I sat cross-legged on my bed. Today’s my last chance. I had to do it today. If I couldn’t, perhaps I won’t be able to do it again in my life and I would come to hate myself for it. What if I couldn’t? That thought sent a shiver down my spine. “No… I have to do it, and I will do it”, I kept assuring myself that over and over again. Finally, I got dressed and came downstairs. I heard my mom singing in the kitchen and when I entered, it smelled like heaven. The aroma of delicious pancakes filled the air.
“Good Morning Sweetie”, my mom came and hugged me, “Did you sleep well? Or were you up all night worrying?” Laughing, I hugged her back, “Mom… I slept well, alright. And I’m not worried.” This time, she laughed, “Oh Really? Don’t forget who brought you into this world…”
“Mom… Anyways I’m going. Otherwise, I’ll be late.”
“Alright, but eat your breakfast first.”
“I’m not hungry, mom. I’ll have something on my way back.” She looked like she wanted to disagree with me. But she just smiled and nodded her head. I gave her a kiss, got my keys, started the car and got on the road.
Nearly two blocks passed and I seemed to be dogged by misfortune, for my car broke down. With every passing second, I grew tenser. I got out of the car and hired a taxi. The cab driver greeted me warmly, “Hello Miss… Where can I take you to?” I smiled back and replied, “Airport, take me to the airport please.”
“Right away, Miss,” he replied and started the car. A few miles must have passed when the traffic set in. The airport was at least five miles ahead and it was nearly time for the flight’s departure. My mind completely went blank, and I got anxious. If I got late, I wouldn’t get to say goodbye. Moreover, he had asked me to be there with him and I promised that I would be there when he leaves. I felt weak, but I knew I had to stay strong for him, if not for me. I have wanted to tell him what’s on mind for so long. But every time, I just couldn’t. Instead, I cherished every second I had with him. For me, they were the moments of content. Time was my enemy. Like every other person, I too thought that I had more time. But I was wrong. When he told me he was leaving for Paris, he was so thrilled. He looked like a five-year-old boy opening Christmas presents. I wanted to tell him how I felt at that time. But once again, I held back. Like every time, I made his happiness mine. I was happy that he got to fulfill his dreams. I knew he will no longer be with me and that we can’t be together like old times. But I never gave him a feeling that I was sad and was burning inside, because all that mattered to me, was his happiness. He was going so far away from me. It was my last chance. I really wanted to tell him how I feel. This time, I would definitely tell him and nothing can stop me, not even my own insecurities. If I stayed in this cab any second longer, I won’t get to see him again and I would lose him forever. When that thought came, there was no hesitation in me. I paid the driver, opened the door and I ran. I ran with all the love I carried for him all these years. I ran with a hope of telling him how I feel. I felt all eyes around me and then only I realized what I was doing. I was running around the street as if I was deranged. I just couldn’t help myself, and I laughed out loud. I wasn’t seeing where I was going. I bumped into someone and fell down. I had no time to waste. So I got up immediately, apologized and started running again. Finally, out of breath, I reached the airport and I ran inside. I looked everywhere. But I couldn’t find anyone there. Someone was announcing that the flight for Paris had already departed.
The realization struck hard. I failed. I felt the walls closing in on me. I did not get to say goodbye. I won’t be able to tell him my feelings. I felt dejected. No tears came. I felt hollow inside. I couldn’t keep my promise. A mix of emotions overwhelmed me. I felt pain, happiness, sorrow, anger, and hatred. But no tears came.
I started pacing back home. I was walking like a corpse. It was as if my consciousness was buried deep within me. After some time, I got into my neighborhood, but I did not feel like going home. I turned around and started wandering aimlessly. All around I saw people laughing and to me, it seemed as if I was the only person who was miserable. I left the crowd behind and commenced walking. Suddenly, I felt a familiar tingle all over my body. My mind calmed down. All the nervousness vanished. All my worries suddenly seemed to disappear and I knew where I was. I found myself there, at our secret Paradise.
