Her fingertips guided themselves over his name which he’d signed off the letter with, admiring each cursive vowel and the perfectly dotted i’s. She pressed her nose to the paper, desperate to smell his cologne through the potent ink that to her surprise still lingered. He had not written this letter with any intention of saying goodbye but merely as an ‘I miss you’ during his travels in Kuala Lumper.
He had tried his best he said, to convey the sheer beauty of Malaysia’s capital, though he himself admits that his efforts remained flawed as no words exist that could do justice to the picture that presented itself before him. He told her of the sky high buildings that seemed to go on endlessly beyond the clouds and how these buildings lit up amber and royal blue as of they were fire and water mingling together. He mocked how Malaysian men and women were even smaller than he had anticipated, perhaps the scale of their surroundings making them appear more like figurines in a doll’s house rather than people.
There was a picture attached to the top right hand corner which he had taken as he laid beneath The Petronas Twin Towers, dreaming of her and wishing with all his might that she might just all of a sudden appear lying next to him if he could shut his eyes and clench his fists tight enough. The towers reminded him of the two of them; proud, protective, purposeful. The buildings, whilst weak and hardly captivating alone, represented a whole great deal more together. They stood for prestige and independence, power and longevity, but most of all they stood for beauty.
She thought of how his travels we not supposed to have stopped there, underneath those towers. He was due out to Beijing just the next day on his sixth month long mission to ‘find himself.’ He had always wanted to explore Asia, become apart of it’s landscape, learn it’s history, live with it’s people. She had never fully understood why . He claimed it was for his latest novella – background research you know? Nonetheless she remained convinced that this was merely a masquerade for the sense to discover some meaning, some understanding.
A tear fell from her cheek onto the paper, smearing the black ink in which he had written that he promised to be home soon. She wept often about how he must have felt in those final seconds. How fast has his heart been beating? Was his vision made blurry by the saltiness of his own tears? Did he show fear or did he keep a brave face for the mother and child who sat terrified in the seat beside him? Selfishly she had hoped that she was the last thing he had thought about in those final moments. She hoped he had tried to remember the sweet smell of her perfume and the softness of her kiss. She hoped he would miss her quick-wit and delicate touch. She hoped.
The most painful part was not the chill that came from the empty space in the bed next to her, it was not the memories that the photos around the house drowned her in. No, it was not the silence that had been swapped for the childish laughter that had echoed once within these walls. She longed to be suffocated by the smell of him; a harsh mixture of tobacco and whiskey. She yearned for the warmth of his touch, the comfort of his hum, to hear his voice utter her name. Yet, these were not the most painful parts.
She needed answers most of all. What had happened to the man she loved and why? How? Where did his body lie? Was his resting on the ocean bed or had become part of the earth in ash? Sadly, there were no explanations; no justifications. Only the cruel reminders from the media and the emptiness he had left behind was all that reminded her it was real.
She folded the letter that she had read one thousand times over and over, slipping it back into the envelope and taping it up as if she had never even read it. She kissed the seal delicately and desperately, as if she were kissing him for the final time. By the phone with her laptop on the table top and BBC news coverage of the story on repeat would she remain, waiting for explanations… .