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I stare out the vacant window, watching as the whispering wind caresses the green leaves attached to an Oak tree. Small droplets of rain crash against the window, mimicking the crash of my own tears on the empty white linen bed. The silence in the white room, all but the rising beat of my heart, impersonates the thoughts that flow through my mind. The time machine near the bed is currently turned off; it will stay off until my gelatin legs force me to stand up and carry on with my life. But my life ended once hers did.
My hands proceed to feel for the touch of her fair skin, not fully comprehending that she no longer exists. They only come in contact with a damp patch of sheets. I don’t want to believe that she will never be nestled in the crook of my arms. I don’t want to believe that I will never hear the sound of her singsong voice or the sound of her bubbling laughter as it fills the halls of our house. My house now, I think, which only brings more tears to the surface.
To this point in my life, I never imagined a life without my beautiful Acacia. I never thought I would have to go on in a world where my other half no longer walks in. But now I could have more than fifty years without the only person who ever made any sense to me. The only person who made my life worth living for.
At the sound of a female voice, I leap out of my wooden chair, quickly turning around only to slip on the tiled floor and crash against the bed. A throbbing pain surrounds my mind and my aching body.
“Mr. Brewer! Are you alright?” A hand grazes my shoulder and a shudder runs through me. For a second, just a brief second, a surge of happiness flew through me. For that one moment, a glimpse of my wife stood in front of me, with a concerned look and a frown. But that image was rapidly replaced with a nurse with auburn hair, not the blonde hair of Acacia.
“Mr. Brewer?” She repeats.
“I thought you were my wife,” I blurt out. I slowly bring my arm up to my face to wipe my blood-shot eyes, to wish the tears away, but my lack of sleep keeps my eyes all teary-eyed.
The nurse looks taken aback. “Oh, Mr. Brewer. I’m sorry.” She gives me a look of sympathy, as if she knows what I’m going through.
At that instant, the room seems to increase in pressure. The air begins to thicken with my fallen tears and heated breaths. My wife’s dying chamber grows exceptionally cold, matching the coldness of my now dead heart. She was the only one who brought the passionate heat to my heart.
I let out a mumbled, “It’s alright,” to the nurse before my hand grasps the metal part of the bed, and I start to slowly bring my weak body to a standing point. The nurse tries to help me, but I push her away, not wanting the feel of another woman’s hand on me. Through my lashes, I can see that my tired rudeness has not fazed her. This is probably something she deals with daily. I end up dragging myself to the chair I was plastered in not even five minutes ago. Pain lapses through my body when I finally sit down.
The room stays in inclusive silence. The nurse has not left; the white door is ajar, which was securely closed before she walked in.
She breaks the silence after a few forced breaths. “Mr. Brewer. It is almost 8:00pm.” She pauses from her whispering tone, maybe thinking that I will respond. But the only response I could possibly bring was the fall of more tears. I know what she is going to say. She takes this as a cue to go on. “You have been locked up in this room for almost three hours, Mr. Brewer. I’m sorry, but we’ve waited patiently, knowing that your loss must be hard to go through…” She takes a deep breath before continuing. “…but we need the room, Mr. Brewer. We have to straighten up the room for a patient who is—”
“This is her room. This is the room she—she died in! I can’t just leave her here!” I scream out, my upper half collapsing on her death bed, clutching the sheets close to my mouth. My eyes squeeze shut and a strangled cry is released from my mouth.
A hand that does not belong to my Acacia touches my shoulder, just light enough that if my body was not shuttering, I would not have felt it.
“Mr. Brewer, please look at me.” I stay where I am, trying to bury my head deeper into the sheets. “Mr. Brewer,” she says more firmly. All I want to do is be left alone, to go back a few days where Acacia was laughing at one of my lame jokes. All I want is my girl back.
A hand comes in contact with my cheek and struggles to pull my face away from the covers. Yet in my weak state, the hand easily draws my face away. The nurse’s eyes swim over my features before she speaks in a calm voice. “Your wife may have drifted off in this room”—more tears pour out—“but she is no longer in this room. You won’t be leaving her, Mr. Brewer. You will always have her, in here.” Her finger points to where my heart is. “She is never going to leave your heart.”
