Her Forever by Veronica Fox
He was sitting across from me, his drink in hand, swirling it and staring at it contently. He took a large sip and laid it on the counter. Several of the ice cubes went disturbed as the amber liquid dripped down the side of the glass. His body was covered in tattoos in his dark dress shirt, his eyes gazing into mine, which caused my breath to hitch. They were electric blue, and they were getting closer. His smile on his face only let me know he was friendly, even with such an intimidating body. His face held a few scars, and the hair was messily tossed to the side. He holds out his hand for me to take, and as I let my hand drop to touch his, I’m jolted from my dream.
Some nights I dream of him. It had been a long while since I had seen the brooding man, but in my time of needing comfort, he came to me as I slept. I don’t know who this man is; I’ve never seen him other than my dreams, so I try not to think of him. However, today made me feel I could meet him, and they say dreams are often projections of reality.
My fingers danced along with the black metallic coffin, holding my dear Aunt Maria. My heart is heavy, and so is everyone else in town; we knew this day was coming. It was a miracle that she made it this far, but her closest friends knew she would live just a bit longer, just for me.
Maria had a terrible bout of depression, something that she has had since I’ve known her. She always had a grace about how she did things, always solemn, graceful, ever calculating in her moves. It was as if Maria was in slow motion. She baked her pies and desserts and that was when she was most happy. Everyone got to taste a bit of her happiness when I would take them to the local diner to sell them for extra income.
Maria would slowly make her pie crusts every Monday morning to prepare for the week. She was kneading with her own two hands because she couldn’t afford one of the fancy mixers. She would hum the same song, “Twinkle, twinkle little star,” as she worked with her aging hands. Just to hear her hum would be music to my ears; for that moment, I could pretend she was truly happy.
She had been mute the entire time I’ve known her; she never spoke a word. Rather, Maria would grab her notepad that she would keep in her apron and write what she needed to say. Most of the time, I already knew what she needed or was thinking. It was like a secret language we created.
Maria would eye the fridge and pause for a few moments when I would realize she needed something. Usually eggs, always the eggs. Other times when I would walk into the house when I had a horrible day at school, it was like she already knew. Maria would grab the hot cocoa, set it in front of me, and pat my hand gently to let me know she was listening.
I could feel a warmth behind me, towering over my head. “Sadie, how are you doing?” Mr. Dobson spoke to me softly. His eyes were still glassy from the eulogy previously spoken by me. How I could give a brief speech about her life and not break down in sobs, I’ll never know.
“I’m fine, Mr. Dobson” I smiled at him to let him know I would be fine in time. “I’m just taking my time, you know,… to say goodbye properly.” He nodded and put his arm around my shoulder. Mr. Dobson gave me a squeeze around my shoulders and looked down at me, and I couldn’t bear to look up at him.
“I’m sorry to rush you, hun, but everyone has left. How about you spend the night at our home one more night? Being in that house alone right now can be depressing.” Mr. Dobson rubbed my back encouragingly. Mrs. Dobson slowly walked up and grabbed my hand from behind me, and rubbed circles on the back of my hand.
“I don’t want to put you out, and I’m honestly fine going back now. You and Mrs. Dobson have been so kind to me, and I couldn’t honestly ask for more.” I tried to blink back the sting in my eyes, knowing my heart would start to break once more.
“Nonsense Sadie, we’ve watched you grow, you’ve worked at our diner, you are nothing but a daughter to us.” I smiled at Mrs. Dobson. One more night would not hurt to stay, I suppose.
I kiss my fingertips and pat it on the coffin, taking one of the dark roses from the coffin. I’ll take it home and press it in between some books so I can dry and put it in a scrapbook for later. Since Maria had passed on a week ago, I’ve been packing up boxes of her things and mine.
We both lived bare minimum. We didn’t crave the latest technology, the newest clothes, or even decorate our home much. I always went to school during the day and worked at the diner at night since I was just 11 years old. Our company was enough. I loved being with Maria, but I also knew she was missing something in her life to keep her as depressed as she was.
