Rhine was tired, but he was satisfied with the result of the match. First place, not bad for a guy whom they called rookie. He was tired, but he was reassured with the cold feeling of silver against heated skin. He stripped his wet T-shirt and entered the locker room. As usual a burst of sound greeted him, but this was different, they were actually talking about him.
" Hey, hey, hey. Here's the man of the moment!" He smiled and winces when several guys slapped him on the back as they congratulated him.
" Nice game there, Rhine. You sure earned your scholarship." they laugh at that, for it was a wide known fact that he was the best of them all. Earning himself a tennis scholarship to America, he met a lot of challenges there, from the society as well from the sport itself. He worked hard to prove that he was worth it, to everybody who doubted him, to himself but mostly to her.
He pressed the ring that was hanging down a chain on his neck as he quietly whispered a name. He stepped inside the shower and closed his eyes as memories swept through his mind as cold water swept through his body.
(Find me here speak to me I want to feel you I need to hear you)
He was putting on a light sweater when he felt like he was being watched.
" What?" he asked at the group of guys who were looking at him with speculative eyes.
" That chain and that ring." One guy opened his mouth and blurted it out. His names Sam, one of his partners in practice, well more like his target in practice. Rhine glanced at the chain on his chest, looked up and raised and eyebrow.
" Was it given?" The guy sitting on the bench asked. Rhine shrugged.
" Yeah." He stood up from the bench and opens his locker.
" Was it from a girlfriend?" Rhine smiled and shook his head. Then just as suddenly a few curses was heard. He saw Sam throwing his hands on the air.
" Your mother?" Rhine rolled his eyes. Another group of guys groans. Rhine stared at them," You guys are betting on me huh?" They grinned sheepishly.
" Well we've never seen you without it. We're curious since no body knew who gave it to you so." Raise shrugged while smiling. Rhine shook his head and smiled. He fingered it, smiling softly in remembrance.
" It's from a friend, my best friend." He said. One guy, he didn't know his name crowed with laughter and did a victory dance as all the other guys stared at him as though hoping he would drop dead any second now.
" Later." He said, then left the locker room, not knowing the other guys were still staring at him.
" Wait a minute! You haven't told her who she is. Never seen her before. Where is she?" Raise asked. They saw him standing there, his brown eyes darkened to black. He lifted his sports bag, turn and smiled at them over his shoulder.
" She's dead." Before anyone could react he already pushed the door open and went out of the room leaving the group of guys staring at him stupefied.
" Ouch." Sam rubbed his heart after it gave a sudden lurch.
" Man, I feel not good." He said and the guys around him gave a groan of agreement.
" No wonder he's such a loner." Raise said.
Rhine squinted at the bright sun; his skin tingled from the heat. Funny how he had suddenly noticed how bright the sun is. Once he had his own sun who guide him through his darkest days and all he felt was love, contentment, and warmth.
(You are the light that is leading me)
(To the place where I find peace again)
Now every time he saw light he just wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there until the sun would somehow stop shining, which was forever. He walked to the nearby café, taking one of the seats outside not caring about the heat and took out his notebook. He flipped through the pages till he came to a particular writing where almost all of the words were crossed and smudged. After a couple of days brooding he had taken comfort in writing. Something he had honed almost to perfection since her death. First it was only poems then just notes then it grew to paragraphs and then to books. English is now his favorite subject. Writing is now his passion. But still he never writes about her, he tried but the words never seem right. A whole basket of crumpled paper on his room served as proof. There was so much to say but so little words to say it with. And all he could think of is the word 'everything'. He remembered her smile, how it could always brighten up his day, her confidence her unflinching loyalty, her sharp eyes as they look at you, and her sweet angelic voice every time she sings. And the way she expresses herself with just one look, one movement, one smile, how can he put into words how she made him feel every time she smile at him, every time she raised her trustful eyes to his? How she inspires him to do successfully in life and the way she always manage to make the most serious conditions hilarious!
How can he get over someone like that?
(You are the strength that keeps me walking)
(You are the hope that keeps me trusting)He's still devastated by her death but time has worked its miracle. He found himself slowly healing and the memories became more healing than painful.
(You are the life to my soul you are my purpose you are everything)
He remembered that she could ease his mind, his body, and his soul all at once with one touch. The way she didn't care when everybody watched when she held him when he needed to be hold or the way she would touch his face and smile at him, and the way she would tilt her head to the side when she seem pleased by something. And the little hum he can always hear when she takes bites of food.
And how soft and warm her hand was when he sat in silent vigil beside her bed in the hospital. How brave she was on facing the biggest struggle in her life. He once visited her in her hospital room and found her reassuring her mother that she was alright, that whether she was going to die or not was not something of an importance, that is she would die, she would die happy since she was happy with her life. Something exploded in him that day, the realization that he love this girl so much that he was afraid that if she died she would take his soul along with her. She didn't, but she didn't go without taking a piece of his heart with her.
(And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you)
He remembered their whispered conversation, the unspoken words, and questions. He didn't tell her that he loves her, not just as a friend but as a man loves a woman. He didn't need to, she already knew. He could see it in her eyes. In her sad eyes. They cried silent tears as she whispered to him that everything will be alright, that everything is not as bad as it seems. He felt safe in her arms, loved but now even that would be taken away from him. HE cursed, he damned, he condemned but nothing helped him to deal with the feeling of lost. And there she was, tired, sick and helpless, telling him that everything would be al right. That thing's would better itself if I let it. But how could it?
(Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?)He had met with a few deaths in his family; he remembered his own mother's death, although he barely knew her, he felt numb and lonely. And she had been there through the tears and anger, the force in bad times that eased his mind that calmed him even in sleep.
(You calm the storms you give me rest)
(You hold me in your hands you won't let me fall)
Her last day was peaceful, everyone left them alone, knowing what this means to them. He just arrived from America, not wasting a second he went straight to the hospital. No one told him to do other wise, to rest or to ready him self for what could have happen. Everybody knew that there was no time left.
He didn't plague her with questions of why she'd never told her before, why tell him at the last minute when he could be helping her. He knew the answer to that question. Him being there won't be changing anything. It won't help her; it won't make her feel any better. Se he didn't ask her. All he wanted was to savor every minute of the few hours he had with her.
She was so thin and pale, with dark circles under her eyes, but she was breath taking, still as beautiful as ever, when she smiles she still brighten up his world, she was still everything. And the way she held up her hand to him, the way she tried to hold him, of how frail she felt in his arms and how soft and gentle her voice was didn't fail to choke him with the depth of his feelings for her. But what he admires most was the way she held back her tears; her brown eyes were filled with tears she refused to shed. And what broke his heart most was her tiny whisper that she was afraid. Her death was inevitable, it was a certainty, but he still wasn't ready for the shock, the heartbreak, the wave of sadness that came all at once, it was almost numbing. Almost. The funeral was even more devastating, with more people to share the sadness and to recall the memories. Then the days after that was total emotional hell. Being there, where they spent most times of their younger years made things worst. Everywhere he turns he could see her smiling. Every curb, every road, every house, every song reminded him of her. And every time he closed his eyes, he swore he could hear her voice. He couldn't take it and he left as soon as the funeral was done. Back to America, where everything didn't have anything to with her. But she still was there, on the back of his mind, slipping to his mind unconsciously every time he didn't hold back his feelings. But those days are gone. The sadness was being taken over by constant gratefulness, that at least he had been able to be a part of something so beautiful as their friendship, and their love.
(You still my heart and you take my breath away)
(Would you take me in would you take me deeper now)?
('Cause you're all I want)
(You are all I need)
Rhine opened his wallet to get some cash to pay for the coffee, and he smiled at the photograph of a girl with black hair, brown eyes and a wide grin on her face wearing a white baby shirt and black jeans carrying a cute little kitten. He jumped when a hand touched his shoulder.
" Is that her?" Raise asked and sat down, an apologetic expression on his face. And as he nodded and told Raise her name, Rhine realized how he had changed. Months ago he wouldn't even speak her name, now he just smiled. Raise opened his mouth.
" Look, I'm sorry man. We should've never bet over."
" It's okay." Rhine smiled at him reassuringly. Raise face brightened.
After a few moments of comfortable silence, Raise spoke up.
" So, what was she like? She looks pretty cute." He grinned. And Rhine can't help to grin back. He thought about it for a minute.
" Well, Raise." Raise looked at him as his eyes took on a faraway look," let's just put it this way." His eyes turn soft and warm. As he remembered a passage he read somewhere that fits what he was thinking perfectly.
" I have never seen an angel fly so low."
(You are everything)
The leaves have changed its color, from green to red, gold and brown. The colors of autumn. The wind started to get cooler and it bit the skin and chilled your bones. It was autumn in New York. Rhine swiped a fallen leave that landed on his shoulder. He caught it as it fell. His fingers touched the coarseness of its surface. He looked to be deep in thought that he didn't realized someone was standing right beside him.In my head I have dreams I have visions of many things Questions longings in my mind
" Today's colder than yesterday." Rhine raised his eyes to the intruder and smiled.
" Yeah, if that's possible." Sam Riley walked around Rhine and sat in the empty chair beside him. They were still on the university ground, more precisely in one of the out door cafes, where you can look at the gardens and be near nature. Its a nice place to be alone, which why Rhine liked to be there when he needs to think or to write. The café seats around them were mostly empty and were covered with red and gold leaves. There was calmness in this place that appeals to Sam. They sat together in comfortable silence watching leaves fall, the ground was covered with them. New York has never been so beautiful.
" This will be hell to clean." Sam snorted at the comment.
" Yeah, thank God we're not the one to do it." Rhine smiled. A cold wind blew ruffling his hair, stinging his eyes. He squinted and his gloved fingers comb his hair. The rustle of his clothes broke the silence.
" She would love this." His voice low, soft almost lost in the wind. Sam kept his eyes looking forward; he didn't have to ask who 'she' was.Pictures fill my head I feel so trapped instead But trapped doesn't seem so bad Cause you are here
" She would love sitting here quietly, watching the leaves, writing poems." His tone was low, soft and his eyes were far away, smiling. When he didn't continue, Sam look sideways at him, his smile was gone.
" It's in times like these that I miss her, that I-" He straightened in his chair.It doesn't mean anything Without you here with me And I can try to justify But I still need you here with me
" That I wished I'd never met her."In my heart I had hope Built on dreams I'll never know Answers to love left behind Visions filled my head
Sam's head snapped towards him. His voice was calm and quiet, but Sam could sense the sadness and grief that still surrounds Rhine.