In my state of mind, where my one true love died not even twenty-four hours ago, I can’t help but push her words away. I don’t just want her to live on in my heart; I want her to live on in my arms where she belongs. I don’t just want to remember the memories I had with her; I want to make memories with her, until the day I die.
And not only does that cause more tears to stream down my cheeks, but it causes the memory of the first time I laid eyes on my beautiful Acacia to pop up in front of my vision. I can perceive the rustle of the leaves, the sun poking out behind the thousands of trees. I can see the pathway that I walked on, the patches of green and brown and black of the earth. And I can hear the sound of the twig snapping by a nearby tree. The sound of her laughter echoing through the forest.
It was an odd coincidence, finding a girl with bouncy, blonde locks skipping through the forest. In all my eighteen years of spending my free time walking through this secret forest, I have never come across something as gorgeous as this free spirited girl. Her laughter resembled bubbles of air, where if you popped one, a beautiful burst of resonance filled your ears. Her white cotton dress, sequined with flowers colored from red to a dark purple, flowed from side to side with each skip. Her blissful smile seemed to sparkle in the sunlight.
One look at her and I knew I had to know her name.
She didn’t appear to notice that there was a pair of brown eyes watching her. Not until I took a step toward her and accidently let out a joyful laugh. The response I received was a startled scream and a quick hide behind the closest tree. I couldn’t help but let out a quiet chuckle.
“Who’s there?” Her voice sounded like vanilla, sweet and smooth and full of life.
“Sorry if I startled you. I was taking a walk,” I said. A head peaks out from behind the tree and I automatically saw bright blue eyes. Her eyes reminded me of the depths of an ocean. Then she completely steps out, with her hands tucked behind her back mysteriously. She gave me an incredulous look, as if I was the first human being she has ever laid eyes on.
“No one takes walks through this forest anymore,” she stated. I got that nagging feeling that I should ask her where she got this idea from, but my lips speak otherwise.
“No one but me,” I said. A smile pulled at the edges of her mouth. Her eyes were filled with curiosity. “I’ve never seen you before.”
She squinted her eyes, as if wondering if she could trust me. She must have because she said, “My family moved here a couple weeks ago. My father was offered another job and we needed more money so he took it. Thankfully, I found this forest. It seems to be the only place where I can clear my thoughts.”
“I know what you mean.” The words came out before I had the chance to process them. She cocked her head to the side as she took a few steps toward me. A smile bounced onto her face.
“Do you, now?” I could hear the playful note in her voice. I stuffed my hands into my jeans pocket and smiled up at her.
“This is the only place where I can be myself.” Her feet stopped moving when I uttered those words. She analyzed me, from my bland brown hair down to my blue Nike shoes. I couldn’t help but smirk, since she blushed when she caught me watching her. But then she immediately composed herself, skipping toward me. She stopped right by my face, close enough where her nose touched my burning cheek. Her skin felt smooth, sending chills through my veins.
Her breath caressed my ear when she whispered, “I like you.” The next minute she was hopping back toward the houses while I stood there, breathless. There has never been a girl to leave me breathless, not until now.
“Wait!” I shouted after her. She came to a stop and spun around, her dress flowing around her.
“Yes?” She asked with a mischievous smile.
“What is your name?” I had to see her again. I had to know her name.
She gave me a huge smile which also showed in her eyes. Her lips slowly formed one word: “Acacia.” Then she was gone, running through the damp grass as fast as her flat shoes would take her. Her laughter carried through the breeze.
For a few, long minutes, I stood there, picturing her silhouette bouncing and laughing delightfully. I tried her name on my lips a couple of times. Her name rolled off my tongue, stuck inside my mind like a magnet. She was the first girl who ever left me mesmerized. She was the first girl who always left me wanting more.
The picture of Acacia disappeared. The room of white and dread filled my sight. Reality came back into play. The nurse was crouched down by the side of the chair that I was in.
