When She Shall Die...
"When she shall die, take her and cut
her out in little stars and she will make the face of heaven so fine
that the entire world will be in love with night and pay no worship to
the garish sun."
awoke suddenly in his bed, and listened to the silence around him. The
only sound to be heard was that of the wind whipping about the windows
of his room, the third winter storm of the season in full go. He slowly
sat up, pulled the blankets off, and slipped out of bed. The moment his
feet touched the cold wooden floor, he cringed and slipped them into his
dark green slippers. He always did that, missed them by inches, and
always received a cold reminder. He grabbed his matching house robe from
the bedpost, put it on, and made his way downstairs.
entire house seemed frozen. It was as if his own personal winter had
sprung up inside his new home, the winter wind finding its way through
the walls and chilling the entire house to a point of morose emptiness.
Surely no life could ever exist in such a dreary place, and even Ben
seemed to think of himself as an odd sort of innkeeper of a long
forgotten English Manor. The heavy robe he wore could not protect him
from the house winds, but he still vainly attempted to wrap the dense
material about him to generate some warmth. He could not understand how
the cold had become so trenchant, since he had made sure to turn on the
heating unit before going to bed. The blasted thing is probably on the blink again,
he thought, but when he approached the monitor he saw that it had
automatically turned off. He considered turning it back on, but decided
instead that he wanted a fire, so he turned away from it and headed for
library was smaller than he would have liked, but it certainly served
its purpose well. He had painstakingly placed all the books on the
shelves just a few days previous, but had yet to place the pictures and
paintings on the wall of the room. He smiled at the notion of how much
work remained to do in this new house before it would become a home to
him, but cringed inwardly at the thought of it. If only Rebecca were
here, she would have this place already stocked full of our things, and
feeling like a right proper place to call home. He shuddered at the
thought of her, trying to drive her from his mind. It was no use, as
this time of year often did that to him. How she had loved the winter,
had loved the holidays. The only thing she had ever asked of him was to
get the necessary decorations, whatever she requested no matter how
outlandish, and she would take care of the rest. And take care of it she
did. In a day's time, their home in France transformed from a seemingly
simple flat in the city of LaBarre into a shrine for the holiday
season. The house would exude the pungent fragrance of cloves and
cinnamon spice as she cooked and baked and overwhelmed herself with
seasonal foodstuffs. His favorite scent had been the fresh peppermint,
which she would put in the water for the tea on the first day of her
cooking. The living room would absorb the aroma, and it would linger for
days, and it would welcome him home each time he sat in his favorite
chair near the bay window. Now that smell and all the others were gone,
this new place still reeking of moth balls, and wood, and totally
grounded him in the very real sense that he was alone.
walked to the fireplace and began the process of starting it up. It
didn't take long, since he had placed treated wood in the hearth the
other morning and a lighter nearby. With a little patience, he soon had a
nice fire going, and he walked over to the mini bar that was concealed
in a panel not too far from the fireplace and poured himself a drink. It
was then that he saw the time, and he scrunched up his face in disgust.
The clock read three a.m., and he wished he felt tired. It would be a
long day indeed for the doctor, and he was sure at some point he would
long for sleep. He turned around and walked back to the sofa, and sat
down. Once again his thoughts returned to Rebecca, and how she would
always argue that he just needed to return to bed, and eventually sleep
would come. She had always been right, but right now he could not bring
himself to follow the advice he had heard so many times in his life with
her. In fact, he wanted to be up, he wanted to think. Part of his
problem was this sudden dwelling on all things Rebecca. What was the
cause? Sure, he had always thought about her during this time of the
year, for she had loved it so, but ten years had passed since her death,
and now he found his thoughts returning to her almost as much as they
had the day after she died.
