It’s been 7 months since I last came here. The place looked exactly like it always was; deserted.
Usually she stood, leaning slightly on a headstone waiting for me. Her eyes would be fixated on the small archway in the churchyard. Not today though. Today, she sat on the tomb, staring at the wet ground beneath her feet. Her hair hid her face from view. I couldn’t tell if she was crying… couldn’t tell if she knew…
When I first met her, she was the life of her group. Her laughter was more infectious than any virus known to men. Pretty soon after, she became my life too. Even when she wasn’t happy herself, she wouldn’t let it affect others. She would always smile. I loved that about her.
But then the accident happened. Her laughter vanished, eroding away like the top soil, day by day in the past year. As each day passed we grew more apart, separated by impossibilities. The spirited and eternal optimist vanished in a puff of smoke and in her place was a vague memory of what used to be. The smile had turned upside down.
Moving away from the arch, I blurt out before I lost the little courage I had mustered to do this. “We can’t do this anymore. I can’t meet you after today.”
When she looked up I saw her lips tremble. I had hurt her. The promise I made to her echoed in my ears.
“I’m sorry I hurt you. I know I made you a promise. A sacred one. Till death do us apart. Death did do us apart. It has reduced you to this; and it is my fault. She told me it’s my fault. Today I hope to correct it. I hope you can forgive me.”
There came a ghost of a smile on her face. Like always, her true feeling hid behind that lopsided smile.
“I never thought I could love anyone anymore. Every man has a She and I thought you were mine. But I was wrong. So very wrong. She proved me wrong. She freed me.” I said in a hollow voice, wishing this was anything but the truth.
“She also says, it’s because of me you are stuck in this state; like a mere memory or a ghost. Not completely whole. I didn’t want to believe her. Not at first at least. But she’s proved me wrong so many times, so she is probably right this time too. It was me who stole your smile.”
A lone tear made its way down her cheeks. It was enough to break the dam. Clutching my shirt tightly, she sobbed silent tears on my shoulders. I made no attempt to stop her but neither could I touch her. The wind picked up speed, blowing stronger and stronger; gathering the fallen leaves and the dried flowers. It brought with it a strange sense of fear. I just babbled away, praying the moment will pass.
“You know all those things people say about having just one person for us. I realized it’s just load of crap. It can’t be true ‘cause I loved you; you know that’s true; and now I love her too. Maybe, wherever you’re going will be nice too and you’ll find someone again.”
Suddenly, she looked skywards and shrieked in agony. It was a pitiful sound; one none should ever make or hear. A sound that tore up my soul, for I knew I was the reason for it. I closed my eyes and willed the pain to go away.
“I’ll never forget you though. The girl who always smiled. I’ll always remember you, no matter what; exactly as you used to be. I promise.”
After the scream came the eerie silence as the wind softened its pace. I opened my eyes to find myself alone in the graveyard. I could have sworn I heard a gleeful giggle and felt the wind place a soft kiss on my cheeks. A smile formed on my lips as I traced her name on the headstone. Finally she was free too.