"You don't have to say anything. Just listen. It may take awhile, so just bear with me, baby. I know it's cold, and I know you want me to go back inside the car before I get sick, but I need to tell you this, alone, with no one else around. It just seems like people don't leave me be anymore, and this is the only time and place where you can have my full attention, and vice versa. If that makes any sense. God, sweetie, I don't know how you're able to deal with me sometimes."
She hugged herself tightly and rocked back on her heels in anticipation. The gray-slated skies darkened and the winds forced the tops of the pines to bow towards the ground in submissive shame. Several feet behind her, the decrepit pale yellow Dodge moaned as the engine struggled to keep running. Grass and weeds swished around her calves as if she were standing in the center of an oceanic tempest, like an invisible god or giant of the sea of green.
Hearing silence, she smiled. He was going to hear her out. Nick always came around, she conceded. They had given each other their hearts a year ago, and neither one of them were willing nor able to return the pieces of their souls: but that didn't mean they didn't have issues now and then. But his brooding baby blues would meet hers and his arms would encircle her waist, and whatever problems existed would disintergrate. That, she believed, was the beauty of honesty and communication in a relationship. There were only three times (not including this one) that dark clouds loomed over Nick and her's heads. The first time he accused her of cheating, the second she thought she was pregnant, and the third he had totaled her father's Mustang.
Too bad Nick's sincere love for her didn't work for daddy.
But it worked for her. It always did.
"These past five months have been grueling," she started. "There have been days where I had to focus on breathing, much less getting out of bed. But you knew that, baby. I feel so horrible about the whole thing because you want me to be happy again. I want to be happy again."
She looked down at a silver band around her thumb.
"I remember when you got me this ring. You took me out to the mountains, and we watched the sun set below the horizon. The whole thing, with all its reds and pinks and orange. You kissed me and told me to close my eyes...and you slipped the little wedding band on my finger. You never told me it was an Irish wedding ring, but I found it out when I looked up what the hands, heart, and crown meant. Friendship, Love, and Loyalty. I still have the heart pointed in, because that means my soul is taken. It fits the both of us so perfectly."
She paused as a sudden torrent of tears beat down on her. Looking up again, she dry-heaved and gasped as her vision blurred, "It's not fair! Not what happened! I hate this world and the people in it, but you're the only one who ever made me forget that. I love you so much and it hurts, God, it hurts, knowing I wasn't there! I should have been, baby, and I am so sorry. God, I'm sorry! Oh, Nick...".
She sunk to her knees onto the disturbed dirt. Her hands reached out blindly until they reached cold granite. Tracing the tombstone's lettering, grief wracked her body as she found Nick's name.
"I can't say goodbye. I can't...".
A thin whisper fluttered around her ears, stopping her heartbeat for an instant. The voice was so familiar, so warm and caring...but it shouldn't have existed.
Carla scrambled to her feet, turning.
"Nick..." she breathed out.