The small bell above the door faintly rings as another customer leaves. I put down my book and gaze at the moonlit ocean, fully enjoying the breeze blowing over Shelly’s café. The salty air feels refreshing after having spent a whole week in the city. I’m glad I decided to sit outside for once.
“I had a hunch you’d be here.” Her rosy fragrance lingers, mixing with the scent of orange from the nearby orchard as she walks by. It’s enticing.
Bewitched by her beautiful smile, I gaze into her sapphire blue eyes and smile back heartily. “There’s no hiding from you, is there, Karen?”
She snickers. “I’ve had to chase you quite a bit over the years, you know. I know all your favorite spots by now.” I shake my head as I get up and walk over to her. “I only have one favorite spot left.” Karen looks puzzled. “Oh? Where might that be?” Without so much as a warning, I embrace and kiss her gently under the full moon. “Anywhere as long as you’re there.”
Karen smiles and looks away as she puts a document in between us. “Alright, Casanova. Here’s today’s report. We should be ready to launch on time.” Humored by her response I grab the document and go through it while making my way down the stone steps past her. “Any anomalies in the program?” A pair of heels can be heard following me closely. “None since the last debug. I think it should be ready for the exhibition.”
A sense of triumph fills me as I chuck the documents aside and stretch my arms out in a gesture towards the sea. “It took us eight years, Karen.” I take a deep breath and turn towards her, relieved as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. “All our hard work will finally pay off. Our dream will soon become everyone’s reality.”
Karen hums as she bumps into me playfully before entering the water. A wave reaches my feet, caressing them while trying to pull me back with it.
“Do you remember the day we first met?” Captivated by the curiosity in her eyes, I nod with a smile. “You were sitting alone, drinking while in tears. I can’t blame you.”
Karen casually swirls around in front of me. “Right? It’s not every day that you hear you only have a few years left to live after all.”
She suddenly stops.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met you that day.”
I gently embrace her from behind, kissing her neck. “What matters is the time we’ve had together. Nothing else.” She smiles, raising her right hand up to my cheek. “Thank you for everything.” Tears finally well up. Karen’s words and warmth completely break down what little composure I had left.
My chest hurts as I close my eyes, trying to stop the tears. “I love you, Ethan.” The feeling of her soft lips only last a moment before I open my eyes again. A wave washes over us, shattering Karen like fine glass. She’s gone. I stare at the horizon while trying to collect my thoughts. “I’ll see you soon.”
A knocking pulls me back to reality. “Sir, the meeting will begin soon.” I take off my glasses and look at my secretary standing by the door. “Thank you, Jane. I’ll be with you shortly.”
It’s been three years since Karen died. Project Mundus which we worked on together became a huge success around the world. Creating a virtual world that exists parallel with our own that is easily accessible by everyone is no small feat. Work, sports, games. Anything you can imagine will appear in the Mundus. I often visit Karen this way and update her on how the world has become, and how my life is progressing. She’ll always be a part of me and the new world she helped create.
Thank you for everything, Karen.