Dreams Against Us
The moon’s light shone brightly on my face while I enjoyed my nighttime cup of coffee, trying to keep out December’s chilling breeze.
A crash broke the silence, spreading a loud noise into the atmosphere. I swiftly looked back, and there you were, staring at me, with gauze on your foot and dragging a rolling saline stand at my door.
“Relaxing on the roof again?” she asked, smiling.
“It’s just – it made me… I mean, this made me calm.”
She sat on my bed and tapped her hands on the covers. “Come… come here,” she said with her vague voice. I walked over and sat beside her.
“You know, I’m fine now. Aren’t you proud of me? I just walked in here all by myself,” she said with a sweet chuckle.
“Shhh… It’s not your fault, babe. Accidents happen.”
“It should’ve been me! If… if I didn’t let you go out… this would’ve never happened.”
“Shhh, babe, I’m here. Look, I’m fine. You should be, too. I know whenever you’re unstable, or something comes up, you lock yourself in here. Please, babe, go outside. I miss seeing your smiles. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Her words echoed in my mind, soothed my insides, and made me drop a tear onto the sheets. It was already 8:30 pm, the timing was right, and her words would always be filled with warmth.
I walked out of the room, glanced at the living room, and decided to sit on the stairs for a minute while I circled the rim of my cup with my forefinger.
Another clamor, this time from the kitchen.
“It’s time for dinner! Come down, let’s eat together,” she instructed while taking a seat.
I slowly stepped toward the counter. The kitchen was dim, and nothing was on the table. Still, I sat down in the chair for a moment and listened to her commotion.
“Are you preparing something? I know it’s delicious, as always, because you made it.”
I let those incomplete phrases continue.
“Everything you make is out of love, that’s why I love you. Now, after you eat, don’t forget your milk and banana.”
I broke down. I couldn’t stop myself from crying, my tears from falling on the kitchen table or falling asleep in despair. I awoke to back pain and sad, cold weather, and eventually ambled to the couch and turned on the TV.
More rustling. “Watching television early in the morning? What’s new?”
I felt her sag space on the couch. It was so settling, and I didn’t want it to disappear.
“Only watch for 20 minutes, okay? It fries your brain and makes you lazy,” she said with a loving giggle.
Every corner of the room was full of her memories. Every hour, a tape played that reminded me of our lives together. I missed her terribly. She couldn’t leave me alone, and I couldn’t move on. I couldn’t apply her favorite quote:
“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving forward.”Albert Einstein
I was unstable. I didn’t know how to piece myself back together. After watching the news, I wandered around the house.
My first stop was the kitchen to make coffee, where another tape was rolling.
“Good morning, babe! Did you have a great sleep?”
I left it playing, climbed the stairs, and headed to our room. I sat down and gazed at the city below from our picture window.
“It’s morning, my lazy, adorable husband! Come on! Let’s take a stroll!”
I looked at the ceiling while tears fell from my eyes. I clenched my teeth and sat up, quickly packed my things, and headed to the front door.
“All set? Where to?” she asked.
“To our Promise Tree, babe.”
I rode my bike at full speed, making my eyes tear and blurring my vision. I no longer cared if the same accident took my life. The sky mourned with me, and the road became slippery, but I didn’t pay attention to the danger that awaited me.
I cycled around the town toward our Promise Tree. The weather continued coming in heavy waves. Still, I defied the risk, just to watch the last tape played where it belonged.
Unbelievably, I arrived at our Promise Tree in one piece. The waves on the shore kept the mood dense. I sat on the wet grass, took off my helmet, brought out the tape, and started listening to it.
At that moment, I felt like I was connected to heaven. I felt her beside me, while the sky was covered in dense clouds that wept with me.
“You came. Do you still remember when we first met? Yes, it’s here. We called this our Promise Tree because you tried to meet up with a friend who never came, but I did. We did.”
“I know,” I chortled.
“My Saturdays were great because it was when you and I hung out. You made me happier. You made me see my purpose in life—to live merrily with you. We even planned to ride our bikes together around the world. On every wall, we’d write, Yla and Mike were here.”
“But now, I’m sorry, I broke our promise. I left you so early. I’m sorry I didn’t make it. But please, move forward for me. Live. Make our dreams come true, even if I’m not there anymore. But I’m always with you. As long as you remember me, how you felt the moments we made together, I will never fade. I love you, and I always will. Take care of yourself, my love.”
The cassette tape ended. I looked like a lost child, afraid and hopeless, leaning on this tree. I took her words in my heart and whispered, “You silly, I will never forget. I love you, too.”
I suddenly understood why she made the tapes for me and left them in every corner of our house. Even if she was gone, she wanted to make sure that she was still looking out for me.
With a new dream to live for, I was able to pull myself together, save enough money to travel, and vandalize every city wall. Lucky for me, I also made it my work to travel the world.
I was guided by her favorite quote every day, reminding myself never to give up and never lose myself ever again.
Three years after her passing, her family invited me over for dinner. I wished she could see how her mother smiled at me and how her dad thanked me for looking out for her. After we discussed how we were and shared our stories, her father reached for a cassette tape, handed it to me, and smiled.
“It’s time. Please take care of these tapes that she made for you,” he said.
“You don’t have to worry, they’re the most important thing in my life,” I replied. “These are precious, and my source of happiness and energy. How badly I wish to go to the past and bring her back to us.”
Her family gave me a heartwarming hug. I felt the moments fleeting so fast, and before I knew it, we were waving to each other and moving in our separate directions.
I returned alone, but there you were, welcoming me home with your lovely voice trapped inside the cassettes tapes.
“Welcome home babe, how was your day?”
“Drink your milk before going to bed.”
“Thank you, babe.”
As I laid on my bed and watched the clock strike 10, I heard her humming to sleep.
Morning arrived, and hearing her cheerful voice around the house made it even better. Before listening to her last tape, which I held in my hand, I made myself comfy on our couch.
I pressed the play button and heard her father’s and mother’s voices.
“We know that this is difficult for you. But we want you to live with someone else. Someone who can make you smile and make you feel love again, just like how you felt with our daughter.”
“She’d be glad to see you smiling with your new family,” they continued. “You can still visit us, because Mike, you’re like a son to us, and you’ll always be part of the family. We’re thankful for having you. We love you.”
“Good luck, kid,” they concluded.
I thought it was done. But suddenly, I heard her singing our favorite song, Running After You by Matthew Mole. It was once again our first night together. We laid in bed while listening to her playlist and holding each other’s hands until we fell asleep.