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The Last "I Love You"s

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Avis tossed and turned in her bed unable to get comfortable. It was like she had this sinking feeling in her gut out of nowhere. She had been fine all day, having spent most of it with Helena, reading to her and keeping her company. Helena had been sick for a while, and she had tried every doctor but no one could figure out what was wrong with her. There were days when she would be so lively and energetic, ready to take on the world, and then there were days like that day where she couldn’t get out of bed for more than 5 minutes. It hurt Avis to see her partner suffering and she did her best to spend every moment she could with Helena. Of course, they still had to worry about Avis's comings and goings from the polish woman’s apartment, people already becoming suspicious of the two’s relationship. Avis never spent the night and if she did she came late enough for no one to see and left early in the morning when it was still dark outside. Avis’s stomach churned and she had this weird pulling feeling to go to Helena’s home. Her conscious was practically screaming it. So she got up, slipping a coat on over her nightdress, and drove to Helena. As she got closer to the apartment, Avis felt like she needed to throw up, and couldn’t for the life of her understand why. She pulled up to the apartment building, taking her time going up the steps and knocking on the door. Magda opened the door, looking sad and dejected. 

 

“Hello, Mrs.Amberg, Madam had just requested I call you,” Magda informed Avis, stepping back to let her in. Helena had told Magda to call? Maybe Helena was feeling the same thing Avis was. 

 

“Madam! Mrs. Amberg is here!” Magda called back to the polish woman. 

 

“Is she okay?” Avis asked, fidgeting with her hands as she did when she was nervous. 

 

“Avis!” An awfully weak voice called back before Magda could answer. Hearing Helena’s voice gave Avis all the answers she needed. Rushing past Magda, Avis sped to the bedroom, fleeing to Helena’s side. She looked so… ill. She was pale, practically a ghost, her eyes droopy and dull. Avis took one hand in hers, flinching at how cold it was. 

 

“Helena, darling, I’m here. I’m right here.” Avis told her, kissing the cold flesh of Helena’s hand, clutching it to her face. She knew Helena’s time was winding down, and she finally understood the pulling feeling she had to get there. 

 

“Avis, come lay next to me,” Helena muttered, patting the side of the bed Avis usually laid in when at Helena’s place. Avis threw off her coat and shoes, climbing next to her partner. Helena pulled Avis close, kissing her lips before guiding Avis’ head to rest on her chest. Avis could hear Helena’s heartbeat and engraved it into her memory, but still silently praying that it wasn’t the last time she was going to hear it. 

 

“I was able to change my will after you left. I figured it was time.” Helena spoke softly, rubbing the top of Avis’s head. Avis didn’t know when she had started to cry, but Helena’s wet chest under her face told her. Avis didn’t answer, so Helena continued, “I left everything to you and Claire. My sons don’t deserve it and Archil can go burn in hell.” Avis heard her breathing becoming more shallow and clutched Helena closer. 

 

“Avis, I love you. I love you more than anything. I’m sorry we couldn’t have more time.” Helena breathed, her own tears falling down her face. 

 

“Don’t say that, please. I love you so much. Don’t leave me, Hel. I cannot lose you.” Avis buried her face in Helena’s chest, holding onto her for dear life. 

 

“I’ll always be here with you. Even if I’m not. I love you, Avis.” Helena could feel her life slipping through her fingers and was at peace so she dropped it, taking her final breath, a smile on her face. Avis felt Helena’s heart stop beating, the rhythmic thumping no longer there. She scrambled to her knees, taking Helena’s face in her own. 

 

“No no no-no-no. Not again. God not again.” Avis whispered, shaking Helena’s head slightly in her hands. When it settled in, that Helena was really gone, the only thing that could be heard was a gut-wrenching, blood-curdling scream from the depths of Avis’ stomach. She could feel her heartbreaking, and her soul-crushing. Why was everyone she loved taken away from her? 

 

“I love you too,” Avis sobbed, pressing her lips to Helena’s cold, lifeless ones. She sat back up, clutching Helena’s body to her, not ready to completely let go. Her happiness was gone. The reason she woke up in the morning was gone. Her motivation to get her through every part of every day was gone. Her world and her reason for living was gone. 

 

It was an hour before Magda had called Claire and Jack came to console her and take her home. 

 

“Mummy, come on. I know it hurts, but she wouldn’t want you like this.” Claire pleaded with her mother, trying to pry Avis’ arms from around Helena’s body. 

 

“I can’t. I can’t let her go.” Avis held on tighter, grief too heavy on her shoulders. Claire looked over to Jack begging him to do something. So he did the only thing he could, picking Avis up and carrying her kicking and screaming out of the room. He sat her down on her feet, him and Claire standing around her, pinning her to the wall. She sobbed recklessly, sliding down onto the floor. 

 

“I can’t do this anymore.”