We'd been together for a long time and, honestly, that's something we both came to expect. High school was a whirlwind of emotions that led us to believe that lust was the same thing as love. We'd known each other since grade six, back when she had thick, wire braces and I had hair that stuck out at the oddest of ends. A game of Seven Minutes in Heaven at my first real house party in tenth grade had me locked in a closet with her. We'd spent those few moments staring straight at each other until we were forced to turn the lights out, at which she grabbed my hand and admitted she was afraid of the dark. I thought about yanking my hand away from her but I couldn't help but notice how her braces were gone and how kind puberty had been to her. We didn't say much but later exchanged numbers and went on a few dates, some being extremely awkward and others being very sweet and romantic.
Her world was totally different from mine. She grew up with parents as free spirited and wild as gypsies. Their home was full of strange, colorful paintings and sculptures of women with their bare breasts exposed. It confused me at first but, after a few uncomfortable visits, became fairly normal. She resembled her mother and acted like her father, all to create the beautiful creature that I was lucky enough to know. Still, there were barriers. The tiniest of issues could bring her down to a state of misery. She was so hypersensitive sometimes and it irked me.
In my world, though, she didn't act as out of place as I knew she felt. My parents were strictly business. Their attire consisted of black and grey suits with their coiffure slicked back with not a hair out of place and their vocabulary an expansive and confusing jumble of terms. If my parents ever took her seriously, which I seriously doubt, then they never showed it. They thought of our relationship as a joke. They said we'd never last, even after I proposed.
In a way, I believe they were right.
Neither one of us were huge talkers but we could usually always find something to talk about when the silence between us was too much to handle. A couple months after the wedding, we started to run out of ideas. We didn't want to completely run into a dead end of nothingness, so we began to talk less and less. It got to the point where we fell into monotonous routine. She went to work and I stayed home at my computer, tapping away at a new novel while she... actually, I don't remember what she did for a living. I knew my books gave us plenty of income but she usually paid the bills. You'd think I'd remember something like that. Anyway, we'd continue through the motions of our lives together and, when we were in bed together at night, we had hardly said a word to each other that entire day.
Our lack of speech didn't mean I didn't care about her. I loved her, possibly more now than I did then. I wasn't the best to her but I didn't want her to love anyone but me. I remember one particular morning when I awoke to see her not by my bedside. I wasn't sure whether to be worried or not. My memories of the previous night were a blur. I walked into the living room to see the room a mess and her on the ground. She was shivering next to a flipped coffee table. She refused to let me call a doctor so I made her a cup of coffee and decided not to think too hard about it. I still regret that decision sometimes. It's like this feeling in my chest that I had something to do with it but I have no proof or recollection of such. Sadly, I'll never be able to know for sure.
I remember my last winter with her. That was the winter in which she bought that blue scarf. I'd seen one similar to it in a shop window downtown on my morning trek for coffee. There was nothing posh about it. There was no embroidery or design marking it. It was simply blue, the shade of the sky during spring afternoons. It looked nice on her, and I told her so. That was the first time I had seen her smile in so long. With our lack of communication, even with the simplest of facial expressions, that smile meant everything.
Later that afternoon, I was in front of my laptop in search of inspiration when I received a phone call. According to the voice of one of her coworkers, she had collapsed at work and was being rushed to the hospital as quickly as possible. It seemed possible she was suffering from some sort of nervous breakdown. What did she have to be upset about?
I hung up and rushed to the hospital as quickly as possible. The sight of her lying there, looking so pitiful, she almost seemed to be someone else. The beeping of her monitor and the rise and fall of her chest assured me that she would be alright. Being in that room, though, in a building surrounded by so many people, made me anxious. There was no way she could stay here.
The time I spent by her bedside seemed endless. It may have been only an hour or two but time slowed and felt like years. As soon as her eyes fluttered open, I was ready to escape. The first words she spoke to me after she woke were that she was sorry. I asked why and she replied that she had lost the scarf. That the scarf had blown away in the wind on her way to work. I shook my head at her silliness. I told her it wasn't a big deal and we could always buy her a new one. We left the hospital moments later.