“S-sorry,” I mumbled. The nurse was smiling, but the smile was nothing like Acacia’s. Nothing would ever be like Acacia’s again. I had nothing but her favorite belongings to remember her by.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Brewer, but what did you see?” Her voice is innocent, curious.
Acacia was always curious.
I found myself doing something that Acacia always did to people. I scanned over the nurse’s body, figuring out if I could trust her with one of my deepest, most lovable secrets that I rarely shared with anyone. I rarely shared any secrets that Acacia and I made in the forest. But the nurse somehow earned my trust in the small minutes that we were talking for. The nurse did not seem like one of those nosy people who wanted to know all of your business. She only looked like she wanted to help.
“I-I saw Acacia, my Acacia. The first t-time I ever saw her.” I did not know what to expect from the nurse. Maybe another sympathy look or a pat on the shoulder. But I definitely did not expect
a content look. I was about to ask why she was giving me that look when she decided to speak.
“And was she smiling?”
“Like she was on our wedding day,” I state. A smile slips onto my face, the first one since this early morning. The days Acacia smiled play like a clip in my mind: the first day we met, all the dates we went out on, the night I asked her to marry me near our special tree in our forest, all the days we spent together. Every day, she gave me a smile that would light up my day. Every day of my life, she made worth living for.
“There you go, Mr. Brewer.” My eyes drift to the nurse’s hazel ones. I sniff, and I feel a few tears fall down my face. My smile drops, soon replaced with a confused look.
“What do you mean?”
“That image of your wife—smiling—is how you should see her every day. You should wake up to the picture of her smile and fall asleep to her smile. You should remember the first day you met and your wedding day and every other day that made you smile. Remember her as the girl who gave you all her smiles.” The nurse, herself, smiles before continuing. “Though she may be gone, she still smiles at you. In fact, I bet you she is smiling down at you now. She may not be with you in body but she is with you in spirit. And I know that there will not be a day that goes by that she does not smile at you.”
Her words create a hole in my heart, a hole that will fill up with Acacia’s smiles and all our glorious memories. My whole heart belongs to my dear Acacia. It always will.
The nurse is right. I should not remember Acacia as the weak, decaying girl who died in this bed. I should not remember the harsh moments she fought to keep living, even though we both knew after that crash that she would not be with us much longer. Those last moments would forever burn inside me, but they did not sum up the seventeen years of magnificence with Acacia. Those seventeen years were summarized with her smiles, her laughs, her tiny whispers of “I love you.” With her uncanny sense of humor, her determination to fulfill her dream of fashion designing. She made her dream come true and mine, too. She gave me a life worth living for, a life that was crammed with love and hundreds of smiles.
She was the sunshine in my life.
I find myself smiling at the nurse. I struggle to stand up in my weak state but I do, and so does she. And to her surprise, I grab her and hug her, mumbling, “thank you,” over and over again until it is finally clear in my mind. She lets out a small laugh and replies, “Your welcome, Mr. Brewer.” She walks toward the door, not realizing that I’m not following. She turns around , though, and says, “I can only offer you a few moments alone before we need the room.” I nod, wiping at my eyes and quite thankful that my tears have stopped for just a few seconds. “If you ever need anything, Mr. Brewer, my name is Amelia.” She gives a curt wave before she slips passed the door. She keeps the door ajar.
I know now that this room is no longer hers. It never was. It was merely a place where her life ended and where both of our new lives began.
Just then, the gloomy darkness of the outside world shines brightly. A light flashes through the glass window and something appears next to me. I turn my head, slightly blinded by the yellow light. And then I see her. Bouncy blonde curls, exquisite blue eyes, a white cotton dress styled with iridescent flowers. A pure smile.
She stands next to me, her ghostly hand resting on top of mine. She smiles at me and I smile at her, and that’s when I fully know that she will never leave me. She may be a spirit now, but she will always be in my heart, and all I have to do is believe that she is with me, smiling and encouraging me to do what I need to do to keep living, until that one day when I will join her. And when I join her, it will be like the first day we met. A new day and a new beginning.