by Sebnem E. Sanders
My phone buzzed, her name appeared on the screen. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before answering.
“Hey,” I whispered.
“Hey, you,” she said. “Fancy a trip to Venice?”
“Venice is sinking.”
“Not yet, there’s still time.”
I paused. “When?”
“Next weekend, if you’re free?”
“Too soon, Eva. It’ll still be flooded, chaotic. Maybe in the spring?”
“I’m not sure I’ll be free then.”
“Tell me, why now, after all these years?”
“Because I want to see it again, with you, before it sinks.”
The first time I’d seen her, twenty years ago, she sat on the beach at the Lido, reading Death in Venice. Glancing over her shoulder, from time to time, at the Grand Hotel des Bains, she turned the pages. Pulling me like a magnet to her austere, youthful beauty, she managed to absorb my full attention while I babbled over trivia. Weather, sand flies, mosquitos, and Thomas Mann. Stopping for lemonades and martinis, at intervals, we visited the sights of Venice, while following the steps of Gustav von Aschenbach. Once we exhausted those, we delved into the possible venues from Don’t Look Now, the movie, and its interpretations.
This time, Friday to Sunday passed like a dream as she pressed my hands with hers against the walls of the revisited ancient sites, her slender fingers adorned with gemstones. Topaz, amethyst, quartz, and amber.
Sitting at Danieli’s for our last supper, she said, “There is no death in Venice.”
“Why death?” I asked. “Perhaps there’s a sort of happy ending as in the convoluted story of Merchant of Venice?”
“Those are fairy tales. They don’t come true.” She held out her hands. “I wore all the stones and couldn’t time travel with you.”
“Time travel?” I scoffed. “You won’t even consider travelling with me in real time.”
She reached for my hand and squeezed it tight. “It’s because I want our love to last forever.”
I departed with a broken heart, as always. She would never be mine, or another’s, I hoped. She was Eva.
A month later, her brother called to say Eva had passed. “Brain tumour,” he said, “incurable.”
I wept all night in the void of her loss. She had left me again, this time for good. A sparrow landed on the windowsill, and looked me in the eye, before taking off into the sky. Through my tears, I kept asking the question that still echoes in my waking thoughts. “Eva, are you in the past or the future? Or perhaps on another planet, galaxy or universe. No matter how hard I try to find you, I fail. You took the best of me and I’m lost.”
Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes flash fiction as well as longer works. Her stories have appeared in various online magazines — The Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama, Punk Noir Magazine, and Flash Fiction Offensive — as well as two anthologies, Paws and Claws and One Million Project Thriller Anthology. Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. sebnemsanders.wordpress.com