Chapter 1:

One Shot

Loop Bet

How is it possible not to remember what one dreams about when one wakes up? What scientists have identified as REM is like a curse for those of us who search in the depths of the unconscious metaverse for an escape from reality. Or at least that's how I see it, as I have to constantly deal with this love that destroys me whenever her fragile heart can't take it anymore.

I have a night routine: I check that she is beside me by lifting the blanket; I confirm that she is still there when our fingers link after tucking her in again. I keep looking at her until my body gives out, and I close my eyes, defeated by exhaustion. And I dream of seeing her as I haven't seen her in a long time.

What started as a shock when I saw a figure on the thin line that divided the ceiling from the sky ended with a curious question:

"Ah, is this what angels look like when they take flight?" was what I thought, and she only needed to turn around to find me.

As if it was not enough to answer my question with just a smile, she spoke one sentence:

"I finally found you," she said as it seemed like she had forgotten her old regrets.

That day, I thanked whatever deity placed her in my path, wishing we were frozen at that moment to never let that feeling die. But now... I can only pray to see that smile in my dreams, with the fervent fear that one day she will wake up and not wake up with your hand on mine. When I close my eyes, I can see her again, and I repeat that feeling of insecurity.

The grass crunches beneath her feet while she holds my hand tightly so we don't get lost among the sunflowers. However, her laughter is louder and makes my chest bubble, swelling with joy as we escape from our homes. I have lost my shoes while running, and I have thrown the bowtie that choked my voice on the dirt path. The jacket and the suspenders are useless to me now since that tender, freckled peasant girl with brown eyes only looks towards me. All she needs is to pronounce my name to make me feel that I am worth it in life, so I follow her without hesitation to the waterfall in the forest, where she pulls on the sleeve of my shirt to jump with her, but fear stops me. And despite that, she insists until I push her away forcefully, begging her to desist... and that's when the dream turns into a nightmare when I try to reach for her hand again, which disappears before my eyes behind the steam and goes into the dark abyss.

On the other hand, I saw myself holding her hand as we walked through the cold, cobbled hallways a few minutes before dawn. Reading my name in her gestures filled me with joy despite my deafness. I was enthralled by the sight of those sharp, resplendent pearls when they peeked through the middle of her gorgeous crimson lips, which I had not seen a change in all the time I had served her, about three-quarters of my life, more than eight decades in times of hunger, plague, and the smell of death. I still remember that wonderful day: she kneeled while extending her hand to pat the head of a little boy who was ragged and had not had a bite to eat in days. Letting fall over me the lace veil that adorned the brim of her hat and covered her clothing, we left the gloomy alleys of the city to take refuge in his residence on the outskirts of the State, where I always accepted every one of her wishes... Except one. She implored me to close our eyes together at dawn, claiming that life would be worthless when I forgot her because of my senility. Although I encouraged her to remember me on starry nights, the sound of birds, the smell of fruits, and the vibrant colors of our garden, she flatly refused while the sunlight passed through the stained glass window, and she fell into ashes in my hands.

Sometimes, when the sand burns my back, while I feel the sun's rays on my feet and a cool shade on my face, and the salt in the breeze clouds my sense of smell, flooding my other senses while my eyes remain closed, unconsciously, I know she's there. When I open my eyes and see waves from the shore, I feel like a new wave of happiness overflows from me. I don't remember what her voice sounded like, but swimming alongside her dispels my lethargy from the overwhelming heat, even the annoying sensation of sand getting between my toes. When the cold waves hit my knees as I wade into the ocean, I feel despair grip my throat. My breath lacks as I watch her drift away, disappearing into the hazy sky and turquoise ocean. My cries are unheard on the surface, and my ears are clogged with saltwater as I venture into the depths of the sea while my eyes sting and tears do not help to heal.

It doesn't matter if we escape from security guards among the engines that keep the citadel running like a pocket watch, jumping between the gears as if it were a game before I stop following her while she continues running away or if we crossed the doors of the castle rooms to protect her from a rebellion seeking to subdue the royal blood while she pleaded with me to take a leap of faith with her onto the balcony, where we were cornered and from where I saw her fall while regretting my doubts about her words and the only thing left before me was her figure disappearing into the waters that bordered the kingdom... At every time, every night, she always smiles until I end up abandoning her.

How many times has it been now? Oh, three. My body goes numb each time, and my sweat freezes my back when I hear my phone, always fearing a call from her.

When did I start having these dreams? Probably since the first time she told me she wanted to start over with me, and without really knowing what she was talking about, I accepted, but I have stopped her in each and every one of her attempts.

Although I would not endure waking up without her, I also wonder when this torture will end. But if it does end, what will be left for us? Again, I climb the stairs; I know what I am facing.

"Please, let me reach you," I pleaded as my trembling feet did their best not to slip while running in terror through the upstairs.

"Don't leave me," I begged, distraught, as I used the handrail to gain a burst, hoping my words could reach her heart.

"I won't let you go now or ever," I said as if the nighttime visions had no influence on the life I breathe, filled with anxiety from the fear of losing you.

Finally, I reached the roof where I first found her, in the same place, with the same smile.

"You made it," she said with tenderness as if her hope died with each passing second as evening approached.

"Please, don't leave me," I beseeched as I walked toward her and offered her my hand.

Let's go back," I asked as I took her hand with gentleness, but she shook her head.

"I can't. I'm tired. I can't hold it anymore," she replied with that smile she only reserved for me.

"But I want you to know that I've loved you every time we've been together," she continued as she let go of my hands and walked backward.

"No... Please. No more," I thought as my face melted into tears and the golden light of the last rays of the sunset. My hand couldn't reach her.

"I'd choose to be by your side again for all eternity," she said before entering the void.

And when I could no longer bear the thought that a simple line would separate us again, I leaped in her direction, clinging to her body that still beat in unison with mine.

"I'm sorry, I understand now," I told her as I realized what you had done, always asking me to go together, but I rejected you. "I also wish to love you forever."

Although Eros and Thanatos argued while we lost ourselves in each other, both had to accept defeat because, although the bet cursed me to love her in life and fear death, my love slowly killed her before our souls broke from traveling to so many different worlds to find each other, both kept their promise and immortalized us in the night sky.

Loop Bet

Loop Bet