WEAKNESS OF THE HEART
- by Anshul Gandhi
14th November 2006
Stacey looked beautiful in the pale moonlight. It was cold, she noticed. Maybe colder than it was that night. No, she wanted to move on. It had been over an year now. She knew that only she could help herself. She looked again at the ear-rings. To anyone else, they would have looked ordinary. To her, they meant more than any other material belonging she had. But now, with that, she wanted to put an end to the pain that she had carried in her heart. She wanted to move on. Tears streaming down her face, she moved to the edge of the roof. She held out her hand to throw away the ear-rings. As memories of Daniel flooded through her mind, she felt a pain in her head. A kind of numbness.
Almost two years ago, on a warm June day, a similar numbness had changed Daniel’s life forever.
“How long does he have doctor ?”
“He’ll be lucky if he makes it till Christmas”.
“No, no no !! This can’t be happening. There must be something wrong. He was always a healthy boy. He has been good at school too. It must be a . . ”
“I am sorry Mrs. Rivers.”
“Is it going to be painful, doctor ?”
“The headaches will get worse. He won’t be in very good condition in the last few weeks.”
He was only 17 then. But he too observed the recurring pain that had been bothering him for the past few weeks. His parents took their time before telling him the truth. One way or the other, he would know.
“Mom, could we move to Carson City ?”
“What’s wrong with this place ?”
“I just, . . , I don’t want to see these streets. I want to get away from the familiarity of this place. Go somewhere new. ”
She didn’t argue with him. They were financially well-off and since Daniel was their only child, they wanted to do everything to keep him happy. And they understood his need for a new place. Atleast they thought they did. When Daniel told them about his plans to join Carson University, they didn’t protest. They wanted him to live his last few days as he wished.
Daniel was always good at studies and so, it wasn’t very difficult for him to enroll.
He knew she would be in his class. He had made sure of that. Only, he didn’t know if he would be able to recognize her after such a long time. It had been more than 3 years. But as soon as he caught sight of her during recess, he immediately recognized her. Stacey knew Daniel from school, but they were nothing more than acquaintances. She knew he was good at studies, but nothing more. She looked at him, still unsure.
“Hi Stacey. How are you ?”
“Daniel, its you isn’t it. I thought I recognized you, but then, I wasn’t sure.”
“Dad had to move in here because of his job. And so far, Carson City doesn’t seem too bad. ”
“Well, wait until you see the riverside. There’s nothing more beautiful.”
There sure is, he said to himself, aware of the smile that came on.
“Stacey, I need you to help me with notes. I have missed the first week and I don’t want to lag behind.”
“You haven’t changed, have you ?”
No, I still love you the same.
His headaches came more often now. It pained Teresa to watch her son like this. She cried silently every day, willing herself to be strong for his sake.
Daniel’s carefree behavior somehow didn’t seem right. There appeared something different about him. Not that she wasn’t happy that he was trying to lead a normal life, but Daniel had always been a quiet person. She never thought he would handle it this way. As though nothing had happened.
Daniel adjusted well to his new surroundings. Carson City was not a whole lot different from Rossville. He made friends easily. Of course, he was more interested in Stacey than in anyone else. He wondered at times about what he was doing. Or what he possibly hoped to do. All he knew was that when his mother told him, amidst tears, about his condition, the fist thing that came to his mind was Stacey. For three years, he had constantly thought about her. At school, he thought it was just another crush he was having. But once she left Rossville, he started missing her. He missed seeing her everyday. And as time passed, it became stronger. He had never felt this way for anyone else before. He didn’t care to give it a name. He just knew he felt that way. Stacey, on the other hand, knew nothing of Daniel’s feelings for her. Not then, not now. But she enjoyed his company as a friend.
Every night since the day they had moved to Carson City, Daniel would retire to his room after dinner and spend some time alone. He usually did that even when they were at Rossville.
Tonight, as on most nights, he was thinking about her. Stacey. He was aware of his feelings for her. He had never been more aware of anything else before. His hear was racing as he recollected the day and the way she looked that day. Beautiful, as always. But it was something about her that had moved him then. It was the same something that moved him now, everyday. Every hour. He never thought much about the time he had left. That was his way of dealing with it.
