”You’re here,” the old woman said smiling. “You made it.”
“Of course I did,” the man, nearing his 80’s, smiled back, “I couldn’t bear the thought of you here in this wretched place and do nothing.”
“You still have that mushy teenage boy inside of you, eh,” the woman chuckled. “Some things really never change.”
“No, they don’t,” he paused, “We just get used to it.”
There was an abrupt pause between the two.. And suddenly, they did not mind the clamping of the of the nurses’ shoes making rounds back and forth through rooms, or the scent of sick hospital food by the bed stand. They just sat there; in an unappealing hospital bed, waiting for the sound of the electrocardiograph monitor to beep loudly, staring at each other, asking themselves what would happen if one dared to move a little earlier, they wouldn’t be miserable for a lifetime. But alas, there were no words said. Only the intensity of their stares— catinating the magnitude of their unsaid feelings; revealing the words they should have said, 60 years ago, when things were a lot more easier.
David Schrödinger had enough of his wife, Tricia…
for the nth time in their almost 4 years of marriage.
Of course, he loved her. That’s why he asked for her beloved yes years ago. But there are times, this one for example, when he gets tired of her attitude. Yes, he tried to keep up with her; doing whatever she says, buying her dried mangoes even in the middle of the night, or giving her flowers just to brighten up her day, but this— this was different.
That explains why he’s in his bestfriend’s apartment, pouring his frustrations on her, hoping he’d get a breathe of fresh air. Because honestly only Mia can pacify the situation. Only Mia can make him understand why his wife is acting that way. Only Mia can figure out his feelings. And truthfully, only Mia can appease his ego.
It’s like she knows everything; from the words to say, or what to do. And of course, Tricia trusts her too. They both do. That’s why she was the safest option, because who knows what would have happened if it was another girl. It was like she’s his mistress, except for the fact they don’t need hiding because they both know they’re not doing anything wrong.
“How could you, David?! Storming out of your house? What are you, a seven year-old?” Mia shouted. She wanted to understand her friend’s side, but what he did to his wife is unacceptable.
“I couldn’t help it,” he replied. “I know it hurt her, but I just couldn’t.”
“What do you mean you couldn’t?!”
“I’m tired of understanding her, Mia. She’s been like that for months! At first it was bearable, but it becomes worse and worse everyday!”
Annoyance was already evident on her face, “But she’s your wife, David! You need to understand her, for Pete’s sake!”
David couldn’t hide his annoyance too. “You know what? I didn’t come here for another nagging wife!”
“Then you shouldn’t have had a wife!” Mia incautiously raised her voice, which surprised her, because of all the times he went to her for comfort or for advice, she would just talk to him nicely and he would go home and make up with Tricia.
But today was different.
And she was so tired of being his go-to buddy when things aren’t right in his house.
“Shouldn’t have had a wife?! She’s always like this! Who breaks the furniture, which you saved up for months, because of mood swings?!”
“David,” the girl breathed deeply, calming herself. “Do you want to get a divorce?”
“I can’t stand her when she’s being like this!”
“You avoided my question so that means no,” Mia replied. “Remember what you said at the altar, David. For better or for worse, right? Do you want to tell the judge you want to get a divorce because she just broke your furniture?”
“But this isn’t the worse I was expecting!”
“What worse do you expect than worse in marriage, David? You should’ve married a furniture seller if the broken furniture’s your problem!”
“I came here for a breathe of fresh air, Mia! Why won’t you listen to me?”
“There! See? You always think of yourself, David.” She replied.
“Oh, so it’s about me now—”
“Yes! Yes, David! Because, sorry to break it to you, but you’re selfish. You always think of yourself. How much did you spend or what you feel, but have you ever thought of what Jenny feels? What’s going through the back of her mind whenever you’re with me? No, David. You don’t.”
“But you’re with me!”
“That’s the point, you’re with me! Girls always overthink. What do you think a guy and a girl do when they’re alone together? Play hopscotch?!”
David sighed. “Why are you like this, Mia? Do you think this is what I need right now?”
“Oh,” she paused. “I’m sorry. Sorry for putting some sense in your head because Mia here should just think about David. Mia should understand what David feels. Mia here should always be there whenever David needs her. Mia should be the one to adjust for David. Mia should put David about anything else. Mia should make David her top priority because Mia should not think about herself,” she sniffed, trying to prevent the tears from her eyes, but ended up failing, anyway.