rose from the sofa and crossed to the old mahogany desk in the library
and took out an old picture of Rebecca from a hidden drawer panel. He
had kept it hidden in his desk, the only picture he did not allow others
to see. Her hair had been shorter then, the dark ringlets framing her
face and making her smile all the more innocent. Her smile had always
seemed so simple, and yet so magnificent because of its graceful
simplicity. She smiled for any reason, at the slightest provocation, and
Ben remembered the time he had first seen it. The smile that changed my life,
he thought to himself as he gazed upon the picture. As enthralling as
the smile was, her eyes truly had it. Deep, dark pools of vibrant warmth
that had been so fascinating to look into. How he had fallen in love
with those eyes, how they would become alight with fire when she was
outraged, or how it seemed her love for him poured from those wondrous
portals of her heart when he kissed her. Unexpectedly the picture seemed
blurred, out of focus; and he blinked and rubbed his eyes only to
discover that he was crying. He shook his head and sat down at his desk,
and put his head down.
had barely touched the desk when he suddenly felt a warm hand on his
face, and felt a light breath on his neck. He knew who it was before
they spoke, but he waited for the voice anyway.
"How did I know I would find you here?" Her soft voice made him smile, despite the slight sarcastic tone.
would imagine, you know where to find me because you have found me like
this before," He inhaled deeply, and brought his head up from the desk.
There sat Rebecca, on the edge of the desk looking down at him, eyes
radiant and smile beguiling. He turned in his chair and stared up at
her, taking in the sight of her after so long. She was just as he
remembered, but all the more lovely. She wore the long white dress that
had been her favorite for lounging about the house all those years ago. A
simple, flowing dress that hugged her lithe frame expertly, and had
always made Ben want to reach out take her into his arms.
it's that time of year again I see," She moved over to him, and picked
up the picture that he had been resting on only moments earlier.
"You know it, same as always," he remarked, watching her as she stared at herself. She breathed deeply, and looked back at him.
thought you were going to get rid of this picture. You know how much I
hated my hair in it. It's too short." She ran her fingers around her
face in the picture, as if she could magically make the hair grow.
think that is why I keep it, because you think its terrible but I
cannot find a flaw." He took the picture from her, and set it upon the
desk. Rebecca stood up then, and walked to the window. She wrapped her
arms around herself, and he watched her for a moment before finally
standing and walking to her side.
see you returned to England. I wondered if you would ever pull yourself
out of LaBarre. I know how much you hated being there, what with my
family coming and going in the house after I was gone." She didn't turn
to face him, and he did not need to see her face to know a smile was
there. Instead she kept her eyes on the falling snow.
is not true, I loved France, and I loved LaBarre. But you are right;
your family was beginning to make me a bit batty. Your mother wanted to
come over each day and cook for me, and your brother absolutely refused
to leave me alone on the weekends. He insisted on dragging me to every
little night club he was familiar with." Ben crossed his arms at the
memory, but he heard her begin to laugh.
that funny do you?" He turned to her, arms still crossed. She faced him
finally, the laughter still evident in her smile. She placed a hand on
his chest, and moved closer to him.
must not be angry with Philippe, he was trying to do you a favor, and
they love you." She kept laughing, and he smiled at her as he wrapped
his arms around her.
"They are not
the one I want. I want you, I miss you so much." The laughter was now
gone, and she stared up at him. She didn't speak, but instead took his
arm and pulled him over to the sofa. He sat down, and she curled up next
to him, tucking the hem of her dress under her toes.
fill me in on all that has happened since we last spoke." She was
smiling again, and though he didn't want to change the subject, he
couldn't help but give in to her request.
I have returned to my research, finally attempting to cure all the
universe's diseases like I said I would when we met. I am finally
settling into the routine of this new life, and I now have things
running pretty smoothly with the medical facility. Not to mention, I
just bought this gargantuan place, and I still have my work cut out for
me with renovations and unpacking everything. But I love it, and slowly
but surely I am getting comfortable here." His sudden sprightly demeanor
did not convince her, and she could tell he was not being completely
"Ben, I know there is
more to it than that, and you know that your professional life is not
what I wanted to hear about. You have always been able to work in spite
of whatever personal things were going on with you, and you have learned
to hide it well. But you can't hide it from me, you never could. Stop
trying to evade me and just tell me what is going on." Her mellifluous
French accent pierced him, and despite his love of it and her, he felt
his anger rising.