It’s gone well so far. She’s still the same Stacey I had fallen for back then. The same.
I wish she had loved me back then. Or even now. But, she doesn’t know about my feelings for her. Not yet. But I don’t have a lot of time left. No, I am not going to think about that. This is something I want to do. I know, I’ll ask her out tomorrow. It’s a Friday. She won’t say no.
And she didn’t.
When Daniel asked her out for a walk to explore the riverside, she thought it would be fun. It was September then. As the evening came on, the temperature dropped.
“Well, what do you know, it is beautiful !”
“I told you”, she said, beaming with a smile.
They talked about Rossville for a while. Rossville had been a happy place. Small, but peaceful. As she talked about the day she had to leave Rossville, Daniel couldn’t help but wonder how beautiful she looked.
I wish she stays the same always.
“I was so sad that day. I would have to leave all my friends behind and start all over again.”
Gosh, I wish she kept talking like this forever.
“But then, dad had to move. He had found a better job here and frankly, he didn’t enjoy his previous job much.”
The way her hair flows in the wind, it’s so beautiful.
“So I guess I really didn’t have a choice right ?”
And her eyes. Those dark brown eyes.
“Hey !! HEY !!”
“Err, what ?”, he said, coming out of his day-dream.
“Exactly, what ? Were you even listening ?”
“Sure I was.”
“You know, you act so strange sometimes.”
I can’t help it. It’s you.
“Look, there you go again. That faraway smile. You are not a crazy person, are you ?”
I am crazy.
“No I am not !! I am just a happy smiling person who does not crib all day.“
“So now you think I just complain too much, don’t you ?”
“No, I just think you are beautiful”, he said, never realizing that he had said it out loud enough.
“What ?”, she asked, not sure whether she heard him right.
“Nothing, its just so beautiful here. Exactly the way you said I would be. So beautiful”.
The way he said it, she knew she had heard it right. But she didn’t show it.
Seeing the night dawning, they started walking back. They didn’t stay too far away. As they were walking home, they crossed a window display showing some pieces of jewellery and watches.
“Dan, hold on. You see those ear-rings ?”
“Which ones ?”
“The ones on the right. Over there. They are pretty, right ?”
“They look expensive to me”.
“I know”, she said, with a long face. “I have been saving up to buy them. But every time something comes up and I end up spending all my savings. Its been months now. Wish I could have them some day.”
“Hey, what are you smiling about ?”, Stacey said curiously.
“Who me, oh, nothing really”
“You think I am a fool to try and save up enough money to buy something as expensive as that isn’t it ? You just wait and see, someday, those ear-rings will be mine.”
“If you say so”, said Daniel, with another smile.
That night, Daniel wasn’t the only one recollecting the evening.
As she lay in bed, Stacey couldn’t help but ponder over their conversation. He had said it out clear. I just think you are beautiful. Maybe she should have pressed him on then. But again, what does it mean. Guys had said things like that to her before. But that was the end of it most times. Pushing aside the thoughts that generally creep up in young minds, she turned off the lights and slept.
“They are gone !! No, no, NO. They are gone !!”
“The ear-rings, they are gone !!”
“Not those ear-rings again”, he said, trying to look irritated.
“And I thought I could talk my parents into buying it for me as a birthday gift. Just my luck.”
“When’s your birthday ?”
“Next Monday !!”, she said, forgetting her earlier disappointment.
“So, am I invited ?”
“Well, I can’t say no now, can I ?”, she said with a grin.
“No, seriously, I want to come.”
And then, with an evil grin, “I hear your mother makes the most delicious chocolate cakes”
“Grr, Daniel Rivers, one of these days, you jus wait. I’ll beat you up black and blue”
“Yeah, I hear you are good at it !”
“Come back here you . . ”
She waited all evening for him. Even when she cut the cake, her mind was on the door. Waiting for him to come. He didn’t come that evening.
“Are you sure you are ok son ? The doctor said you should rest today.”
