I remember the first day we met perfectly.
She had walked on the bus drenched by the rain, blond hair bedraggled and struggling with her bags. Nothing special. She had inevitably tripped over her own feet (typical Rachel) and, without a second thought; I had reached out to catch her.
Normally, I would just let go and forget about it but that was before she looked up. Her smile lit up her whole face and wiped everything else clean from my mind. Before I knew it, she was sitting by me and chatting to me like we were old friends.
So that's it really. Nothing special (except that smile).
Everyday she would walk on the bus after work, she would trip over I would catch her and she would give me that smile; routine for us by now. After a while I worked up the guts to ask her out to dinner. When I did I regretted that I didn't do it sooner, as she gave me a smile that the rest couldn't compare with.
We carried on like that for a few months and then I finally asked her to move in. It seemed as if the more I did the more dazzling the smile became.
We had a year of bliss but that was before the accident.
I was in the apartment waiting for Rachel and through my window I could see her preparing to cross the road. The driver hadn't been paying attention as he was on the phone. I've always believed that I could've done something. Shouted. Banged on the window. Anything.
But before I could comprehend doing any of that; she had stepped out into the road.
It was like everything was in slow motion. Looking back now I realise it probably wasn't but at the time it seemed like it was.
I had picked up the phone and called the ambulance before it was all over. Then, I had ran outside and waited with my Rachel. I kept stroking her hair; only noticing the tears when one splashed on her face. I mumbled reassurances to her even though she probably couldn't hear me.
"The ambulance will be here soon".
"I'm right here with you".
"Everything will be alright".
Even though I knew deep down nothing would be alright after this.
I vaguely registered that the driver had gotten out of the car and was apologizing frantically. I only really heard him when he told me that the ambulance was here.
The doctors had done all that they could and they told me that the most I could do was hope for the best and wait for her to wake up.
At first, my family and friends had kept telling me that it wasn't healthy staying here; day and night; never moving. Anytime they had said that I would lash out and say that if she woke up I would be the first face she saw and that I would never leave her.
They left me alone after a little while.
Then, it was three months down the line and there were no signs that she would wake up anytime soon.
I kept wondering whether she knew how much I loved her. I never made an effort to tell her that enough.
I kept wishing I could see that overwhelming smile just one more time. The way her blue eyes shined with laughter. The dimple she got when she found something amusing. Just anything that was Rachel.
But no matter how much I wished, all she would do was lie there. Cold and pale, blonde hair dull and with no smile on her face.
Eventually, I had done the unthinkable.
I had given up on my Rachel.
I had to leave her side for the first time since the accident because I couldn't bear to look at her face knowing that I'd betrayed her that way.
I was halfway to the door before I heard it.
The voice was rough from lack of use.
I couldn't turn around for fear that I had imagined it but there it was again.
This time it was stronger, with more purpose.
I had to turn around. I had to. But I just couldn't deal with the disappointment if it wasn't what I thought.
That was it.
I turned around and there Rachel was. Eyes open and shining, looking directly at me. Her mouth was curved upwards and had a dimple in the corner.
Oh. How I loved that smile.