The Darkness

The flower vase was shattered. Water ran down the Persian rug and there were feathers everywhere in the flat. The source of the feathers remains a mystery till this date. Now reader, this story happened about a few decades ago but as a biased writer, I still feel it has relevance.

Imagine the setting to be a dark winter evening. Just the right amount of sunlight streaming into the room and the dust particles glittering in the light. The dead objects in that house were silently moving like the water from the broken vase.

A letter stood proudly on the wooden desk. You could see the pressure marks from where the hands had held too tight.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, your life is mine and I’m watching you.”

The above mentioned line was inked on the parchment. It smelled old and comforting like it had come from a rundown library in kajakistan.   

The letter had come in via the morning post. She had known something was wrong when the delivery guy had not waited for her to sign on the register. He smelled of tobacco and vodka at 9 am in the morning. There was another smell she couldn’t quite place. A whiff of lavender and ethanol.

He looked haggard; a man tired of breathing. He never once looked at her. Just placed the envelope in her hand all the while looking at the floor and left before she could say any more.

(tring tring, tring tring)

“Hello.”

“El, what is it? You know I’ve been busy. What is it with 10 missed calls?”

“I need you. It’s happening again. It’s back.”

“Who do you mean?”

“April 25, 1884.”

“Oh God! Not again. Snap out of it El. I know you can. Don’t let it affect you. The darkness is in your head.”

“But it already has. I shall see you in the after. Bye.”

The line disconnected and she stepped out of her window; out in the open; out in the light.

 

 

The END.    

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The Ghost- a girl’s best friend

It’s been a couple of months since she visited. It was very often initially- everyday almost, then it reduced to about twice a week and then she vanished for a month without leaving a trace of where she had gone. I missed her. I cannot lie. I missed her cold touch and her visions, as weird as it may sound.

Somewhere deep inside the mesh that is my heart, she felt like home. She was my constant and her being there meant that I still had feelings. She would make me dream reality when awake and she would spin stories from the remnant fabrics in my mind as I slept.

Who is she? She is my ghost- my friend, my past and my present. It was six months since I moved back home- the small apartment with more windows than doors that I call home. The morning of January 25th was grey with specks of black dispersed here and there. The golden had been replaced by the gloom and even the birds thought it safe to stick to their nests and not venture out far.

The cookie man across the street didn’t show up to lift the shutters off his store and the milk man seemed to be in a smoke induced haze of opium as he handed the milk packet. I knew she was coming even before I opened my eyes.

I had to prepare for her- make her a welcome feast and burn down certain documents in the archives of my head. I kept the drugs close at hand. Just in case…

As I opened my eyes, I saw her dark boring eyes just inches away from my face. She had the same paleness and was accompanied by the chill. When she saw me smile, her cracked lips extended into a full smile. Now, reader, you might get deterred by her features. It’s almost death like, but know this she is the part of me that is just naked emotions manifested in physical form.

Very silently without a whisper, she changed positions and rested her hand on my head. Her nails were half eaten and half chopped. But it didn’t matter.

I closed my eyes and I saw a little girl run towards a dog. The dog wagged its tail and welcomed the girl with licks. They seemed happy. The kid’s hair was tied into a ponytail and her frock was turquoise. Her laughter echoed in my ears making me smile.

The scene changed. The dog, now old and haggard lay on a steel table that seemed to have no space for emotions whatsoever. A woman, presumably the little girl now grown up, stood holding the dog’s hand with tears streaming down her face. Her long hair was tangled and hung around her like mist and her mascara poured down her cheeks along with the salt water.

It was time, the man in the white coat said. It was time indeed. She gave the dog one last look; there were tears in the dog’s eyes but they smiled none the less. She bent down, gave him one last kiss and watched the life ebb away from her only friend. She was all alone in the white room, holding on to the only piece of life that was hers and hers alone.

It was done.

After what seemed like an eternity, I was back in my bedroom with her by my side.

“Until next time,” she said as she faded away in the grey once more, not to return soon.

The Ghost contd…

Introduction:

 

A guy I once had a thing with had accused me of being heartless; had said:

“You feed off pain, yours, mine and everyone else’s. That is the food for your poetry and prose; the nectar to your hive.”