He noticed Rain kept adjusting his jacket and rubbed his hands together, searching for more warmth. Sam gave a quick searching look, something in Rhine's voice bothered Sam. Rhine caught the look and grinned.
" Don't worry. I won't kill myself or anything." Sam just looked at him, unsure what to say. They returned to watch the trees swaying in the wind.
Sam remembered how Rhine appeared at the dorm six months ago, looking haggard, tired. Grief had left its mark. He didn't talk, he ate but didn't take any enjoyment in it, he didn't laugh, he just went into the motion of life but he didn't live it. He remembered that the first thing Rhine did was to go to the bathroom and took a shower for three hours straight.
Sam was with the boys enjoying an hour of male bonding when the door opened. Tommy, Rhine's roommate was the first one to spot him. Rhine ignored us, dumped down his suitcase and went straight to the bathroom. We all looked at each other not knowing what to do. Sam remembered how he felt when he saw Rhine finally getting out of the bathroom, his eyes were swollen and red, his skin was also red, and a lot of steam was coming out of the bathroom. He probably burnt his skin just to know if he can still feel.
" Anything," he once said,' anything than this numbness inside." he once said.It doesn't mean anything Without you here with me And I can try to justify But I still need you here with me
Two weeks after that, he suddenly acted normal, he looked okay, and acted like the same person much to the relief of everyone. Not that Rhine was the loudest person alive, but he was fun to be with and we just couldn't stand him being like that. He started to go out, hanging out with the guys, having fun like he used to, and we were glad.
Then one day I caught him sitting alone in the dark, his head on his hands, his shoulders shaking, his breathing was harsh and choked by fighting tears that was threatening to fall. There was desperation, remorse and grief, the emotions was so thick that it felt suffocating. It was the very first time Sam felt close to tears.I can't do anything without you You give me strength to do anything And I can't be anything I try to You saved me from everything I couldn't be
There are three things that Sam respected in life: life, death and grief. Sam closed the door to the room and walked away with heavy steps. There are also the times when Rhine forgot himself and let his guard down, you could see the naked pain and longing etched in his face. Sam and the guys did anything but standing on their heads to cheer him up, and when they all thought it wasn't going to get any better, Rhine finally got a hold on himself. But sometimes, you can still see the sadness that was so much a part of him now.It doesn't mean anything Without you here with me And I can try to justify But I still need you here with me
Sam awoke from his reverie when he heard Rhine moved. He looked up to see Rhine had stood up." Leaving?" Rhine pulled his jacket closer to his body.
" Yeah. You?" Sam shook his head." I'm going to stay here a little longer." Rhine nodded and knotted his scarf tighter and stuffed his hands in his pockets. Sam looked on amused as Rhine snuggled deeper to his jacket. He realized that Rhine had put on way to much layers, it was only autumn after all. But Rhine was in full regalia for winter. He looked down on his sweater and scarf and his gloves.
" I thought you got used to it by now.' Rhine fingered his scarf and shuffled his feet keeping his eyes straight.
" I'll guess I'll never get used to it." He gave a quick smile, turned and walked away. And as his figure slowly disappear in the crowd, Sam somehow felt that he wasn't talking about the cold.Need you here with me I need you here with me
If you can't see clearly, why don't you wear your glasses? She sipped on her hot tea, and folded her paper. A wistful smile on her lips.
Well, Rhine, there are things in this life that looks even more beautiful when not seen clearly.
I found a way to make you, I found a way
A way to make you smile
Rhine slammed his hand on his alarm clock and groaned. He took a deep breath and stretched He looked at the clock and rubbed his face to clear the sleepiness from his eyes.
I save your messages just to hear your voice
He opened the curtains and squinted when the sunlight filled the room. He stood in front of the window for a while, basking in the warmth, and a soft smile on his lips. Then he turned and headed for the bathroom.
" Man, I need coffee."
You always listen carefully to words that rhyme
He opened his door, and threw the key onto a table. It landed right beside the telephone and noticed the blinking light on his answering machine. He smiled when familiar voices burst from his answering machine.
"Happy birthday you insensitive ass! You should've at least still been in your bed to accept this call and be surprise when you did. Then you'll cry, touched by our loyalty and love for you. Where are you anyway? Oh hold on. Tommy you miserable sod, bugger off will you?" A feminine voice with a posh British accent screamed and cursed fluently. Rhine looked hard at the answering machine. Carmen, a stunning elegant girl with red hair and blue sapphire eyes looked like an angel and cursed like a sailor. He knew her for four years now but she can still amaze him with her creativity with words. He didn't believe he have ever heard the numerous colorful words she was saying right now. He grinned when he heard scuffling sounds and her voice was joined by a deep raspy voice, Sam.
" That's right. Where are you? I woke up at this ungodly hour to wish you a happy birthday but you just had to wake up and leave. You ungrateful piece of crap! Oh well, I'll still see you tonight, right?" Rhine grin grew even wider.
" Rhine we have been your friends since like forever. It's only decent that you get back from wherever you are and join us here in The Deep Blue. STAT!" Tommy yelled over the noise of Sam and Carmen bickering on the background, his female melting Irish accent oozed through the telephone. He stood from the bed where he was sitting, munching on a croissant, he wipe off the crumbs on his pants then walked towards the door. He paused for a moment and picked up a frame on a table on his left, smiled back at the photograph, put it back on the table then left.
