Enjoy an excerpt from Andrea L. Staum’s “The Time Between” featured in our new anthology ON TIME.
Tay shook his head as he stared at the ring before him, his hand hovering over the thick iron band before picking it up and gripping it tightly.
“With this ring I thee wed.” Julian’s hand shook as he slid the stone circle onto Tay’s finger.
The vision took over the memory, but Tay forced it from his mind to focus on the past a little longer. He was not ready to face whatever the future was going to show him in the simple ring that linked him to the love of his life. For nearly a month later, he’d avoided touching it. He knew most of the wedding crowd thought he’d been overwhelmed by the ceremony, but concern lined the corners of Julian’s green eyes. His husband hadn’t missed the momentary rigidity in his stance when his fingers brushed the circle of meteorite. Hestia and Greely had noticed as well from their posts as best man and maid of honor. He tried to brush it off with a nervous smile before taking the matching meteorite ring from Greely to place it on Julian’s finger; his voice shaking more than Julian’s hand had, but again, most would just consider it normal.
The ceremony ended and pictures took over until the reception. He hadn’t known half the people that came with well wishes, but he had slid his gloves back on before greeting them. It had also been an opportunity for him to slide the ring from his finger to his pocket. He didn’t want it against his skin anymore. It allowed him to enjoy himself, and he hoped he could keep up that level of excitement through the reception and honeymoon. All he wanted was to keep Julian from asking questions.
“You sent him away on purpose.” Tay looked up at Greely as he dropped the ring, wincing at the click it made against the desktop. When they had returned to work, Julian went away on a case, which allowed Tay to explore the glimpse of the future he had been avoiding without worrying about his love’s reaction. He chose the work office because it was designed to not retain memory. The same technology and magic made their home a safe haven, but he wanted the clinical feel of the office.
Hestia whistled to get his attention. Hunched back in her chair, her head resting against the wall, she gestured or him to pick the ring up again. “Get it over with.”
“If you want things to go well with Julian, you need to get over your hesitations.” She leaned forward, her auburn falling from their clip, blocking her eyes from him. “Play out the vision, and see what happens.”
Tay shifted uneasily in his chair. His eyes darting from her to the ring. “You of all people know it isn’t that easy.”
Hestia pushed her hair back behind her ear and stood. The chair slamming into the wall with her momentum. In two steps, she was standing in front of the desk. Her body shaking as she reached out stopping a mere inch from grabbing the ring. “If I touch it, I see its journey through the immensity of space. If I sit and ponder on that I would lose all hope as I see how insignificant I am in the universe. Eons and ages and limitless nothing in the blackness of eternity. I know you have seen that too since the end is no different than the beginning.”
“Hest…” Greely reached out to steady her, but she stepped back.
The tears streaming down her face surprised Tay. “You touched it?”
The fervor that had raged through her dissipated and shoulders sagged as she looked at the floor.
“Of course, maid of honor holds the ring.” Tay closed his eyes and ran his hands through his hair. “I’m so sorry.”
“Had to be meteorite.” Soft emotion tugged at her voice. She raised her haunted gaze and glared at him. “Something possibly older than the minerals of Earth. You had to choose meteorite rings.”
She didn’t wait for him to reply before turning away and leaving the room, not bothering to shut the door behind her.
“Julian thought it would be better because of its timelessness. He thought it would keep my clairvoyance from triggering. He was wrong.” The open doorway blurred in his vision as his reach for the ring again shifted for his phone instead.
A new message from Julian. Another one to ignore.
Andrea L. Staum is the author of the Dragonchild Lore series, The Attic #39’s Secret novella, Scattered Dreams short story collection, and has contributed to several best-selling anthologies. She is a trained motorcycle technician, an amateur home renovator, and somehow manages to find time to write. She lives in south central Wisconsin with her husband and their overlords… err…cats.