I don’t disagree with him. I am no preacher and neither do I pretend to be something holier than thou. I am just a writer; a romantic if you will, always out to achieve the impossible; the impossible expedition, the impossible relationship, the impossible situation where you need to stick squeezed out toothpaste into its tube. Impossible, impossible, impossible.

But pain’s just my bread and butter and neither do I deny the fact that I revel in it and nor do I pose to be not-guilty.

I am guilty guvner; so hang me by all accounts.

Consider this: a tale for the passing traveler and a means of satiating their thirst. Thirst for gossip and thirst of drama.

A small tale whose end I leave you to decide.

 

The Ghost contd…

 

It had been two years since the exchange of glances in the bookstore. 2 years since my ghost walked out the backdoor with a smile on her face. 2 years of winters and 2 years of clearing the snow from our front porch.

I can see the dead bees in the ground- a bee graveyard. Last night’s thunderstorm had knocked the hive out of the tree and the unsuspecting queen had been crushed to death along with her children and servants.

They say that it is at moments you least expect that the force of the hit is most. I experienced that hit last night. It was a text message on his phone that got my guard up.

“Honey bun…I miss us. Come back to Cali soon my love…XOXO.”

The sender was titled ‘Work’. I could hear him whistling Bee Gee’s Staying Alive in the shower. It was 9:45 and we were due for dinner at the Mason’s at 10:30. They were completing their ten year anniversary.

Jake came out wrapped in a towel with his hair all tousled and brown, just the way it was the first time I had seen him. His eyes still had the piercing power it held and his hands- his strong masculine hands covered with a layer of light brown hair- reached for his shirt.

“D why aren’t you ready yet?” he asked in his honey voice.

“Who is ‘work’ and why is ‘work’ crooning for your love from Cali?”

His face changed. From a light hearted spark, his eyes went to that of a defiant child caught with his hands in the cookie jar to that filled with rage.

“You’ve been reading my messages? How could you do that to me? To us? Don’t you trust me? This is unbelievable. I am out of here.”

And just like that it was over.

Bags were packed in a matter of minutes and the taxi was called. The funny thing is that none of us spoke. The Masons were sorry that we couldn’t make it and ‘work’ was really pleased that she didn’t have to hide behind a noun anymore.

I was back home- to my tiny flat- in a matter of two hours. The storm was raging outside and I could hear the wind whisper- I told you so.

The tequila bottle stood innocently on the shelf and called to me, as if asking me to embrace it like an old friend.

It was successful. Half a bottle later, I could hear her sing to me:

“Drink up baby, stay up all night,

All the things you could do, you won’t but you might…”

This was our favorite song: her and mine.

“Missed me have you?” she asked while caressing my hair.

“In a way I have,” I sobbed into her lap.

Her cold hands brushed against my cheeks and her cold lips pressed against my forehead in a sisterly way.

When she bend down to kiss me, her curls covered my eyes and all I could feel was darkness.

The night held comfort. Nothing could go wrong anymore. The worst was over and she was back. I was free to rejoice in the night once more. The pretention could be thrown out of the window.

After an eternity of her comforting embrace, she pulled me up and led me to the balcony.

It was almost dawn and through the pool in my eyes I could see the horizon: clear with a hint of cloud and the tiny speck of light that was the sun. The breeze rustled the trees as if waking them up from their deep slumber and telling them of a new day, a new opportunity.

I went close to the railing; spread my arms and felt the chill pass through me. If was scarily beautiful. That beauty could destroy, just like a set of luscious red lips on a petit maiden.

But warning of those evils never stopped anyone from falling for them. I remembered Desiree and her tragic love affair with the fearless Napoleon. Love consumes all till only ashes remain.

Today was the dawn of ashes and along with the rustling, the puppeteer upstairs rained down ashes of a fragmented relationship on me, freeing me from the clutches of him and his web of lies forever.

The storm had cleansed at last and my ghost was back with me for eternity.

 

The Ghost

The bespeckled therapist gave me a puzzled look. She asked—anger at what child?

Anger at what? At who? Why anger? Why not tolerance?

“If I knew that I wouldn’t be here”.

I am an expert at being rude and unpleasant when the situation demands it.

There was a ghost in my life. The clinical term for it is ‘dysthymia or chronic depression.’ It had haunted me since the deciding age of 11.

My ghost paid me visits at random intervals. She knocked at my door and let herself in. She can pass the barriers of wood and steel and will power. She can walk through walls and possess the soul.

