Her faint smile warmed my heart as I took her cold hand and kissed it, saying quietly:
"I'm not leaving you. I can't..." At that moment, I heard others come in from behind, deep voices that proclaimed that she was leaving the hospital, that I couldn't see her, that she was almost gone. I was close to socking the doctor in the jaw, but the impetuous thought was drowned out by the fact that she was going to die. I knew that. I didn't want to accept it, but I knew it.
The bell tolls chimed again as I stood in the cold room. The parents had left me alone long ago, a smart move by their part. This way it wouldn’t be awkward when I burst into tears a few minutes later. I was glad that I was alone.
The room was dark and dreary. The carpet that covered the entire floor was worn. Heavy mahogany colored curtains blacked out any light that could have entered through the lonely window. There were a few rows of chairs and a huge chandelier that hung from the ceiling. The light it gave off was more yellow than white, casting the room in a brownish glow and succeeding in making it even more depressing. A few paintings hung on the walls, but I couldn’t see what they were of. In fact I couldn’t have cared less. Across the room from me was the centerpiece of the chamber. A large, heavy looking, wooden coffin.
As I lifted my miserable gaze from the floor I was surprised at how close I was to the wooden box. It seemed as though my legs had moved my body without the permission of my brain. The room seemed to get bigger and bigger as my feet shuffled to the casket. The seconds ticked away with the years. I stood in front of the coffin yet could not bring myself to tear my gaze away from the wall in front of me. I thought that if I didn’t look down that it wouldn’t be real. I would wake up from this horrible dream and life would go on as it should. But sadly this was not the case.
Eventually I dragged my eyes downwards. My eyes widened and I could feel my heart stop… if only for a moment. For in the box of death was the person I loved. And the waterworks that I was so desperately trying to hide started running down my face again.
I closed my eyes. Leaning forward I closed the distance between us. Leaving one final kiss upon her cold lips before I had to leave her for good.
“You will always be beautiful…” I said to her softly. And she was. Her face had a light gleam to it from the lights above. Someone had taken the time to add a rosy blush to her cheeks and a light pink gloss to her lips, which held a soft smile as she lay in the death bed. Her long brown hair was around her head like a halo, and if the situations were different, I might have mistaken her for sleeping.
I don’t know when, but I fell asleep at her side. My head and arms resting on the table that held her casket, my body kneeling as if in a prayer. I didn’t dream, my mind filled with an
empty blackness as I slept. I lay next to her cold, lifeless form until she was taken from me. I took a glance at my watch. The date was the same as when we had met. And the
skies cried at her passing.
As I sat in the now completely empty room, my mind was flooded with memories. Both happy and sad. I was plagued with thoughts and images. I remembered how we met. A simple raining day. We were walking to the same place and I carried an umbrella. Like the gentleman that I was, I gave it to her and walked instead in the rain. We talked about why we were both late for the first day of school. My memories had erased what I said, but remembered her exact words as she answered my question.
“It wasn’t a bright day for me.” I remembered thinking What a peculiar response, but I didn’t push it and went right along talking.
“What’s your name?” I questioned, feeling the rain drip down my face and the clothes stick uncomfortably to my body.
“Alex.” Soon we realized that we had a few classes in common and we began to work together more and more often.
After mere weeks, we became a pair. The happiest pair alive as I called it. I knew her flaws and she knew mine. I knew that she came from a history of illness. I never heeded the warnings that came
from her parents and friends. Be careful. She got sick with a simple cold once and had to leave school for a month. Stories like this were being told to me on a daily basis. I paid no
attention and loved her anyway, despite the tragedy that was so obviously looming over our heads.
“Come on! Let’s go! Let’s go!” She yelled, grabbing my hands and pulling me. I tried to dig my toes into the sand and protest, but sand is sand and she easily pulled me closer to the water.
It was Isabella’s idea to go to the beach for summer vacation. We spent two days on a train and even rented a hotel so we could stay for a few days.
“No Iz! Wait stop! I look so dumb!” I yelled in protest as she pulled me along the beach. I was always a bad swimmer, and the weather wasn’t all that warm. No one was swimming and yet Isabella insisted that we go.
“Come on!! Please, for me!” She turned and gave me the puppy dog eyes that she was an expert at. I looked her over. She was beautiful; her long brown hair blowing in the wind, her skin clear of makeup and shining from the sun’s rays. She was wearing her favorite swimsuit and I had to admit that she looked amazing in it.
“….Fine! Fiiinneee!” I groaned and walked with her to the water. I always said yes to whatever she wanted. Anything for her I would say.
My thoughts were interrupted as a splash of freezing cold water hit my chest. I jumped back and kicked some water back at her. Isabella laughed, in turn making me laugh. She had that power for as long as I could remember. Her smile made me smile, her laugh made me laugh, her cries made me cry.
That evening we returned to the hotel laughing and sharing stories of our lives, even though we mostly knew them all by heart. We talked for what seemed like hours. We went to dinner and watched a movie before going back to the hotel and falling asleep together.
Ya… those were the brightest times of my life.
I sat up with a start.
"Damn it not again!" I cried.
Always… I always had the dreams about her. Every day for the past six months. One of our times together, a memory we shared, a day we spent, the laughs we had. They were all played and replayed in my dreams. Every night I went to bed and every night I dreamt of her. Every morning I woke up saddened and felt like my bed was the only place for me. If only they could put me into an eternal sleep… then I could see her beautiful face every day.
I looked around my room. It looked like it always had… nothing had changed without her, time had moved on. Why would time stop for me? One of the thousands… no.. millions of people who were grieving here on earth.
My black wood table was still in the corner of the room. My floors were still covered in dirty clothes and sheets of paper that were my failed designs. My bed pushed adjacent to the far wall with my two nightstands, covered with photos of Isabella and me, on either side. My dresser on the other wall, next to the door. It was all the same.
"Son, you need to move on."
But she was everything to me.
"She'll always be in your heart."
But that doesn't make up for the fact that she was gone.
I ran my hands over my face, breathing a bit deeper in order to calm the growing emotional chaos that was taking shape. I had been through it all: counseling services, nights out, nights alone, losing myself in my school work, but...
Sitting in front of the grave, I stared at it. It was a traditional stone with a flower cut into it. Isabella’s body was not in the grave, but in a science lab like every dead body for the past
100 years. Still I sat on the grass, my head in my hands as I tried talking to her. Yes she was dead… and I tried and tried, but abilities with talking to the dead have not yet been invented. So I
sat on the cold ground and talked to myself.
It had been a month since the funeral and the pain was still too real, the memories still too vivid. Even with the University of Southern California granting me a full ride to study Scientology, even with the knowledge that I would be moving out of my parents’ home and starting a new life, even with all of the bright potential my teachers had told me I had...
It didn’t mean squat.
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