Ryan met Aliah in the summer before his 19th birthday. Or, was it the winter after his 21st? Her hair, long, colored like honey... or deep auburn. He held his head in his hands, unable to recall any detail about the woman he was so deeply in love with.
"Hey there, Mr. Finnegan, how's your wife doing? I'm surprised she's not out gardening, lovely day like this!"
Ryan looked up to see the postman, Mr. Talbot, pulling envelopes from the mail box near the fence. For a moment, he could remember and imagine Aliah gardening in the sun. The next moment; nothing.
"She's inside, making some fancy salad with the tomatoes and cukes." Was she? Ryan stood, trying to clear his head.
"Ryan..." Her voice sounded so clear, but couldn't possibly have been loud enough to be heard from the kitchen. His heart raced. God, he loved her. He waved to Mr. Talbot, then went inside.
He felt her skin underneath his hands, smelled sunshine in her hair and tasted life in the kisses that sent him off on his routine every morning. He was seventy years old, with at least sixty-six years of memories in his mind. He knew that he'd been happy with Aliah, had a beautiful wedding, and yet... still could not say what color her eyes were, or how she looked when she smiled.
Moonlight filtered in through the window, and he knew this might be his last chance to ask her the questions burning within him. After so many years, he knew he'd only lived a few days at a regular pace. Where had all the rest of that time gone?
"Aliah." He whispered her name. "I need to see your face."
"You have seen it, my love." Her voice was beside him, and he could hear pain there. Her face was obscured by shadows.
"But I don't remember anything about you."
"If you see me... truly see me... you'll die."
"I feel..." his breath caught, "I'm scared I'll die without seeing you, remembering you. I'm seventy, and although I have memories, I feel like I've only really lived such a small fraction of my time."
She twined her fingers around his, squeezing gently, reassuringly.
"I love you Ryan. I shouldn't have, but I fell for you. If this is truly what you want..."
"I love you too, Aliah. I need to know you before I die." She sat up in their bed, the blanket falling around her waist. A light appeared, shocking his eyes with its sudden intensity.
It didn't dim, but he quickly grew accustomed. He sat up, eyes wide in amazement. Pure white wings fell behind her, and her skin glowed golden in the dark of their bedroom. Her hair fell over her breasts, and the ebony color contrasted sharply with the blazing blue of her eyes. He couldn't speak. Aliah put a hand to his cheek, and her skin both burned and soothed.
"The love I feel for you prevents me from disguising myself the way I do from everyone else. In my selfishness, I've stolen your life away. We don't live in the same ebb and flow of time as humans... I'm so sorry, Ryan."
"Don't be sorry, we've had a wonderful life together. Seeing you now... I remember every moment we've had... and you're so beautiful." He felt his heart beating arrhythmically, and couldn't explain or ignore his sudden fatigue. Her beauty, her love, was killing him. He had never felt so at peace before in his life, he was sure.
They embraced, kissing passionately for a moment that could have been seconds or years. She whispered something in a language no human had ever heard, and set him gently back into the pillows. She closed his sightless eyes with her finger tips, and relished his smile.
"I'll see you soon, my love."