Note: This is a short story based on “See you again” song from “The Fast and the Furious”. Hope you like it.
My hands run over the dirty, old keys of the piano as it leaves a streamline of being touched, a break at the dust. I play the D-note and the sound never feels old. It has the same ring to it as it did years ago. I played a beautiful piece of melody she used to like. As my fingers find its own way to the key, I suddenly miss the presence of someone beside me; a soul always watching over me while I played a song. Elise, my Elise, used to sit beside me and play a few notes I taught her. She used to giggle when she made a mistake. I stopped playing. I looked over at the photo frame of hers hanging alone in the cold white wall of what I was planning to call “home”. But we never got the chance. Never.
I opened my mouth and let out a word; a word that will always hold a meaning to my heart. The house echoed back the word, Elise. I said to what was left of her, a memory, and a photo. “If only you could come back.” I locked the house down, hoping I would never come back. With each step I took away from the house, I felt each pieces of my heart breaking. The place was my heart’s desire. I filled it with my hopes and aspires which never came out fruitful. It was a long day and it’s been days. I wanted to meet Elise but I know I’ll never meet her again. Maybe, in different universe, in different world we’re together. It’s just this world, where we didn’t get the happy ending we deserved. I walked through the downtown and it was chilly. The cold atmosphere sent a chill running down my spine. I clenched on to my jacket and pulled it closer. As I breathed out with my mouth parting a little, there was a visible fog releasing. I reached the gate and my feet reconsidered on if I should enter. But my heart shouted out for Elise. I took few steps in and I entered the graveyard. As I walked along many headstones passing by me, I realised it’s not only me that lost someone but many had. It was painful that people inevitably loses someone they love. Some die after living their life, some die even before they’re born and some die before they even have anything. I saw many people clinging on the lost souls and they refuse to accept the fact that they’re gone. I saw people helplessly crying as they clenched on to the cold marble stone that simply marked their graveyard. And then I reached mine. The headstone was new, shining and with a beautiful font, “Elise Warren” was engraved on it. I walked towards it and put my hand over the stone and smiled like she was there, like it was her face I was holding with my loving hands. I sat down beside her, or what was remained of her.
The wind was howling and it left all of us cold. I started out with a word, “Elise, I….” but couldn’t continue. It was meaningless to talk with a stone but I knew she was watching over me still. I knew she is in a better place.
“Elise, why did you leave me so soon? I needed you. I know, it sounds selfish but I need you, Elise. You are everything to me and without you, I can’t function. You are a necessity to me. I… I just….” I broke down crying and couldn’t continue. But Elise wouldn’t like if I cried. I could feel her soul was trapped somewhere dark and calling out for help, calling out for me. I can’t help her but I could try to assure her that she was loved, no, she is loved.
“It’s not fair that I didn’t get a forever with you. It’s unfair. But those few years were the best years of my life. You deserve to know that. You went too soon, Elise, before I could even tell you how much I love you.” I choked on my own tears. I had to pause to rub the salty water running down my face.
“Enough of the chick-flick moments!” I chuckled. “You remember our little trip to that beach island?” Memories flushed back into my mind and I couldn’t help but smile a little. I started narrating our times together in the hope that Elise could find the light to guide her way home.
“We’re going to have fun this weekend.”I smiled as I kissed Elise, and Elise brought her hands up, sliding over my chest to rest on my shoulders.
Eli, that’s what I called her, pressed her face into my neck for a moment before pulling away. This little gestures from her warms up my heart. We were packing the bags and Eli was adjusting the straps of the camera and pulled her favorite Polaroid camera up to her face, looked through the viewfinder. I hated being clicked and naturally looked away and Eli snapped a picture while giggling. I loved the sound of that. The camera whirred and clicked before producing the picture, and Eli pulled it away, waiting a moment before pulling the front off, revealing my picture.
“You’re really photogenic, you know?” Eli laughed softly and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her beautiful smile. I walked towards her and snatched away the picture from her, “Hey!”
“Hmm, you’re right!”I said as I inspected the photo and walked out of the apartment building.
I saw Eli stepping up and climbing the rock face in front of us, and then jumped down, facing the beach. Beyond that, a winding trail through the grass led to the water crashing on the sand. Eli stood for a moment, fingers splaying and curling against her palms, watching the waves as they slid in and out, gulls screaming overhead, their shrill voices carrying on the wind.
“I just want to make enough money so that I can buy this whole island.” Elise turned towards me and said with hope in her voice. I replied, “A whole island?”
