I watch my daughter cradle her swollen belly as she kneels to place the flowers on my empty grave. Pink carnations this time... last year was red roses, the year before, golden mums.
Her lips move as she whispers to the flower-strewn ground, but I'm too far away to hear her precious words. Her shoulders quake with her sobs and, swallowing, I fight to stifle my own. She caresses my name etched into the grey granite, tracing the letters one by one before wiping the tears from her cheeks. Her fingers touch her lips, then the top of the cold hard stone.
My own fingers clamp against my mouth, smothering the impulse to cry out to her.
As she turns to walk back to her car, a breath of summer wind lifts her hair. It floats for a moment, waving goodbye. Her scent reaches out to me and triggers memories of our brief life together. Seventeen years was not enough--not enough time to share with her, to hold her and teach her and tell her how much I love her. In a flash of anger, I curse the evil creature that stole me away, leaving my daughter to finish growing up alone, and leaving me... leaving me no longer human.
My chest heaving, I watch her drive away, then step between the markers and cross the lawn to my grave. I rest my trembling fingers where hers last touched, press them softly against my lips, and whisper, "I love you, Andrea."