Help me, Richie

"Another one, Richie." I pleaded him, but he obviously doesn't like it anymore. He needs to eat more. I took the spoon and filled it with the soup; he's not listening to me. His eyes are always drifting off to wonderland, if not to the windows, to his plain white pillow. He's always hugging this. I can't seem to stop myself from feeling sorry for him. Does he know that I'm hurting whenever I see him like these, unable to speak, to move his body and do things the way he used to do? I just make myself believe that someday, somehow, he will be back to normal. I'm not complaining about these stuffs, I just want to see him alive again. He's alive, but looks like a corpse, unaware of what's happening around him. His world only involves him, and this pillow. A pillow, can I be a pillow?

I fixed his beddings, and stole a glance to him. He's still in the same position since I enter the ward. Tears run down my cheeks and I wipe it off. Richie might see I'm crying! And so? Another voice came inside my mind. What's going to change if he saw me? Will he react? No. He'll just stare, and then back to his thinking. Sometimes, I want to enter to his mind, find what his thoughts are. Do I even get a space from him? Memories are still living within me.

Richie has a long history of continuous stress, a trauma that pushed him beyond his breaking point. He told me about his father, who's abusing him since he's child. It's not his fault why his mother left them and looked for someone else. Mr. Lin has a vicious living. And so, Richie struggled to survive from every beating he received from his father. He's quiet, but not with me. He's caring, always reminds me of even the simplest things to do. He never forgets to make me smile, and to make me love him. Still, he loves his father and ignored the fact that he's not being a father he should be to him. It drove him to be tough. It's contagious, when he's happy, blue or whatever he feels. But we're not that perfect. I felt he's being strict to me, always telling me to do this. Once, I feel glad that he really cares a lot. But it came to the point that I couldn't take it anymore.

We're in my car that night, he was the one who's driving it and he started the argument.

"Ella, I told you not to accept that job. How many times do I have to tell you that?" He said.

"Here we go again. And how many times do I have to tell you that I so badly want it?" I retorted back.

"You're being stubborn."

"And you? You're being unfair again!"

"Are you yelling at me?!"

"Isn't it obvious?! Just tell me the goddamn reason why I need to decline the offer!"

He stopped the car and looked at me. He was so serious from the previous arguments we've been though.

"FINE!" He barked.

"You're deafening me!"

"Well you started it!" I looked out the window. I tried to calm myself and listen to whatever his reason or reasons are. "He likes you a lot Ella! I don't know, but I feel my self that I need you to be taken away from him. I feel threatened. I feel….I feel like…like I'm going to lose you when you accepted the job. I love you so much, Ella." That moment, I knew how much it hurts him to see me with him.

"I'm sorry. I-" I was going to say something when his phone rung.

If I only allowed him to answer the phone, then there could be even the slightest possibility that he's not experiencing this now. I'm regretting from what I've done. That was the last argument, the last time I saw his love towards me. That was the last time he said he loves me so much. That was the last time I heard his voice. He found his father dead; he didn't even witnessed he blew his last breath. His father's eyes were still open. He died from a cardiac arrest. He attempted to reach is son though his line, but I guess I was selfish enough to take it away from him. He was totally gone insane. His mind gave up. It couldn't take it anymore.

I didn't notice that I can't stop myself from crying. Does he hear me sobbing?

A warm feeling gently lay upon my stained cheeks. "Richie?" He wiped away my tears. I couldn't take it! I cried harder and pulled him for an embraced. God! Is this the sign of hope? He's not hugging me back the way he used to, the way he used to hug that pillow. Its okay, I reassured myself. I tightened my hold to him. I whispered, "I love you so much, Richie. Please don't let myself to get tired of you. I know I won't, but please…help me from pulling you though your progress." He's not moving.

I broke the hug and found out that he's already falling asleep. Even though, he didn't hug me back, at least I felt his care once more.

Deciding to leave, I kissed him in his lips and wished him goodnight, wishing tomorrow is another chance of recovery.

.

.

.

"Dr. Ella, why are you so so dedicated to that patient? Well, I'm just wondering. Are you…somewhat, related?" My assistant asked me, for the first time. When I leave the hospital, she's the one who's taking care for Richie. I never left him unattended.

