With an audible gasp my right hand flew to my mouth as it gaped in shocked surprise, knees weak as they threatened to stop holding me up as all I could do is stare at the figure that had come hobbling through the doorway. While I had been taught long ago that staring at people, especially the living, was rude, I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes from the sight before me.
Letting my gaze travel his form I barely noticed the scuffed running shoes, faded jeans and green turtleneck under his leather bomber jacket. Yet I did easily notice that he seemed older, just in looks, by the lines creasing his face and the trace of gray hairs peppered throughout what used to be luxuriously thick jet black hair. While his jaw seemed set in a hard way and there was no warmth in his eyes.
I longed to run to him, to wrap my arms around his waist; clinging to the notion that he was indeed alive and not just another figment of my imagination. For many times in the past couple of years, since I had heard of his death, I found him everywhere. There was that time in the mountains of Colorado when I visited that crumbling ski resort where supposedly a couple had frozen to death on their honeymoon when an avalanche buried their cabin for weeks.
Or how about in the plateaus of Arizona when I visited an old bed and breakfast that had unknowingly been build over a Native American burial ground? Then again I can’t forget that time in the upstate New York Mental Institute where a young woman had found a way to hang herself over the lover that had committed her for stalking him.
So why should this place be any different then those others? Yet the previous encounters he had been just a memory I had conjured upon my grief at wanting, no needing to see him once more. But for reasons that even I couldn’t understand I held back, not going to him, instead I just stood there gaping at him as he addressed me for the first time in a couple of years.
“Who are you and why are you in this house?” he asked and while the deep timbre of his voice was still the same as it had been before, the emotions reflected in it was so different. Cold and unfeeling came to mind, not to mention the way he acted as if I was a stranger to him.
Blinking rapidly as I fought the tears that welled in my eyes, I tried to find the words to answer him, but the emotions running rampant throughout my soul only made me look that much more idiotic. Closing my eyes a moment I took a deep breath, slowly letting the air expel from my lungs I opened my eyes once more and seeing that the vision of him did not fade, the tears slowly slipped like silent crystals down my cheeks.
With a disgusted grunt being heard coming from him as he watched my face crumble, I watched him through blurry gaze as he began to walk my way with a stiff legged, limp like gait as if there was something wrong with his leg. Wiping at my eyes with the backs of my hands I watched as a handkerchief appeared out of his pocket only to be thrust under my nose.
“Take it, it’s clean. Once you compose yourself you can then answer me on who you are and why you are in this house.” he gruffly spoke.
Dropping my gaze to the offered cloth I shakily took it from him pressing it to my face, fresh tears threatening to fall as the familiar scent of him filled my nostrils. That woodland spicy scent of his aftershave that I had never forgot over the years, for I used to love to bury my nose into his neck after he had used it, for he was the only one I knew that loved the sandalwood mixture.
Feeling the cold, calculating gaze staring at me, I forced myself to calm down as I wiped the tears away, swallowing the lump of chocked emotions in my throat. Finally raising red rimmed hazel eyes to his own gray ones, I offered the handkerchief back to him, which he refused with a shake of his head.
Dropping my hand to my side, I cleared my throat as I opened my mouth to answer him, but no sound came out. Feeling more and more like a dunce I shoved both hands into the pockets of my jacket, to hide their trembling as I finally found my voice to answer him.