“No ma, I am fine really. I’ll be back soon. I am just going over to Stacey’s. It’s her birthday”
“Ok, but don’t stay too long”
As he left the house, he wasn’t listening anymore. While at the hospital, he longed to be there with Stacey. He wasn’t really listening to the doctor either. His mind was elsewhere.”
“Umm, Mrs. Callaway, is Stacey home ?”
“Oh hello Daniel. Yes she is. She’s upstairs in her room. She said she was feeling a little tired”
“Can I see her for a while ?”
“Thanks Mrs. Callaway.”
Stacey wasn’t really tired. She was just feeling a little low. She wasn’t sure why.
“Daniel ? Oh hi. It’s a little late isn’t it ?”
“Well, it’s still Monday right ?”
“I guess”, she said, with a smile.
“Well then, Happy Birthday !”.
She couldn’t help laughing. “You sure are strange. Thanks”.
“It’s just that I wanted to surprise you”, he said, with a wink.
“What are you hiding back there ? Is it a gift. For me. You really don’t have to . . ”
“What makes you think it’s a gift anyways”.
“Now you asked for it Daniel Rivers”.
“Hey hey, what do you know, it IS a gift”.
She smiled again. A little more relaxed now. “Let’s see what you got.”
“Here, help yourself.”
She gasped at first, but then, she looked confused.
“I know it’s expensive for a gift Stacey, but after I bought it, I didn’t really know who else to give it to you know. Keep it. Maybe you won’t beat me black and blue now”.
“Oh, Dan, you really didn’t have to.“
“Hey, I knew the guy at the store. And he told me he had a special discount that day.”
“You really are strange Daniel. But you know what, I saved up some cake for you”, she said, as she held out the piece of cake she had saved for him.
“See, now I wouldn’t get it if I didn’t get you a gift would I ?”
“I promised myself I wouldn’t hit anyone today but . . ”
“Ok ok, I get the message. You really look pretty though.”
He just knows the right words.
He didn’t want to admit it, but the pain was returning.
“Umm, I really should get going Stacey. It’s late.”
“I am glad you came Daniel. Thanks.”
“You were waiting for me all evening, weren’t you ?”
“What !”, she said, clearly irritated.
“You were sad that I didn’t come, so you came up to your room early.”
“I was just a little tired.”
“From eating all the cake ?”
“Easy easy. You do have a temper. But I know I am right”, he grinned, knowing fully that he was getting on her now.
“And what makes you think that ?”
“Well, you didn’t hit me yet. Isn’t that enough.”
“Just you wait until tomorrow Daniel Rivers. Just you wait !”.
I will. Like everyday.
She had to admit, her emotions were betraying her. They had clicked off too well. Their friendship had been quick and comforting. She couldn’t push her feelings anymore. He was a nice guy, just a little strange. But nice. She slept soundly that night.
Daniel didn’t have a great night though. The pain was getting worse now. His mind raced through thoughts of Stacey and the way she behaved. He had watched her closely. He knew there was something at the other end. He just didn’t know what.
The next day, Daniel didn’t talk much. Stacey was curious, but she didn’t press him. She knew he acted strange sometimes. But was it because of yesterday. She couldn’t say.
As for Daniel, it was going well. He had thought this through.
At recess, Stacey approached Daniel.
“Daniel, is everything ok, you seem a little low. ”
“Oh it’s nothing. Don’t bother. It’ll go soon.”
“You sure you don’t want to talk about it.”
“Yeah, don’t worry. I just need some time.”
“If you say so.”
He didn’t talk the next day either. He avoided her.
Why can’t he talk ? And why is he avoiding me in particular ?
On the third day, she couldn’t take it any longer.
“Daniel, what is it ?”
“Oh, hi Stacey.”
“Hi Stacey !”, she repeated, clearly annoyed. “What’s the matter with you these days. Ever since that day, you have been acting strange. And why are you avoiding me ?”
“I am not avoiding you.”
“I am not blind Daniel. A little short-tempered, but not blind. What is this all about ?”
“Can we talk about it after college ?”
“You better not run away this time Daniel Rivers”
He didn’t. Infact, he waited for her outside class.
“Now tell me, what is this all about. What’s troubling you ?”
He held her hand, surprising her. “Let’s walk down to the riverside.”
