Snowflakes - Observed
His hands tremored violently as he raised them from his lap, the shake spreading through to his core, causing the chair to groan beneath him. He allowed them to fall to his lap briefly before rising to cover his eyes in an attempt to stem the stream that was beginning to dampen his shirt.
The air rattled in his chest with every breath and sobs were stifled and swallowed. Swallowing was difficult. His dry mouth caused him to choke a little amid those stifled sobs and the salty tears stung at his lips. His stomach churned and heaved, the butterflies were crushed and swallowed up by the tempest within.
Before him sat the headset.
Before him sat the gateway to his happiness, to his escape from his cage of torment, like a light shining around the frame of darkened door; there it sat.
How it worked was beyond him, the science of it all went over his head by some distance. He was content not to question it. Some sort of a mixture of virtual reality and his own imagination they told him.
“Witchcraft”, Rachel would have called it.
A flash of comfort smiled on him as he thought of her, but his rolling grief drown it out once again, as it always did.
He longed to see her again. His chest ached for her with a pain more real than life itself. The months had seemed an eternity with nothing but the torment of grief for company. It’s funny how grief perfectly filled the hole she left behind.
And before him sat the solution.
Why had such fear gripped him? Why could he not bring himself to enter that world with her?
Was it fear it wouldn’t work, the gut-wrenching disappointment of not seeing her alive again?
He lowered his wetted palms to his lap again and stared at the headset before him.
His desire to see her rose up like a great flame and engulfed his fear, its pitiless smoke dissipating before him.
His hands still shook but he grasped the headset and nestled it over his eyes. Darkness surrounded him, broken only by a faint hum as the witchcraft started to weave its spell.
A flash of light woke him to his new reality; there he was, sitting upon the grassy bank that over looked the sea-washed rocks where he and Rachel had spent the summers together.
His senses were ablaze.
He could hear the waters crashing upon the rocks down before him, he saw the spray glisten in the sunlight as it made its bid of freedom from the sea, he smelt the salt stained air which was carried upon the faintest of breezes, and he felt the warmth of the sun sitting in its own blue ocean smiling down on the pair.
For he was not alone.
There beside him on the grass sat Rachel.
His heart leaned violently forward in his chest towards her, his skin electrified and tingled from head to toe. A lump rose up in his throat and his eyes flooded once again.
A gasp was all he could managed.
She smiled at him silently and lifting her hand, ran it through his hair.
He closed his eyes and leaned into her, the tears falling silently into his lap. He wanted to remain in that moment for all eternity. If there was a heaven, he had found it.
He could say nothing more.
He had imagined this moment a thousand times over, it was his final thought before sleep and his first upon wakening. He had rehearsed the words he would say, his love that he would vocalise, but now; nothing. Nothing but her name.
But that was enough.
She pulled him in towards her and held him as he sobbed. Her scent filled him and electricity ran beneath his skin once again.
She held him and soothed him. Her voice, as soft as a bees wing upon the petal of the primrose, breathed about him.
The two sat upon the grassy bank as one, with only the sun as an onlooker.
He raised his head and looked at her.
Her deep blue-green eyes sank into his. Her flawless face framed by her dark hair sat against the sky. Her beauty enthralled him.
“I love you”, he whispered, not daring to take his eyes from her.
“I love you too”, she said and smiled, running her hands again through his hair.
Her lips of rose petals so soft. He leaned forward and kissed her, the familiarity almost more than he could bear.
The sea, the sun, the crash of the rocks, all filled their parts as actors on the stage, never missing a line.
The couple talked. They talked and talked, minutes became hours and hours melted by.
He was happy. He was happy for the first time since she had left the world behind, since she had left him with the world and nothing in that world, indeed nothing in the universe could compare to her; no sight he would rather see than her face, no sound he would rather hear than her voice, no perfume would he rather smell than her scent, no taste he would rather try than her kiss, no possession he would rather hold than her hand.
On and on they talked. They spoke of their lives together, the happy days that had passed between them, the moments they had shared. Each moment relived; they stood once again along the Champs-Élysées, they dined once more in the shadow of the Colosseum, they laughed amidst the paint fight in their bedroom, he carried her once more through the threshold of their home. Every moment relived once more.
The sun started her descent to her bed beyond the horizon and was starting to droop low her eyelids.
Though as subtle as the fall of the sun, so crept a hollowness within him.
Her features were perfect, her voice was her own, her touch as soft as before, her scent as intoxicating, her kiss the one he had fallen in love with.
But the reddening sun over the sea showed the truth.
It was not her.
It was merely a memory of her, one which his mind had covered over with time, as though snowflakes of himself had fallen on her image until she was quite hidden.
This image before him was familiar only to himself.
This image held none of her truth, none of her roughness, none of her irritation, not of her devilment;
None of her otherness.
None of her.
The moments together too had been skilfully painted over, no blemish was seen. None of the sharp words, none of the frustration, none of the true reality had been there.
For she was not truly there.
This was simply an image of himself dressed up as her, void and vacant of her true beauty.
She sat before him like a darkened silhouette before the sun; seen in outline only, featureless and dull.
“You’re not her”, he said quietly.
The image stuttered, for his own imagination could not grasp at his own insight.
His finger found the button on the headset and the screen went dark.
He sat in that darkness for sometime, a cocktail of grief and renewed heartbreak inebriated him.
His hands shook violently once again as he lifted off the headset and laid it before him.
The light no longer shone round the door for everything was dark now, his flame of hope had been extinguished.
Unsteadily he rose to his feet and made his way to his bed.
He lay alone. He was always alone now and he loathed it. He clutched her pillow to himself. Her scent much fainter than it has been in that other world, but at least this was real. This was her remains.
His phone buzzed, another well-wisher checking in on him. He wished they would leave him alone.
To be alone in company, that would be best he thought.
He hated when people mentioned her and he hated when they didn’t. An eternal paradox with himself stranded alone in its centre.
He breathed the pillow into himself once more.
The comfort and the torture of her scent raged within him.
He faced the familiar valley of his grief once again. All around its hills he had wandered, every turn bringing him the same landscape.
Yet, above him, the sun still shone, for it was a reminder that he had loved Rachel, and she had loved him. It had been real. And there he took comfort by the small stream that ran through his valley of grief, as the sun glinted off its trickling waters.
He was glad to have the rolling fields of her loss to live in, rather than the cold city where he knew her not.
He would stay in this valley for the rest of his days if needs be. For his grief was now part of her and part of him. It was the bond that held them together still, that which reached beyond the pale of death. That which replaced the bond which he wore upon his finger still.
But no, he thought. It did not replace that. It was just another step on their journey together; the penultimate step before they would be bonded together once again, never to be parted.
He breathed her scent deeply once again and drifted to sleep.