“What do you think?” She asks, posing with his oversize shirt draped on her petite body like a dress. On the middle of the shirt was a picture of Darth Vader, captioned “Join the dark side, we have cookies”.
“It’s nice” he says with a weak smile.
She crawls next to him and lays on his chest, uncaring, unaware, and unscathed from the long trip to New York City. Tonight was not the night to talk about things like work. Tonight was about relaxing, and spending time with each other to celebrate a very important day.
“I love you”, he says to her.
“I love you too”,she returns.
The hotel room was dim, with only a few scented candles on the table emitting light. The room filled with the faint sound of Adele’s Hello.
She just lays there, on his chest, and he plays with her soft, jet black hair. She finds this appealing, and kisses him on the cheek. He plants a kiss on her forehead. The two remain still, with him twirling fingers around her hair, and her soft fingers running circles down his chest.
Every year, they spend October 3rd in New York City, for this was a day that they will forever remember, and this was a place that will remain dear in their hearts for eternity. No one could take this day from them- not rain, or snow, or a storm, or an emergency from work. Their phones lay flat, face down on the desk, on top of each other. They could only afford a night in the city, so both their bags remained unpacked on top of the dresser. They will have tonight to remember what this day is about, and in the morning, they will fly back to their lives like nothing happened.
“What did you bring?”, he asks. She springs up and walks toward the mini-fridge, and pulls out a box. Inside laid a dozen of red velvet cupcakes. She walks to him, and opens the box. He grabs two, one for him, and one for her, and then they smile at each other faintly, then take a bite. The bite reminds them of what they shared, with every taste bud vividly remembering the pull of the city, and why they have abandoned their lives to come to The Big Apple for just one night. They are not tourists. They are not here to see Times Square, or Rockefeller Center, or The Statue of Liberty. They are here to embrace something they shared; like a string that tied their hearts together.
“What did you bring?” She asks.
He reaches under the bed and pulls out a small box. He sits on his bed, vulnerable and nervous. This time of the year always made him feel uncomfortable, but also pleasant, in the most distinct way. To him, remembering is the best thing. He looks up at her, still holding the box of cupcakes.
“What is it?”, she asks.
“It’s special. For you.” He answers.
She sets the box of cupcakes on the desk, and then reaches for his box slowly. She looks at him one more time, and then she smiles, with a tear falling from her eye, and then she opens it.
Inside the box was a small shirt. It was a blue shirt, unwashed, but retained the same pleasant smell through the years. She gives it a sniff.
“I almost forgot how he smelled.”
He puts his hand over hers, still clinging the shirt. She rests her forehead against his, and together, they share a moment of silence to remember Tommy.
On the desk rests a picture of Tommy, in the suburbia of Hercules, California, with his small bicycle behind him, and an oversized helmet on his blond hair. He is wearing the same blue shirt they hold onto.
The streets outside blare with the noise of cars. This was a painful reminder to them. Maybe if they looked back more, or maybe if they held his hands tighter, or maybe if they carried him on their arms, he would still be with them.
But all they had was New York City, his favorite cupcakes, and the faint smell of his essence, trapped on his shirt.
They spend the rest of the night, laying on the bed, with their wedding rings sitting on the night stand. Tomorrow, they would be back to their families, in different parts of the world, where they have their own spouse and children waiting for them by the door, ready to give them the warm embrace of a family. This was an embrace they could never give Tommy again, and the memory of the hugs they shared with him lingers with them whenever they hug their own children. Tomorrow, Tommy will once again be a memory, and they will not speak until the same day the following year. For the world was too dark for them to walk the path of grief together, and with every second they spent with each other reminds them of the son they lost.
But tonight, just as every night of October 3rd for four years now, is his night, and it is the night his parents reconcile what demons they hid within them to celebrate his memory. For the dead do not walk this world and haunt us in front of our eyes, but walk within the boundaries of our thoughts, uncaring, unaware, and unscathed.