It was 10 AM on a Saturday morning, and as his eyes opened, they instinctively scanned the bedroom doorway. Force of habit, paranoia, whatever they termed it as, he knew and trusted his instincts. It wasn't his luck that brought him this far. Every closed door had been either broken down by steel-toed boots or forced open by inevitability. He showered, dressed himself and as he walked out towards the living room, his nostrils caught the slightest wisps of a once-familiar perfume in the air. The muscles in his jaw involuntarily tightened, as if in protest against the memories the smell brought with it. Memories of a time when those same jaw muscles would smile more easily and often than frown. His body, as if pulled toward the source of the perfume glided toward the balcony, from where the scent seemed to emanate. As he moved past the furniture, his limp lifeless arms and legs clumsily bounced off them, breaking some of the items they collided with. The noise from their breaking jarred him from his reverie, and he awoke as if from a dream. The first thought in his head was unpleasant. He chided himself for day-dreaming, and reminded himself that people like him are seldom allowed the luxury of fantasy, living in a world of facts, of decisions, of pressure, a world that not only demanded performance, but the very life in his limbs. The next minute he spent in clearing the damage, and loudly berated the inherited blood in his veins that drove him to passionate action, making a mockery of the quiet, deliberate nature that he spent a lifetime cultivating. He got himself a cup of coffee, and made his way to the offending balcony, determined to train his errant emotions, a determination that he completely abandoned when the scent hit him a second time. This time, there was a face to go with it. His memories painted a young, pretty enough face, that was lit up by a cheery smile, flanked by bangs of dark hair running shoulder length. His breath left him as if he taken a punch to his stomach. He could feel the heart beat in his temples, and had to grab the rails to keep his balance. Slowly, he slid down the balcony rails, to the floor, his body had the look of a defeated man, crumpled and withered, but his eyes were still sharp, still bright. How could they not be. They were being shown a picture, that came from another lifetime, that he had hidden away in the dark recesses of his past. She was not the most beautiful woman in the world, and both of them knew it. But she was the only woman who had understood him...completely. She knew of his forced calmness, of the vivacious mind behind the slovenly exterior, of the beating heart in his chest, that demanded adrenaline as much as could be had. She loved that he would whistle the notes to her favourite songs while he showered. She loved that he would pretend to be asleep after she was awake, to jump at her and grab her as she walked by. She loved when he pretended not to be affected by that emotional moment at the movies, and she always pretended not to notice him wipe the solitary tear that he couldnt stop. She loved that he filled her life with his presence.
As his eyes slowly came back into focus, he could feel the heart beating steadier, his breath approaching its usual rate, and his strength flowing back into his limbs. It was as if he had been knocked out by that memory of her. He remembered exactly the moment that the memory had been from. He had been away from home for a week and a few more days, and had returned home by the last train. He remembered having to walk the 4 kilometers that separated the train station from his house, every step taking him closer to her. He remembered the moment as if it had been just yesterday. She opened the door to his knocking, wearing the smile that could thaw the coldest heart. He remembered her welcoming eyes, her wavy hair, and remembered best of all the perfume that she wore. It wasn't overbearing, but it always defined his memory of her. The years they spent together were littered with many such memories, these memories were all he had left, to remember a time of his life when his step was light, his heart danced and his very core shone with a glow that could only be attributed to contentment. He lost her to time, to the inevitabile sequence of human existence. From the very beginning of his association with her, he had debated what would become of him should he lose her. And each time he had prayed he be taken from this life before her, to escape the loneliness and devastation her loss would bring. And each time he would pray the universe ignore his last thought, for the thought of causing her sorrow by leaving her alone instantly made him regret his words.
Now, he said to himself... I am getting what I asked for. I am living with the ghosts of our past. With the vast emptiness of the current, while the memories remind me of better times. I am happy she does not have to experience this emptiness. And as he walked out into the world, his lips involuntarily whistled her favourite song.