“A whole island just for us.” Elise promised to me, “for when we get tired of seeing the world, or when we run out of songs to play, or when we’re old. Then we’ll just go to our island. It’ll have a cabin with huge veranda and we’ll sit on it and complain.” I was unsure on why would we complain. I asked her. She said, “Because that’s what old people do!” She chuckled. I laughed along with her. She turned away and went to fetch her recording camera.
“Just imagine though,” she spoke as she fiddled with the camera, turning it on and pointed directly at me. “An island all to ourselves, our own yard. We could grow old together.”
“And become bickering old couple.”I laughed softly, shying away from the camera. But Elise never pulled the camera away from me. It focused on me. I continued shying from the camera before I grabbed it from her, and turning it towards her. I liked how she frowned and pulled her jacket tighter around her, turning away to look towards the sea. The wind blew her hair away from her face and I just stopped to look over her through my own eyes, not the camera. She was beautiful and majestic. She turned her eyes towards at me and flashed her brightest, electric blue eyes at me.
“We can also buy a boat,” Eli took my hand and slowly, carefully, walked backwards as she spoke to me. I followed her with the camera. “We could see the world on a boat. Just imagine all the places that we could go on a boat!” She threw her arms into the air, a grin appeared across her face and I laughed behind the camera. She had big dreams, I thought.
“I love you, you know. I love you so much, Kevin.”
I just couldn’t help but grin at the sudden romantic line. She walked towards me and grabbed my face in her tender hands to kiss me. When she pulled back, she realised that the whole time I kept the camera away and trained on us, recording the entire thing. I chuckled. She flushed.
“I love you too.” I kissed the tip of her nose and she pressed her face into my neck. I slid my arms into the warmth of the jacket she was wearing and wrapped my hands over her. She rested her head against my chest and nuzzled deep into it.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” she said.
I smiled as I recalled that beautiful day. She never got what she wanted. It was all in vain. She wanted to buy a whole island; she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. And now, I have to spend the rest of my life without her. It was unfair, cruel and capacious.
“I know you’re in a better place but it’s always going hurt, Elise.” My eyes tried to hold on the tears. A single tear ran down my cheek while I looked down to where I was sitting. Unconsciously, I was plucking the grass. “Please, give me strength to carry on.” I asked Elise to give me strength but I knew it was a stupid. No matter how much I believed that Elise was hearing me, it wasn’t the truth. She’s dead. And she always will be and someday, I’m going to die and will be forever alone up there no matter how much my loved ones cried for.
Elise had this hamartia. She acquired AIDS. She didn’t deserve it but she was caught in a wrong void. I remember the day when I got her admitted to the hospital as her arms, legs started to swell up.
“I’m sorry.” She said to me as the Doctor checked upon her. I fondly stroked her hand and said, “No, It isn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have left you in that party.”
“No, I shouldn’t have argued to stay up there so late.” Tears trickled down her cheek. I couldn’t look at her. Her face shriveled. The disease was eating her up. And there was no cure. I couldn’t cope with the fact she was dying. The doctor said that she has few months left and when the conditions worsen, she has to return to the hospital. And I knew she was to die here.
I took her back to the house and made sure she was comfortable in her bed. I took her hand and assured that I’ll never leave her. With her tiny mouth, she spoke, “I know but I… I will have to leave you soon. I don’t want to do that, Kevin. Please, I….I don’t want to leave you.”
But it was inevitable. She had to leave me, no matter how much she wanted to stay. It was afternoon already and the sun was shining directly over my head. I continued to walk down my memory lane.
“Hon, drink enough water okay?” She nodded at my request. I made sure she remained hydrated enough. She was idly staring out of the window, deep in thoughts. She clicked back to the present and smiled at me. Her smile was weak and I knew the fire in her wick was going to lit off very soon. I realised she forgot that I said something to her. The symptoms of AIDS’ were rapidly growing. Her memory loss was severe. One time, she forgot her phone number and she was going worse. The last thing I wanted was that she forgetting me. She was getting skinny and I tried to keep her healthy but it was the side effect of AIDS. She was dying and I couldn’t accept it. I sat beside her and took her hands into mine. I softly whispered to her, “Eli, don’t worry. I’ll always be there with you. I love you.” Eli smiled holding back her tears, “I love you, Ke….Ke..” Her face turned perplexed and confused. And it was the start of my darkest nightmare. I pulled her into a hug and kissed her temple.
