This story has been set to a rating of PG. Age verification is required to proceed.
Holding her cup of coffee close, Tina decided to take a look at their garden one more time. As far as she knew, it had rained heavily earlier in the night, so she was going to check on the state of some of the flowers that needed special maintenance.
She shoved her feet into slippers and headed toward the front door. Swinging the door open slowly, Tina shivered as a cold draught curled around her body, but then she raised her eyes and the world suddenly stopped.
The earth stopped rotating and time stood still.
Her heart stopped beating. Her lungs stopped their steady rhythm.
Strength momentarily left her. The coffee mug slipped from her paralyzed fingers and crashed to the floor with a loud noise, its contents splashing across the hardwood floor.
”Bette…” her lips drew the name without releasing any sound.
For a moment Tina braced herself by gripping onto the door frame for support as she stared with eyes wide in utter shock at the half-slumped figure that sat on the porch step, a mass of dark curly hair dangling limp against the back.
Breathing with effort, Tina forced her wobbly legs to move away from the door and rush to Bette. She nearly fell to her knees between Bette’s legs on the lower step and immediately took Bette in her arms. She said nothing, but clung to Bette with frantic need as hard sobs racked her anguished body. Ragged breaths tore from Tina as she tried to breathe past both grief of having been close to losing Bette and relief of having Bette finally coming back to her, safe and alive.
Somewhere between the sobs Tina realized that there was no response from Bette, physical or verbal. She suddenly realized that the body she was holding was numb and felt different to the touch. Pulling back, through the tears Tina looked at the woman who owned her heart, for the first time in half a year.
The emaciated state in which Bette appeared sent a wave of chills running down Tina’s spine. Her face was sunken in, the cheekbones standing out sharply. Her curly hair lay greasy and lank against her head, gray strands intruding among the dark brown. Generally Bette looked like she hadn’t washed in days. She was dressed in a black tank top underneath a gray flannel shirt and black jeans – all dirty. It was then that Tina’s senses got assaulted with the smell of heavy, oily fumes of diesel.