A/N: Originally published on January 10th, 2013 on A Purple Panda. – Alixa
I remember like it was yesterday. We were 15 and in high school. I didn’t know him, didn’t even know he existed until that day. He came to have lunch with us once, and I noticed his tattoo on his right forearm. A black styled Egyptian cross. I barely looked at him while asking:
– What is this?
– A sort of dagger, he answered.
I smiled and replied:
– Oh, I thought it was an ankh…
He looked at me, surprised.
– You’re the first one to know what it is.
Since then, I kept an eye on him from a distance. We rarely spoke, but I always listened when he said anything in class. I was surprised to see how his words echoed to my thoughts. My interest for him grew more and more as time passed, still I didn’t dare make the first move. However, he didn’t seem like he even noticed me at all. Curious to see what could become of us, I finally dived in, head first. And it burned. We were both engulfed in flames and there was no way we could stop them from devouring us. We were blind to everything else but our own light, because together we shone so brightly. We spent most of our time together, getting to know each other better. We didn’t need to speak much as never another human being ever understood me better than he did, and him better than I. From the first moment, the connection between us was immensely strong, as we knew we belonged. We were like two parts of a whole. Some call it soul mates. Some say it’s because we’ve met in previous lives. I don’t know, I didn’t care. All I wanted was to be with him, because being apart was the same as dying.
Of course, my parents never approved. He wasn’t the typical guy with a bright future. Like me, he was confused and wasn’t sure what he wanted out of life. I thought we could make the best of our lives as long as we were together, but my parents kept telling me it was a mistake. We fought for the right to love each other freely and we won. I moved in with him and we lived happily ever after. Until he suddenly disappeared…
One day, he was there, the next he was gone. I cried as if my heart had been ripped out, as if half of my body was missing. It was exactly how I felt, like a huge hole had been cut inside of me. The emptiness was unbearable after the few years of total happiness we had. Where had he been gone? Was he thinking of me? Was he missing me as much as I was missing him? I thought I was going insane. Most of my loved ones kept telling me I was better off without him. But as the void grew bigger, I went quieter, cutting myself from everyone. Alone with my memories, I decided I’d wait for him, because I knew he would return to me, someday. And when he would find his way back to me, he’d find me right where he left me. Hoping.
The sun was flowing through the window to light a plain room. Someone knocked gently at the door, then came right in. Dressed in white, the young woman smiled gently at the lady staring outside with blank eyes.
– Good morning. You have a visitor today, she said as cheerfully as she could.
She moved aside to let an old man come in. His eyes full of love, he sat down besides the lady who barely turned her head from the window. The man looked at the nurse with a questioning look and felt his heart break again as she was shaking her head. No progress had been made. No progress was being expected. He sighed, but he wouldn’t lose hope. It was his fault the love of his life was now living in a different reality. He shouldn’t have left so suddenly. He still remembers that night. They fought for the first time ever. He could still hear her cries and pleas, their screams. He said he couldn’t stand this life anymore, struggling to find a ray of light in the dark, when he really couldn’t face the possibility her parents were right. What if she was better off without him? What if he was the reason she couldn’t find her way? She was his sun and in the end, he let her drown.
He gently touched her white hair as the nurse closed the door, leaving them alone. He was hoping for a sign, even the smallest one, that she recognized him. If he could know for sure she wasn’t completely lost in the maze of her mind, she could still be saved. It wasn’t too late, though the guilt would never leave him. He knew he could never make up for the pain he caused. And he knew the lies he still told to his wife wouldn’t lift his burden. She probably knew where he disappeared every week for the whole day. She probably knew a part of him would always live in the past. But what could she say? What could she do? He stayed with her after all, despite all.
There was guilt, but also hope. He still believed she would come back to him if he kept visiting her like he did for the past 40 years. The doctors were saying it was crazy, but when did the two of them ever give up a fight against the world? Just once, just once he ran away because of fear and doubt. Just once and it had terrible consequences. Never again.
The sun was setting when he left. He stood up and kissed gently her forehead.
– I am here, always, he whispered in his tired voice.
As he put his jacket on, her eyes lit up slightly at the sight of the tattoo on his right forearm.