I knew you’d be here at the end.
Don’t give me that face of yours. I’ve had eighty long years. Good years, except for a few in the middle. And in this day and age maybe it’s on the shorter end of the spectrum, but I can’t imagine hanging in much longer. We weren’t meant to. The doctors could replace every bone and joint in my body, graft new muscle tissue onto the old, make me seventeen again, make me look like I did when we met—like you do, right now—but they can’t replace my mind, Ice. It is old and brittle and so full that I don’t know what’s real and what I’ve only imagined. I remember a lizard of impossible colors. I remember a lot of impossible things. I remember holding hands with you in the dark and thinking it was impossible.
Let me lean on your shoulder. I’m so tired.
Eighty years. How many human friends have you watched grow old and die in that time? How many before I even knew you? God, you look like a baby but you’re even more ancient than I am. Did the doctors take your skin and stretch it tight over your bones, replace all your insides with robotics?
No. You don’t get old. It’s impossible but I remember it. I remember believing it because it was impossible, and I remember your face not changing and how frightened I was. I don’t remember why.
It’s so cold out here. The breeze from the ocean is harder on me now than it was, but I still come out here to look at the stars and the waves and feel rocks crunch under my shoes. They don’t like me coming out here by myself but I do it anyway. Sometimes I come out in the daytime and watch the surfers. The boards are sleeker and smoother but they still have the same design. Did I ever take you surfing with me? I think I remember it, but it’s too ordinary a memory to be real, I suppose. It’s all sunshine and sand and lying side by side. So plausible.
I was so worried about this happening one day, me old and frail and leaning on your shoulder, you still young and strong and wasting your time. It was a stupid thing to worry over. You wouldn’t be here if you were wasting your time. I had a picture of the two of us when we moved into that first apartment together, leaning on each other’s shoulders, sound asleep. Rose took it. I used to stare at it and then look at myself in the mirror, look at you sleeping beside me. Every year I looked older, and you looked exactly the same. I have the picture in my pocket now, and if I took it out you’d still look exactly the same, and I’d look completely different, an old man asleep on your shoulder. My nightmare.
I thought dying would hurt more. Did any of your old human friends say that dying hurt? I feel better now than I have in a long time. Everything’s numb and hazy. I’m not even sure you’re here, except you’re so warm. I couldn’t imagine that, could I? But maybe I’m leaning on some stranger, talking nonsense at him, and he is too polite to tell a crazy old man to leave. If that is the case, I’m sorry. I won’t be much longer.
I wish I’d had children. Even the first time you left, when I was sad and angry all the time, I still thought to myself that one day I’d forget about you, and I’d find a girl and fall in love and get married and have children and we’d grow old together. I only managed a couple of those things and none of them lasted. I wish I’d kept it up long enough to have children. I don’t care that they’d hate us for not loving each other, at least I’d have something more than my sad, distant relations to watch over me. I don’t know why I said that. I love them. If she’d had eyes like yours I would have done it. I would’ve killed to have a child with eyes like yours.
I missed you so much back then. Did you know? I don’t think I ever told you. There were a lot of things I never told you, though. I never told you about those nights I’d wake up on the couch reeking of sex and cologne, how I’d stumble in the dark to the bathroom to wash off the smell and the sweat. I think you knew anyway. You’d always hold me really tight when I got back to bed, and you never asked why my hair was still damp in the morning. I still can’t believe that you could have loved me that much. Maybe you didn’t. It seems impossible. I’d like to believe it anyway. I loved you that much, after all.
Look. The sunrise. Already?
You’re so warm.