She shows me alternate realities. Possibilities that make my mind go bonkers. No it’s not always black or blue. It is various colors all at once. She is moody, like me.

“Tell me what you feel when she visits,” the relentless doctor probed.

“Umm…have you ever had your skin peeled when on meth or ecstasy? It feels good and no before you ask—I have not done either. A friend of mine is a pro when it comes to this and he keeps me educated.”

“I want your version.” I could see she disapproved of my attempt at humour. Perhaps a lover or a brother had been a victim.

“Okay. Have you ever been in love with the darkness? Doesn’t the night wrap you in a warm blanket and sing a lullaby? Doesn’t looking at the moon just soothe your soul? Have you ever fallen in love with something that is bad for you Doctor? I have. All the forbidden things that ever were. I like the darkness. I like peeling my skin off me. I like the peace and quiet. I like the loneliness. My ghost gives me all those—the calm and the high all at once.”

“How about the anger?” She adjusted her frame and smoothed her already smooth skirt.

Why was she so hell bent on the anger part? Didn’t she get it? It is in the anger that the pleasure lies.

I hear about how people enjoy getting tattooed for the pain instead of the symbols themselves. Another friend of mine had tattoos all over his body. He said he did it for the pain. It was in the pain that gave him a high; made him feel alive.

“The anger is the easy part. It is just frustration that has been bottled up I guess. When a volcano erupts, it doesn’t do so with a warning. It just does. It is a relief for the earth. Same goes with the anger. The anger is easy and promises a cure.”

“Anger on what?”

Again that question. Why couldn’t she just let it go? Why couldn’t she focus on the important part? I could see her eager for the information like a kid opening the gifts on his birthday. A greedy kid.

“It doesn’t matter. Anger at everything. Why doesn’t the circle have sides? Why isn’t King Kong our president? Why am I not born in a different era, under different circumstances?”

“But don’t you get it? All your reasons are extremely stupid?” She was losing patience now.

“Lady don’t you get it? The anger is directionless and random. I don’t have any sob story to narrate. The anger is not important. How do I exorcise my ghost?”

She fumbled and gave me a few exercises to do. “Paint or read or write or listen to music when you feel low. Here are some pills you can take but take them in moderation. The most important thing to remember is—never give up hope and try to think bright thoughts whenever you feel low. And I am right here if you ever need me.”

Nice. She gave me the text book cure and increased her brand value all in the same breathe. They should have a prize for this kind of ability.

She handed me a prescription and I walked out of her office. When I reached my empty flat, I was greeted by her. She came over me like a mist on a winter evening.

“Why do you haunt me so?” I asked her.

“I like you and you know you like me too, a tiny bit. Say you do and here now, don’t lie to me. I know you in and out.”

I smirked. I did like her a tiny bit. Help can only be given to those who seek it. Who was I fooling when I said I needed help? I didn’t. I like her and she understands me. She lets me be quite and be on my own.

She is like the drug which keeps you yet takes from you a little by little.

Well, I don’t really care. She keeps me and that is enough. Now I think I will go back to my darkness. You be happy basking in your sun. We are the children of the moon and we live at night. You be happy at your side of the fence and we will do the same on our side.

 

 

The day was grey. The rain god seemed to be punishing the earth for the fools it produced. It hadn’t stopped raining for 24 hours. I was sitting in the small balcony of my nine hundred square feet flat and basking in the mist.

She was there, surrounding me like a blanket and singing me a soothing lullaby that was haunting at the same time.

“X got a job and a girlfriend…she has big ones, you know and I hear that they are about to announce their engagement soon,” she whispered into my ears.

When she got no response, she went on to play the higher card.

“They are in Europe…the three of them must be eating croissants under the Eiffel Tower right about now. She doesn’t remember her promise clearly. She still hasn’t called. There they are a family in the true sense of the term and here you are, a sorry little thing stuck with me.”

Still no visible response from my side; just a lump in my throat. It’s not like I hadn’t heard this before and neither was I completely indifferent, just yet. But she didn’t give up. She came closer still, till she was right inside my head. I could feel her strutting about looking for vulnerabilities- going through the archives and dissecting each document she found.

A few rain drops later, she hit hard.

Tring tring, tring tring…you remember it don’t you?”

In that instance, I saw my father receive the call and his face contort immediately after. It just took two words to do that to him.

