Only expensive fabric on a mannequin, but a blooming white flower on the woman you love. Her wedding dress cost half of last month’s salary. And she spun in it, creating ripples of white lace and sewn pearls like a daisy in the wind.
And her smile.
A smile from a feeling only that dress could generate. A smile I’ve only seen on our wedding day. A smile worth a thousand wedding dresses. A smile I miss. A smile I haven’t seen ever again.
I haven’t seen any smile in a while, either.
But, I don’t move past that day, past that moment. I just keep playing it back, reliving it. The brief moments of our wedding where she's just twirling without worrying about what tomorrow could bring. She’s spinning and spinning and spinning. A hurricane of love.
“WAKE UP YOU IDIOT!”
A pillow smashes into my face and I jump up with a shaky breath. With a hand over my eradicate beating heart, I scream, “what the hell?!”
My sister-in-law looms over me. “You’re reliving those damn memories again, aren’t you? That power is so freaking wonk, I swear to god.” Lindsey sunk down in a chair across the room and crossed her legs. “So, which one was it this time? First date? Honeymoon?” She raises her left eyebrow. “Wedding?”
“Of freaking course. God, Clad, you’re so freaking predictable.” She scoffs. “Guess that’s what happens when you spend your entire future living in past memories. You never grew past who you were and become a predictable lump of shit--just like you are now.”
I throw a pillow at her and it whams her in the head. “That’s for trying to suffocate me.”
She sneers. “If I really tried to suffocate you, you won’t be breathing right now.” Lindsey stood up. “Speaking of not breathing, when are you gonna visit your wife at the hospital?”
Sinking back into my mattress, I mumble, “later.”
“You see, that’s what you said a ‘later’ ago. And a ‘later’ before that. And a ‘later’ before that. Oh, and another ‘later’ before that one. It’s a cycle, you see.” She throws another pillow at me. “A cycle of you being a lying, jackass husband.”
“At least I’m not a loud mouthed sister! I bet Meredith wishes you didn’t visit her so much so she wouldn’t have to listen to your high-pitched nuisance of a voice!”
Lindsey’s mouth gaps open before she storms out and says, “just shut up and visit her soon, asshole!”
I relax my body into the springs of my mattress. Slowly, I close my eyes and let a different memory fill my vision. Meredith wears a springy updo and a new lime-green dress that she wore when we went to dinner with my parents and told them she was pregnant. I bent over and kissed her ring, then her lips. They taste like that cherry lip gloss she knew I loved and smirks when she saw me pull back, knowing damn well how intoxicating she made those lips.
After dinner, she skips circles on the brick ground surrounding the wishing fountain, chirping to me about her dreams and life goals. She’s so full of energy, of life.
I can visit her in the hospital later. After all, with an ability like this, I have all the time in the world.
Lindsey throws two pillows at me to get my attention this time. “WAKE UP, IDIOT!” She screams.
“But you’re not at the hospital!” She throws another pillow at me.
“How do you keep getting into my house!”
“I have Meredith’s key, duh.”
“That’s not for you to have.”
“She would have wanted me to use it! If it meant getting you off your lazy ass so you could visit her!”
“I’ll visit her soon!”
“That’s what you said yesterday!”
“No. I said I’ll visit ‘later’, not ‘soon’.”
She tries to drown me under a lumpy blanket. “Just get there ‘soon’. The doctor doesn’t know if she’ll even be alive until ‘soon’. And quit it with all the past-dreaming.”
I huff to myself as she left the room. “If Meredith isn’t awake, why do I have to be?”
Talking to Lindsey seriously soured my memory selections and a memory I tried to repress into the depths of my mind resurfaced that night like a dead fish’s carcass floating up from the ugly deep sea. It was about two months after that dinner; Meredith was wearing a black and while polka dot dress, but there was a blotch of red blood sticking to her lower torso. Tears stained the collar and a pair of nurses’ hands tried to sooth her as I knelt by her side and clutched her hand tightly. One nurse was muttering about how miscarriages don’t mean you can never have a baby, or how miscarriages make couples stronger after the initial sadness, or how truly, genuinely sorry she was for this to happen. We all were sorry.
Even sorrier when Meredith tried to take her life two weeks later and landed in the hospital on life support.
This time, I’m not woken up by a pillow thrown at me, but one held to my face with murderous intent. My hands flail in the air as my lungs struggle to function. Rough nails scratch at my assassin and I peel their hands off just as I’m about to go black.
“Jesus Christ, Lindsey! You could have killed me!”
“Good.” She wipes a hand across her tear stained cheeks. “If I did, then maybe you’d finally visit your wife!”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“She’s dead, you moron!”
My mouth gappened open and I stared at her wide eyed as I stammered. “I-It’s fine! This is okay, really! I can just relive the memory! I can tell her then! Tell her everything I meant to! It’s fine!”
I close my eyes and gently rock back and forth as I wait for the memory to consume my version. And I wait, and I wait, and I wait behind the morbid darkness of my eyelids.
“Don’t you get?” Lindsey snapped. “There are no memories for you to relive. You never visited her in the hospital!”
“HOW COULD I!?” I scream and collapse into the sheets. “How could I visit her in the hospital?! How could I watch timidly on the sidelines as the woman I love slowly perishes? It’s too painful. I couldn’t--”
Lindsey grits her teeth and slaps me with the back of her hand. I feel a red mark burn into my flesh along with a piece of embarrassment.
“Too painful?” She echoes. “You know what’s damn painful? Watching your older sister die while her asshole husband refuses to show up or even deal with the problem. You know what’s painful? Waiting at her side and being the only one waiting at her side and when she wakes up minutes before death, hearing the only name she calls out be yours. The machines went crazy, screaming at the top of their lungs but your dead wife was louder when she shouted your goddamn name and asked where you were! You know what’s painful? Telling her that her husband who she thought was by her side in sickness and health didn’t have the freaking guts to visit her in the hospital. You know what’s painful? Being the one who heard the machines and her stopped talking.” Lindsey stomped towards the door. “So, I hope you’re damn proud of yourself. Because the way you freaking acted, even the Devil himself would be ashamed of your actions.”