Neither of them spoke a word as they made their way to riverside.
Stacey, as she was thinking whether she did the right thing by asking him.
Daniel, knowing he had played it perfectly so far.
It was not crowded yet. It was still early in the evening.
As they reached a quiet place close to the waters, Daniel stopped.
Stacey stopped too, her heart beating a little too fast.
As Daniel turned around to face her, he knew by the look on her face, that he had her.
“Stacey Callaway, I think I like you.”
That’s all ? Is this what he wanted to say ? I LIKE you. No, I THINK I like you.
She pretended to be surprised. “I, I don’t know what . . ”
“Stacey, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, I felt we had something and I didn’t know what was in your mind. I was just not sure whether I should tell you or not.”
That you THINK you LIKE me. Guys. And I was hoping he would say something more romantic.
“That’s all there is Stacey. Please don’t get angry, its just that, I didn’t know how you would take it ? Infact, I still don’t know how you feel about all this. Stacey ?”
Stacey was lost somewhere between disappointment and irritation. Disappointed, at how small this whole affair turned out to be as opposed to what she had expected. Irritated, well, that was her default behavior.
“What do you expect me to say you have just said, so much.”
“Stacey, I had to let you know”
This one time, I really feel like beating him black and blue.
But she composed herself. She realized how awkward this whole thing was turning out to be. She chose her words wisely.
“Dan, I guess I did realize that you like me. You were always there when I wasn’t feeling my best and you made sure you attended my birthday even though you were advised by your doctor to rest.”
“How did you know that ?”, he said, trying to hide his fears.
“I was talking to your mom the other day. We met at the magazine store down by the house.”
“What else did she say ?”
“What ? Nothing. Was there anything else ?”
“No. Nothing”, he said, much more relaxed now than he was a few moments ago.
“Dan, I don’t see why it should bother you so much”
“You mean, you are ok with it ?”
“Yeah, I guess”
He smiled like a 10 year old kid.
“Perfect”, he said to himself, fully aware of his made-up smile.
He didn’t talk at all the way back home. Neither did she.
That night, Daniel slept like a baby.
Stacey, well, she had an almost sleepless night.
He likes me, I know that. But there’s more. There’s got to be more. The way he acts. And only I am his friend. He doesn’t spend time with anyone else. I know there’s more.
Maybe he is just a little shy.
Should I let him know about my feelings for him ?
By the way, what are my feelings towards him.
It took hours. It took hours to answer something she knew well, but she didn’t want to admit it.
He’s a nice guy but, do I love him ?
I know I like him. But do I love him ?
Now I know he likes me too. No, I know that he thinks he likes me. He sure is crazy.
Now, knowing that I know that he thinks he likes me, do I love him ?
She tried around a few more combinations without any results. She just didn’t want to admit it.
She looked dizzy in class all day. One look at her made Daniel realize that she had been thinking about him last night. He smiled.
At recess, he caught up with her.
“You look tired.”
“Yeah, didn’t get enough sleep last night.”
He smiled and looked away.
“What are you smiling about Daniel Rivers ?”
She says my full name whenever she’s angry or irritated. That means she’s either of the two right now. It’s the right time.
“You were thinking about me, weren’t you ?”
“What !! Are you crazy ??”, she said after composing herself.
She took a while before she answered. That’s it.
“No I am not. Why can’t you accept that you like me too.”
Yesterday, he was a guy who couldn’t find the courage to tell me that he thought he liked me. And today. He sure is strange.
“Stacey, I am absolutely ok with it.”, he said, walking away.
“Ok with what ?”
“You understand what ?? Daniel Rivers, come back here !!”
He had timed it perfectly. Recess had ended and he made his way quickly back to class.
Professor Brown was noted for his hostility. Stacey didn’t want to take any chances. She waited till after school. As she had expected, Daniel tried to get away early.
“Daniel, stop !!”, she said, screaming.
“Where are you running off to ?”, an angry look on her face.
“I had to talk to Professor Brown”, he said, as innocently as possible.
“Oh ok”. This wasn’t going too well for her.
“No, what is it ? Come on Stacey, what are you getting all heated up about ?”
