When you have lost everything you’ve ever lived for, what reason is there to keep you breathing? For me, there was none.
I lost my husband. Few months later, I lost my job. I had no will to live, let alone work. And, consequently, lost my house. I had no choice but to get back to the hell I was residing in years ago, with the old man and his daughter; the human forms of evil.
Now, I’m lying in this wretched, old bedroom, staring at its cracked walls with an insufferable mixture of pain and agony. I hear heavy steps getting closer to the door.
The old man comes in shouting like a madman, “You stinky bitch! Weren’t you supposed to go find a damn job? Or are you planning to stay here penniless for long?”
“I said I’ll be paying you very soon. Now, will you just leave me alone?”
And with that thick voice out of his smoke-burnt chest, he shouts, “You are a disgrace! Such a filthy ungrateful spit of a human! Instead of being grateful that I have opened my house for you again, you are talking back and giving me this attitude. You’re just as sick as your dead mother.”
He said those last words as he walked out of the room kicking the door wide open, leaving me in a state of utter numbness; torn between grabbing a knife and slaughtering his throat or grabbing a knife and stabbing my heart.
Despite all the anger, my mind still managed to take me back, again, to that night in December where it all started.
It was a Monday evening, and I had missed the bus at 5, so had to wait for a whole hour to take the next one. All seats were taken except for one, next to some bald, Asian guy. Usually, when I don’t find an empty window seat, I know the day is going south. I took the seat and had my earphones in with some Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. It was boring not being able to watch the sky out of the window, and I was almost counting the minutes till I’m out of that bus but, then, we got stuck in traffic.
They said there was a horrific accident caused by a truck driver which blocked the road. That’s when I felt lucky not having the window seat, wouldn’t bear the possibility of seeing the sight of blood.
It took almost 30 minutes before we managed to pass that area and head our way again. The reason behind my uneasiness was not entirely because of the seat, but, also, because he hadn’t called me. He would call me on his way home, but he hadn’t called nor answered my calls. We did have a silly argument that morning but, still, that wasn’t a reason.
After another 15 minutes, I finally got off the bus. Walking to the house took 5 minutes more and then I was home, at last. His shoes weren’t at the doorstep. I walked in calling his name but no one answered back. Went to the kitchen, had a can of beer as I prepared us dinner; Bruschetta with shrimp, his favorite. 45 minutes and dinner was ready at the table; I sat on the couch and waited.
At some point during the 3 hours I sat there waiting, I had a feeling he wasn’t going to walk through that door again, though, I wasn’t sure why. I called his office earlier and they said he left 5:30. I didn’t know what else to do.
I might have been overly obsessive about it, but I always had that fading feeling somewhere deep down that it was not going to last. I would watch him lying next to me, that peaceful serenity of his sleeping face, the soft rhythm of his breath; I would see my whole life. Friends would often say they envy us for how much we love each other, I would hear their words and fear would flood my heart, afraid I might lose all of it; someone or something would take everything away. It is just funny how insecurity can ruin a perfectly secure life. I had a job that I loved, a caring husband I adored, and a beautiful, warm house. But it was all too heavenly to exist in a life for mortals.
Thoughts kept coming back and forth in my head till the doorbell rang. It was 12AM and I was still on the couch in the living room, with the TV on mute and the cold dinner on the table. I went to the door and got the news that turned my life upside down.
The traffic I was stuck in that night was a car hit by a truck, and my husband was the car driver. I was that close from his dying body, I passed by it and I felt nothing.
My whole world collapsed as they spoke the words.
“Are you Mrs. Nightingale?” – “We are sorry to bring you the news, but your husband, Mr. Adam Nightingale, has passed away a few hours ago.” – “We just need you to come to the station to identify the body.”
The road to the station was the longest ride I’ve ever had. 15 minutes passed on the clock, 6 years passed in my head. The first time we met, our wedding, his promotions, every fight, every move, every word, his smile.
I walked into the room; blood, the first time I wasn’t irritated or disgusted. I saw him lay there, his oak-brown hair, his fair-white skin and that light-unshaven beard, all drowned in blood. I wanted to wipe it all away, to shower him until all the wounds were gone. But I just stood still; too still you’d think I froze.
And his words rung in my head like a gunshot, “Véra, you are me, just in a different skin.“ He was lying down and I was standing, but we both died that night.