Every night from then, I glimpsed at the tiny box hidden in my drawer. It had a ring but I didn’t want to ask for “forever” as I knew that we’ll never have it.
I continued to talk with Elise. I knew I was talking to a stone but it felt like I was with my Eli. With every leaf hustling in the wind, it felt like she answered to me. I asked her, “Do you remember the day, when you choked so hard on a cotton candy that you had just sat on the middle of the road?” and “Do you remember how we used to dance on our favourite song?” and “Do you remember how I used to sing our favourite song to you?” I’ll never forget that.
I tuned into the radio and an old song played in. The song held a special place in our heart. As the song played, I asked for Eli’s hand and she took it while I placed my other hand into her tiny waist. She was losing weight rapidly. Another sign of dying, it was.
“Take my hand” I sang with Elvis crooning into the lines. Elise forgot the lines. She couldn’t even remember the lyrics of her favourite song. “Take my whole life too.” With it, I kissed her fore-head. I made sure she knew how much I loved her. “For I can’t help falling in love with you.” I spun her around and a little smile appeared in her tiny face. I cupped her face with my hands which almost devoured her face. I said to her, “I love you, Elise.” I couldn’t say any long speech or any long line of love but I believed that she knew what I felt for her. But I couldn’t tell it anymore. She is getting worse.
I proceeded to play her favourite song on the piano. As I started the opening melody, her face lit up and at that moment, no one was happier than I was. She sang the first line, “It’s been a long day without you my friend. And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.” And her expression turned confused. She forgot the lines. Of course, she is suffering from memory loss as her days are coming to end. I smiled and continued where she left. That was the last happiest and brightest smile I had seen on her.
I stared blankly as people started to leave the graveyard but I wanted to stay here forever. I wanted the “forever” that we were promised to. I wanted to be there by her side when she was alive and now I want to be there by her side even if she’s dead. I rested my head on the headstone, which I didn’t find cold anymore. It was late noon and I was getting sleepy. I had spent hours without eating or drinking. So, I closed my eyes and wished that I would never wake up.
I was talking to the doctor. He explained that Eli was suffering from pneumonia, which is the terminal symptom of AIDS and that she was going to die soon. I gulped back and I tried very hard to be courageous. Eli’s time was over. She is to die. I walked back to her hospital room.
Eli looked at me blearily and I leaned forward taking her hand and kissing her brittle fingers. I held her hand and smoothed it down Eli’s arm, bumping over the IV and back again. Eli tried to smile.
“Hey, baby.” I said, “Everything’s fine. Go back to sleep, okay?”I glanced at her and it looked she was getting thinner by the day, but I tried to ignore the fact. I tried to keep many thoughts away from me. Then, suddenly-
“I….love…you,” Eli said suddenly, and I smiled. I smiled and rubbed my eyes. I didn’t even notice that I was crying. I whispered to her that I loved her too. It was night and I wanted her to sleep. She needed to rest a lot. Eli nodded and dropped her hand, turning her face back against the pillow. I sat down at the couch beside her. I tried to sleep but I woke up a few hours later by a soft sound.
“…it’s you…” Eli whispered. She repeated again. I furrowed my eyebrows.
“You’re home? When… when?” she slurred. Then she fell asleep again. Maybe, it was a delusion or maybe it was another symptom of dying.
She fell back asleep but I watched her for a long time. But I couldn’t fight back sleep. And I woke up the next day and saw that Eli was already awake.
“Morning, did you sleep well?” I asked. She tilted her head slightly on the pillow. It was clear she didn’t understand a thing.
After a long time, she turned towards me, “We should go…to the beach… sometime.” she said and my face fell. I asked her, “What do you mean?”
She replied idly, “We should… we should go.”
I shook my head and touched her hand, trying to get her attention. Her eyes were unfocused and bouncing around the room, rolling around in her head. I said,
“Baby, we’ve gone. Don’t you remember?”
Eli’s eyes were fixated on mine and she slowly looked away. Her eyes were now on the blank wall. She reached some other place, away from me. And I couldn’t help her anymore. I felt hopeless, hapless. There was a chapel in the hospital, where I spent most of my time. And I went there, to pray.
That night, Eli removed her oxygen mask and tried to speak a little,
“Kev… please let me go.” My heart broke down a little. I revolted back, “I won’t ever do that. I love you.”
“Don’t make your…life…hell!” She pleaded to me.
“How do I live without you, Eli? You’re everything to me. With you dying, I’m dying too.” I said.
