‘Do you know how happy you make me?’ she asked, breathlessly.
‘Tell me,’ he replied.
So she did. She told him of all the times they had spent together that she cherished, and how even in the sadder moments – such as when her sister passed away – he was there for her, and made the tragedy bearable. She explained how, when he wasn’t there, her heart always beat that little bit slower, quickening when she caught that first glimpse of him coming home after a hard day at work. She confessed how safe she felt in his arms, how peaceful the world always seemed when she was pressed against him in their bed: the only two people in the world. And she told him how much she loved him, the tears finally overflowing to stain her flushed cheeks.
‘It will only be for a little while’ he reassured. ‘I’ll come back to you. I promise.’
She had believed him then; that the promise made would be fulfilled and that he would return to her so that they could continue their lives together. But she had waited in vain. Not even one word had been written between them before he had broken that promise and left her alone in the world. No more could she hope for something more; there was nothing that would compare with the life she would have lived had he been able to keep that promise.
On the day of the funeral she wore navy blue. Black was too anonymous. Pressed deep between the throngs of people inside the church she stood out like a beacon, screaming to be seen. Hushed conversations faded when she approached, and started up again as she passed – it was like listening to the sea on the shore, and she had the power to halt the waves. If only she had been able to halt the ocean then, he might be here with her, instead of…
She didn’t cry. Not one tear escaped her. She realised that she had wept for him on that final night, when he had asked her to tell him how he made her happy. She had given it all up to him, and he had taken it with him on that fateful journey, leaving her bare and blank.
She wondered what came next. But the words stalled in her throat, and her mind could not make sense of them. She didn’t sleep that night; she simply lay down on the bed in her navy blue dress, her shoes still resting on her weary feet, and stared into the darkness. She knew it was not the same darkness that her husband had seen, but somehow the depth of it made her feel closer to him. And when the dawn crept in to take the darkness away she shifted, kicked off her shoes and got up to pull the curtains and delay the inevitable. She wasn’t quite ready to let the light in yet.