I remember it as though I’m still there.
It was so still, a little too still.
You came over early in the morning. I had just woken up, my hair was a mess and I was pale with bleary eyes. Despite my appearance you still smiled at me, your brilliant blue eyes twinkling with laughter, and told me I looked beautiful. You told me to get dressed quickly, and that you would buy us breakfast on the way. I asked you where we were going. You just looked at me seriously and told me I would have to wait.
We set off through the small town, toward the outskirts into the bush. It was a beautiful day. Your dark hair was shining and your smile could have outdone the sun. We reached a tiny waterhole where you spread out a blanket and lay down next to me, holding my hand tight. We just laid there in silence, enjoying the warmth of the sun, until you sat up and began to speak.
You looked me in the eye and I knew what you were going to say. I put my hand over you lips to stop those irrevocable words escaping from your mouth. The look in your eyes scared me. You took my hand away gently and looked me directly in the eye with that piercing gaze. And you said it, you said those three words. Instead of feeling angry like I had always felt before, I merely looked down at the ground, knowing there was nothing I could do.
You pressed against my chin, forcing me to look up at you, and you began to tell me a story. A story I wish you had kept to yourself, even to this day. You told me you were dying; you had a terminal illness, and didn’t have much longer to live. It crushed me to see you cry. Tears streamed down your face, leaving behind them thin, salty tracks. Then you began to apologise. You kept saying you were sorry, sorry for loving me and then leaving this world.
I got up and ran. I didn’t know how long I ran for. All I know is I just kept running. Running and running, I didn’t speed up, and I didn’t slow down. I just kept running. You got up and chased after me. I could hear your footsteps behind me. You were calling my name in anguish. I blocked my ears; I didn’t want to hear that noise. That sound in your voice crushed my heart.
Eventually you caught up to me and pulled me towards you. I just leant against your chest and cried. I cried because for some reason I had let you in. I cried because I knew you weren’t lying, even though I wished you were. I cried because I was going to have to live my life without you. And I cried because you collapsed to the ground.
You just lay there breathing heavily. You looked at me; even then your powerful gaze didn’t waver. The tears had stopped. Time had stopped.
I remember it as though I was still there. I remember the look of relief, washing over your face, and how it settled into a mask of peace. Everything was so still…