You always say your name like I wouldn't know it's you
" Rhine, let me tell you something about women and logic," They were walking towards class, he was moaning about how he never could understand women, that they just defy all the logic in the world. She smiled and shrugged," they have absolutely nothing to do with each other." She laughed as he mumbled something, then he grinned.
You're my most beautiful
At my most beautiful
As soon as Rhine stopped in The Deep Blue, which is one of the most popular hang outs for college students, the crowd hollered and showered him with insults, comments on his lateness and congratulations. He spread a glance around the room and winced at the number of people there. ' This is going to be a long day.' He thought.
" I'm not going to buy, am I?" Sam grinned.
" Are you offering?" Rhine sat down.
" Hell no. I'll be flat broke." A feminine hand draped lazily on his shoulder.
" Now, love. What about giving a beautiful lonely woman a kiss to warm her lonely nights with." Carmen fluttered her eyelashes. Rhine laughed.
" No, thanks Carmen. Frank will kill me." Carmen frowned.
" I broke up with him." Tom lifted an eyebrow.
" Why is that?" Carmen rolled her eyes.
" He finally gave you the conge huh? He was to timid for you anyway." Sam commented. Carmen glared at him.
" I broke up with him and he isn't timid he's very sweet. It's just that he doesn't know how to listen to me. He just doesn't get it." The men around her sighed.
" Who can anyway? The workings of the female mind are still a mystery to us lowly mortal males." Sam grumbled.
" Rhine understands me." Carmen said innocently. Rhine snickered when Tom and Sam's head snapped to him and feigned excited and awed voices.
" It's nothing to it really, after you know the formula. It's sorta like chemistry." Sam snorted.
" Oh you mean, the typical no means yes and yes means no but sometimes it' means the other way around. Tried that doesn't work." Tom snickered when Carmen whacked Sam in the head.
" No, it's a lot simpler than that." Sam muttered darkly and rubbed his aching head. " Oh do tell." Rhine smiled.
"It's just that. When you talk to a woman.."
I count your eyelashes secretly
She tangled her fingers in her long thick hair. It gleamed in the moonlight as dark as her eyes. She smiled. " Rhine I'll let you in on a little secret, when you talk to a woman," She raised her head to the moon, in her eyes the stars shone," listen to what she says with her eyes."
With everyone whisper I love you
" That's an interesting phrase, can I use it?" Tommy slipped out a sheet of paper and a pen out of nowhere. Rhine smiled, his head lifted when he heard a familiar voice calling his name.
" Rhine?" He looked up and saw a tall, tanned skinned muscular guy, with a long ponytail, silver wire glasses and a big smile. Rhine stared.
" Danny? What the hell are you doing here?" He stood up and shook Danny's offered hand.
" Got a job just around the corner. Come here for a drink. How are you?" Rhine shrugged.
" Same old. Nothing changed," he pointed to his table who it's occupant was staring unashamedly at the both of them," Cuma lagi jalan ama teman-teman." Rhine's tongue rolled reflexively into his native language. Danny nodded than his lips once again spread into a mischievous grin.
" You can't fool me. Today's your birthday. Buy me food." Rhine groaned
" You eat like a pig. I'll go broke, I'm a college boy. You're the big shot director, you're suppose to buy me food." They laughed. Carmen blinked.
" Oh yeah. That's where I've seen you before, you made that music video for Linkin Park lately right? Rhine you know this guy?" She glared accusingly at Rhine who held up his hands in defense.
" We're childhood friends. Use to go to school together."
" And you never told us?" Carmen, Sam and Tommy yelled simultaneously.
" Would you believe me?" They looked at each other and finally shrugged.
They all sat together talking about nothing serious.
" I need more coffee." Rhine stood up and left the table after doing a head count on who wanted more coffee when the real question finally emerged.
" Do you know her?" Danny met Carmen's eyes. She gave a soft smile.
" You do, don't you? You have the same look in your eyes." Danny shrugged then glanced at Rhine.
" He seems okay now. " Danny looked at the three of them," he took it bad, didn't he?" He gave a small sad smile," Hell, we all did."
I watch you sleep
" She was my cousin. No, it's okay." He laughed when the three of them tripped over words to apologize.
" She seems like a wonderful person." Tommy said.
" Oh, she is. I mean she wasn't perfect." He gave them a smile," but she was to us."
I know you're closed eye watching me, listening
I thought I saw you smile
There was a pleasant silence when Rhine finally showed up. Then they started when Danny's watch beeped. Danny grimaced.
" Damn, my times up. Well nice to see you guys."
" There's going to be party tomorrow at my dorm, wanna come?" Rhine stood up too. Danny gave a rueful smile.
" Sorry, I can't. I have to catch a red eye flight tonight." He stood and shuffled his feet. He hesitated but slipped something out from his pocket.
" Here's something I made. For you." Rhine took it. It was a CD.
" When are you going home?" Rhine looked at his shoes. Danny sighed and patted his shoulder.
" You should do it sometimes, you know." Rhine nodded.
" I know."
" Well, I gotta go. Bye." He also said good-bye to the others.
" Hey, what did he give you? A CD? Can we look at it now? Can we? Can we?" Carmen whined. Rhine rolled his eyes.
