It was not age that changed her, but rather years spent in her prison, alone and away from the outside world. Her face was nearly identical to that of the picture. We never took photos, so this one was virtually impossible for us to get. I can still picture Cassidy’s warm smile when we finally did. A smaller, sadder smile was on her face now. Her one hand held the picture, while the other held my own. She studied this photo as if trying to preserve it to memory. Maybe she was. Our time was coming to a close.
“How long have we known each other, E?” She knew I had a perfect memory. I take my notepad and write ‘828 years’. A frown forms on her face. I noticed her change in demeanour and squeeze her hand.
“And. . .how long have I been stuck in Time Prison for?” She asks. My shoulders slump. Not this argument again. I pick up the notebook. ‘419 years’. Her eyes study the page. She pulls her hands away and abruptly stands to pace the room. She stops in front of me, “why are you still here, E?” I could hear my heart in my ears. How could she ask that? We were soulmates. We promised back in 1936 that no matter what troubles we faced, we would always be there for each other. Even if we were on opposite sides of the world, we would never leave each other. She sees my hurt expression.
“E,” she sits in front of me, “you have lost so much because of me. You lost your voice because of me. And each year, when I get a full 24 hours of release, you continue to wait for me. Why?” She knows I can’t respond. Our time was almost up.
Cassidy sighs, finally looking at me in the eyes. “I miss your voice, E.” She says, her voice heavy. “I know you don’t want me to apologize anymore. I know you’re sick of having this argument every year and don’t want our last conversation to be about this, but I can’t-” Her voice cracks, her tears finally spilling. I wish I could comfort her with my words.
There’s no time left. I had to make the most of it. I move to the floor to be with Cassidy. I lift her chin, and bring my lips to hers. Tears flow down both of our cheeks and hit our intertwined hands.
A familiar voice breaks through the room. 24 hours with Prisoner 38260 has concluded. Please say your goodbyes. Cassidy opens her eyes to look at me, the faintest smile on her face.
“I hate how loyal you are.” She mumbles. My smile speaks for me.
“See you next year?” She asks. I nod, still smiling. As she stands, we keep our fingers intertwined until the last second. Her touch lingers as she fades.