(Content Warning: Suicide contemplation.)
In the mornings I like to jog through the bustling city not knowing if it will be my last time. It’s kind of exciting if you think about it. I’m in my mid-thirties, and the possibilities for catastrophes are endless. I could get hit by a speeding car, get run over by a bike messenger, or I could fall down into the sewers and get eaten by the overgrown rats. Those are just environmental accidents, don’t get me started on the endless hazards my vivid imagination can come up with.
When you go through life with a broken heart, you just stop caring and realize that every passing day brings you one step closer to the end. That might be a little over dramatic for some people, but not for me. When I was ten years old, my parents were murdered right in front of me. You don’t forget something like that, and ever since that tragic event I haven’t been the same. It’s a wound that never heals, and I’m just an empty shell going through the motions of life.
Sometimes I just don’t feel...
Speaking of life moving on, this particular morning starts out just like all the others. I get out of bed, take a shower, eat breakfast, put my running shoes on and boom, it’s off to the races. I start off with a smooth power walk to get warmed up. It’s very good to warm up, I don’t want to pull something because I might miss my inevitable death. I look all stylin’ and profilin’ shaking my tight little ass down Suburbia Lane making all the housewives hot with passion-lust. I give them a tease and a quick look at greatness before I thrust my legs harder and run away.
I know I shouldn’t poke fun, but sometimes I can’t help myself.
With my feet thundering on the black pavement, I run like a speeding bullet into the city. I see the same people doing their usual morning routines. At the Bakery Shop, Mr. Evans sweeps the sidewalk before opening the store. He’s always smiling, maybe he has a sugar high from all the sweets. While wiping their greasy foreheads, the guys at Herald’s Garage open the doors ready for business. Those boys are always covered in oil; I wonder if they ever take a bath. Nothing ever changes here.
I continue running down South Mainstreet, and that’s when I see… her.
She is fumbling through the newspaper rack at Dan’s Coffee Shop like a lost tourist looking for a map. Her shoulder length blonde hair, soft gray eyes, and slender body make her stick out like a sore thumb in an ocean of ugliness. It’s not her physical characteristics that catches my eye, but the radiant glow that makes her shine like a diamond in the rough. I suddenly stop running and find myself frozen in time by her magnificent presence.
A soft warm summer breeze blows her alluring white dress like a wondrous new flag that I would totally salute. As she spins around, I quickly avert my eyes so that she won’t notice me staring at her. I reach up and wipe the sweat beads from my forehead and pretend to check my pulse. When I glance back at her, I notice that she is walking towards me.
Ah, her smile could completely erase all the darkness in this cruel and hateful world.
“Excuse me sir, do you know what today is?” she asks, in a soft delicious voice. “Those papers over there have different dates.”
I smile and nod my head. “Yeah, today is Saturday.” My eyes grow big with wonder because who could forget Saturday? “Dan likes to keep all the papers from the week on sale until Sunday.”
She gives me another tasty smile and I just melt. “Thank you very much,” she whispers. “Most people don’t even notice me.” She bites her bottom lip and turns to leave.
If I don’t say something fast I might never see her again.
I take a deep breath and gather my courage. “Um, miss, would you like to have a cup of coffee with me?” I’m such an idiot! I don’t even like coffee…
She spins around, her dress twirls like an umbrella. “You know what? Usually I would say no, but… I would love a cup of coffee.”
I smile and gasp, “That’s great!! My name is Jensen. What’s yours?”
She glances over to Mrs. Peterson's flower shop, and says, “Rose… My name is Rose.”
I dip my head like a noble knight, “Nice to meet you Rose.”
To my surprise she takes my hand and drags me into Dan’s Coffee shop. We order black coffee, and have a really nice conversation about the weather, art, and food. You know, simple things like that. Her positive energy reverberates through my bones making me feel alive. Suddenly, a soft musical piece starts playing from the overhead speaker.
Her eyes spring to life. “Oh, that is lovely!” She rises from her chair and pulls me up from mine. “Come on Jensen, dance with me!”
I scrunch my lips together into a thin line and look around to see everyone staring at us. I feel like running away, this is crazy! No one does this. My heart starts beating like thunder in a raging storm, and my pulse rate quickens like a fluttering butterfly.
“Relax, Jensen. Just look into my eyes and follow the rhythm,” she says, in a soft comforting voice.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath. When I open my eyelids, I’m locked in her powerful gaze - nothing else exists. She places her arms around my shoulders and I put mine around her waist. We start swaying back and forth to the sounds of the sweet melody. I can smell a heavenly scent and I’m not quite sure what the fragrance is. I don’t ask, I just enjoy the moment.