Now my eyes got moist and the lump rose up and hit my nose. The flood gates opened and a rusty tasting liquid flew out of my nose and eyes.

I could feel her trying to hide her smirk. But she was like me, pathetic at hiding things and keeping secrets.

“Have fun darling. I shall be back soon.” She gave me a cold hug and left. I remained in the square of the semi open space, with the patter of the rain in my ears and a raging ocean in my eyes.

 

 

The red pen stand in her room amused me. A latest addition, I assumed. It was a pig with a hole in its back with pens sticking out of it. Some of those instruments of torture and relief, lacked a head and some were stripped to their basic minimum clothing.

“Is that new?” I asked the doctor.

“Yes it is. It was a gift from a patient. You like it, do you?”

“I think I do. It is amusing how we disfigure objects to fit our need. The color is nice though. It’s the color of life,” I was talking to another soul after long. It felt different now; needed more of my concentration and effort.

“Hmm. I will gift you one if you succeed in overcoming your condition,” she said with a 32 all out smile.

I was back in first grade again. My teacher had promised me a caramel toffee if I finished writing ‘I am Radhika’ in cursive hand at least fifty times by the end of the hour. Well of course I could manage just thirty, but the feeling remained the same.

“Let’s get back now. Tell me about your father. Are you angry with him still?”

Suddenly her dirty yellow walls looked more interesting than her banter. A bee buzzed into the room and went straight ahead and collided with the yellow. It kept colliding with the same spot for five times before it fell on the ground and gave a sigh of relief (or at least I would like to imagine).

“Radhika, Radhika.”

“Ya right…umm…angry at him? No not really. Did you notice what the bee did? It seemed like it was on a suicide mission.”

“Suicide. Well, do you have any suicidal thoughts?” she asked as she raised her glasses up to look at me. Her interest in me had doubled now. I was a complex code she was trying to decode and she had found her first big lead.

“Ah…no. It takes too much of effort and I am kind of attached to my flat. So no.”

“Haha…right.” Again the forced laugh. I bet if we counted the number of times an individual forces emotions on themselves and remove those instances from their lives, they would be left as zombies with poker faces.

“If not anger, what emotion do you feel when you think of him?” By now she was sitting absolutely upright with her back as straight as a crane’s neck.

“I can’t say for sure, really. I think I am sad but how does one know what emotion they are feeling? We give a certain type of feeling a name and get done with it. What about the other types?”

“What other types of emotions do you feel?” She was squinting now.

“How about something bordering indifference and sadness? Or something where you are so happy that you are sad.”

“Right. So your ghost…how is it these days?”

“It is a she and I would much rather you address her by her gender,” I was offended. Nobody referred to her as ‘it’.

“Why a female though?”

“She has the subtle beauty of a woman and she makes me suffer like a dog.”

Now she was confused. Who wouldn’t be? I wanted to get rid of her, but I respected her. She was slowly becoming a part of me. I would miss her if she went away. I would feel empty once more.

As soon as I realized this, I grabbed my bag, made a lame excuse about having to pick up the mail for a friend and headed towards the door.

I hadn’t much cash on me, so I headed for the subway. While I was waiting for my train, a butterfly flew next to me. It had the eye on its wings and it stood there, fluttering its wings waiting for the train, like everyone else.

It got on the train with the other passengers when the coach arrived and got off two stations before mine. I would only assume that it, like me, had urgent business to tend to.

Once I entered the apartment, I called to her. She came out running with her white teeth bared and hugged me tight.

“Welcome home darling. What would you want to see today?”

I gathered my courage, looked her straight in the eye and said, “don’t go. Don’t ever leave me. I need you for survival. I’ll make you a deal. You torture me as much as you want but don’t ever fade away in smoke. Please.”

“Never.” She looked scared.

 

 

He had dark hair and pink lips. I could see his brows burrow through the crack of the book rack. He exhaled and put the book back in its place. Ten seconds later, he picked it up again and sighed. No one can stay away from that one.

Everybody has a Rebecca in their life and so did he. Those eyes found mine and smiled.

“Don’t do that to yourself. It’s a trap. He will leave, like everyone else,” she insisted.

Suddenly I was transferred to a room from my childhood. It was decorated with souvenirs from my past and a closed suitcase, ready to board a flight. My dad came out of the adjoining room and without a second glance caught hold of the other girl with the pink ribbon, took the suitcase and left.

