Over the Horizon - Chapter 3

She stands taller than the average woman. Wearing a modest black dress with a V-neck line, it hits at her knees, the sleeves at her elbows. It’s her favorite dress, hanging perfectly on her lanky, wiry frame. It reveals nothing. Modest. Simple black flats on her feet, and near-to-nothing natural make-up, she doesn’t appear ostentatious. Classy.

Dark brown hair sweeps past her shoulders. When the afternoon sunlight flashes against her gray-blue eyes, they sparkle, like moons reflected in a shattered mirror, full of knowing and broken promises and keeping secrets. She is a wise sage, years beyond the youthfulness of her lifetime. Exaggerating her age, barely etched fine lines frame the pair of galaxies.

A gold, heart-shaped locket is the only jewelry she wears. In the center, a single diamond sits with several lines carved around it, making it look like a star. She fidgets with the pendant. A cherished, precious gift from him. The letter ”M” engraved on the back.

She smiles wide, all white and pearly teeth, radiating exuberance and love. A light shade of berry colored lipstick strokes across the lines of her mouth. The same shade she’s always worn.

But clouds move into her eyes. Trouble. There is tragedy there. Something took her away swiftly. Abruptly, and far too soon. Jack reaches for her. To hold her in his arms once more, to know they will be together again.

He hears her voice in his head: I’ve been waiting for you. I know many things, good things, lovely things. I’m okay and truly happy. There is no time or space here. There is no light or darkness here. This is the void. Let me go and believe again. I love you, but it is from afar. I know you, all of your fears and insecurities. I know of your goodness and kindness and I know of the infinite possibilities of your path. It is your choice. There is no right or wrong decision. Only a choice.

They couldn’t know her life would be an abbreviation. When he met her, his plans forever changed, she was his future.

Until her life was cut short. The universe played its cruel and sadistic joke.

Living without her, how could he ever love again?

After she was gone he closed up his heart and buried his love. With each passing day, he only lived because he moved. Like a robot, he did the things he had to-take a shower, shave, go to work, remember to eat, try to get some sleep. He knew there would never be another love like hers. There would never be another woman like her.

Eventually, his robot self, looked for qualities that he admired-feelings be damned-and settled for a life without risk. It was easy to be grateful for small things-good food, the occasional belly laugh, health, and even sex. A life without reward. Each morning when he woke, he donned the mask of happiness. For he had nothing to be unhappy about. These were the things that made his life easy, but it lacked passion and remained empty.

Sadness and grief and love buried deep in his core, he left it there, behind his liver, below his intestines, rotting away the flesh from the inside out, where no one would ever find it. Hopefully, not even him.

As he passed through life, from time to time she was there in fleeting moments-a thought, a conversation, a brush of the wind against the stubble on his chin. And again there she was creeping in, flirting out on the edges of his mind, reminding him of what ifs and whys.