Vanilla Twilight - short story for an lgbt+ contest
Posted November 27th, 2018 by Zelda
in a perpetual predicament
November 27th, 2018
A/N: yes, this is named after the Owl City song, a song which fits this story very well.
So I wrote this story for a little contest on this writing site called Penana, the rules for the contest itself were pretty simple; just write a story about lgbt+ characters. Coincidentally, the only other entry in this contest to date also includes enbies and Dramatic Death(tm). Now! I want to take a moment to recommend Penana, especially if you're an oldie phasing out of KP and you're looking for a place to settle down. Penana is very similar to wattpad, with threads like the W/B to interact with people, and, more importantly, a lot of options for writing/reading (solo, collab, beta reading, etc.). It has much lower traffic than wattpad, which makes it much easier to get feedback.
If you decide to join, come on over and find me, my username is copyedit.
Anyways, on to the story!
this stars lean down to kiss you / and I lie awake and miss you
The stars shone bright that last night, their reflections sparkling on the glassy lake water like so many fairy lights. A faint breeze knocked the cattails together and danced across the two forms sitting at the water's edge.
Cygnus stared up at her namesake, the constellation of the northern cross, and sighed. Her breath curled in smokey puffs, blotting out the stars for the briefest of moments. The night wasn't cool enough for most people's breath to be visible yet, but Cygnus breathed air too hot for even the mild autumn night. As she watched the puff disappear, she wished her thoughts would swirl and vanish too. Too much had happened in the last few days and she wasn't ready for it all. She needed time to stop for her mind to play catch up.
As if sensing her distress, her partner rested their cool head on her shoulder.
"What are you thinking about?" Aerin whispered, their breath didn't swirl out in front of them the way Cygnus's did.
"Tomorrow," Cygnus said. Everything was ending tomorrow. It was ending too soon. Aerin hummed in the back of their throat, their cold fingers laced through Cygnus's. They tried not to flinch at the heat radiating off Cygnus's skin.
"You're burning up," they whispered, tilting their head to see their partner better. Cygnus nodded, refusing to meet Aerin's gaze. She couldn't look into the eyes of her partner and know that by this time tomorrow it would all be over.
"Yeah," she said, "that-- that happens."
"Can we not talk about that right now, just... let's talk about puppies or-- or your fish," Cygnus said and ruffled Aerin's fluffy hair.
"Really, you want to talk about my fish?" Aerin said, a slight smile lifting their words. Cygnus didn't particularly like the fish. She thought they were slimy and twisted in freakish ways, and their mouth gaped like they were dying all the time. But Aerin adored the fish, talking about those squirmy water creatures made them happy.
"Yeah, how's Cheerio?" she asked. Cheerio was the only fish she could remember, he was fat with massive bubbled eye-pouches. He was Aerin's favourite, even though they claimed to be against favouritism.
"Cy..." the smile faded, and Aerin ran their thumb over her hand.
"Hm?" Cygnus glanced down, avoiding Aerin's eyes and focusing on their sharp chin instead. They had an amazing chin, connected to an amazing jaw, and a perfect neck. And Cygnus knew that if she let herself look further up she would be met with two glittering eyes, the same shade as old pennies and cinnamon. They're eyes were framed by long dark lashes, and every time they batted those lashes Cygnus melted all over again.
"Hun, Cheerio died this morning,"
"What? Why didn't you tell me?" Cygnus pulled away, her brow furrowing. Aerin always told her when a fish died. They always sobbed about it, and the pair of them would curl up on a bench in the park out in front of the lake while Aerin recounted everything great about the passed fish. Aerin ducked their head, their ink black bangs fell over their face, hiding their eyes.
"It's fine, don't worry about it," they shrugged one shoulder, leaning in once more.
Cygnus scooted away, "No, you loved that fish. You should have told me, we could have bought ice cream and cried about it like sad old people." She meant it as a joke, the last part at least, but instead of laughing, Aerin's frown deepened. They hugged their knees to their chest, brushing their hair out of their eyes and making it suddenly impossible for Cygnus to look directly at them. Why hadn't they told her about the fish?
"I didn't want to bring up death," Aerin sighed, "I wanted today to be happy and sweet, and I know you hate crying and you hate those fish--"
"I don't hate your fish,"
"You do, it's okay. I just didn't want to ruin your last day all because Cheerio... because he-- he died, and-- and you-- you-- you," they sniffled, and the dam that had held their tears back since that morning burst. Reaching out, Cygnus pulled Aerin into a hug. Her arms wrapped around their shoulders, their head rested on her collarbone, and Cygnus inched closer until their hips touched. They fit like two puzzle pieces, they always had.
She held Aerin while they cried, tears dripping down into her lap. It was then, finally, after a week of numbness and dull-edged acceptance, that the gravity of tomorrow struck Cygnus.
She was dying. After a millenium of life on the planet Earth, her time was up.
She rested her cheek on Aerin's head, breathing in the scent of their shampoo as fat tears blurred her vision. It was cruel, to have to die so soon after she met her soulmate. After all those years, in all the places she had traveled, she could have met someone, settled down, lived a full life with them. It would have been terrible to watch them pass, but she couldn't imagine it being anywhere near the gut-wrenching, awful pain of knowing that she had to leave Aerin. All that time, and she had to meet Aerin a mere year before her expiry date. She closed her eyes, bitter tears rolled across the wide bridge of her nose. The water evaporated off her skin, leaving a crusty trail of salt. Her temperature was rising rapidly, and it wouldn't stop.
It wasn't fair.
"I don't want you to go," Aerin said, their words muffled by the lump in their throat.
"I know," Cygnus whispered, "I love you." She had to say it, before it was too late.
"I love you, too," their voice cracked with fresh tears, but they bit them back to turn and face Cygnus. For the first time that day, their eyes met, and Cygnus's heart swelled and burst and rebuilt itself all at once. It wasn't fair, she thought again as she leaned down to kiss Aerin.
She could feel the tremble of Aerin's lips, taste their salt mingle with hers. She pulled Aerin closer, tangling her fingers in their short hair. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that this would be their last kiss, not long from now her skin would be too hot for Aerin to touch and nothing could stop that. She had to make this count.
The kiss went on for ages and not long enough, it was Aerin who finally broke it. They bit their lip, teardrops clinging to their eyelashes, glittering like bad omens disguised as diamonds. They took a steadying breath, and Cygnus did the same, wishing with all her might that, through some miracle, tomorrow would cease to exist and they would be stuck in that moment for the rest of eternity.
They laid in the damp grass, steam hissing up around Cygnus as they counted shooting stars together. Eventually Cygnus grew too hot, and Aerin had to let go of her hand, the skin of their palm already red and blistering from trying to hold on as long as possible. It was okay, Cygnus told them, and then to distract them, she told a story. And another story. And another. Until the sky began to lighten.
The sun peaked over the horizon, signalling the end of her time with Aerin. She stood, Aerin trailing behind her. All of her tears had dried, the salt trails crumbled under her fingers. For all the stories she had told, she had no words left. Nothing to close the time they had left. But Aerin did,
"I'm glad I got the chance to love you," they said, lips trembling.
"Me, too." Cygnus said. She tucked a loose strand of Aerin's hair behind their ears, being careful not to touch their skin, and with a sad smile,
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