“It’s just that. . Dan, what were you saying at recess ?”
He looked confused. And then, in one master move, he placed his hand gently on her arm. “Stacey, I meant to say that I understand you like me too.”
And then he left to Professor’s Brown office, leaving behind a speechless Stacey.
What just happened ? In my anger and embarrassment, I couldn’t counter him at all.
Then she smiled.
Its ok I guess. It’s for the best.
With a smile on her face, she left.
The next week, they saw more of each other than they ever had. They constantly visited each other and stayed over for quite a while.
Teresa was concerned. She could make out what was going on between them. But what should she do at this point of time ?
She decided she should talk to Daniel.
“Dan, could you come down here a minute.”
“Just a second mom.”
“Yeah, what is it ?”
“Hon, did you go over to Stacey’s again today ?”
The question caught Daniel off-guard. “Yes, but why ?”
“Daniel, I don’t mean to tell you how you should live your life but”, she bit her lip, not knowing if she was doing the right thing.
“Daniel, its just that. . Honey, do you like Stacey ?”
“Son, its perfectly alright. I know you like her. And she’s a nice girl. But, I don’t know if you should do this.”
Daniel knew what she was trying to say. It was something he understood very well himself. He just didn’t want to think about it now that things were going so well.
“Mom,”, he started, now, with tears in his eyes. “I really like her. I know I should have told you this but, I was afraid how you would react. Stacey studied with me at Rossville too.”
Teresa grew tense. She didn’t know this. But, what did that mean ?
“I liked her from back then. I don’t know why, but I really felt for her. From the bottom of my heart. And, when you told me about, about. . ”.
The fear in his eyes was muddled by the tears.
Teresa was in tears too, trying to fight back.
“Oh Daniel, I am so sorry”
“Its not that mom. Its not something you could have helped. I just wanted to see her once again. I just did. I don’t know it was right or wrong. I didn’t want to think of it. All I thought was her. And I wanted to see her again, just once. But then, it grew. We talked and, and . . ”
“Dan, all I am saying is that if you really love her, then you would be hurting her if she reciprocates your love. You know that. You won’t be there with her for long.”
No words came from him. He was now crying helplessly.
She took him in her arms, and he cried. She cried with him. Not knowing what to say.
The next day, he stayed at home. It was the last day of the week. He asked Teresa to take him someplace nice for the weekend. That way, he wouldn’t have to face Stacey.
What Daniel didn’t realize was that Stacey had fallen in love with him. His sudden absence disappointed her.
Why didn’t he tell me anything about not being here for the weekend. Am I not that important. Maybe, maybe it is my fault. The way I have acted with him. I never told him my feelings for him. How would he know that I liked him too. But then, that day, he said he understood. Did he really ? Daniel, you really are strange.
While Daniel was away at his aunt’s for the weekend, it gave him time to confront the realities.
What was I thinking ? I knew it all along. Yet, why didn’t I stop ? I would never hurt Stacey, but then, I really wanted to talk to her. Be with her. Was I wrong ?
Teresa’s words raced through his mind, bringing tears to his eyes.
Yes, I was wrong. But wait, I can still put an end to this. She doesn’t really like me. It was just me acting that way. We have been seeing each other for just the last month.
I know, I’ll tell her everything. . what everything ? That I won’t be there next year ?
That I won’t live that long.
The fear overtook him right there, and he broke down.
When they returned the following week, he had made up his mind, he was going to tell Stacey that he had to return to Rossville because of a family affair. Yes, that would be right he thought. She didn’t need to know.
But Daniel had no idea what was coming next.
“Stacey, could I have a word with you.”
“Dan, where were you this weekend ?”
“I was ay my aunt’s place”
“Daniel, there is something I want you to know”
She didn’t wait for him to respond.
“I know it’s just been a few weeks, but, I have really started liking you Daniel. I didn’t have the courage to admit it back then. Daniel, I . . ”
“Stacey, . . ”
“Daniel, no. let me finish. I love you Daniel. I really do. I know this is a little to quick but I do not want to hide the fact that I care . . ”
Daniel had stopped listening. I love you Daniel. He had only heard it in his dreams before. This was for real. His mind raced through images of Stacey. Rossville. Then Carson City. The first time he saw her at Carson. The riverside walk. Everything.
