His scent lingered on my skin long after he was gone. It made me smile because it reminded me of the night we had shared together. For the first time in so long, I was happy, truly happy. I smiled when there was no reason to. I almost danced instead of walked, while strangers threw me weird glances. I was happy because for the first time ever, I had found someone who wanted to stay with me. Someone I could hold on to when the nights were cold and my dreams filled with darkness.
Our fingers were entwined when he looked me into the eyes and whispered that he loved me. A little hesitant at first but his words weren’t empty. He meant it. And for the first time, I wasn’t afraid to say I loved him back.
It was a love like the one in novels. We danced in the light of the moon and held each other as much as we possibly could. And whenever we were apart for a while, we agreed to meet under a large tree in a meadow nearby, where the tree cast a shadow over the grass in which we lay. And we spent hours underneath that tree while time past by and the world changed around us.
But there were times when he wasn’t close to me. And when his arms weren’t around me, I was afraid. I could see the shadows dancing on the walls. I could hear the whispers in my ear. And I could see the demons that had chased me for so long, longing for my happiness to be over.
One night, as I was about to fall asleep, he came to me. The devil. He smiled at me and enjoyed my fear as I backed against the wall, as far away from him as I could.
“It’s been a while,” he said, his voice calm and dangerous.
I tried to ignore him. I closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep, because I knew he couldn’t find me when I was lost in my dreams. But he was next to me in an instant, his long fingers wrapped around my chin as he pulled me closer. There was no more chance to pretend.
“You know what time it is. You know the deal we made,” he whispered, his eyes never leaving my face.
I remembered. I remembered how I had cried myself to sleep at night, hoping that I would find love one day. I remembered the loneliness and the tears at night. I remembered that he came to me and promised me love if I promised my soul in return. I said yes. Then I did not know happiness. Now I did not want to give it up again.
So I laughed in the face of the devil and I angered him as I said: “Love is stronger than death. You cannot separate us.”
And the devil flinched for a moment, but a smirk quickly appeared on his face. “Very well then. We shall see how much he loves you. You can only meet at sunset and he has to show up for a 100 days. If he doesn’t, or if he falls in love with someone else, your life is mine.”
The devil disappeared into the shadows again, his laughter echoing in my head.
My eyelids became heavy as I struggled to stay awake. I wasn’t strong enough to fight it.
When I woke up again, I was in the meadow. There were no birds chirping. I could not even hear the wind, although I could feel it. There was silence and only silence.
I turned around and I saw him. He was waiting for me. I walked towards him as fast as I could, but when I reached him, his eyes betrayed nothing but sadness.
“What happened to you?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.
“I’m so sorry. I am going to ask you for a favour, and please consider it,” I pleaded.
He frowned and he stared at me as though he was staring at a stranger. “Why did you just disappear?”
I explained everything to him. I told him about the devil and the deal he made me. I told him that my life was on the line. And I told him that I loved him and I needed him to save me.
“You are a fool. But you are a fool that I’ve come to love. So I will meet you here for a 100 days. I will save you. I promise.”
So we said goodbyes and I disappeared into darkness again.
And he came. Day after day, he came to see me. He told me stories. We laughed and cried together. I made sure he knew how much he meant to me. And every time we said goodbye, it got harder. Every time he walked away, it felt like I lost a part of him. But I would make it up to him somehow when I was truly alive again.
The hundred days were almost over and I was waiting for him in the meadow again. The orange glow of the setting sun filled the sky, but there was no sign of him. And as time passed by, I became restless.
A hand touched my shoulder, and I turned around quickly, only to face the Devil. He smiled at me again, baring his yellow teeth. “Your time is up,” he said, but I shook my head and ran away from him.
And that’s when I saw him in the distance. I would recognise him anywhere. There was a smile on his face, one that I hadn’t seen in quite a long time. It made me happy to see him like this.
It wasn’t until a moment later that I noticed he was holding hands with another girl.
He led her to the tree, our tree, and they sat down in the shade where we had sat so many times together. I did not want to see it. I did not want to watch him be happy with somebody else. Yet I could not avert my eyes. Maybe it was all my imagination.
They did not disappear and I could not help myself. The moment their lips touched, I screamed and I ran towards them, but they did not respond. As if I wasn’t even there.
“He cannot see you anymore. You are out of his heart and out of his sight. His love is no longer yours and neither is your life,” the devil said and he grabbed me by the arm.
Tears rolled down my cheek as I watched the man I loved slip away from me. I turned around to face the Devil and I was no longer afraid. There was no use in trying to hold on to life when it wasn’t worth living anymore.
So I nodded and I felt the Devil’s warm touch as he took my hand and took my soul. My body collapses in the grass but I had no need for it anymore. I had no need for a heart that only beat for love.
And the Devil and I disappeared into the shadows, until all around me I saw darkness and the darkness consumed my soul..
(Image credit: Anastasiya Malakhova)