He smiled as he caught sight of her. She was beautiful as always. He lifted a hand to wave at her, sure that she’d be glad to see him. But despite his efforts, she didn’t seem to notice him. Still enthusiastic, he ran up to her, a grin spreading across his lips. He couldn’t wait to see her expression.
He wasn’t supposed to be back for another week. At least, as far as she was aware, he wasn’t. He ordered the earlier tickets for her. Just so that he could see her just that little sooner. Just because he knew that she didn’t like him being away for so long.
Standing before her, he grinned as she looked up, but the expression left his face just as quickly as it came. Her eyes glistened in the light. Was she crying? Reaching out a hand to her, trying to comfort her, but rather than accept them, she withdrew to herself.
He stood there in shock as he watched her bury her face in her hands, rejecting the embrace and comfort that he wanted to offer. There was no doubt about it now. She was crying. Her entire body shook with each inhale. Why?
“Dearest, what’s wrong?” He asked. A question only met by the sounds of nature that surrounded them.
Pain filled his chest as he watched her silently shed tears. Pain that she wasn’t letting him understand. Putting a hand onto her cheek, he watched her helplessly. She had never been the type to keep her emotions inside. Especially not around him.
Whether it was happiness or anger, whether it was sadness or displeasure, whether it was pride or disappointment, she never kept her feelings from him. Even in the public eye, she had no qualms about chasing him about, swinging her back at him, if he managed to displease her. Her silence and apparent detachment, this time, scared him. Her refusal to let him in terrified him. Everything told him that something was terribly wrong.
“Dearest, what’s wrong?” He repeated, wrapping an arm around her. Whether she shared the sentiment or not, he wanted her close. He wanted to share her feelings, regardless of what they were. He wanted to reassure her that he was there for her, regardless of what it was. He would be there for her, present when she was ready to share.
Still, she gave him no answer. At the very least, she wasn’t rejecting him any further, she wasn’t pushing him away. Whatever it was, they’d face it together.
“Hyden” She whispered under her breath.
“I’m here.” He reassured, tightening his hold. Though she finally spoke, acknowledging his presence for the first time since his return, the pain in her voice brought tears to his eyes.
She lifted her face, but her eyes didn’t land on him. Instead, it fixed some place behind him. He turned to follow her gaze. Confusion washed over him, as he found himself staring at a photograph of himself. Why would she look at a photo of him when he was standing in person before her? Did he do something wrong? Was this a new way of punishing him?
“I can stop going on business trips.” He said, his heart aching as he put a hand onto her face. “Please don’t ignore me.”
Rather than answer, she straightened. He froze, as he came to a horrible realization. He stared at his arms in shock. She had just passed through them, as if they were nothing but air. At that instant, she stepped forward, confirming his observation as she passed through him again.
He turned to look at her, only then taking notice of her all-black garb. His eyes land on the photograph again. It was all coming together. Tears spilled out onto his cheeks. Matching hers. It wasn’t that she was ignoring him. To her, he might as well have not been there at all. Somehow, between the moment that he last waved goodbye to her and his trip back, he had died. A fact that he’d somehow missed, but she knew. He was a ghost and in her world no more.
At that moment, all the pillars in his world came tumbling down. All the dreams that they had together shattered. All their plans for their future together crumbled before him. He followed her, placing an arm around her, wanting to comfort her. But, it was futile. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, there was no repairing the truth.
He helplessly watched as she passed through him again, his heart filled with regret. If only he had spent more time with her… If only he had cherished their relationship a little more… If only he’d put her before his work. Perhaps, he would’ve stayed with her that day. Perhaps, he would’ve chosen to leave the company over leaving her. But, it was too late for any of that now. He blinked back tears. There was no going back.
He stared at the path before him. A path that she walked. He jogged to catch up with her. He couldn’t change the past. He couldn’t bring back the life they could’ve shared. Sometimes, things that are missed can’t be reclaimed. Sadly, he passed his fingers through hers as they walked, side-by-side like they used to. So close in proximity, but further than they’ve ever been.
He missed his chance, but still loved her all the same. Things had to be treasured in the moment. The instant one puts something off for another, he chooses to place its value beneath that chosen other. A valuable lesson, at a terrible cost. A mistake that he would never make again.
“Emorie.” He said, pressing his incorpal lips to her face as formless tears fell without leaving even a hint of a mark. “I’m sorry. But for all its worth… I vow to never leave your side again. From henceforth, I’ll watch over you and be forever here for you… Even if you don’t know it… At least, this way, we’ll have some chance to meet again…”
This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.
Do ghosts know they’re ghosts?