“Daniel, Daniel !!”
“Stacey, I have to go”
“Daniel, wait, come back”
He ran. From what, he didn’t know. It just seemed the right thing to do. He forgot what he had come there for. Only those words. I love you Daniel. And then it happened.
His head. The numbness. He ran home. It was just a few steps away now. But the pain. It was gripping him now. The door, just there. Teresa caught sight of him running towards home. She panicked.
Daniel collapsed at the door.
Late in the night, they returned from the hospital. He had just a few more weeks to go. And the pain was going to get worse now. He had overheard the doctor. And for the first time, he was afraid. Teresa sat beside him as he pretended to be asleep.
Daniel had told her last night that he was going to tell everything to Stacey. What she didn’t know was what had happened that day between Stacey and him.
Hearing a knock at the door, Teresa left his side.
Daniel’s mind was going through lots.
“Mrs. Rivers, is Daniel ok ?”
It was Stacey.
“He’s fine now, he’s sleeping in his room.”
“Oh ok. I was worried.”
“Stacey, I hope you understand. Its getting worse. He won’t really be able to go to college from now on. And I think its best for him that way.”
Stacey was confused. All she knew was that Daniel had run away and when she came to their house later in the evening, no one was home. But, why could he not go to college anymore.
“Stacey, I don’t really know what to say. It has just been so hard on everyone. All this. I don’t know what he did to deserve this.”. She broke down.
Stacey was now terrified. Teresa was right there, crying helplessly in front of her. And she had no idea why ?
“It’s the worst thing that can happen to someone. Its just not right. To bury your own child. To see him pass before your time. Its just not right. Its just so wrong.”
It was as if the roof had come crashing down on her. Stacey was stunned. She now put two and two together.
That’s why he was always so strange. That’s why he can’t go to college anymore.
She didn’t know what to do.
“Stacey, can you please forgive him. He had never meant to hurt you. He really liked you. Right from Rossville, . . ”. As Stacey heard the whole story from Teresa, she felt the floor slip from beneath her.
From Rossville. Back then. But, he never talked to me. And then, at college, he never told me all this. In his last days, he wanted to see me. I mean so much to him. He loves me so much. Why, why does it have to happen this way. Why.
“Mrs. Rivers, how long does he have ?”
“About a month now. But his headaches will get worse. I don’t think he will leave home.”
“That’s ok. Can I come down here to meet him ?”
“Of course dear.”
“Thank you Mrs. Rivers. I will get going now. I will come down after college tomorrow.”
Stacey had never experienced a pain so terrible. Nor had she ever experienced a love so strong. That made the pain worse.
A month. That’s all.
Why him of all people. Why Dan ?
The first time I ever liked someone, and . .
Another sleepless night.
No, I will be strong for him. He has nothing left.
He loved me so much. Of all things he could do before his time, he chose to listen to his heart. He gave up everything else just to see me once more. To talk to me.
I never knew someone who loved with so much courage. A love so strong.
I never thought someone could love so much. And that too, love me.
Do I even deserve so much.
I know, I will be strong for him. Let him have the best last days.
I am his only friend now. The worst thing he would want right now is more pain.
No, I will be there with him. Through it all.
God, give me the courage.
Daniel was withering with pain. He didn’t know what had happened right now. He had passed out due to the pain.
As promised, Stacey came over after college.
Daniel was with Teresa in his room.
“Hi Stacey, come on in. I have a few chores to do, why don’t you both sit and talk. I’ll see if I can fix you some tea.”
“Thank you Mrs. Rivers.”
“Stacey, I am sorry about yesterday. I just . . ”
“Its ok Daniel. Your mom told me all about it. Just rest for now. Don’t think about anything else.”
“Stacey, I never meant to hurt you, its just that. . ”
“Shh, its you I am worried about right now Dan. I don’t want you to worry about anything else ok ? Its my turn to understand now”, she said with a smile. The same smile that had always made Daniel forget everything else.
And like always, it had the same effect on him now.
