The door opened and the light played across the dusty floor. May sighed, reluctantly letting her hand drop from the handle as if it had been the last connection to any hope of Dan still being around. The clouds darkened and the rays which had been cast over the carpeted boards disappeared. Disappeared . . . Just like Dan’s presence, so cruelly snatched from her. May didn’t turn the light on. Why should she turn on the light? It was dark, but so was her situation. She didn’t want that to be lightened. A wave of sudden, inexplicable happiness would insult his memory. Yes, she could think of happy times, but those were in the past and she knew that the smile they would bring her would leave as fast as the rays of sunlight just now. She felt her way to his bed, navigating around the cardboard boxes of his stuff that his family were storing, and sat down. She closed her eyes and remembered the first day Dan had invited her round. There they had laid together, her on top of him, surrounded by the blissful atmosphere created by their love. They’d caressed each other’s soft warm skin whilst kissing; sharing and enjoying each other’s company, contenting themselves in the moment, melting each other’s hearts and letting them combine, resulting in a mixture of May and Dan, entwined and inseparable. It was there on that duvet that they had sown the seeds of a beautiful relationship, a relationship that was to be betrayed by the evils of the world, destined to end in tragedy. May and Dan had been ruthlessly torn apart, the shredded pieces returning to their original selves, some of them in the wrong places. Some of Dan (memories of him) had finally settled in May’s broken heart like torn up paper drifting down and resting on a floorboard. May desperately hoped that Dan was somehow alive somewhere else with pieces of her in his heart. She was so lost without him. The moment she had found out that Dan was dead, she’d collapsed on the floor and cried for ages, still sobbing as the tears dried up and her voice grew hoarse. What an empty and scary feeling this was! The tender fragility she was experiencing scared her. She had felt strong and unstoppable when Dan was holding her hand. Now she was weak and collapsing, crumbling like the face of a cliff slowly falling into the seas of insanity. The worst part of this feeling of despair was the coldness. She was oh so cold! The liveliness of love had stolen all the warmth and now Dan was no longer here to renew it. May sobbed, surprising herself.
She got off the bed because it was still a bit bright in the room and closed the thick, red curtains. She lay down, and felt for the framed photo on Dan’s bedside table. It was a picture of her and Dan on a beach with their backs to the setting sun. She remembered the beautiful, vibrant colours of the sky – orange and magenta. She closed her eyes and saw Dan with his thick brown hair and brown eyes. For a few seconds, she felt the warmth of the sun on her back and the cool breeze of sea air. She opened her eyes and the memory ended. That photo had been Dan’s favourite. May cradled it close to her like a baby that’s unaware of the dangers of the world but knows itself to be safe and secure in the arms of its mother. She replaced the photo on the bedside table. She stared at the dim ceiling (sky blue and oddly calming) and remembered Dan’s voice, soft, deep and soothing at this moment in time.
“Have I ever told you that your eyes are like melted chocolate? They’re so warm and comforting... I feel like I’m falling when you stare at me but it’s a really pleasant sensation.”
“Did I mention that your hair’s really beautiful when it’s lit up by the sun? No? How could I have forgotten! Anyway, it’s like a pretty, shining beacon.”
“You’re the single most perfect person in the world May, and that’s why I love you.”
“I’m so lucky I met you. I think I’d be heartbroken if you’d already been taken when I came along –it would have been nigh impossible to get you to where we are now. Of course, you’d have succumbed to my charms eventually”. May heard herself laugh along with Dan. It sounded strange to her as she listened. She sighed; knowing that the sweet music of her and Dan’s combined voices would never play again.
As these memories played through her head, the sunlight May could see out of the corner of her eye at the edge of the window brightened. She sighed; no happier than before, but a bit less forgiving towards the world. She reflected upon the unfairness of life but firmly told herself that complaining wouldn’t solve anything.
May wondered how long she could stay here. Dan’s family had kindly told her she was free to visit Dan’s house any time since they wouldn’t be selling it anytime soon. Lying on the duvet was strangely comforting and this room felt so safe. Inside, May felt protected from the chaos of outside life. Here, she wouldn’t have to keep answering annoying questions such as “Are you alright, May?” or “How are you coping?” There was no way she’d be able to do anything especially since the world was just a muddle to her now. She could stay here for months. No one would come looking for her. She had absolutely no appetite, meaning she wouldn’t have to go out for supplies. And maybe wasting away would be a nice quiet way to die. . . Maybe.
So there May lay. She fell asleep, her mind full of images of Dan before they became a dream sequence. It must have been about an hour before May was suddenly awoken by the door bell. She sat up. Queer, she thought. Who’d want to come here? It’s probably just salespeople. So she ignored it. Then she heard a key turn in the door. Her heart thumping, she listened to the footsteps approach the bedroom. However, it was still quite a shock when the figure appeared in the doorway. “May?” he asked, sounding just as surprised as she was.
It was Sam, Dan’s older brother. “What are you doing here?” May squinted at the bright passageway light. It must have been late afternoon because the bedroom was darkening. “I was about to ask the same thing.” She regarded him intently as if searching him out.
“Well, I sort of came to sit silently. It’s difficult to explain...”
“No it’s not,” May interrupted. “I was doing exactly that before I heard the doorbell. Why’d you ring it?”
“It’s kind of embarrassing but I sort of thought Dan would still be alive and come and answer the door. Wishful thinking, hmm?”
“Hmmm...” May nodded sadly.
“Listen, if you want me to go, I’ll come back later...”
“No, it’d be nice to have a little company, even though it’s really difficult to talk.”
“Yeah, I’ve just wanted life to stop awhile since Dan...” Sam trailed off.
“Yeah ... Come sit down.”
Sam switched on the light as he entered and perched next to May. He looked at her almost searchingly. “It’s tough isn’t it?”
“Yes, I suppose. It’s more strange than tough though. The way you’ll no longer bump into him in the street and laugh as he tells you he’s really sorry and promises to look where he’s going next time in a desperately sorry voice until you tell him to stop apologising because you’re in stitches.” May smiled at the countless memories of this happening.
“Yeah, it’s funny how you’d never get tired of it – he’d always reinvent his apology; asking if you wanted compensation or a formal written apology... Good times...” Sam smiled. May noticed that his eyes were the same colour as Dan’s. Suddenly, the atmosphere was warm and it was as if time had stopped outside the bedroom. May was staring at Sam and Sam was staring at May. May sat still as Sam leant in towards her, his black hair touching her forehead before his lips touched hers. They kissed and the moment was beautiful. They came away smiling; nothing needed to be said. Sam broke the silence. “Do you fancy dinner tonight?”
May could only smile and nod, so captivated by Sam she couldn’t find her voice.
“Let’s go then.”
He stood up and took her hand. At once, all of May’s problems disappeared. Sam was starting to fill the void within her, and as they left the room she thought, “I hope this is okay, Dan.”
The door closed on the room with its dusty floorboards and drawn curtains and it was finally the end of May and Dan.