I do not know all of Maria’s story, only hear-say from the local friends in town. Even then, it was limited information. Maria was supposedly attacked by wolves on the outskirts of town and her then-husband while camping. It was something they did every weekend. They loved the outdoors, and people joked about building themselves a cabin and living off-grid in the woods somewhere.
It took her three months in a coma to heal from her head wounds, scratches, and broken bones. Her vocal cords were ripped, causing permanent damage. She tried to speak, and nothing would escape her lips. Nurses had to calm her and explain the damage done to her voice. Doctors said when she woke, she just wanted her dear husband, Jeremy. As the doctor sat down and told her what happened, she lost it. No one could even hear her sobs as she sat in silence while tears tore through her face. There was even a rumor that there was blood in her tears, longing for her loving husband.
I sighed as I continued to trace my tears along the casket with my index finger. Maria was the only family I have ever known. How am I going to move on and find a life for myself? I don’t even know who I am. I’ve spent most of my life working after school to help pay the bills and take care of her. No one wanted to take an 11-year-old seriously until Mr. and Mrs. Dobson.
The Dobson family took me into their local diner and taught me everything I knew. I was a waitress, busser, dishwasher, baker, cook, and the list went on. I was so grateful for them, and they could teach me things that I knew my Aunt Maria couldn’t. Once I turned 11, her depression took a toll on her body.
She had a hard time just living. I officially became her keeper at the age of 18, when I graduated from high school. I would work at the diner during rushes of breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sometimes late evenings. In between, I would run home to make sure she was fed, clothed, and clean. Each passing day, I would find her baking her pies, slowly getting lost in the same dull pattern..
Many people from town commented how I was her only will to live; I gave her hope in a time of darkness since her husband was gone. She had a love so deep that she was on the brink of giving up life until I showed up at her door. Now that I was an adult, once she realized I could take care of myself, she gave up.
I would always smile when I would see her. She would try to reciprocate, but as the days grew into weeks, a month, a year, she could no longer return the smile. She became spaced out in her little world. Silent tears would invade her face as she would clutch a picture of her and Jeremy on their wedding day.
Mrs. Dobson tugged on my hand and walked me to their home and led me upstairs. She gave a quick kiss on my ruined face and walked to the door. The brief smile on her lips reassured me everything would be OK. I knew this was true. In my heart, I knew she was with Jeremy, and they were together once more.
At that moment, I decided that I cannot cry anymore. I should have tears of joy for her. She is where she has longed to be. In the arms of her Jeremy. Maria had wanted this for so long.
Do I want a love that deep? Would I like a soul mate to love and cherish? What if one day they were no longer here, just like with Maria? To be left alone on Earth to move on, but part of your soul had died in reality? Would you even be a person at that point?
Maria used to show me pictures of her and Jeremy. She would smile and laugh silently while I just watched her in awe. She was remembering the good times, I wish I could hear those stories. Yes, I would want something like that. To have someone to love. Maria’s eyes would always twinkle when I said his name, and I really wanted to find something like that.
She once wrote to me on paper,
“Sadie, find your love, your one and only. He will give you butterflies, and his touch will ignite your soul. You both will be drawn to each other, and only then will you realize what you have been missing. I would do it all again.”
I only hope to have loved this deep one day, even though it scares me. She never once looked at another man and only thought of him.
I’ve always believed in soulmates, that one perfect person made for you. Maria instilled that in me from day one. If that were all I took from Maria’s countless life lessons, I think I would be happy.
I was always a sucker for romance novels and had quite a collection. I had my few favorites, and the one is where they both knew they were to be together. The inhibition they had, the inclination where their souls fought to find each other so that their bodies could become one.
I sighed as I looked out the window. The sun has set, and the stars are appearing in the sky. I wonder if my soulmate is out there and looking for me. I know I have not been looking because I was taking care of Maria; maybe it was time to pack my things and find somewhere new. I know my soulmate was not in this town. It was small, and everyone knew everyone.
I turned to my side, put my arm under my pillow, and drifted off to a dream where maybe I could find my soulmate one day, maybe it could be the man in my dreams.