Dear Kate
by Holly

Story inspired by the Background

November 5
in San Francisco

Dear Kate,
I was looking through some old pictures in a tattered shoe box under our bed today when I came across your journal. It was something I hadnít thought about in the past few days. I remember you scratching away furiously every night, telling it your thoughts and actions of the day. You were so faithful to that journal! Even when I would try to distract you, with a kiss or a seductive foot rub, you would frown and tell me to knock it off for five more minutes so you could finish. Now the journal makes me smile.

Iíve been smiling a lot lately. You know, those sad and wistful smiles that accompany a recent loss. I smile when I think about the strange times we had. I think my favorite memory was the two of us in the trolley car. Remember, that night? We had each drunk a bottle of cheap red wine and were looking for something wild to do. You told me that the only thing to do in San Francisco when youíre drunk is ride the trolley cars. "Trust me David," you said, "itís so much better when youíre drunk." So I bought us two tickets and we headed up the hill to Union Square. The Tuesday night left us practically alone on the car, but we stood anyway because you said it was better that way. I held the back of your jacket and you stretched your arms out, gulping in the sweet sea air and glowing in the cool darkness.

"Can you feel that David?" you asked.
"What?" I whispered into your neck, helplessly drowning in your skinís scent.
"The hope in the air. The inspiration. This is where dreams are made."

My dream was realized that night when I fell in love with you on that trolley car. A true love that showed through the fuzziness of the wine and the numbness of my mind.

So, I think of these things and I smile. And then the tears come. Because I canít make anymore memories with you. Because I couldnít make you better. Because I wasnít there the night that you needed me. If you could speak to me, I know you would tell me that it isnít my fault that you lay here in this hospital bed. But I know that it is because if I would have just come home that night instead of going for an after work drink with the guys, then I could have stopped everything.

The image of that night plays though my head, like an unwelcome dream playing in continuous slow motion. When I pushed open the door of our apartment and saw the table overturned and the couch cushions spread throughout the living room, my heart stopped beating. I knew there was trouble. I think I even knew you were gone before I found you sprawled on the kitchen floor. I just stared down at you in disbelief, praying that it wasnít your blood that was matting your hair to the floor but knowing that it was.

My fingers were shaking so badly that the numbers on the phone couldnít be distinguished from each other. I didnít know if I could speak to the operator on the other line, my throat had lost every bit of moisture. But I found my voice and wailed to the woman, "My wife, my wife," over and over again. No, I didnít know what had happened. No, I didnít see the attacker. No, I couldnít hear a heartbeat.

Fours nights I spent in the hospital with you. I talked to you and held your hand for every second. I prayed for you to squeeze mine back. I waited for your nutmeg eyes to flutter open, for the smooth eyelashes to flicker and flirt with me. I prayed for any sign that you would still be in my life, that everything would go back to normal. But all I had was the hum of the machines and the stiffness of your pale hand in mine.

When they told me that it was pointless to keep you going now, I just nodded and tried to be brave and clinical about the matter. But I just couldnít do it. As I signed my name to the paper, a tear skied down my nose and hit the fresh ink. The Ďaí in my name bled down the page. Even my name was crying for you, I thought. And I handed the pen back to the solemn doctor.

I donít even remember my last words to you in that chilly hospital room. The words didnít matter anymore because there was no life behind them. And a numbness washed over me. Everything that I had known had been taken from me in a ridiculous moment that left some crack head thief with a new t.v. and a $100 stereo. And maybe a guilty blemish on a strung out conscience. I could only hope.

I realized today that youíre not coming back to me. It was kind of a funny moment because I was at Jimmyís, at our table, and the waitress came and said "Hereís you change back." And at that moment it hit me that the change she was giving me was life without you. And I was getting it back just like I was before I met you. I looked out the window and cried. I donít know, maybe I had just had too much coffee.

I left the diner and wandered around in the cool dawn air. I thought of all the things that we had planned to do together. Buy a dog and name it Kerouac, after your favorite author. Jog across the Golden Gate bridge. Get dressed up and go to a martini bar and act pretentious all night long. But we never did these things because we were sure that there would be a better time. When we have more money or when itís not so windy, we would say. Now Iím left to live by myself knowing that there will never be a better time. And these things donít seem to be very important anymore.

My walk took me to the trolley cars. This time I only bought one ticket. I stood at the edge and watched my tears hit the moving ground. I closed my eyes and your sweet face came back to me. I stretched out farther. I heard your voice in the cool breeze that once brought you so much pleasure and now brought me such heartache. The ride was over too soon.

So, I thought I would write my thoughts in your journal. A last entry to bring some closure to dealing with life without you. The numbness is still there and my heart hasnít started its beating again. But I look forward to the day when I can feel again. Feel whatís itís like to actually live a life instead of living in the past when I was so happy just being in love with you.