The next couple of days didn’t go well for Daniel. He slept most of the day due to the numbness. Dinner was the only time he could rest and talk. The pain was taking its toll.
It was December now. The holiday mood was beginning to show. Stacey had done well to keep her head clear. She met Daniel everyday for a while after dinner. She could she he was in pain. But just those few minutes with her, he was always cheerful. She was happy to see him smile.
That night, as usual, after dinner she met Daniel.
“Stacey, I don’t know what mom and you talked about, but let me say this now”
“Daniel, its okay . . ”
“No Stacey, I don’t know if I will have the courage to say this again. Its not easy to confront your fears and admit them.”
“Daniel, you really don’t . . ”
“Stacey, I have maybe a month left. I will be lucky if I make it till Christmas. But I have come to accept that now. I never had any big dreams. I lived my life one day at a time. And I have no regrets. And I am happy for that. But Stacey, I don’t know why, the first thing that came to my mind when mom told me about what the doctor had told her was not the pain. Not the number of days left. For some reason, it was you Stacey. And I am not making this up. There’s no reason for me to make this up now.”
Stacey was growing tense. She knew he was saying the truth. She just didn’t know if she could stop her emotions now.
“After you left Rossville, I missed you. I know it doesn’t make sense. But I did. We never talked in school, and, we weren’t even friends. Yet, I missed you. It was the one truth I knew for sure. I guess I liked you from back then. And when my heart called out for you, I couldn’t help myself. I had to see you before I, before my time.”
She knew she couldn’t take it much longer.
“Stacey, I love you. I love you from the bottom of my heart. And its like nothing I have felt before. It’s the one feeling I am so sure about Stacey. And, I couldn’t stop myself from listening to my heart. I gave in.”
I love you. It kept ringing in her head. She knew it. But to have heard it from him. It was so different. So strong.
“I wanted to tell you that day that I won’t be able to stay in Carson for long. I didn’t want to hurt you Stacey. I know I won’t be there to hold your hand for long. I will have to go, and I can’t stop it.”
He was crying now.
“I never wanted to hurt you Stacey. And I am sorry if I did. I just . . ”
“Daniel, I love you too.”
She didn’t say anything else. She didn’t need to.
She held his hand. And she cried.
That night, Stacey cried again when she was back at her place.
But this time, she cried with joy. To have been loved that way.
She didn’t want to think about him going away.
He had touched her heart like nothing ever before. And she knew that would stay with her long after he would be gone.
She opened the window to let the air in. It was cold. Very cold.
For Daniel, it was his last night. The pain was taking its toll on him. A couple of hours everyday was all he was able to manage without pain. But today, it had been the best day. Those few minutes with Stacey. Nothing else mattered now.
His heart rested easy. Peace. He felt numb. Not due to the pain. Just the feeling all over.
What he did next was not exactly in his control.
His room was high and the ground sloped downwards, causing a high elevation till his room.
He opened the window. He knew it was wide enough. He felt the cold air. For him, nothing else mattered now. He had thought about how death would come to him. Slow and painful. But he never thought about this. Not until today.
This way, he wouldn’t have to feel the pain over and over again. He wouldn’t be stripped of his memories one by one till he lost them all. Maybe even Stacey. He couldn’t let that happen.
Stacey loved him. It filled his heart. He felt the calmness. There was a smile on his face. And then, he jumped.
Carson City never forgot that day. Daniel was buried near riverside.
As for Stacey, she broke down. But she didn’t show it.
She felt that from somewhere, Daniel was still seeing her. She could feel his eyes on her. And she didn’t want to be sad for him. She wanted to be happy. She had felt a love. And it would never leave her.
She collected herself now. It had been more than an year. And it had been worse than she thought. It had ruined her. The love. It broke her inside out. Memories of Daniel haunted her for months. She was going crazy. She had suffered from depression for the first few months. Those earrings. Every time she saw them, it reminded her of him.
How could he do that ? Why did he not stay till he could ?
Her head hurt more.
No, I’ll finish this.
She looked at the earrings again.
Daniel hadn’t just touched her heart. He had also given her a pain she couldn’t ease.
And then, something overcame her. She knew how she could set it free.
She put on the earrings. And then, she jumped.