She never left

That night was like every other I had spent since the fateful event, painful, dark, with no sense of hope left but only the wish to become a part of the starry, cloudless sky. “Take the pills,” my therapist had said,” It’ll ease the pain,” she had said. She was wrong. It only pushed me into a dreamless sleep, such that I woke up with a feeling much worse the next day. I discontinued her, but didn’t stop the pills. No, they didn’t ease the pain. But a dosage little higher than the recommended meant I would have a shorter life. I wanted it to go slow. Slow and painful, despite my reasons to visit the therapist in the first place.
So that night was no different, except that I drank a little too much, and dozed off without taking the pills. After two years of dreamless sleep, my subconscious was finally awake at night.
The sun shown brightly, too bright to my taste. There was a seemingly endless expanse of clear water in front of me, and I stood on the bank barefooted. I was waiting for something, but I didn’t know what it was supposed to be.
It wasn’ t until then that I noticed the stretch of white fog in front of me. It was moving, backing away into the background as if to make way for something.
when my line of sight finally cleared, I could see the other side, and the woman standing there… Was she standing? She was floating a feet above the ground, with her back towards me. Her long, black hair flowed in the wind. She wore a white, sleeveless gown, her skin wore a healthy glow. I didn’t need for her to turn around to know who she was. She was Danny… my Danny… Did I still deserve to call her mine? Even in the dream I could feel my heart sink. was this real? Was I dead? As much as I wanted that to be true, I knew it wasn’t. This was just a dream.
She turned to face me, and I knew it wasn’t the sun that was glowing. She looked at me, her blue eyes searching my sunken ones. “It’s been so long, but I finally found you,” she smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. It’s one thing to look at that smile in the faded, still pictures of her, and a completely different feeling to see it in real. There was no space for the pain anymore… pain… what was that pain about…?
“You aren’t real…” my voice choked. I could feel myself welling up, but I wasn’t ashamed of it. “You died in my arms,.. on the road that day… I drove you to your death,” I was reminding myself of the pain, “we fought, and you ran out of shop.., and…” I couldn’t continue. But she smiled, reason enough for this to be a dream.
She floated towards me, and I almost felt like running away. I didn’t want to hurt her again, in any way. But I couldn’t move, and she approached me with a smile.
Her warm, soft hand touched my cheek. “You have been blaming yourself in vain for too long.” She sighed sadly as she looked into my eyes. I touched her hand, and it felt as real as the guilt in me. It wasn’t possible but she was here, I was sure of it.
“I’m so sorry,” I cried for the first time in months., “I’m so sorry… I shouldn’t have… I’m so sorry Danny…” Danny cupped my face in her hands “Shh… It’s okay Jared, it wasn’t your fault… it was just time. It had to happen.”
“No… but…”
“Shh… listen to me now…”
I tried to speak but she stopped me.
“It wasn’t your fault. It was meant to be. Don’t let that pointless guilt ruin your life. Let it go… let me go…”
“What.. do you mean… let you go?”
She smiled sadly. “I couldn’t leave you in this state. So torn, so broken because of something fate did. You didn’t deserve it,  you still don’t. So I had to find you, to tell you it’s okay. ..I’m happy. .. “
“But you’re. ..”
“I know,  but is it really the end of it all?”
I didn’t have an answer to that.
“I’m happy,  but I can’t move on unless you do. I could never leave you like this.  You have to let me go if you want me to be truly happy. “
“But it was my fault. ..”
“No.  It was the fault of the person who drove his car through a red signal.  It was my fault that I didn’t notice the approaching car.  It was never your fault. “
“But we fought…”
“I fought…”
“No you…” But she was right. “But I should have stopped you. ..”
“You did try to. ..”
“I should’ve tried harder. “
She laughed,  “Now you’re just being pathetic. “
I fell silent only to hear her laugh.
“You have to let me go, “ she said again. 
She did look real,  and she did look happy. 
“Will it really make you happy? “
Her smile was peaceful,  “Yes. “
I observed every inch of her beautiful face,  and after years of pain,  I smiled.  “I let you go. “
“And you promise to move on? “
“Yes,” I promised her,  and I meant it.  She needed this.
The peace in her smile remained as she kissed my forehead,  taking away all the pain that had been bundled inside me for months.
“Bye Jared,” she whispered, as if we were departing for the night, and for the final time, I replied, “Bye Sweetheart.”
I woke up the next morning feeling fresh, and healthy. My heart felt light. I still missed her, but I meant the promise I had made. I would move on.
