. There was so much relief and joy in me that I wondered if I would ever sleep again. I could see over Ron's shoulder as I held him at the glowing red lights of his clock. It was nearing 5:00 AM. The last two hours went by in a blink and I was amazed at how time could be so fluid.