Paper Hands

I lay next to you either for the last time, or for eternity. Your paper hand in mine. My hair, white, as I never imagined it, though my reflection has revealed its truth for years. Am I not still a little girl?

And your hair, brittle. Like your fingers in mine, placed, but not quite holding.

And here we are, side by side, as we have been for years. Decades. The final race. Will you be first, or will I?

I think of my parents. What would they think of their little girl, old, weary, dying? Her long, straight, dark hair a short, wispy impostor atop her porcelain head. The cracks show. They never did before.

It’s only a matter of minutes before their memory disappears from one more person. A connection only past.

But you—you remain as I do. Do you think of me? Do you think at all? I cannot tell. I think of you, though I know you cannot tell either.

Will it be you? Will your hand drop mine first? I grip your hand tightly.

If it does, will I feel grief one more time, even knowing that I have only minutes left until I drop yours? Is it the loss of the future that we grieve, or death itself?

I cannot tell. I may never know. Or I may know minutes, seconds from now.

Never seems like a short time to me now, with so little ahead.

Your paper hand in mine feels cold.