There are secrets, sometimes, that only two can share. There are things kept to ourselves we take to the grave, leaving the one who shared our secret alone and lonely, living in a world that has now become incomplete.
‘I am waiting,’ Alice said and I knew it was her, even though I hadn’t heard her voice for nearly two years. She still lived inside me, though, commenting on things as I went about my day. This, though, in the deep dark heart of the night was different. This was not the ghost of memory keeping me company through my lonely days.
It was her. It was Alice.
There she was, back in the bed beside me. I could see her clearly, despite the darkness of the night. She was as she had been in life, as she was before the illness changed her from the woman I’d married into someone I’d hardly recognised and who no longer recognised me.
‘I’m waiting,’ Alice said again, smiling that smile of hers which had once made everything in my world seem worthwhile.
‘What are you waiting for?’ I whispered, but I don’t know why. There had been no-one else in the house since they’d taken her away at the beginning of those long dreary months it took her to die; the longest, cruellest winter of my life.
‘I’m waiting for you, of course,’ she said. ‘You know I’d always wait for you.’
I nodded, lifting my head from the pillow to look at her. ‘I knew you’d wait.’ I said. ‘I suppose I’ve been here, waiting too.’
‘Are you ready, then?’
‘I’ve been ready for months, for all the time since that illness stole you from me,’ I said. I could feel the sharpness in the corner of my eyes. It was not much of a world, this world Alice had left me in after she’d gone, but still it was harder than I thought to leave it all behind.
When I looked back, though, as we stood there hand in hand watching it all disappearing, I knew I had made the right decision. We kissed for the first time in far too long as our old life faded... and then was gone.