I hadn't felt anything since that day. The day the world stopped spinning, the plants stopped growing and hearts stopped beating. Everything ceased. Time itself had frozen; just forgotten to take me with it.
After weeks of nothing, of blank thoughts, meaningless actions and movements that seemed to be separate from my body somehow, like I was watching myself on a television, I didn't really care what was happening as long as I didn't have to feel. I moved on, I fought past the nausea that rose in my throat every time I shuffled past the empty room that haunted me more than the memories. I delayed the vertigo when I glimpse the photos. The photos of what was. And will never be. How could I move past this? How could I try to, not exactly fill, but at least stitch up the gaping hole left in my chest? The hole that the cold air whistled through when there was a draft and took the ice right down to my core. And chilled my very being. I still felt physical things. When I hit my arm on the door, I muttered Ow, when I caught my toe on the part of the floor where the tiles are higher than the carpet, I uttered a mute swear word to vent my non-existent feelings.
But when I did that, hit my toe, another pain hit me. The wave of grief and loss returned it almost knocked me off my feet. Suddenly the floor seemed much further away and if I fell, I would fall hard. I couldn't let the pain get worse, I would die. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Dying, I mean. No more pain, no more misery, no more...anything. What if dying wasn't what the religious people thought? None of them had ever died, what did they know of golden gates, fluffy white clouds and paradise. None of them could determine whether it was a happy rest of forever, spent with the people you loved. What if it wasn't?
I'd never been one to believe in God and Jesus and all that stuff but everyone should believe in Heaven. I didn't take much of the crap about Hell; I always was of the opinion that Hell was just a fable, a way to tell religious Sunday school kids to behave. Like Spanish mothers used to tell their kids to behave or Francis Drake would come and steal them away in the night. Or something like that. So if there was no Heaven or Hell...what was there? Nothing. You'd be gone. Into the air like a breath of the wind, grieved for a while and then, forgotten about. Another lost soul, another paper in the file, another wilted flower in the field.
But then, after this everyday routine of arguing with myself, over whether I should end my own life, the original boulder of nothingness fell onto my head and washed all thought from it. If there was nothing to expect after death, where was she? She had to exist somehow or another. I was positive that the world would implode if there was no her. She had to be present in some way, shape or form. She had to.
I felt I was alone more often these days, a few weeks after the funeral, the unanswered phone calls, the grieving text messages, apologising visits all done, all stretched to breaking point. Everyone seemed to want to avoid me. All my friends, all family members, I hadn't seen them in so long. I felt a little like the last slice of pizza. Left. Unwanted. Cold. Alone.
The dewy grass whispered under my dress, the metallic click and clomp of my pointy boots flattened the petals of flowers under my feet. Blades of the minty green grass shrunk out of the way for fear of getting trampled. I didn't want them to be afraid. All the colours here were completely different, but they fit together like pieces of a cosmic puzzle. Mortal enemies but best friends. Pink and blue and purple and green and yellow; All meshing together to create a collage of life in its' prime. In all its' spectacular glory.
I remember taking her here, for days at a time sometimes. In the summer, like now, she would stand in the clearing and let the magnificence of this place wash over her, let the soft summer wind stroke her face and I would marvel at her. My daughter. She was mine. How could someone as unlucky as me create something so wonderful? So beautiful and intelligent and kind and caring and selfless? She was my very own miracle.
These memories would usually have me gasping for breath with guilt and grief and have sobs choking at my throat but out here; with the very same midsummer air comforting me...it was better than all the friends' visits in the world. This air, these clouds, these trees had probably seen more loss than any human soul could stand. Beings like me would have come here for the comfort and safe arms of the universe for centuries. Our ancestors would have stolen refuge in the whispered apologies of Mother Nature; spoken through the caresses of the pointy grass.
And then through the towering arms of the oaks and willows, the single, lone tree appeared. Midsummer was the time when this forest flourished. This tree in particular always out-did itself, every year. The softly hanging braches tickled the grass and danced in the wind and... under the layer leaves and branches that made a sort of wall, a wooden swing sat, hanging lonely in the empty-ness. Attached lop-sidedly to the tree with odd bits of rope and the seat made out of a plank of rough wood, no doubt stolen from one place or another, the swing looked a pathetic as anything can be. But it was magical. Maybe, if I swung on it, all the grief would wash away? Maybe... maybe it could bring her back?
Somewhere in my mind I knew it was crazy, I knew there was no way a stupid, rusty old swing could bring back the dead, but I didn't care.
Next thing I knew, I was sat down on the rough, warm wood and my boot-clad feet were swishing soundlessly over the dry grass. The air was still and warm but it whooshed past my ears, sending comforting messages and a gentle stroke through my hair. I found I was smiling, the action felt foreign, like I'd just found out I could speak fluent Chinese and it came easily. Now I was laughing and I closed my eyes, the world moving round and round beneath me. When I heard my laughter, it also sounded alien, but extremely familiar too, and if I listened close enough I could almost hear her laughter as well... hold on...
I stopped. There was absolutely no wind. But a tinkling, bell-like sound reached my ears, it was her, he laugh, I knew it... I turned my head... but there was no one. When a reflected light flicked over my eyes, I shifted my gaze to a tree not too far from where I sat, suspended on the swing. On a branch of the tree, handing by a thin piece of string was a wind chime. It made a sound like you'd expect gentle rain to, clink, clink, clink.
Did I mention there was no wind? None, at all. It was moving by itself. Then it hit me. It was her. She was speaking to me, and I understood... Don't be sad, you have to remember the good times, not dwell on the goodbyes. I'll be fine, and you have to realize that you will too. I'll see you soon...don't be sad...don't be sad...
I replied; I won't, thank you. I miss you and I love you. I'll see you soon... I will.