“I’m the one… who’s dying. You have to live… for me?” She struck a chord in my heart and I left the room as I couldn’t handle it anymore. “Kev…” I heard as I left the room.
The doctor told me that today was the day. She was going to die.
Eli didn’t know what was happening when I brought up the small table and set the projector on it. Her face grew curious. She asked, “What… are you doing?” as I attached the video recorder to the projector.
“Taking you to the beach.” I replied.
Eli’s face took on a total surprise and she started at wall. The projector picked up, and suddenly, we were at the beach. It was a montage of every moment spent at the beach. I edited it all together. The video now showed the moment I grinned when Eli said she was going to buy the whole island. I saw that Eli smiled weakly too. “That’s you…” she whispered.
The scene changed to the moment Eli said that she loved me. “That’s me…” she again whispered.
I slipped my hand into hers and gripped it tightly yet lovingly. The scene again changed to the beautiful kiss we shared while I recorded it.
“That’s us.” She whispered while trying to smile.
“Yes, honey. That’s us.” I couldn’t hold back the tears and started crying .I managed to see a smile on her face before she goes away. The smile on her that I couldn’t protect anymore.
It was night time and the Doctors were surprised on how Eli was holding back death. But it was fated that she would die. The room was cold and Eli was breathing through the oxygen mask. In the emptiness that followed, I opened my mouth but no words came out. I tried to speak.
“It’s alright.” I said to the stillness. Another wave broke when Eli breathed. “It’s alright. You can let go. I know- I know you’re holding on, because you’re worried. You’re too stubborn, Eli, and I know you’re holding on for me, but I promise you that I’ll carry on and I have your strength to carry on.”
Eli choked, and it seemed like something fluttered in Eli.
“It’s okay.” I assured her. “You know. You know I love you. You know I do. So it’s okay. It’s okay to let go now.” I didn’t want to let go of her but it was painful to see her in this state. She deserved eternal peace.
“Remember? Remember the song we used to sing in that house?” I suddenly remembered the song we used to sing together. Eli breathed harshly and I shushed her. I wanted to spend my last moment with her by singing.
“It’s been a long day without you, my love.” I began and replaced the “friend” with “love.”
“And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.” I closed my hand around Eli’s cold, brittle fingers.
“We’ve come a long way from where we began. Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.” Then, there came a terrible sound. Eli sucked in air and it churned in her chest, the noise thick and wet and when she exhaled it hissed, like waves crashing against the rock, like the tide slithering back towards the sea.
Eli stopped breathing entirely.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream but I had to finish the song.
“So, let the light guide your way.”I continued to sing although my voice cracked. I had to sing a little louder since the monitor started screaming. I wanted Eli to hear.
“Hold every memory as you go.” I sang and my voice was falling apart and I could barely hear myself over the wailing machinery.
“And every road you take will always lead you home.” I sang to her, “Home.” I said finally as the noise peaked. Eli’s eyes were staring at the ceiling blankly, shining out of her colourless face.
I sat stone still. I wondered if the flat-line was something that I was just making up. I wondered if it was something my mind had just conjured because that’s what I saw in most movies. I couldn’t remember the last part of the song. I couldn’t hear anything but the monitor, still going, the noise passing through me and everywhere. Eli didn’t move, didn’t flinch, didn’t breathe. I was vaguely aware that the doctors and nurses entered the room and turned the monitor off. One of the nurses put their hand on my shoulder for comfort.
“Baby!” I shook her lifeless shell in the hope that she could wake up. I was vehemently shaking.
“You should let go now, sir!”, the Doctor spoke to me. But she was the love of my life. She was my everything and in no way I could let go of her. We had promised to buy an island, we had promised to build a house on the beach. We promised to grow old and complain together. And I lost everything.
“No, I love her. You don’t understand…That’s my baby…Please….I love her.” I screamed helplessly at the doctors. I cried clutching onto her lifeless body as I broke down completely.
Eli’s shell sank to the bottom of the ocean.
I was still there with my head on Eli’s headstone. I dug my hands into the pocket of my jacket and fished out a tiny box. I dug a little hole in the field near her and I took out this shiny, little ornament. I placed it in the little hole I dug and resurfaced it. I gave the ring to her in the hope that we’ll still have our “forever” we deserve. I decided to sing few lines for her as my final ode.
“How do I breathe without you?
I’m feeling so cold.
I’ll be waiting right here for you.
Till the day you’re home.”
I sang to her and continued to rest my head on her shoulders. As I closed my eyes, I whispered, “See you again.”
Hope you all like my short story! 🙂