" I get no privacy." He moaned.
" It's seems like a video clip. I know this song, At My Most Beautiful from REM." Sam sipped his coffee, everyone's eyes were stuck to the TV screen. Rhine relaxed and leaned back on his seat and closed his eyes until he heard a gasp from Carmen. He looked curiously at the TV screen and saw something he never thought he would see again. She was there, waving and smiling. His fingers clenched the glass he was holding. She was laughing, Rhine could still remember the sound of her laughter. He remembered this tape, they were all on vacation and they decided to go to Malaysia. He remembered how crowded it was, it was like a school tour. And he remembered how beautiful she was that day, with her gleaming black hair loose, her soft brown eyes bright with excitement and on her lips a warm smile. And he remembered the flower-scented perfume that she wore, the feel of her hands and the teasing lilt in her voice. Suddenly the music level dropped and he heard her voice. She was singing to the camera and laughing, this particular song while folding her clothes to the armoire in her room at the hotel, which she shared with Danny. He was probably the one taping this.
Rhine's breathed hitch as he remembered what happen next. She stopped singing then looked at the direction of the door, his heart stopped beating when he saw her smile, the big wide smile that he missed the most and then he heard her voice again, calling his name. Unconsciously Rhine's hand pressed on the silver necklace he always wore when he saw the ring glinted on her finger as she opened her arms and held him close.
Rhine felt his eyes warmed, then he looked away. A hand touched his shoulder.
" Are you okay?" Sam looked at him worriedly. He stood up.
" Rhine." Without saying anything he rushed out of the room. Away from the voices that was calling him back. Away from her.
You're my most beautiful
Everything I own
Rhine jiggled the doorknob as he inserted the key. It opened with a soft click. He glanced at his room and found it was empty, nobody was there. He expected to find the lot of them there waiting for him. He gave a sigh, relieved. He needed to be alone. He dropped himself hard on the bed and buried his face on the pillow and closed his eyes. He had run for miles, he was dead tired and he felt like thinking of nothing at all, but he could sense the happenings of today was beginning to slowly creep into his mind. He closed his eyes tightly and tried to lose himself in sleep.
You sheltered me from harm
Kept me warm, kept me warm
Rhine was in his secret place, an abandoned water tower which he called 'The Top of the World'. He placed his head on his folded hands, his mind was miles away. A soft knock pulled him from his reverie, he looked over his shoulder.
" Hey." She said, she was leaning on the railing, her head tilted to the side a soft smile on her lips, a line between her eyebrows. He didn't say anything but kept watching her and as always he felt a pull inside of him whenever he saw her. She didn't find his quietness anything strange because she just walked to him and sat beside him, he followed her progress with his eyes. She didn't seem to mind, she sat quietly swinging her legs back and forth singing to herself, her eyes kept forward. He followed her example and stared ahead, basking in her strong presence.
" I'm going away." His voice seem so loud after the silence they shared. She didn't blink at the announcement, she knew she would eventually go away, they both knew that, just as she knew she didn't need to comment on it.
" Don't you have anything to say?" he asked. She nestled her head on her hands.
" What do you want me to say?" she questioned back. He made a gesture with his hands that showed he was confused. He wanted her to ask him to stay so things would go on the way it was before. He wanted her to ask him to stay so he would have a reason to stay. And be safe.
The finest years I ever knew
were all the years I had with you
" Because.." He stopped. I want to stay with you. Because you'll be so far away. Because I don't know what to do without you. Because I can't see the future without you in it. Alot of 'because' slipped into his mind, he frowned and started when he felt a hand on his hand. He looked up and met her eyes. She withdrew her hand and put it back on the railings where she nestled her head. She smiled and he could feel himself slowly relaxing.
" Hey, you'll be fine." Her voice was soft and sounded so far away, but as always, it was enough.
Rhine woke up feeling strangely relax and calm. Then remembered his dream. He felt his heart lurched but then he remembered what she said.
" Hey, you'll be fine." His voice echoed in the empty room.
You gave my life to me
Set me free, Set me free
Carmen stared at the short memo on Rhine's computer, and stared. And stared. And stared. Tommy glanced at her impatiently.
" It's okay if you don't intend to really help me search for the damn thing but the least you can do is pretend to move you hands or something." Tommy teased her. He blinked when she unbelievingly didn't respond, he looked at her and noticed that she was focused on something on the computer. He stepped closer to her.
" What are you looking at?" He looked at the object of Carmen's fascination and read it. And stared. And stared. The memo itself was nothing special, just a yellow post-it, nothing extraodinary. Not even the handwriting on it was anything out of the ordinary, what had them entranced was the context of the writing.
" Are you reading what I'm reading?" Carmen asked not taking her eyes off the memo. " I..I think so. What are you reading?" Tom stuttered. Carmen blinked.
" I'm reading what you're reading."
" Then I am reading what you are reading."
" Oh. Good." She blinked," Do you think that's real?"
" I think so." As the suprised wore off they grinned.
" My God." Tom voiced held an awed note.
" He finally done it." Carmen's voice was not different from Tom. They looked at eachother then laughed.
" He done it!" They yelled and threw their arms around eachother.
" Come on, we have to tell he others." Tom headed to the door and Carmen followed leaving the memo just as it was. There were only three words on it, scrawled in a hurry in big bold words.
