They held each other and looked at the stars.
She whispered in his ear, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” he whispered back.
“I love you more,” she teased, tracing a finger down the side of his face to his lips.
He kissed her finger. “No, I love you more.”
“I love you so much that I made your favorite dish for dinner, remember?”
He nodded, thinking back to the irresistible aroma and pungent flavors that made his taste buds dance. “I love you so much that I brought you your favorite flowers, remember?”
She nodded, remembering the fragrance and beauty of the bouquet with which he’d surprised her that morning. Her arms released him, and she turned around to reach for something. She presented him with a sculpture that fit in the palm of her hand. It was carved intricately in such a way that its shape seemed to change depending on the angle of the viewer. His eyes lit up upon seeing it.
“It’s from your favorite sculptor. I love you so much that I asked the artist to inscribe your name under the base.”
“Thank you,” he said, kissing her hand. Not wanting to be outdone, he retrieved a small box from his pocket. He opened it to show her the brilliant earrings inside. “These earrings are one of a kind, made just for you. That’s how much I love you.”
She held the jewelry box in her hands, admiring the diamond earrings inside. The gems shone brighter than any stone she had ever seen. “Where did you find such brilliant diamonds?”
He shook his head. “That is unimportant, my love. What matters is only that you like them.”
“I do.” Though happy with his show of affection, she also felt irritated at having to better his effort.
“I love you so much that I’ll cut off a finger.” She left his embrace and walked away.
He frowned. He didn’t think she would carry the contest to such a level.
She soon reappeared with a large knife, one that was more than sufficient to cut off one small finger.
“You don’t have to do that,” he told her.
“I want to show you how much I love you.” With one quick motion, she cut off her left pinky. She screamed, and then tried to suppress it, letting out a stream of whimpers.
He could see the pain in every muscle of her face. Gradually, her breathing slowed back down to its normal rate. She held up her left hand. It had stopped bleeding, and the replacement pinky poked out from the stump where the knife had cleaved. Soon, her new pinky would grow back as if it had never been severed.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m fine now.”
“Maybe we should stop.”
“It’s up to you.” She knew that if he chose to stop, she would win.
He paused to consider his options. It would be easy to let her win, but he had another idea. “I love you so much that I’ll destroy the world below us.” He pointed to the planet they hovered above.
“But you love this world! It’s one of your favorites.”
“I would destroy it because of my love for you.” He waved his hands, and the planet below them glowed hotly before vanishing.
She saw the pain in his eyes at having to annihilate his creation. Each of their creations felt like offspring to them. They could create another world to take its place, but the act of willing destruction was painful nevertheless.
She considered her next step carefully. There was a deed even more meaningful than the one’d he committed. “I love you so much that I will destroy any star system of my creation that you choose.”
He was astonished by her request. It was one that he had never heard an immortal utter. “Even that one?” He pointed to a cluster of stars, but she knew which one he referred to.
“Yes, my love, for you, even that one.”
He didn’t know if he should ask her to destroy the creation she treasured most. However, if she wanted to win the game, she would have to. “Then that’s the one I choose.”
Grimly, she waved her hand in the direction of the star cluster. One bright star in the cluster winked out. Tears formed in her eyes at the realization of what she had done.
He held her tightly. “I’m sorry about that.” He could think of only one action that surpassed hers, but it required the destruction of the universe. It was not a move that he wanted to resort to.
“You win,” he conceded.
She wiped the tears from her eyes. “I told you I love you more.”
H Su lives in Silicon Valley and writes mad code when not writing short stories.