"As if you don't
know. You say you know me so well, and yet you want to go through all
this. Why? Don't you see that I don't want to? I just want to sit here,
and stare at you and think about you." He reached out for her hand, and
interlaced his fingers with hers.
you can't hold onto me forever, and I can tell that you grow tired of
this. Every year you trudge out that old picture of me and stare at it,
and reminisce on things that can never be. You persecute yourself, and
now I can sense that you are close to a new happiness, and yet you chose
to be hard on yourself. This year you have been harder on yourself than
any other. Never have you sunk to the depths you have this year, and it
is that more than anything else that tells me something is different.
What is it? Have you met someone? Are you in love?" Her eyes were
attempting to bore into him, as if she could search his heart herself
and glean the answer.
YES!" His outburst was so sudden, and it frightened him. "At least, I
don't know. I have met someone, and she is....well, she is wonderful. Each
and every time that we are together, I find myself longing to be closer
to her, to hold her just as I once held you. But when we get close, I
feel that I am hurting you, and not being honest with her. I just don't
think that I am ready to be with someone else." He closed his eyes, his
head suddenly throbbing and sweat beginning to form on his head. The
realization of the feelings he had for someone else abruptly seemed to
come crashing down upon him, and he felt as though he may break under
their weight. He could not bring himself to look at her, but soon he
felt her touch his face with her soft hands and bring his head down to
rest on her shoulder.
long did you expect to mourn me before you finally began to let go?
Honestly, this is natural, and thoroughly to be expected. You should not
want to be alone, no one should. I would not wish that on anyone,
especially not on the man I love." She stroked his hair, and continued
talking. "Ben, I love you, and I always will you know that. But I am not
here to be with you, I cannot be, and you cannot waste your life
waiting for something that is never going to happen. You need to move
on. This new person could be who you are looking for, who you need.
Perhaps you can both be the rock the other needs in their lives."
I don't want another rock! Rebecca, you were supposed to be it for me.
All my life I wanted nothing to do with anyone. I was so proud of being
able to do things on my own. But when I met you, and the way you helped
me to attain my life goal, I just knew that I was supposed to be with
you. I feel so guilty all the time about you, and I don't need another
thing to feel guilty about. Already just thinking about someone else
makes me feel as though I am betraying you. Do you know how much my
heart hurts to think about you? To think of all the things we will never
get to experience together?" He turned away from her once again, and
crossed his arms and leaned against a nearby bookshelf. Once again she
came to him, and wrapped her arms around his waste and leaned on his
"Do you remember the night
you proposed to me? What you said? You said that no matter what, you
would be there for me, that you would do all you could to make me happy.
You also said that you did not believe that you were worthy to be with
me, and that you would spend the rest of our lives together doing all
you could to be worthy of my love. Well Ben, follow through with that.
Just because I am not here anymore does not mean you cannot still be
worthy of my love. I want you to be happy, just as happy as you had
wanted me to be, and I want you to have that happiness with someone in
your life. You want to be worthy of my love, to be worthy of the faith
that I always had in you to be the honorable upstanding man I met all
those years ago? Then let me go. Let me rest. Put those old pictures
away, and don't take them out anymore."
walked around to face him, and he leaned down and touched his head to
hers. She was crying softly, the tears beginning to fall down her face.
He cupped her face in his hands, and lifted her head to look in her
me go. Don't do this to yourself, not anymore. You're slipping, and I
am afraid you won't be able to come back again if you let go. I promise
it is alright. I am fine, and you need to move on." She brought her
mouth to his and kissed him, and he kissed her back gently, not applying
much pressure but holding her lips to his. A tear began to roll down
his face, and finally she pulled away, slowly freeing herself from him.
love you....so much. I am so sorry for what happened, so sorry that I
could not save you. It should have been me." Tears began to flow in
earnest from him, and she outstretched her hand to wipe some of them
"I know you love me, so do this for me....please. Let me go Ben. Just let me go."
he awoke. He had fallen asleep at his desk in the library. He looked
around quickly, almost expecting to see Rebecca there. The fire was
beginning to die out, the room becoming colder and colder as each ember
dimmed. He became aware of a hot wetness on his cheek, and realized he
had been crying. He wiped his face and looked down, to find himself once
again staring at the picture of Rebecca that he so cherished. He picked
it up and wiped it off, then slipped it back inside the desk drawer. He
rose slowly, his bones creaking from the cold and having sat in a
position for so long, and made his way back upstairs.