I'M GOING HOME
He opened the old gate, the sound of the protesting hinges interfered with the calmness of the morning. He took a step and faltered. He took a deep breath then took another step. And another, and another. He stopped, and faced a tombstone among so many others.
Rhine laid a fresh boquet infront of it and tried to repressed the wave of emotions that threatened to drown him. He closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath. Instead he focused on the warmth of the sun on his skin, the calmness of the morning and the smell of the scent of flowers. He noticed the sky was crystal clear, the air was sweet with the scent of flowers. It was a perfect day, the kind of days he loved. Then he opened his eyes, and his so perfect world tilted. His vision blurred and he closed his eyes against the onslaught of emotions. He finally shook his head and when he opened them, on his lips spread a mocking smile.
" I thought I had things under control but who was I kidding, this is you." He murmured as if that could explained the sudden feeling as if he had been hit by a truck.
He looked at the tombstone and lifted a hand, hesitated then ran his fingers and touch the carvings. A name. A name so dear, so cherished in his heart that he called it even in his sleep. He swallowed a lump in his throat.
He lowered himself infront of it and sat crosslegged. He put the flowers that he was carrying beside him. He sat there infront of a hand made cold marble stone that marked the existence of someone he had loved and still love. He lasped in silence and the silence grew. He blinked and opened his mouth.
" Hello." As soon as he uttered that word Rhine gave a little laugh. " Yeah, it was pretty lame I know." He smiled mockingly at himself," But it's the best thing I could think of right now." He rubbed his face with both hands feeling tense.
" It still hurts, you know. Knowing.." He tilted his head to the side, a sad laugh escaped him.
" Sometimes in the morning, before I open my eyes, I still think that you're still waiting for me to come home. Sometimes I can still smell your jasmine scent after a dream about you." He stopped and tried to smile. " It's hard to swallow the disappointment when I don't see you, when I opened my eyes and I realized that you are not going to be there. It's hard to deal with it over and over again everytime I wake up." He looked down and trace a fallen petal from the boquet he brought." Most days I can close my eyes and count to ten, but in some days.." He laced his fingers together and closed his eyes tightly. He withdrew a shivering breath.
" God, what I wouldn't give to have you back."
I would give anything I own,
Give up me life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
just to have you back again
His breath came out explosively and he tired to lighten up his mood." No, I'm not going to be mushy this time. Don't worry."
" I have a lot of friends." He continued.
" You would love to meet Carmen. She's a girl after your own heart." Rhine smiled, remembering the fiery tempered girl," And Tommy is your kind of guy, smooth, cool and mysterious. You'll get on fabously with Sam, his mischevousness knows no bounds. With his mischevousness and your craziness. God save the world." He laughed.
" They're good friends. They helped me throught a lot." His smiled stilled and faded. " Dan sent me the tape of us having that vacation to Malaysia. I've only been able to watch it once, I." His hands clenched together. His shoulders hunched and his head bowed, he looked defeated and anguished.
" I miss you." In those three words held the depth of his feelings for her, his breath trembled and his voice shook," I miss your laugh, I miss your smile, I miss your eyes, your voice, your touch. Hell, I even miss your crazy habit of eating icecream when it's storming outside. I still remembered that particular crazy day when you coaxed me to go out on a storm to buy you icecream." He grinned," Can't see an icecream without remembering that." He plucked idlely on a weed," I can't seem to look at anything without remembering you." He whispered.
You taught me how to love,
What its of, what its of.
" Sometimes it the memories hurt, sometimes it's beautiful, sometimes it's both. I still remember the good old days, remembered the times when we give the adults a good scare." Rhine gave a wide grinned," and I remembered the times when life in general confused us. I remembered our long hours of talking, of running around our old neighborhood. Our camping trips, our sense of importance when we graduated senior high school." Rhine stopped and tilted his head.
" And I remembered the day you said goodbye, on that tower without actually saying the words. You said goodbye with a smile and a,' hey, you'll be alright'." Rhine closed his eyes and in his mind he can recall that day down to the gold flecks that sparkled in her eyes.
You never said too much,
but still you showed the way,
and I knew from watching you.
" I remembered waiting for you at the airport even when you said you wouldn't come. I waited for you and I still remembered the disappointment when I didn't see you. I remembered as I came nearer to the plane I gave a last look to the wide windows and I saw you there, standing quietly and then you touched your right hand to the glass and I remembered.." Her face flashed in his mind, her eyes dark, her long hair loose, her face pale and her smile that gave a hint of sadness.
" Your sad smile..." his voice faded.
Nobody else could ever know
the part of me that can't let go
" I told my friends about you, they are probably sick of me by now, moping around brooding, but I can't help it. When I think of you I_ when it was too hard to handle, I write about you or if it's that bad I surrender myself to sleep." He raised his eyes to where her name was carved deeply in beautiful cursive letters," Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I find myself dialing your phone and expecting to hear you nagg at me for interupting you on whatever you were doing."
" Things has always been hard but somehow things has always been easier to bear when you are there. But things are getting better. I'm graduating in a couple of months and I already have a lot of job offers. " He took a long breath.
" I never intend to come back here. I just wanted to let it stay in the past, and move on. But I guess to move on you have to deal with the past or it drags you down, doesn't it?" He shook his head.
