As in the past years, the man sat on his bed, stunned, as if it were only yesterday. He stared at the same picture of her. Ten years and twenty-one days have passed since the day before yesterday…ten years and three weeks since the accident…thirty-six hundred seventy-one days since he lost the love of his life. The two were perfect together; others would mock them for being “too perfect”. Every corner of his mind is still alive with her presence; she haunts him and his home. Only through her continued remembered presence that he can survive hour by hour. The man tries to remember what it was like to have her around the house, piecing every loving memory of them together with much delicacy. Every morning, she sang to herself. Her sweet, charming, melodious voice filling the house with musical notes. A tear begins to form around his eye. Everyday when he woke up, there had been a plate of breakfast waiting for him. More tears form around his eye, forming a droplet. Everyday, before leaving for work, she would tie his necktie in a perfect knot, kiss him, and watch him get on the bus. The tear flows slowly down his face, landing on the bed with a silent splash. At the end of each day, she would always open the door to greet him, giving him the same gentle, teasing kiss and hug. More tears follow. One particular Sunday night, he decides to take her out on a date, but little did he know, that was would be their last time together.
It has been ten years now, but she is still everywhere with him. He feels that he is the ghost.
“Hey Josh, how’s everything going?” Says Brian, interrupting his thought. “I’m very sorry about your loss.”
Josh, surprised by Brian’s entrance, quickly wipes his tears away.
“Hey Brian. Really, it’s nothing.” Josh says. “Everything’s…” He couldn’t find a way to end the sentence. He is overcome with emotion.
“So, what are your plans for today?”
“Same as before. I’ll visit her now.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“No, thanks. I really need some time by myself, together, with her.”
With that, Josh leaves, sleepwalking towards the cemetery.
As he is leaving, Josh glances at the garage where his car used to live. The ghost of the car captures him. Josh feels as if he could not peel his eyes away from that abandoned spot. That car was his most treasured possession, filled with memories. His father had given it to him many years ago, as his seventeenth birthday gift. As much as he loved the car, he hated it as well. Every time he looks at the car he feels chills and emotions, as if the car is looking back at him, as if the car is alive. This time though, he feels guilt. He relives the night of tormenting, heart wrenching pain in flashbacks, the mere seconds that had changed his life. There is blood everywhere. The windshield is cracked. Her screams cut short as the roof caves in. The driver side door is torn off, as he falls out just in time to see the car tumble down the cliff, straight into the vast ocean below, only to be engulfed by the strong waves. Josh stares at the same spot for what seems like forever, before he forces himself to look away from the empty garage, with a frightened look in his eyes. He would rather be dead than alive.
Josh walks the road alone, where a long time ago, they had walked together. He had been so happy then. He sees the tree that she had loved. The park they spent hours in. The pond where they would have picnics near. To him, every step is embedded with memories. Before the crash, he had someone to depend on, someone to lean on in difficult times. But now, he is alone. He feels lonely. Lonely and afraid.
As Josh approaches the cemetery, he slows; waves of pain and regret wash over him. Memories he has been unable to bury twists his every sinew. Memories that he wanted to forget. Memories that haunt his nightmares, stalk his waking existence. But still, despite what he is going through he marches onward. Josh walks along the same ghostly path as had done in all the many previous years, until he reaches his destination. There, he sits on the dew moistened ground; hollowed out and afraid, he stares at the tombstone, the two haunting words stare back at him. Emily Stone. 1935 - 1970.
“Emily,” Josh whispers, as if they were face to face. “It’s been 10 years since I lost you. My life is empty without you. I’ve lost everything. My job, my house, my car...” A tear begins to form around his eye. “I’ve never experienced a true relationship until you.” More tears form around his eye, forming a droplet. Josh’s voice starts to break. “I can’t take this. My whole life is crumbling before my eyes.” The tear flows slowly down his face, landing on her tombstone with a silent splash. “I’d do anything to have you back. I really would.” More tears follow, as Josh begins to sob uncontrollably. “If you can hear me, please help. I need it. I need some contact, some sign.”
Josh feels a tap on his shoulder.
“Brian, I thought I told you not to come.”
“Yeah, but I figured you’d need a little help.”
Josh takes a long, deep breath.
“No. I’m fine.”
“Come on man, you look horrible. You can’t deny that.”
“So what. What’s the point? Without her, my life has no meaning.”
“Let me help you. Trust me, I’ve known you for 16 years. I know when you need help.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Look, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from life is that you’ve gotta let go of the past. Forget what has already happened, because no matter how hard you try to cling on to the past, no matter how tightly you treasure it, it will already be gone. I know the future is scary, but you can’t just run back to the past because it’s familiar. Yes, it’s tempting, but it’s a mistake.”
With that, Josh follows Brian and walks, refusing to look back, leaving all the memories, and the cemetery behind.