I was left with my souvenirs and a muffled voice that didn’t speak when it ought to have.

My fingers reached to wipe away the ocean of gloom, but instead found the desert. I checked for lumps and a fluffed nose, but found none.

“Hi. You couldn’t resist Rebecca, could you?” I asked those eyes.

“Can anybody really?” They twinkled. “You like your coffee black, I assume?”

I smiled.

“Is that what you want again?” she screamed at my folly.

“Exactly. I am sorry,” I replied.

I could feel her leaving from the back door and on her way out, she smiled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phutphuti

Phutphuti was like any other girl in the neighbourhood. She had her hair neatly oiled and tied up in two braids on either sides of her head. Her skirt was perpetually below her knees and she was always running away from her mother.

On many a hot afternoons when the sun would pierce your skin and you could feel invisible ants biting your soul, you could hear a woman scream: “aaaiiii puti. Kothae tui? Khabi na naki?” (Ai Puti. Where are you? Won’t you have lunch?)

This would not be the end of it. Phutphuti’s (or Puti as she was called by her mother) mother could never find her and she would end up coming to our house and crying to my grandma.

“Ki kori bolo toh? Ei meye ta ke kikore ghore rakhi?”

(Tell me what do I do? How do I keep this girl home?)

My grandma would always warn me against that girl. “Baje mey” (bad girl) she would call her and would ask me to stay away from her on all occasions save neighbourhood gatherings. Keeping up appearances was very important in our part of the world.

I grew up in a world where people’s official names weren’t as important as their barir naam/ dak naam (the pet name). As a result of this oddity, I never knew what Phutphuti’s actual name was.

All I knew was that she was the girl who stayed in the pink house adjacent to ours and had a terribly loud mother. It was mandatory that we played together in social gatherings as it was only appropriate to do so. You see, we were of the same age group and we were immediate neighbours.

On one such occasion- it was durga puja if I recall correctly, she confided in me. We were tens years old and I had just learnt that America existed in Geography books. She told me, “paliye jabo…khoob tara tari. Emon jayegaye ki keu khuje pabe na. Diya ami bisho joy korte chai.” (I’ll run away…very soon…to a place where no one will find me. Diya I want to conquer the world.)

I had nodded as though I understood the whole concept of running away. I had always been an extremely lazy child and if you asked me to run, you would find that i was slower than a snail, with motivation lesser than that of a sloth.

After this brief heart to heart, my granny dragged me home and put me to bed. It had got late. I lay awake wondering whether I could too run away to America one day. But of course, I would need to get on a plane.

We parted ways when my parents decided to leave the world of mach-bhat (fish-rice) and instead settle in the world of idli-dosa. For a good ten years, I had forgotten about the girl who wanted to run away.

Today my grandma called me- something she doesn’t often do. “Ei Diya. Phutphuti paliye gyeche ekta cheler shathe. American chele…mechanic na ki mone hoye. Tina khoob kandche…” (Ei Diya. Phutphuti has run away with a guy. American guy…he is a mechanic I think. Tina (Phutphuti’s mother) is crying.)

This piece of information was greeted by more questions from my side. For the elders of that world, it was too much to take it. The boy was a christian, not even a Hindu. On top of that he was an American. It was one of those Ram-Ram moments.

They would gossip about this for years to come. But for me, that girl had achieved the impossible- she had conquered the world- the world of kakimas, didimas, their gossips and their judgemental looks.

To me, the girl with a dubious official name became my hero.

The Satin

I remember it hurt. Looking at her hurt.

She looked at me through the clouded glasses as she tried to stop the tears from falling on the expensive satin of the dress. She was a vision in midnight blue. Her strawberry blonde curls were neatly pinned up in a bun. But one stubborn lock fell on her left cheek. Her nose resembled a ripe tomato on her pale face.

“Can I help in some way?” I asked as a worried friend.

“Just make sure nothing happens to this dress when I am gone. You will take care of it won’t you?” she asked in between sobs.

The well cut blue satin on her had been her mother’s and her grandmother’s before that. I had heard of jewelry and china being passed on through generations. But a dress was a peculiar concept to me.

“Yes I will. You can leave that worry to me.”

“Thank you deary,” she said with a grateful smile.

Rose had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. The good doctor had given her a month at most and had suggested she get her affairs in place before she got admitted one last time.