I wonder if she feels alive like I do. Is her heart beating like mine? I don’t dare ask for fear of scaring her away.
The beautiful song ends with a deafening roar of applause from the other patrons. We let go of each other, but I can still feel the electricity racing through my bones. This woman is bold and powerful, and I’m almost envious of her passion for life.
“That was wonderful, Jensen!” she says, reaching down for her coffee cup. “You’re a divine dancer!”
I don’t know what to say, there is a tightness in my chest. I feel like all the breath has been sucked out of my lungs. I quickly plaster a smile on my face to hide the pain I feel about living. I haven’t felt anything for a very long time, and I’m completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve gotten used to the past days and nights being filled with dark thoughts and loneliness. An isolated abyss filled with torment and nightmares.
“I need to go,” she utters, downing the rest of her coffee. “Can you meet me in the park tomorrow?”
Feeling my lungs inflate, I reluctantly reply, “Yeah… I can meet you there at three.”
I see a sparkle of twilight in her eyes that ignites a small ember in my heart. That warm feeling feels like a foreign object that just doesn’t belong. She gives me a wink and walks away. I close my eyes and take a deep shuddering breath. I decide to head back home, but this time instead of not caring about the things that could kill me, I take special care to keep myself safe. I would like to see her again… Am I insane?
After a sleepless night, I get out of bed and immediately start getting ready. I put on my blue jeans, and a black cotton t-shirt. I know it’s Sunday, but black just feels right. The rest of the day drags by slowly because I keep looking at the clock. To pass the time I pull out my phone and play Jewel Quest.
The time is now thirty past two, and I rush out the door like Speedy Gonzales. When I get to the park, Rose is nowhere to be seen. It’s a small park with a few swing sets, and a jungle gym, but no Rose. I sit down on one of the many park benches and place my face in my hands to hide the sadness.
Did she forget about me? I guess I don’t blame her if she did...
Out of the dark and into the blue, I feel a soft warm hand pat my shoulder. I quickly look past the blinding light that shines through the trees in front of me, and see Rose wearing a beautiful light blue dress with a smile permanently etched on her face.
“What’s wrong Jensen?”
Pushing my discouragement away, I utter, “Oh, nothing… it’s just my allergies.”
She sits down beside me, and I can feel her warmth and sense of ease. She directs my attention to a yellow finch with black wings eating bread crumbs a few yards away.
“I take it you like birds?” I ask. What a stupid question, I bet that will sweep her right off her feet!
“I love all God’s creatures.”
That’s an affirmative answer if ever I heard one. “Why are you pointing at that bird?” I ask in bewilderment.
“That bird has had an interesting life,” she pauses to smile at me, “She fell out of her nest when she was born and was separated from her family. She found her way to this park and took shelter beneath that green garbage can over there,” she pauses again to direct my attention to a raised garbage can sitting by a nearby bench.
“Every morning people would come here to throw bread crumbs out for the birds to eat. Despite its terrible life circumstances, that little bird grew up strong and learned how to fly.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I ask, tapping my feet against the sidewalk.
She reaches down and pats me on the leg. “I thought you would like to know that. I think that’s the magic of life, we never know where it will take us. We trust in our faith and carry on with renewed strength.”
I need to say something, anything to change this subject. I don’t like hearing things like this because it doesn’t matter. Not to me.
At that instant, we hear music erupting from the parking lot. Someone has their car radio turned up too loud, and a wonderful song starts playing. I look over at Rose, and her eyes are transfixed on me.
“Would you like to dance again?” she asks, with a dry smile on her face.
“Yes!” she yells.
Rose grabs my hand and pulls me to my feet. She steps in close against my body and I feel her warmth penetrate through my clothes. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck reach towards the heavens. We sway back and forth with the rhythm of the song. I close my eyes and I get the sensation that we are soaring through space and time.
I wonder if she feels it too. Electricity.
The song soon comes to an end, and we part. She gives me a wink, and says, “I need to go, but I would like to see you again.”
“How about dinner tonight?” I ask without thinking. How stupid!!
“I would like that... yes!”
To my surprise, that evening was the first of many…
Over the next few months, we became really good friends. We met each other in different spots around the city, and she opened my eyes to things I never noticed before. Rose showed me Mr. Evans from the Bakery Shop, donating all the days leftover treats to the local church. I never knew he did that.