" I know I'm kidding myself. I can never put you as a past. You're a part of me, I am what am because of you." He blink when that sentence sound so right.
" I am what I am because of you." He smiled.
" I've never really thank you for that, have I? Just as you said, I'll be fine. " He closed his eyes and imagined her smile. His lips spread to a smile also. He opened them and continued on talking about the old times, about memories not long ago buried by sadness and bitterness. He laughed at the good times, shed a tear at the bad times. He felt a lightness in his heart and he remembered the dream, guess even in another world, she managed to helped him. He laughed at the thought, knowing her it might be possible. He thought.
Tom opened the door knob carefully and quietly he tiptoed in, the others followed. He poked his head towards the bedroom, saw Rhine breathing in deep long breaths and gave the others the okay sign. The others crept in.
" Is this okay? He wouldn't wake up, would he?" Carmen asked.
" Don't worry. When Rhine sleeps he sleeps like the dead, besides that he just arrived yesterday night." He took a seat on his bed. Carmen slid quietly to Rhine's bed and watched him breath. He was sleeping on his stomach, a hand holding a piece of paper, there was also a stack of opened letters on his bedside table.
" Whats that on his hand?" Tom asked. Carmen peeked at the paper in his hand. " Looks like a letter." Her eyes snapped to Tom and Sam.
" Are you guys thinking what I'm thinking?" Tom quirked an eyebrow. Sam walked around Rhine's bed and stepped closer to the stacks of letters. He picked one up. " Guys, that's private." Tom said and as usual he was ignored. Sam and Carmen's heads moved closer as they read the name on the envelope.
" It is her. It was written 4 years ago." Sam told them.
" These were written two and three years ago. " Carmen lifted the stacks of paper on the other side. These makes three years." Their eyes met and slowly lowered to the one that was in Rhine's hand. Tom slid in from Rhine's hands.
" These are the most recent." Tom met his friends eyes," The day Rhine went back." Sam and Carmen gave him their full attention.
" Dear, Rhine.." Tom started to read.
" I had turn to you for strength and love that you had once given to me. For you are always constant and true. For that calmness in you that eases me. And I wait you here, hoping that I would still be here for you to find. I reached my hand to you and you clasp them firmly in your hands. And I feel you gently pulled me to your embrace." Tom reached the end of the letter, his voiced hoarsed with emotion.
" I love you, I love you so much that I can feel my heart tear shred by shred for leaving you like this. Rhine, cry for me once, twice then please never again. In times like these I remember an Italian song titled Non Sara, my brother translated it for me, it goes like this. Not one minute more can make this goodbye less sad, turn around if you can, one more time, then never again. Then run until you're out of breath. Thats what I want you to do, Rhine. Remember me, cry for me once then never again. I love you, I love you, I love you. It's funny even how many times you say this word, it never feels like it's enough. I love you. I love you. I love you." Tom stopped blinked away his tears and took a deep breath. Then he folded the letter carefully almost reverently and passed it to an unashamedly crying Carmen who was already sobbing her eyes out. Sam on the other hand was unnaturally silent. They looked at the stacks of letters.
" She wrote to him, everyday for four years." Sam his voice was a strange croaking sound.
" Everyday since they said goodbye." Carmen sobbed, her breath hitched. The three of them gathered and sat together on the other bed facing Rhine who was sleeping peacefully as they watched him.
Silence filled the room, Rhine slept deeply, a rare thing for him, he had the look of someone who had gone through hell and survived. And he probably had.
" How does it feel to be loved like that?" Sam wondered aloud. Rhine shifted in his sleep and murmured a name. Her name. The three snapped out of their thoughts. Tom laced his fingers together and took a deep breath.
" Blessed, Sam." He exhale," Blessed."
I would give anything I own,
Give up me life, my heart, my home.
Just to have you back again,
Just to touch you once again.
I am still alive. At least for today I can still breathe and I can still hear my heart beats slowly, uncertainly. I blinked back the tears that I refuse to shed. I felt relieved, but also felt cursed as God still thinks to prolong my suffering. I gasped as light from the window showers over me. Covering my face with blankets even as voices greeted me with forced cheerfulness and the anesthetic smell of the hospital wafted to my nostrils. I hated it, I hated the light that stings my eyes and heated my skin that it felt like on fire. I hated the light that had once burnt my skin to health and the light I had once reveled in. I hated it cause they only remind me of sweet yesterdays, when I was still strong and happy.
Draw the shades to close my eyes
(I never want to see again)
I felt weak, not only because of the sickness but also for the lost of hope. I have lost the hope that I would someday feel better. That I would somehow survive. That somehow God would pity me and save me. But that still remains a dream. As these endless days of white walls and white sheets have shown, I grew weary of the color white, once had been my favorite color. Another day has come, as the nurse said, yes-another day has come, and a day that I should be grateful of and that you would take for granted. I said in silence. I felt bitter, not only of my fate, but also of healthy people around me, seeing those healthy bloods running through their veins for them to take it for granted. Another day had come for me to say thanks for, and for gathering up my courage and lie gracefully to my family and friends, friends who didn't only showed up at the first years. Lie to them about how I am how I feel how I am going to be. I'm tired and sick of being the dutiful daughter, but to stop being one is something that I haven't the means though god knows I have the excuse.