“You know Soaf, this baby has seen all sorts of days. My granny got her as a wedding gift from her husband back in the 1900s. It was the first of its kind. A daring design and perhaps the first above-the-knee dress my gran owned. Theirs was a love marriage, you see. Grandad was a jew and she a catholic. They ran away to Switzerland and got married. They didn’t ever hear from their folks since.”

“When my mom came out of the closet in the late 1900s, my gran passed it on to her. She said, ‘you wear this to your first date, you understand that? And take good care of it. It has seen me through a lot of troubles.’”

“Five years back, my mom passed this on to me when I got pregnant with Jamie. She said to me, ‘wear it when you get him home from the hospital and make sure you give it to Jamie when he gets old enough.’ But Soaf, Jamie is gone and I don’t have much long. Now you need to take care of this kid.”

I had tears in my eyes as she slowly got up from her arm chair, took the dress off and held it to her ear as if to hear its heartbeat. She handed it to me and got into a spare set of pajamas she had brought along with her.

“Do not ever wash it. It has the smell of all the women who possessed it. It will give you strength and comfort all at once.”

She left shortly after, never to return again.

Ten years later…..

The bed has been slept on. I can still smell him in the sheets. The toothbrush still decorates the bathroom sink and his razor calls for him, but in vain. My head throbs. I haven’t slept in two days.

Disaster struck in the form of a phone call from Pam, his secretary.

“Soaf, I am so sorry. Mike couldn’t get out in time. The building had collapsed by the time the rescue team could reach. I am so sorry…”

Two aircrafts had struck the twin towers on a bright sunny day in September. That was the end of it. It didn’t matter who your God was now. All that mattered was that you were alive.

Little Natalie came into the room with eyes brimming with tears and held me tight. We sat entangled for almost a full afternoon.

“Why ma? Why dad?”

I couldn’t answer her question. It would have been a lot easier if Mike had been an alcoholic or a rapist or a fraud. I could have blamed it on fate. But my boyfriend was a good man and prayed to his God religiously. What could I answer my daughter? Should I tell her that bad triumphs over good these days and that our Gods are temporarily unavailable.

We have a funeral for him today.

I put on the satin and bend my face down to smell it. It smells of all those brave women who wore it before me. I can’t let them down. I have to be strong for my Natalie.

One day, not too far from now, I shall hand it over to my brave daughter. She will wear it when she needs strength and the midnight blue will be a witness to the changing times and difficulties faced by our sex.

Girl on the bus

I never thought I would actually see her in real. Yes, she did dominate my imaginary world at one point in time. There were dreams—when awake and asleep both, and in those dreams I had lived this situation a million times. I had played it over and over in my head like a song that is stuck on loop. I thought I was prepared for it, for her and for those eyes.

I have never been more wrong.

I recognized her the moment she got on the bus– as if she owned it along with the rest of the world. She smiled at every person who she laid her eyes on. It was a private smile—the type that emerges after knowing a person for decades or more.

My luck– she sat in the seat right in front on me. That is when it became difficult to breathe. The way she tied her hair in a high bun, her black earrings, the way her nose crinkled in the corners when she smiled and the dimple on her left cheek—they were all as he had described them to me, a lifetime ago.

My heartbeat raced and the body started responding. Along with difficulty in breathing, I could feel the perspiration and the hollowness in the chest. You would know the latter if you are familiar with bungee jumping or paragliding.

After about half hour of that ordeal, she turned back to look directly at me. She could probably feel my eyes boring into her back. Our eyes met and I could see that she recognized me. I knew those eyes. They were mine but a hundred times more powerful. He had a fondness for our eyes. There can be nothing better than a pair of hazel buttons, he used to say.

Did I expect to see anger, irritation or shame? I know not. What I saw in them took me by surprise. It was love—unadulterated love. She smiled. But this one was different. It calmed my racing heart, cleared my nasal passage and relaxed my muscles.

She came over to me and kissed me on the cheeks. “Hello, I’ve missed you,” she said. I understood her. “Sorry to have kept you waiting. It won’t happen again.”

I gave her space to come and sit in the empty seat near me and we held hands the rest of the way home.

She had loved him as I had and now, we had both lost him. And in loving him, she had loved me more than she would ever know. She was half me and I was half her and now we could start getting to know our lost pieces.