He stood outside the door, mind numb. How could everything around him have crashed when he wasn't looking? He had always been so careful and protective. How could this have happened?
Just on the other side of the door there laid a woman. A woman he had known far too long, and had gotten far too complicated with. To say that this last week was what was for the best was a lie. And what had he gotten out of it? Freedom? Pride? Power?
None of those things mattered at the moment.
And none of those things would matter in the future regarding her.
His voice was caught in his throat, bunched in a ball of emotion that he knew would surface sooner or later. It would be too painful to keep bound away forever, let alone for the next fifteen minutes of his life.
Even though her family had said that everything had been an accident, and that once it had happened there was no way the doctors could have saved her. The piece of metal going through her chest had been too close to her heart, and it was a miracle she had stayed alive long enough to make it to the hospital.
He closed his eyes, feeling the fear build up in his chest. He knew he had to go in there and face her; to see her one last time. But even though her father had assured him that nothing could have prevented the accident, he knew better. He knew what had killed her. And the accident wasn't the first thing. It was only the result of her first death.
I killed her.
Reaching for the doorknob, he opened the hospital door slowly. He was going to be the last person to see her before they took her away. The last person. Those were big shoes to fill.
The room was as drab as a hospital room could be. No flowers filled the countertops. No blankets or white sheets were draped over chairs or on the bed.
Feeling a cold chill run down his spine, he forced himself to look at her. Now, at the time of death, he found himself afraid to look at her. This had never been the case. From the moment he had laid eyes on her a year and a half ago, he had never felt fear. He knew that once he saw her, in the loneliest and more vulnerable of forms, he would be stripped of all his defenses and his coward-ness would make its grand entrance.
It had been a week since he had seen her, or even talked to her for that matter. He never, for a moment, thought that would be the last time. So, when he finally laid eyes on her form, the emotion he had been trying to swallow finally bubbled up in his throat as some sort of strangled cry he had never once in his life heard come from his mouth.
They had sopped up most of the mess from the failed emergency operation, but her clothes had still be soaked completely through, and the dried brown blood now clung to her arms, face, and operating table. They had placed her hands, one on top of the other, on her stomach, and then covered her chest, the place of operation, with a thick cloth. His body numb, and silence ringing in his ears, he took a step forward, eyes never leaving her face, where they had finally settled after a minute of taking it all in.
How could this have happened?
Mouth open, he felt his hand gravitate towards her ashen-colored face, wanting to bring color back to her cheeks. Why did she look so
still? Why wasn't she moving? There were no little muscle twitches, no little lip movements. No breathing.
He wanted to grab her shoulder and gently wake her, like he used to do. 'Wake up sleepyhead' he would urge, 'We have to start the new day.' But no, this time, not seeing any movement at all, there was nothing more he currently wanted to do but violently shake her. To make her wake up. To make sure everything was going to be alright.
But the longer he stared at her, the more the realization sunk in. And that's when the ball of emotion in his throat decided to unravel.
The tears sprung without him willing them too. First, it was a gentle, warm, single tear that dripped down his cheek, ending at the tip of his chin. Feeling that single barrier having been broken, more tears surfaced and tumbled out.
How could I have let this happen?
He drew closer, pulling a chair up and collapsing next to her head. "I promised I would never do anything to hurt you," he whispered in a quiet breath. "A-And look what-." His voice caught, and choked. Look what I ended up doing.
He had never thought, a year and a half ago, that he would still feel this violently for her as he had those first couple of months. Those were the months of pure relaxation, happiness and carefree childish fun. After that, things only became complicated, or at least they did on his end. She, on the other hand, had never given up on him. And look where it got her.
A week ago, he had broken up with her. He knew that she knew that it had been coming for a long time. He also knew that that wasn't what she wanted. But the way things were looking for his future, he became scared. He felt the need to run. He knew running would get him no where. Absolutely no where. But he selfishly ran, and in the process pushed her far away from his heart. When he had told her his feelings, and lied that there weren't any anymore, he had watched her face drain of color. He instantly saw her eyes, those beautiful blue eyes, start to become glossy, and he watched with amazement as she proceeded to hold everything in.
In his cowardly state, he explained further, although he knew that's not what she wanted to hear. At the end of his rant, he finally took a breath and looked at her closely. "What do you think of this situation?" He had asked, finally ready to give her the floor.
He watched as she slowly gripped her car keys tighter in her hand, her gaze lifting and staring at him, tears finally flowing down her face. He remembered the sharp pain in his chest at the sight of her crying, this time having been his entire doing. He had never, never wanted to hurt her. He was just...a coward, and a fraud, and someone who didn't want to get up and face his future. And part of him didn't want to drag her down with him. But the other half didn't want her to see him for what he truly was. A failure. No direction. Nothing.
Her lips were set in a thin line, using so much of her power to keep her bottom lip from trembling. How could she be so strong, when he wasn't?
"I think..." she said, "That you have succeeded in breaking my heart." And with that, she said goodbye, stood, and walked out the door.
Now, that strong, beautiful...amazing woman was here. Lying, caked in dry blood, lifeless. Even though it had been that drunk driver to physically end her life today, he knew he had done it first, a week ago.
And where was his pride now? His freedom? His power? Nothing seemed to matter at this moment. And he knew it wouldn't for a long time.
Lifting his head, the tears starting to die down, but face still damp, he looked at again. She, even after death, looked beautiful. Granted, it wasn't the supermodel beauty that society so glamorizes and flaunts, it was the cuteness of her features and behavior that first caught his attention a year and a half ago. But, she proved that she wasn't just cute...she was beautiful. Something people go their entire lives trying to succeed and achieve, but never do. She had done that. And now, still, she was beautiful. Her eyes closed, mouth still alluring, she was the face of peace, a peace no one could ever disturb.
Looking at her now, he thought back to that one night he had comforted her in her time of need, and it was the only night he had stayed in the same room with her, having slept on the floor after she had fallen asleep. He had watched her for hours, wondering how someone like him, could even have met someone like her, and actually have a chance at being with her. That was the night he realized he had loved her. Truly and deeply loved her. Not the love that families shared, but the love that only the deepest of connections could bring.
She had had a hard time going to sleep, and when she had finally calmed down from her crying, and was on the brink of sleep, he had sat on the edge of her bed and stroked her hair, singing a lullaby to her.
That lullaby, now in that hospital room, was the thing that popped into his head. Reaching up, and hesitantly touching her face, the words to that lullaby gradually came back to him, and to his surprise, he found the words softly spilling from his lips.
A few more tears escaped, despite his tired attempts to hold them in. But he couldn't.
She was the thing, over the past year and a half, that had kept him grounded. She supported him, and all his crazy dreams, when he always bounced from one to the other. But out of all the dreams he had, she was the only dream of his that had come true. And he hadn't seen it at the time, and carelessly, out of selfish fear, had thrown it away. Thrown her away. Maybe even when she needed him most.
The lullaby finished, he drew in a shaky breath.
Standing up, and running his thumb over her ashen cheek, he whispered "Remember me always." Something she had once said to him, in an endearing and tender moment. He had promised her he would, and she him.
His eyes tired and heavy, he finally withdrew his hand from the bed, and let it fall limply to his side.
"Goodbye," his voice said shakily. And with that, he turned on her final image, forever etched in his mind, but not the one to be remembered by.
And, without looking back, he shut the door to the hospital room that held his love.
~Lonely Lullaby~ Owl City