A month later, I found myself in my home office again. My newest novel was almost at completion and I could almost visualize the cover flying off shelves. That's when I heard her footsteps coming down the hallway towards me.
"I'm leaving. I've had enough."
I sighed and rested my fingers on the keyboard. My head slowly turned to gaze at her. Deep circles fell like shadows under her eyes and a suitcase handle was gripped in one hand. Shaky breaths escaped her chapped lips as she shuddered, attempting to stand as straight as she could. Rubbing my temples, I turned around in my chair and stood to face her.
"I'm sorry." I racked my brain for something else. Something to keep her with me. Something to make her stay. I needed to say something. "We need to leave the city for a while. Please stay."
We embraced for the first time in a very long time. The next day, we packed up our things and left for a nice hotel in the country, far from any city buzz and traffic. We spent windy afternoons flying kites and getting caught up in the string together. At night, we ate over candle light and shared kisses in the elevator on the way to our room. Our faces were flushed red and our breath smelt strongly of alcohol but it was the most love we'd exchanged in our entire marriage.
The time together, though nice at first, began to feel suffocating after a while. I was almost thankful when our week away was up. I had began to miss the blur of city life and my head was beginning to pound. The only thing keeping me through that week was the smile on her face. She had never seemed so happy before. When she smiled, she appeared beautiful and it reminded me of what I saw in her in the first place.
Our ride home together from the hotel is a bit obscure. I remember the sound of silence as we neared closer to skyscrapers and smog. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, I heard a screeching in the back of my head and a garbled, mangled sound. I looked next to me to see her flipping stations on the radio. Rock music, sportscasters, and toothpaste advertisements filled the car. I reached over and quickly turned it off.
"No," I said, my voice sounding more gruff than intended.
"I just wanted to hear the radio," she protested, her voice sounding weak and afraid.
That was the last thing I remember clearly. A whoosh of sound echoes in my mind if I think about it too hard. Our hands fighting over the radio dials for a brief moment. I hear a scream and whether it was her's or mine I'm not certain.
Seven weeks later, I found myself limping down the hospital hallways. I held onto my crutch for dear life, not accustomed to it just yet. I was almost to her room when I noticed a nurse at her door. The nurse watched me as I neared closer and stood in front of her. The woman simply shook her head and said more time was needed. She said I should go home and rest. So, I tried.
My whole life was consumed with a strange, bitter emptiness that I just couldn't place a finger on. Every morning, I awoke alone with the sun shining blindingly into my eyes. I spent mornings with coffee for one in front a muted television. Afternoons consisted of staring blankly at a word document on my computer. The writer's block was insane and nothing I did could rid myself of it. It become less of a writer's block and more of a life block.
I pondered over it and came to a realization. It was her. She was everything. The sound my quiet life needed to badly. Our conversations had never been silent because she filled the space inbetween words. She had been everything and it was all my fault she was in pain.
A desire came over me. I had to tell her. I needed to inform her of my epiphany. My driving was horrendous and hurried and I swerved my car into the hospital parking lot and ran, hurt leg and all, to her room. Once I made it to her hallway, a blinking red light began to flash over her door and a siren blared. Nurses and doctors rushed alongside me to her aid. Crammed the doorway, I could just barely make out the sound of her heart monitor flatlining. I began to holler at the top of my lung, repeating the same line as I was pushed out of the way.
"Please! Say something! Please, say something!" I begged as tears began to fill my eyes. I never gained a response.
I didn't leave that hallway for three hours, even as medical professionals tried to remind me that she was far gone and they couldn't bring her back. They apologized so many times to me. I was the one who needed to apologize. Eventually, I brought myself to my senses enough to drive home to my apartment.
Late that night, when the rest of the world was quiet, I had one last thing to do. I sat on the ledge of my bedroom window. The wind blew maliciously across my face and caused my tears to fly off my face before they could stream down my cheeks. The city lights were like stars and I was flying high above the world. One push and I would be gone. Before I could do so, something else hit my face and caused me to tumble back into the room. I slowly pulled it off my face and there, in my hands, I saw a plain blue scarf.