She sat at the end of the bed with her feet propped up on the memory chest, a position she took up every morning when she would talk with James as he got ready for work. James…it was turning out to be a long wait for her husband to come home from the event. It had been nearly four hours now. A part of her nagged that she should have went with him, but it was too hard. There was too much pain and heartache, so she opted to stay at home, perched in her favorite spot. He should be home any minute, she thought to herself as she ran her hands over the deep red comforter.
She remembered when they first bought it. There were no opinions spared as James told her, “it gave fugly a bad name.” Yet, her chuckle died down as she became restless, never being one to sit idle. Walking around the room, she continued to relive old memories, content to live in a past world over the cruel present. Her hand drifted out, touching all the trinkets on her vanity, stopping on the ornate wooden jewelry box. It was Christmas morning when she received it, nearly twenty years ago. James had woken at exactly 12:01 am to wish her a merry Christmas and give her this gift. She begrudgingly opened it, claiming coffee would have made the best gift. She was wrong. A beautiful diamond ring sat in the center. A ring she rarely had taken off since.
Her eyes turned from the jewelry box to the picture on the wall, the light having caught it just so. It was a picture of the first vacation they had taken as a married couple. They sat at a small table in a local restaurant in Italy overlooking the ocean. A local woman took it for them. The woman laughed when they had posed a strand of spaghetti being shared by the two of them, just like in the movie. Right after the picture was taken, she went to get the camera and the spaghetti strand snapped. It swung in a glorious arch, right onto James’ face. She wished they could go back.
A door shut and steps followed. James was home. It was time.
She walked over the bed again and sat slowly, waiting for him to reach the top of the stairs. James came through the door to the bedroom looking absolutely exhausted. The bags under his eyes were dark, his hair frayed, his clothes wrinkled. He was hopeless, sometimes, but she was always there to guide him. He slumped to the bed, his head falling right into his hands.
“James, I’m so sorry.” She gently moved across the bed to him, trying to hold back the emotions that threatened to break free. “I know it hurts now, but I promise, it will get better.”
James shifted away, and paced, until the light caught just right on the picture from Italy. “You looked so beautiful that night, like an angel. I looked at you and all I could do was thank God for letting me find you.” A tear fell from his face onto the frame. Then a second. A third.
“Oh, James. I’m so sorry I hurt you. If I could…fix it…I would.” She wrapped her arms around him as she whispered against his back. “I love you. I always have. Please, don’t ever forget that.”
James stroked the picture, right over her cheek and his control broke. Tears fled his eyes as he clutched the picture to his chest. His sobs wracked his whole body. “God, Anna. I miss you so much.”
Anna could only cry in silence as she laid her ghostly head against his shoulder.