The Ghost of a Great Love
By: Renee Heath
Alan was famous to her, even before he was a best-selling author. Before that he was Melissa’s star. She loved him, but she never could fathom why. She didn’t want to, all she knew was that she did. He was her Writer, and one of the greatest loves of her life. Alan made her see in color for the first time in years. Made her feel important, and that her words and stories mattered. He made her feel unabashedly loved.
Melissa stands in the cemetery at sunset. The sky is the color of blood as the sun sets its sights on awakening the other side of the world. She is blind to its vibrancy. All she sees is a stark white headstone, newly etched with the name of a man she loved. It’s a name that used to dance on her tongue. Making her giggle like a school girl and weep like a child longing for their mother. She wishes she could say his name out loud, but she will not. There was hope she would see it next to hers. On stationary, a published book, maybe even a marriage certificate.
There’s a chill in the autumn air. How she had always hoped to visit in springtime. The sun descends lower ushering in the magic hour. Oh, that perfect light of day. Wrapping her arms around herself, she recalls the yearning she had to hold him in this life, just once. Melissa swears she can feel him now. The breeze is his whisper in her ear, telling her he loves her, still. She feels the softness of his hands on hers, and swears she hears him whisper her name. It’s like he’s standing right behind her.
It’s dusk now. The air is getting colder, crisper, and the sky darker. But she doesn’t want to move. Moving would break the spell. She’s so afraid his ghost will disappear. Melissa wants to turn around and see Alan standing there. With his silly smirk, laughing eyes and exquisite hands. She longs to hear her nickname fall from his lips. If she moves from this spot, she knows she never will.
With the sun now set, blackness has settled in. There is no luminosity among the gravestones. She is sure Alan’s presence has disappeared with the setting of the sun. Melissa misses him so damn much. They longed to see each other in the flesh, but the timing never worked out. Even though they loved one another, something always got in their way. An ocean separated them, along with other lives to live. They connected on so many levels, but physically, they never could.
Part of her ashes will be buried with him someday. She’s already made the arrangements. Even though they never met, lived together or were a family, their hearts were each others homes. She knows that even though they never connected physically in this life, that they will in the next one. There they will meet, fall in love, have children, grow old and die together.
She’s still standing at his graveside. It’s full-dark, but she doesn’t care. The sky is full of stars and the moon is full. Melissa envisions everything. All the words they said and love shared. It irradiates and warms her desolate soul. She begins to pull apart the flowers that she brought to place on his grave. She sprinkles the petals on the headstone and all over the ground around it. Finally, she begins to cry. For in that instant, she hears her nickname, whispered and carried on the wind. The single word tickles hauntingly in her ear, “Petal.”
She turns to look behind her, but of course Alan isn’t there. She knew he wouldn’t be. Her legs finally become uprooted, and she kneels down. Her slender fingers lovingly trace his name on the stone. She blows kisses toward it, and mouths the words, “goodbye, I’ll see you in the next life.’”
Begrudgingly, she moves her feet and ambles to the cemetery gate. Before Melissa takes her leave, she turns and looks back. She knows the next time she’s here it will be to rest with him for eternity. Pulling on her leather gloves, she walks through the gate and back to her real life.
Alan’s ghost watches her go and again he whispers, “Petal.” But Melissa is too far away to hear it. He steps back among the shadows and patiently waits for her return.
**Writer’s note: This story was originally written July of 2012. I asked my editor to edit it for me, but was told that because he didn’t know the back story he couldn’t quite wrap his head around it to do so. It sat in my inbox for quite some time until I decided to tackle it myself. The story was written to a photo prompt, before I even knew what the hell a photo prompt was. I’ve written many stories, but this one will always mean the most to me. It was where I found my voice and learned to paint my stories with a colorful palette. I can’t thank the man that this is about enough for the inspiration. I hope in some way, I will always be his Petal.**