Never Leap a Mirror for Love
He wiped a tear away and looked again at his wife’s gaunt face as she lay prone on a hospital bed. Eyes shut, she looked peaceful. Spasms no longer wracked her twisted body.
He’d begged her not to take that last leap. She’d insisted. She lived to collect novel technology from parallel worlds and different timelines.
The warning signs had been obvious in hindsight. Of course she’d downplayed them, the tremors and lack of sleep. Slurred speech, a little too much wine and the wrinkles, well every leaper got them.
He shook his head. He needed his wife as she had been – impetuous, bold, a tonic to his still life.
A nurse bustled in to reset infusions and to wipe away dry phlegm that had congealed on his wife’s lips. The nurse drew him to one side as she left the room. “Not much time now. I’m so sorry,” she said.
He slumped down in his chair, head in hands.
This is her husk, he thought. She lives on in other worlds. He smiled, heart racing. He knew where she hid her access codes. He could navigate through the labyrinthine building where his wife worked. Find what she called, ‘The Machine’ and leap into a new beginning with her.
He gasped as he straightened up and saw her looking at him through heavy-lidded eyes.
“Don’t, Samuel”, she croaked. “I know you. I can see it in your face.”
He moved closer. “I can’t lose you,” he whispered.
“Darling,” she replied, reaching for his hand. “I’ve been where you are. This isn’t the only Earth to have the tech.” She coughed and blood flecked her sheets.
He reached for a call button. She grasped his hand tighter.
“No! Listen to me. I’ve loved this life, loved you, but the price has been high.” Her eyes shut and he had to lean forward, her voice faint.
“I became obsessed,” she said, “I leapt so many times searching for you…”
She fell silent apart from laboured breaths. He laid his head on her chest and sobbed.