I smiled back, "What do you think?"

She murmured something but I didn't catch it. "I'm going to leave now. Remember to look for him."

On my way home, I saw him standing there, certainly waiting for me. I asked him, "Why are you here?" He's the one my parents want me to marry. Thousand times I tell them, I'm not going to marry someone. I'd rather stay and get old unmarried if Richie won't be the one for me. Well, he's not that bad as you think, just that… Richie will always be the one.

"I'm here to send you home." He smiled at me and offer his way to his car.

"So generous of you, but I can manage." I smiled back and left him.

"Why can't you see I love you?! I'm doing everything Ella! Not that ex-boyfriend of yours, who's just sitting pretty, staring like a fool at the window and hugging the poor pillow!" Okay, he insulted him.

"He's not my ex-boyfriend! He's MY boyfriend. And so what? What do you expect from him? Aren't you aware of his state?!" When people throw me those sayings, I'm hurting. They don't give a damn care if he's not as active and sane like everyone is. I'm the one who's hurting!

"That's it! He's CRAZY, INSANE, ABNORMAL, IRRA-" I slapped him hard. I felt pain from my palm, but not as pain emotional. I tried to be nice to him. I let myself a cry.

"EL-" I left him.

I hugged my knees, and feel the peace inside my house. Even how quiet here, I still want to be with him. Why can't they just let me do what I want? I'm not doing this not because I should, but because I want to. It's not the sense of responsibility, but love.

"Ella, I promised when I get to finish this project, I will marry you."

"Wait, don't you need to ask me first if I want to?" I grinned at him. He kissed my nose and attached our foreheads to each other. His eyes glimmers, his smile tempts me to kiss him.

"Do you love me, Ella?"

"Of course! I love you so so so so so so so muCH!!!!!" He kissed me and I responded with full of passion, love, care, no one else matters from us.

I knew I wouldn't regret loving him. But how can we marry and live with each other when you can't even talk to me, you can't hug me. I want the old Richie back. I massaged my throbbing temples, hoping to relax and rest.

The curtains moved but I'm sure there is no wind that made it move. Windows were closed. I see someone hiding beneath the curtains. When I tried to take a look, I approached it. Then the phone rang.

"Hello?" I can hear my assistant panicking. They are shouting behind the lines that someone is missing. Someone escaped. "Hello? Hello?! Phoebe! What's going on there?"

"Dr.! Richie is missing! He escaped!" I covered my mouth with my hand. Oh my God! Please let him be safe. I can't forgive myself if something bad happen to him. Oh God. Phoebe tries to call me but I was distracted with chanting and calling Him for Richie, until someone snatched the phone from my hand. I turned around and saw…

"Rich…Ri… Richie?" It never helped me to calm when I saw a glimpse of the light that bounced from the knife he's holding. How did he get here? Does this mean he's okay now? He remembers me, this house. I want to hug him but,

"You lied to me." What was that?

"Richie, honey, what are you-"

"You're getting married to someone else? Why Ella? Is it because I'm crazy? I thought you'll wait for me. I thought you vowed, we vowed to be with each other until the end? Where is that?"

"I don't know what you're talking about Richie. I'm not marryi-"

"STOP IT!!" I was getting afraid now. It seems like Richie is still not in his right mind. I tighten his grip to my wrists. I feel the pain.

"Are you tired of waiting for me? You lied Ella! YOU LIED!"

The next thing I knew, I'm clutching my lower abdomen.

Blood drips from it.

He stabbed me with his knife, with his words, his accusations and wrong beliefs. He's rocking himself back and forth. He's lost himself again.

"Richie …..I...I…Lo...Lov…love you…s......"

Tears started to fall.

I heard the dogs bark from neighborhood.

I heard someone screaming.

That's when I woke up from a nightmare. It was the entire worst nightmare I've ever had. Nightmares when you're dreaming. You're sleeping and you're eyes closed. But nightmares attack me whenever I see him not improving. Whenever I don't hear and feel him.

I stared at the phone, it didn't ring.
I looked at the curtains, its stable.
I went outside to check what's with all the noise.

Was I dreaming? Was I dreaming again?

