Second(2)By: Chantal Fernando
“Hey, how are you doing?” I ask him, eyebrows rising in amusement.
He cuts his eyes at me, then looks away, licking his lips. “Do you believe in fate, Sabina?”
I sit down on the stool and consider his question. “I think you make your own fate. Why?”
“No reason,” he murmurs, ordering another drink.
He soon gets cut off from the bar, and Ben escorts him to his hotel room to make sure he gets into bed safely, while I say goodbye and thank you as everyone starts to leave.
When Ben returns, he picks me up in his arms, and looks into my eyes. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Ben.”
I don’t want this moment to end.
Four Years Later
I feel a hand on my shoulder, but I don’t acknowledge it. He’s dead. Gone. I don’t know how I’m meant to process this. I look at his gravestone and feel numb. Everyone is watching me. Waiting for me to break down and cry, maybe, but all I’m doing is sitting here with a blank expression on my face. Never did I think I’d become a widow at the tender age of twenty-four, but here I am with my husband six feet under.
“Hey, how are you holding up?” someone asks me from my right. I wish they’d leave me alone. It would make my life much easier; can’t they see that I don’t want to talk right now? I don’t want to do anything, I just want to sit here and feel sorry for myself, wondering how exactly I’m meant to handle the loss of the one and only man I’ve ever been with. Sure, our relationship was far from perfect, but Ben was my husband, the only man I’ve ever loved. I absently rub below my collarbone with my palm, wondering how long it will take for the tightness in my chest to subside. Maybe it’s just going to be something I’m going to have to live with forever. When they say time heals all, does that include having someone ripped out of your life by a car accident? I don’t know, but I guess I’ll find out. Why did he get behind the wheel instead of calling me to pick him up? How could he have been so stupid to drink drive? I mumble my thanks to everyone who approaches me, offering me their apologies and their sympathy, but I’m still standing at the gravestone, alone, long after everyone leaves. My best friend Tara wanted to stay, but I told her that I wanted to be alone with him for a little while, without the crowd of people. I feel like walking away from here means walking away from Ben, even though he’s the one who has left me. I touch the cold stone, running my fingers along it.
“I guess this is it, Ben,” I whisper, licking my dry lips. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to say goodbye to you, so maybe I won’t. I’ll still come and visit you. I’ll still love you, and I’ll still think of you. I’ll always have our memories.” I close my eyes and picture his face. Flashbacks hit me. The day we first made love. When he proposed. When we got married. The day we bought our first house together and moved in. He’s been the biggest part of my life, and now I don’t know how I’m meant to move forward. When loving and being with a certain person is all you know, all you want, what do you do when that person is taken away? How do you mourn and try and live at the same time? I can’t imagine my life without him. I don’t know how to live without him. Where do I go from here? He has always been my one constant. The person I turned to. My anchor. I’m adrift without him.
How do I survive this?
I remove my hand and use it to wipe the tears dripping down my cheeks. When I hear a deep voice say my name from behind me, I turn and look into familiar green eyes.
“Dean,” I say, eyes widening. I try and force a smile but fail. “You made it.”
“Course I did,” he murmurs, giving me a quick once-over, then closing the space between us and pulling me into his arms. “Fuck, Sabina. I’m sorry. I know it doesn’t mean anything, or change anything… but I’m so fucking sorry.”
For the first time since I heard the news that my husband was dead, I allow myself to cry properly. Why I break down now, in front of him, I don’t know, but it’s like with his strength here I finally don’t have to rely on my own. Maybe it’s because he said exactly what I needed to hear. As I sob into his leather jacket, the pain seeps through my pores. Dean rubs my back patiently, letting me have my moment of weakness. I’m not usually a crier. I’m the type who bottles emotions until I’m about to explode. I don’t really know how to process them well, and Dean probably will never know how big of a deal it is that he’s seeing me cry right now.
I guess it doesn’t matter anyway. I cry, and he lets me.