I took an hour long, hot water bath, put on my best clothes, and stepped out of the house. I had made all plans for the day: I would get a Choco Mocha and a double cheese burger to go, take a stroll in the park, visit the kennel where Danny used to work and visit the dogs she so loved. I was in high spirits.
The New York roads were as busy as ever, as if nothing had changed through the night. People bustled around to continue with their busy lives. I loved the crowd now. The rush took my mind off things, and I loved being under the open sky after ages.
But little had I known that my high spirits would soon be dampened when someone ran into me at full speed, causing my breakfast and coffee to decorate the pavement.
“Sorry,” the perpetrator rushed past me as she called out, not stopping to look behind even once. But I did look at her… not her, but her long black hair flowing in the morning breeze. I could never forget that hair.
In the time I took to come back to my senses, she had vanished into the crowd.
“No…” I gasped and dashed forward, my eyes frantically searching for her in the sea of unsuspecting people. When I finally found her, she had already jumped into a bus that had started to speed up. I ran after the bus, desperately calling out her name. But the bus didn’t stop. A taxi stopped just at that moment, and I pushed aside the lady who had stopped it and got into the seat, asking the driver to follow the bus as i did. He obediently did as asked.
I still hadn’t seen her face, but I was sure it was her. When we finally came to the stop, I hastily handed him the money, and without waiting for the change, ran after her. It wasn’t long before I caught up. I placed my hand on her shoulder, “Danny…?” I called hopefully. The woman turned, her striking blue eyes questioning me, “Sorry?”
She was Danny, I was right. “Danny! You’re. ..”
I was confused. Didn’t she recognise her name? My eyes fell upon the tag on her baggage that read “Marian Derrington, Reporter”
I looked at her carefully. Yes, she almost looked like Danny, but she wasn’t.  Now that I saw clearly, she was different.
As the realisation washed over me, my heart seemed to drop. “Sorry…I thought you were someone….” I stammered and ran away from there.
I had broken my promise. I hadn’t moved on. I had just run after a stranger despite knowing she couldn’t possibly be Danny. When i finally stopped running, I closed my eyes, “I’m so sorry Danny… I’m so sorry…” but it didn’t feel like she was mad at me. Or was she gone?
I walked my way to the park. I didn’t feel hungry anymore. I sat on the park bench, looking around at people of all ages enjoying their Sunday afternoon . They looked happy, and it eased my heart to some extent. It was going to take me a good amount of time to move on, but I wasn’t going to stop trying. I had promised.
“Can I join you?” someone asked from behind me. I turned to look, and I felt the familiar drop in my spirits as had happened that morning. It was the woman who had a striking resemblance to my Danny, Marian. She smiled kindly. Despite all my emotions,  I nodded.
She sat down, and there was silence. “I’m sorry for this morning, I thought you were someone else,” I finally spoke, but didn’t look at her. She laughed lightly, “I destroyed your breakfast, I should be the one apologising. Yours was still a genuine mistake.”
“Hmm,” I still didn’t turn to look at her. It was painful.
We kept silent for another few minutes. “Who was she?” Marian asked.
I debated whether to answer her or not. When nothing came to my mind , I decided to act as if I didn’t get her question, “Who was who?”
“Danny,” she said. It felt like she was waiting for me to get offended, but I didn’t feel like it.
“My girlfriend.”
“You thought I was her.”
“Yes, my mistake. You both look completely different.”
“Where is she now?” she sounded uncertain about how to state the question.
“Lost her two years ago,” I sighed, still avoiding to look at her. That should’ve been her hint. She should have left. She was indulging too much. But I couldn’t get myself to say it out loud.
“Does she really look like me?” she asked enthusiastically. I looked at her, expecting myself to get annoyed, instead finding myself taking out my wallet to show her Danny.
“Whoa… she looks so much like…” she stopped mid sentence and handed me back my wallet, “Sorry.”
“Why did you follow me?” I asked her finally, the thing I should’ve done before this whole conversation. I had the feeling she didn’t casually stroll in.
She pointed behind her, “I work there. It was lunch break, and… well I noticed you… and you seemed so sure that I was Danny, I thought I should definitely find more about my doppelganger,” she chirped.
“Well you’re two years too late,” I said plainly as I pulled my gaze away from her.
She didn’t reply. From the corner of my eye, I noticed her nod. She looked into her watch, “Find you next time? My lunch breaks over…” she said as she stood up.
“Bye,” I didn’t look at her, and she left, leaving me with a sinking feeling. But I knew this was different. I left, somehow knowing I was going to come back here the next day, at the same time. I turned to look at her go, her long black hair waving in the soft breeze, and couldn’t help but smile. Maybe Danny hadn’t really left me.


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