NO!

It can't be! I shook my head hoping it will go away. I see him at the other side of the road, staring at me. He's still wearing the hospital gown. He really did escape. Will he shout at me? I'm lost for words. God knows I'm waiting for this moment.

"ELLA!!" He shouted.

"….." I can't find the right words to say to him. He remembers me now. Letters came out from me.

"RICHIE!!"

"I'm okay now! I remember everything now!" So, he went here when he immediately recovered himself. We're shouting at each other from the opposite side of the road.

But why can't I say anything aside from his name? Am I too happy to see him?

"I LOVE YOU SO MUCH ELLA!" I know! I cried once more, not because I'm hurting, missing him. I run towards him as he does the same thing to. Our world stops from spinning. Nothing matters to us now. As soon as I get to tough him again, I'm not gonna let him go. I saw the speeding car ahead us. STOP!! But it didn't.

"RICHIEEEE!!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. The driver seems to lose his brake. That's when I found out, blood splashed upon my face.

"NO!!!!!!!!" The single word I said before he looked at me and cast those hurting words.

I gathered him in my arms. I'm catching my breath. My nails are digging to his arm. "E….hah-…Ell…Ella..." No, don't' talk anymore, you'll live Richie. I shook my head asking him to silence. He slowly lifted his hand up to my cheeks. He caressed it like before. "I..love….y-you…th-thank..thank y-you."

I don't know if I'm still going to live anymore. I lost him. Why do they have to be so cruel to him? I found out that he really escaped as soon as he regains his awareness. He went to him before the incident happens and told Richie that I don't love him anymore. What do you expect him to react? May be that's why he remembered me.

Hebe told me that whenever I leave to home, she hears Richie mumbling my name to the pillow. He never forgot me at all.

I sit at the corner of the rooftop, closed my eyes and feel the wind touching my skin. Its so cold, are you here? How I wish you can touch me like that. How I badly wish I can feel your presence just like this. But wishes for me seems like a dagger that stabs me, penetrate my heart until it can no longer beats. It pains me every time I get to think that I can wish, yet I can't make it true. I got the chance to, but it slipped away from me and left me nothing, just the memories of your early departure.
Why is it too early?
How does it feel to be with you, again, Richie?

How does it feel whenever I get your warm embrace back? I can hug you, yes. But I can't feel you're hugging me too. I guess it's alright, instead of not being able to hug you. It happened.

I wish I can listen to your sweet talks, or even your endless preaches. C'mon, let's argue anything! Anything, I just want to hear your voice once again. When you see me laughing with the other guy, there's no single evidence of jealousy. A part of me wants to punch you until you feel I'm intending to do that. A part of me wants to jump out of joy, and reassurance that you really trust me. I love you so much Richie and I know you love me too. Whatever it is, I just want to feel you again. Oh' how I'm helplessly pleading to feel that.

Can I ask to take you back? When can I see you again? It scaring me so much, you know that?

You used to tell me to be strong for everything. Whatever comes between us, we can sweep it off! How? You cheater! I'm the only one now to do it, and I'm afraid I'll break down soon and fall to the ground.

Where are you now, Richie? Do they manage to put a smile to you face. It's killing me. I'm tired, deaf of all their encouragements, blind of all their smiles of comfort, and numb from all these unfair circumstances around me, us. Richie, will I get to live and continue what's waiting for me there? Will I be able to stand up, knowing you're not even there to see me?

I took one step; still I don't dare to open my eyes. Another step, I don't know where these feet will want me to go. The only thing that crossed my mind is that I'll get to see you, soon. Soon, it will all fade away.

It will lead me to you. Let me take another step, few more steps, until I reached the tip and the end of all my sorrowness. Gravity invites me. I needed a force to push though and climb the stair up to you. You promised me.

I spread my arms but before that, I hold my cheeks once again. I can still feel the warm of his touch, his last touch. I did it as if calling for someone, as if I am declaring my submission. Wind rushes to me. I will no longer feel pain. I'll be coming to you, and waiting 'till you found me.

I can't…

A tear escaped my eyes and dropped together with me. When the day comes that you'll find it, it would be the day I'll stop loving you.

I can't… stop loving you.