“Mia should always care for David,” she started sobbing. “Mia should continuously love David even if she gets nothing in return.”
The girl slowly walked away from him, while trying to wipe tears away. He followed her, because of all people, he loved Mia. She was the one who was there when things go wrong. She was like his wife, except for the romantic stuff.
“M-Mia?” His voice unsure. “I’m so sor—“
“Don’t be David,” she smiled sadly. God knows how much he wanted to take her into his arms, but he can’t. “Don’t be sorry for anything. It’s okay, your fault. It was my choice to be by your side. It was my choice to be always available whenever you needed me.”
“Tricia’s the one who deserves your apology, David. She needs it the most.”
“But I’ve offended you.”
“Yes. Countless of times,” she said as she continued sobbing. “But never be sorry for not loving me the way I wanted to be loved.”
“David, I’m leaving for Melbourne tomorrow,” she wrapped her hand into his arms.
“W-what? How come I never knew this?”
“Because you’re too preoccupied with Julie. You only come to me when you two argue.”
“I’m not taking you for granted, Mia—“
The girl laughed bitterly, “You do. You just don’t notice it.”
“I love you, David,” the girl said smiling as tears fell down her cheeks. “Allow me to say that before I leave. For years now. In our nine years of friendship, five of those, I loved you.”
Memories came back; when he asked if Tricia passed her standards, when he consulted her what to give her for their anniversary, when he told her he was about to ask her to marry him, when he went to her apartment in the middle of the night, jumping happily, because finally, she said her yes. And when he asked her to be the bridesmaid of their wedding.
All while hurting her in the process.
He was about to hug her back but she stopped him, “Please don’t touch me,” she begged “Please don’t make me think like I stand a chance because I don’t.”
She walked away. And that was the last time he saw her crying, because the next time he did, it was on her wedding day— three years after.
“How’ve you been?” the old man asked. “I haven’t heard from you since… so long,” he paused, trying to hide the pain in his voice.
She coughed, “Besides lying all here all day with no one except the nurses— and you— visiting me, it’s bearable,” she glanced at the untouched plate of food beside her, “I already accepted the fact that since Ivan died, I’m also dying alone.”
He looked surprised. He didn’t expect that the woman he continuously loved, was welcoming death with open arms, and he couldn’t handle seeing her like this.
“I’m here now,” the man held her cold hand, “You’re not alone.”
The woman, despite all the aching from the needles and machines attached to her, smiled. And it wasn’t the thank-you-for-your-pity kind of smile, it was the genuine smile that reached her eyes, the smile he always loved, the smile that could brighten up his bad day, and the smile he wiped off when he did nothing but hurt her in the process.
“Thank you, David,” sparkly tears rolled down her eyes, “Thank you for giving me the chance to see you again, even in such a short time.”
“Hush now, love. I’m here now,” the man replied. He could not deny that even when the woman’s skin ran through the test of time, wrinkles and sagginess may have appeared, or her jet black hair are now turned into white waterfalls, she was still beautiful. She was still the girl who would sweep any man off their feet. She was still the Mia. The Mia whom David loved for sixty years, but only realized it soon enough, now that she’s on her deathbed, waiting for her final breath to come.
“I’m sorry, Mia,” he, too, started crying. “I’m sorry I was never there for you. I’m sorry if it took me fifty years to finally realize that it’s you I have loved, I’m sor—“
“I love you,” the woman said, interrupting him. “You have loved me in your own way, and with that, I am contented. Thank you for everything love, because it is you why I’m still breathing, because at last, the Heavens granted my last wish of seeing you, and for that, I am infinitely grateful.”
He took her into his arms and hugged her tightly, “Mia, I lo—“
With that sound being heard, everything became quiet. The by-passers outside didn’t know whether if it was the nurses running or the old man’s sobs, but one thing’s for sure;
The heavens opened up it’s gate for the Love he lost, as she fell into a deep slumber for all eternity, leaving all the broken pieces behind. Hoping that someday, in another place, in another lifetime, or in another version of reality, their souls would meet, and perdure the love that once upon a time existed.
Till then, love.