I found the cost of courage high
(Sometimes hard to pay)
I have stopped looking in the mirror, and I have stopped worrying how I look. And I have stopped worrying what people think of me and I have stopped looking at the world. And I have even stop to hear music; something that once long ago I cannot live without. But sometimes in sleep, in dreams, I hear a certain melody, a compelling orchestra, but more than something to enjoy, it was more beckoning, calling out for me. I wonder whether it was the song of death. And that's death's siren has started to compose a death song for me.
I hear the song the sirens sing
(Calling on the shore for me)
So sell your soul and try to fly
(The teather still remains)
I have stopped hoping for the doctor that comes up to me everyday to suddenly come up to me and said that he or she had come out with a solution or a cure for me. I have given up on that. To tell you the truth I have given up on everything. I gave up on everything but you. But I can't help to feel tempted by their methods and ways that they offer to make men feel better.
And all the finer things they laid upon my table
Smiled as their hooks were slowly sinking in
I cling to them, as readily I would believe any lie they would utter in the hope that it would truly work. In short I had done the thing I had never thought I would do in my entire life, I had given up.
And so, my ending days are filled with medication, of different methods of pills, of liquids that they keep giving me to eat to swallow to go through. And I had followed them head on.
Another pill I'm to consume
(To make me learn to feel again)
Followed by another one
(To make me loose the same)
In earlier days I have asked God why he had made me do this. Had I done something wrong in my 19 years? Or it's just simply fate that plays with me. Or had I done the service that I had been sent on Earth to do. Or that I was just useless, that I had done nothing for me to keep on living. And I kept asking and remembering the years of my life, searching for an answer. Those were in the earlier days. Now, I just stopped trying to understand, all I do now, is simply existing day by day, and trying to prolong my existence in life as it is. But I know someday, I would stop trying, that somehow, I would wake up alone or that I would open my eyes and light did not sting my eyes anymore.
Sometimes I cannot breath, and in those most painful times, I have found myself turning memories over and over in my mind as pieces of my life flashed before my eyes. The forgotten ones and the most cherished ones. But as I struggled to draw air to my lungs, I realized that I don't want to die. That I don't want to end my existence of ninteen years just yet. That I still want to do many things. But as soon as I came to my senses, the hope was quickly dispensed off, as I realize my legs cannot walk on their own, or that I cannot speak without coughing.
God if I could recognize
(The things to make me whole again)
And draw this air into my lungs
(Remember how to breathe)
The only thing now, that I could still do and didn't give up on, is writing. My one deep passion, as you know. I write about everything and of everyone I know, especially about you, you have been my greatest inspiration. I write about love about betrayal about myself, about my sickness, about my parents, everything. Everything that I can still remember, every time I had the chance. Everytime I was able. I realized I was being rushed by time. And I knew my time is slowly closing in. And that despite my reassurance, people know the truth. That I am slowly dying.
For as the curtain rose I danced as I was able
Felt my deception slowly sinking in
So they called you, despite my objections. I didn't want you here to pity me or to suffocate me with worry. But I should have known that you wouldn't do that. And I suppose that in your heart you chid me, because I had hid this from you. That I had hurt you, when in truth I had meant to protect you. But despite all that, I am glad that you are here, for even as I deny you, I had turn to you for strength and love that you had once given to me.
So I turn to you my love
(For the solace that is there)
For you are always constant and true. For that calmness in you that eases me. And I wait you here, hoping that I would still be here for you to find.
And offer any cherished thing
(For a slight reprieve)
I hoped that you might find me here
(And I could learn to smile again)
As a balm for these wounds
(Take away the sting)
The song plays constantly now, it floats gently around me teasing me beckoning me to god knows where. Something was familiar about that song. It came as soft and beguiling, but it gets stronger each day. And sometimes I caught myself humming along or moving in time with it. It angers me, it frightens me, but now as you are near, I can ignore the soft melodies that lingers in my ears and heart. I drank from the bottomless pools of your love as you sit with me, holding my hand, embrace me and cried with me. You who understood me the most in everything.
The songs are close to an end. I know it as I knew that I would someday breathe my last breath, as I knew you would be fine with out me. That you would live your life in harmony and with good sense that you would live mine as well. Do me a favor by making your life a success, do it for my part as well. I know that you would curse me for being an ungrateful girl who had dragged her friend from overseas just to die on him. But I know you would understand. Believe me I have nothing more to regret as you are here with me. No, I lied; I have one regret, my regret is that I had not more time to be with you, and that we cannot fulfill the promise that we will accompany each other when both of us are old and gray. The both of us spinsters by choice, my cats and I, you and your stacks of beer and your old sofa and TV. I still remember that promise, made on the one best summer days of my life. My summer days with you. So let me hold you again one last time, at least until the song is at an end. And remember that there is no other person in my life that I would rather share my last days with but you. And I guess I have.
The song is getting stronger; I can hear it's poignant wailing, the ups and downs of each tune. It's not frightening anymore, the sounds is more sweet and sad. Mellow and gentle as it sweeps through my body. I reached my hand to you and you clasp them firmly in your hands. And I felt you gently pulled me to your embrace.
And as the band did play your body I did cradle
I am awake. I am alone. I cannot see or feel the light. But I am afraid no longer as I realized what the song was.
It was love.
I should have known that song would have to end