Rose surprised me further by showing me volunteer firefighters putting their own lives on the line to save complete strangers in harm's way. It was a delicate divulgence to see that kind of heroic generosity from normal everyday people. Deep down I started to feel ashamed of myself for thinking that my life didn’t matter.
The sweetest thing about these stunning revelations was that after each one, Rose and I shared a special dance together. As if by some miracle, music was always playing in the background to soothe our souls allowing us to have that special moment. Dancing with Rose was like a dream… a magical dream.
Today, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy despite the freezing temperatures outside. My heart is bursting with hope and love. Rose is coming over, and I plan on telling her how I really feel about her…
I suddenly hear someone knocking at the door, it’s Rose and she’s early. I notice that she looks distraught, a far cry from her joyous disposition.
“Is something wrong, Rose?”
She looks deep into my eyes, “I made a mistake!”
“What mistake? I don’t understand,” I mumble with a sense of uneasiness.
Rose looks at me through teary eyes. “You really don’t get it do you?”
I feel the color drain from my face. “Rose,” I say, raising my voice, “Please tell me what’s going on!”
Rose looks heavenward and tears stream down her face. “I’ve been called back! I was never supposed to get involved with you!”
“I don’t understand!” I shout.
She grabs my hands tightly. “I’m an Angel, Jensen!! I was sent here to help you find your way. To guide you along, and help you realize that your life does matter!!”
My hands start trembling in hers. Somehow, her hands don’t feel as warm as they used to. I know she’s telling me the truth.
“Angels are not supposed to get involved with the people they are trying to help, and because I broke this rule, I’ve been called back!”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “No, I don’t want you to go! I love you Rose!!”
“I love you too,” she replies, smiling with tears streaming down her face. “I want to stay with you forever, so I’ve decided to return to Heaven and fall from grace.”
I start crying and ask, “What does that mean?”
“When an Angel falls from grace, they give up their everlasting light and become mortal. If I do this, I won’t remember being an Angel and I may not even remember who you are, but it will allow us to be together.”
Her lips are now quivering, and I notice that her whole body is shaking.
I wipe the tears away from my eyes, “Rose, I love you with all of my heart. You have changed me. I no longer feel like an empty vessel. You brought me back to life.”
I can’t believe what I’m about to say!
“I can’t let you give up that special gift! I love you too much! I can’t do that to you Rose!”
She starts sobbing, and I fear I may have just broken her heart. I pull her close and hug her with all my might.
“Please… please, let me do this for us! I don’t want to leave you,” she cries.
“Rose, I know that you want to stay. I want you to stay. You complete me.” I reach down and grab her trembling hands. “What kind of selfish person would I be to let you give up your everlasting grace?”
“Please!!” she begs.
Our eyes meet with an unspoken heartfelt agreement. We both know deep down that this is the right decision.
I decide to break the silence, “How much time do we have before you have to go?”
She frowns, “Not long… a few hours maybe?”
I place my trembling hands on her face, and I kiss her angelic lips.
“Do you think we have time for one more last dance?” I ask in a shaky voice.
“But there’s no music playing…” she cries.
“We don’t need music, my love.”
We kiss each other with a passion that would melt a thousand frozen worlds - a fire that will never die. We slowly fall to the floor and our bodies and souls become one with nature. We sway back and forth to the rhythm of our heartbeats, and a million stars shoot across the sky. With one collective shuddering breath, the universe explodes as our love transcends space and time. A beautiful symphony of everlasting love.
We spend the rest of the day holding each other, savoring every second that we have left together. I feel her body start to fade against mine.
Rose pulls me close, and whispers, “It’s time… I will always love you and watch over you.”
With one final kiss, Rose vanishes into the ether. I feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow as tears stream down my face. Somehow, I feel a warmth of inner peace sweep over my entire body, making me feel at ease.
Is this a gift from Rose?
I wake up every morning now with a sense of purpose, a sense of hope. I know deep in my heart, that this is indeed a special gift from Rose. She filled my heart with love and made me complete. I’m alive because of her.
I miss her...
Does this pain ever go away?
Where does love go when it dies?
I like to think that love lives on in our hearts and souls.
Rose was the best part of me, and every day I feel her beautiful grace when the sun touches my skin.
Sometimes strangers can become friends.
Sometimes friends can become lovers.
Sometimes lovers can become soulmates.
And sometimes, I pray to God for one more last dance…
Daniel R. Hayes