He was dreaming.

That had to be it. He remembered some of his Shakespeare –

To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
That makes Calamity of so long a life:

He did not feel like his life was a calamity. However, he was indeed old – he was completely aware of that fact and wore it like a pair of tattered shoes that his mind told him to throw away but his heart forbade him to do – yes, he was old and he was dreaming.

Yet the dreams had such a sweet feel of warm reality about them that it shook him, made him despair — made him thrill with life — even as he knew it had to be a dream.

He was in a bed.

He could smell the fresh and crisp sheets, almost feel their velvet and familiar embrace. There was a low sound in the distance, it must be the constant undulating hum of the air conditioner swirling around his mind. Other sounds, sometimes distant, sometimes close at hand.

He was in a bed.

He reached for her. The great joy of his life, his companion, his friend, and his lover; the woman whose love he had worked so long and hard to win — and to keep.

He reached across the bed, searching for her hand, but he could not find it. Could not feel the warmth and happiness of her touch, thrill to the gentle squeeze she would give his gnarled fingers, beaten down by time, but not yet beaten.

She was not there.

Tears streamed down his eyes. He tried to turn his head to see. Perhaps she was there, but just out of reach – but he could not turn his head. There was a dazzling bolt of pain, then he sighed. I am dreaming, dreaming. Oh, where is she, where is my love? He slept.

He was in a bed.

She sat on the edge of the bed. The traffic had been terrible and she was late. She was never late. She sat on the edge of the bed and took her lover’s hand. Her companion and friend for a lifetime – she took his wizened old hand and wrapped her bent fingers around it.

He was in a bed.

He reached once again for his wife and there she was. He held her hand tightly, oh so tightly. She was always there for him – her kindness and love the constant reminder of the basic decency of human life. Of my life. She squeezed his hand and he smiled. The tears that came now were shed in joy and happiness.

He was in a bed.

She looked with love upon the face of the dear old man. She wondered at the tears on his cheek. She cried and dreamed of love.

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