Well, it was a paradise for us. Years ago, we found it together and since then, it had been ours. We promised each other, that we will keep it a secret. From then, till now, not a soul, knows about this place, not even our parents. We wanted to keep it for ourselves, and all these years, we kept our promise. Over the years, we built a small house there. All of my worries seemed so silly and immaterial when I came here. I found my happiness here. If there was a heaven on Earth, for me, it would be here, with him. Whenever we had a fight or when I felt sad or depressed or when I felt like the whole world was against me, I came here and every time, I found him here, waiting for me. This place was my sanctuary, and it was complete with him. But this time around, it won’t be like that, because he left me here, all alone. That thought hit me like an arrow that ripped open my heart and I stopped for a second. What will I find there? I can’t even begin to imagine that place without him. Do I really wanna go there knowing he won’t be there to comfort me? Maybe I just wanted a place to cry and let all my emotions out. But he won’t be there to console me. I won’t have a shoulder to cry on. I will be all alone. Do I really want that? The truth was bitter but was I really prepared to face it? I knew I had to be realistic. But something inside me just didn’t agree to it.
“No… I won’t go there. It was our place. But there is no ‘us’ anymore… It’s just me.” I told myself. But my heart wasn’t in agreement with what I was saying and I ambled along an alley of trees. A familiar cold wind brushed against my skin and I stepped into a clearing surrounded by trees and in the middle, stood a mighty oak tree, spreading its branches everywhere as if it owned everything. On one of the branches, there was a swing. Nearby there was a small lake blossomed with beautiful water lilies. On the bank was a small house made of wood. Dahlias and orchids bloomed, spreading a heavenly fragrance everywhere. Our paradise.
I felt welcomed as always. The wind rushed past the leaves of the trees, seemingly singing enchanting melodies that I couldn’t comprehend. Everything seemed perfect. The only imperfection was that I was alone and that he wasn’t here with me. I looked around the place and in the corner of my eyes, I saw a silhouette near the bank. Quietly, I walked over, taking one step at a time. It was a person. But his face was turned away from me. Curiosity arose in me. Only the two of us knew about this place. Could it be him? No. It’s absurd. I can’t afford to get my hopes up high, because with expectations came pain and sorrow. But still, at ******************* of my heart, I had hope. As I came closer, my heart pounded in my chest. I felt like it would burst any second. I wanted to scream his name. But it only came as a whisper, “Nathan…”
He seemed to have felt my presence for he turned around and I saw a face which I thought I could never see again. My Nathan, my best friend, my first love… My everything. I stood there frozen. There were a million things I wanted to say. But no voice came. I just stood there looking at him. He too said nothing. I knew he wanted to say many things. But we just stood there gazing into each other’s eyes. He sighed, “I did not go, Emma. I couldn’t go. When I reached the airport, all I could think about was you. I never thought leaving you would be this hard. It’s not just hard, it’s impossible. Even before, I was reluctant to go. But that day, when I told you about leaving for Paris, you looked so happy and I did not want to disappoint you. But when I realized that I won’t be able to see you every day I got afraid. I decided I wouldn’t go then and there and I tore the ticket. I know it was stupid, but what would I do without you? I waited for you at the airport. But you never came. I went to your house. But you weren’t there either. Then I knew you would come here. When I reached here, you weren’t here, but I knew you would come here sooner or later. Why on Earth are you so silent Emma? Just say something. Anything…” his voice trailed away.
Tears started rolling from my eyes. I couldn’t stop them. I did not stop them, “I love you, Nat…”I said, “I’ve always loved you. I’ve always wanted to be by your side. But I was so afraid of losing you, that I did not tell you my feelings. I thought I wouldn’t be able to tell you the truth. But I’m so glad now”, and I cried really hard.
“Emma…”I looked up and saw that he was right next to me. He reached out his hand and placed it over my face. “Emma…”he said it as if it was a sacred chant. He then came closer and whispered in my ear, “I love you, too”, and he embraced me. I felt safe. I felt as if I could take on the world now because he was with me. I could smell the sweet citrus scent of his cologne.
“I feel like I’m dreaming. But it’s not a dream…Is it?” I asked.
“No… It isn’t.”
“Even if it is, just don’t wake me up now… I wanna be here a little bit longer.”
He kissed my forehead and said, “Okay…”