Looking through the miscellaneous sale items, I hide behind a wall of discount toys so that I may continue to watch her. She sweeps through the toy aisle touching and laughing at everything; Mackenzie, her niece, trails behind her with a gleaming smile and rosy cheeks. Erratically, Mackenzie begins pulling on her sleeve with laugher erupting between them as she points to a karaoke machine. Before they even begin to sing, I find myself smiling at her beautiful voice that replays through my mind like a skipping record player.
“I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?” Her voice arches over the shelves and deeps into the aisles, pulling people from their mundane actions to investigate the serenity that can blossom when people appreciate their existences.
Gradually, a small crowd of eager children with tired parents gather around her and Mackenzie as they obliviously sing. Children turn away stomping their feet as the static in the microphones grows louder, but what kind of quality can you expect from a discount department store? She remains content though, happy in her moment and unaffected by the opinions of others, it painfully reminds me of us falling in love.
I can’t say how or when we were over, but it wasn’t at the flick of a switch with a definitive date. Instead, it came slowly like the sun sinking into the ocean and the sky being consumed by abysmal blackness. Our finality was complete; when the sky becomes nothingness there is not a switch to restore light. There is only silence and parting boats as two people sail into the sea unknowingly searching for one another.
I have come to accept I am the only one searching though. I have remorsefully accepted that she does not live by the laws of the sun because her existence is so luminescent that the sun’s brightness cannot compare to herself.
The song ends, childish clapping springs from the makeshift audience, and her copper hair cascades over her face as she bows down in a deep blush. Reaching for Mackenzie’s hand, they duck away together and disappear from my sight. Chuckling to myself I feel her addictiveness just as when we first met and I find myself creeping through aisles looking for her. The words sputter through my mind before being consumed by a lazy fog that swirls around my thoughts suffocating them. Leaning against a shelf of discount books with fading words, I close my eyes to imagine her in my life once again. The imagery does not come easy and within the struggle of it I realize my life may be meant to continue with someone else cast in her role.
“I saw you there,” a timid voice whispers from behind me.
Grinning, I turn around and begin pulling books from the shelf. They stack up on the floor beside me, but a window forms in the mass of books. Peeking through it with a dimpled grin, she looks at me with such sincerity in her eyes I forget for a moment she lives only within my memory and not my present.
She reaches through the little window, her fingers brushing against mine. Her smile falters for a moment as I look down, but her façade continues and she is once again rightfully gleaming in delight.
“Come with me,” I drop the words like stones breaking apart the stillness of water.
Gradually, we walk through the various aisles and locked doors until we stand in the warmth of radiant sunlight on the loading balcony. Leaning against the rail, I close my eyes for a second and feel the veins within my heart being pulled to unnatural lengths and I begin to shiver. My heart thumps against my ribs and suddenly I’m afraid it will crack a thin part of bone, but my heart will continue to thump. The thumping will persist, beating against the bone until a shard impales itself into my only connection with life.
“You ok?” She asks while twirling her hair between slender fingers.
I nod my head; positive I can feel a ghost of her running its fingers through my hair as we fall asleep together. Her nails tickle my neck while the whispers something outlandish, the same action she done every day for years until one day her nails were missing and her voice could not whisper, only scream.
“Aw, come on now, don’t be so shy,” she taunts with hypnotizing tones bouncing through her words.
“I loved Heather,” I repeat to myself, unsure if she is even listening to me.
“Heather this, Heather that,” she mocks with acid burning along her throat and corrupting her voice.
I turn around, twisting my hands around the railing until I feel the blood dissipating from my fingers and my knuckles shine white.
“Heather, oh Heather, I wonder where she could be,” her voice relentlessly continues, “I wonder if she’ll ever come back for you.”
Pulling in a deep breath I turn to face her malicious smile, “Heather is here, Heather is standing before me in flesh and blood and only is she missing in words. Heather is the essence of your existence and never will you be able to escape her, but I pray continuously and exclusively that she can escape you. “
“My name is Casandra. I am Casandra!” She blares with scratchy words and puffy eyes.
“I know, Heather.” I reply deadly.
Heather roughly grabs Mackenzie’s arm, pulling her along while they storm through the door. I watch them leave for a moment, consumed in her determination to be someone other than herself. I lie awake many nights wondering what led her to this ultimate downfall. We were living together, blissfully content in our own existence and engagement when one day I awoke to discover we were no longer engaged.
We may never be whole again and we may never reunite, but until she finds safety within her own existence I will continue to watch her because while she may act as someone else, that is still Heather’s body and I owe it to her to preserve it.
© 2015 Rebecca Hicks