The old gentleman peered out of the window. At first he saw nothing, the light of the room overpowered the soft luminescence of the street lamps outside. “Cassandra, dim the lights.”
“Dimming the lights,” the computer responded. The view outside improved as the interior lights dimmed. He smiled.
The view was a simple one. A pair of lamps illuminated the street down below. He remembered, when he and Florence had first moved in, he had insisted that the lamps be changed to reflect the period in which the house had been built.
The city had insisted that he pay for the changes. He had happily done so. The lamps were significantly dimmer than the ultra bright LEDs they replaced, but closely resembled the gaslights of yore.
Their light shone a little brighter tonight. It was snowing. The sight of the large white flakes glowing under the lamplight grabbed at his heart, and stoked his memory.
It seemed not so long ago that he and Florence had walked that secluded street hand in hand, smiles on their faces, love in their hearts. She had looked so beautiful. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold, her eyes glistening…
He stepped back. His eyes lingered on the scene as he turned about. He paced over to the fireplace. The warmth wrapped around his body, but missed his soul. That was warmed instead by the picture on the mantle.
He was staring at himself. Well, it was a younger version of himself. Beside him was his beloved Florence. She was older in this photo than she was in his memory on the street.
“So beautiful.” He smiled again. The photo had been taken in their very own ballroom, one floor below where he stood. He and Florence were in period dress. How Florence had loved holding dance parties…
He gazed into the fire below. Sometimes he could almost imagine the flames were tongues, trying to convey their ancient knowledge. If they spoke tonight, it was too quietly for him to hear. He was on his own.
He had been, for five years now. Long enough, he supposed. He stepped over to his old leather easy chair. It tempted him to rest in it one last time, but he had other intentions.
Instead, he picked up the small yellow capsule from the side table. Such a small thing. The doctor told him that once he took it, the end would come in a few short minutes. Wasn’t technology something?
He dry swallowed it before picking up the tumbler of scotch that had laid next to it. No good would come from tainting his last drink with such bitter medicine. He swirled it thoughtfully.
No time to waste now, though. He drank it all at once, reveling in the sudden fire drawing its way down to his gut. The exotic notes of wood and vanilla lingered in his mouth.
Only one thing to do, now. He picked up the last object left on the table. A small, crystal cube. The light of the fire painted jagged rainbows throughout its interior. He walked with it to a machine on a shelf on the far side of the room.
He placed it gently on top of the machine. The platform on which it set rose several inches. Brilliant light poured from the cube and fell to the floor a few feet away.
The fuzzy image of a woman materialized, glowing slightly around the edges. A tear slipped down the old man’s cheek. “Hello, Florence.”
The woman, clearer now, smiled back at him, waiting. He stepped forward and held out his hand. “One last dance, my dear?”
The holographic Florence curtsied playfully and held out her hand. He waltzed, effortlessly mirroring the hologram’s moves, smiling into her shimmering eyes. For a moment, just a moment, he was with her again.
He stepped back at the end of the song and bowed to his partner. He smiled, his eyes glistening with love and memories. He dragged his increasingly heavy feet to his leather chair.
He granted its wish and fell into it with a healthy sigh. His gaze returned to the hologram patiently waiting for him. “I’ve missed you my dear… so much.”
His smile faltered, then fell away. His eyes dimmed. The only light in them now coming from the aging hologram.
He lifted himself from the chair, feeling much lighter now, much younger. He glowed not unlike the hologram on the far side of the room. He turned his attention to a much brighter figure that was now standing before him.
She offered him her hand. He took it, his smile returning. “Hello, Florence.” Together they danced into the night… into eternity.