For the first time in my life, the Big Bell had chimed for me, and I was in love, yet it was apparent that the girl who had stolen my heart didn’t feel the same way about me. I couldn’t not see her, because I thought about her all the time, and luckily for me, every time I asked her to come over, she did. When I had declared my love for her, it made her cry, so I assumed that to keep Holly in my life, I would need to temper the growing affection I had for her and avoid making any other big declarations.
On one Saturday night, we made hay, then we fell asleep in each other’s arms, although I was awoken by her whispered murmurings.
“Angels, you come for me?”
It sounded like she was asking a question, and I gazed at her, seeing her profile in the darkness.
“Why me?” she asked timidly.
She was asleep, no doubt about that, although she was chatty, her gentle yet uncertain voice asking, “Angels, you come for me?”
The next morning, I made breakfast for Holly, because I wanted to do everything for Holly, my Holly; and she smiled as she said, “Thank-you.”
Every time she smiled, I weakened, because her smile was like a meandering beam of sunshine, brightening everything around it. I sat opposite Holly, my Holly, and picked at my scrambled eggs on toast as I said nonchalantly, “Holl, I dunno, but I think last night you were talking in your sleep.”
“Ohhh, what did I say?”
“Arrhh, something about Angels coming for you.”
I thought it was funny, but obviously Holly didn’t, because she started crying.
I leapt up and knelt before her, running a hand over her cheek as I asked, “Holl, what’s wrong?”
She turned away from me and muttered, “Baby, James, I can’t see you anymore.”
I was stunned.
Was it because of my scrambled eggs?
“What are you saying?” I mumbled.
She wiped a few tears away, blew her nose then looked at me sheepishly. “Baby, you’re a beautiful guy and you deserve to be with someone who’s going to, you know …”
“You deserve to be with someone who’s going to be around for a while.”
Holly didn’t finish the scrambled eggs, for she picked up her handbag and still sniffling, she began walking away as she said emotionally, “Goodbye.”
“Holly wait; where are you going?”
With her head down, she mumbled, “Home.”
Things raced through my mind and I blurted, “Okay, we’ll keep things as they are, because I want to keep seeing you.”
She was affected by my declaration, because she gave me a little kiss on the cheek, then she said meekly, “I’m no good for you James, I’m no good for anybody.”
I embraced her tightly, not wanting to let her go, but I needed to make a few things very clear to her. “Holl, I love you and I want to be with you forever. If you want things to stay as they are, then that’s what we’ll do, but Holly, beautiful, I want to marry you one day.”
I was being honest, and girls like stuff like that … don’t they? But Holly burst into tears again, crying painfully, crying as if I’d just said the worst thing in the history of mankind.
It took hours for her to regain her composure, then she sat me down, holding my hand as she looked into my eyes. “James, really, we should stop seeing each other because, because …”
“Because on the twenty-first of February next year …” she broke down again, but I lifted her face and gazed into her tortured eyes.
“On the twenty-first of February, what?”
She wiped a few tears away, trying hard to compose herself as she looked at me, her wet lashes blinking as she mumbled, “On the twenty-first of Febru … on, on the twenty-first of February next year, I’m going to die.”
She was staring at me, and it was me that looked away.
I had met the girl of my dreams, I had met the most beautiful human being on the planet, but the thought hit me like a lightning bolt; was she insane?
“You’re going to die?” I blubbered out.
“They’re, they’re coming for me.” she whimpered.
“Who, who’s coming for you?”
She drew in a breath then lowered her gaze as she whispered, “The Angels.”
I shook my head in bewilderment as I said, “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“James, on the twenty-first of February, I’m going to die.”
“Holly, that’s stupid, it’s insane!”
Her bottom lip quivered as she struggled for control, then she tossed her hair back and said quietly, “It’s my destiny.”
“Holly no, your destiny, your future is with me!” I declared.
She looked so tiny, so frail as she mumbled, “Okay, I have to say that if you want to spend the last four months of my life with me, well I couldn’t be happier; but you have to realise that this is true, this is real, and us, you and me ends on the twenty-first of February.”
I don’t swear much, but I was thinking, For fuck’s sake … although a thought hit me, and I held her hand gently as I asked, “Are you sick, do you have an illness?”
She shook her head.
“So what, what’s this about?”
“I told you.”
“No, no crazy talk Holly, be honest with me.”
Sniffling again, she whimpered, “I was being honest.”
I lay her on the couch and embraced her, kissing her cheeks, her nose, her lips, hoping that the kisses were relaying the true affection that I had for her, and obviously they did, for Holly began loosening the tie of her skirt, but I halted her progress.
“No, we don’t have to.” I advised solemnly.
“James, I, I want to.” she blubbered.
Okay, got me.
Holly was beautiful in every way, so if she took off her clothes, I was always going to be a willing accomplice, and we made hay, the kisses passionate, the actions intimate rather than frenzied, although Holly blubbered all the way through.
We lay on the couch for the next two hours, naked and entangled, and I wanted to speak to her, but I didn’t want her speaking to me, so I stayed silent.
Eventually I kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll make us something for lunch.”
She smiled at me, but it was a struggling smile, a smile that didn’t project sunshine into my mind.
Girls like guys making lunch for them … don’t they? Maybe Holly didn’t, because when I walked back into the room, she was in the corner. Naked and kneeling, her hands by her chest as if she were praying, and I dunno, maybe she was praying, praying that it wouldn’t be scrambled eggs again. It wasn’t scrambled eggs though, it was something else. Cool and sophisticated guys probably made their girlfriends trendy lunches like avocado salads with croutons, yet I wasn’t cool or sophisticated, I was plain and simple, and our lunch was going to be toasted cheese sandwiches. The toasted sandwiches became irrelevant though, because Holly was kneeling in the corner again, and I asked timidly, “Holl, you okay?”
Holly didn’t answer me, she simply fell into the wall and began crying again, and me too, this time I cried.
Because I didn’t understand what was going on.
And I never wanted her to cry ever, but she cried all the time.
A little voice inside my head said, Actually Bro, she may have a point; go your own way, ehh?
After lunch, we went for a walk in the park, me holding her hand securely, although she regularly shook her hand free as she engaged with other occupants of the park. She squatted by a pram and looked up at the mother as she gushed, “Ohhh, she’s so beautiful!”
We sat down on a bench next to an elderly couple and Holly smiled as she asked, “Hi, you guys having a good day?”
I sat on the bench with her, Holly rocking back and forth, her hands clenched between her knees as she watched the young children playing on the swings, and she seemed happy, although tears slowly dribbled down her cheeks.
She saw a bird in distress, the bird unable to take flight, and she squatted, picked it up, patted it, kissed it, then with tears falling again, she looked up at me and said, “His wing is broken and he can’t fly, so he’s going to spend the rest of his time in distress. The humane thing to do is to put him out of his misery.”
Then she offered the bird to me, whispering, “Can you do it James?”
I was a little stunned, “You, you want me to kill the bird?”
“Please,” she said shakily, “I don’t want him to suffer.”
I took the bird behind a tree, placed it on the ground, then stomped on its head, then as I was making my way back to her, I saw her kneeling by the table, praying.
She seemed embarrassed as she got up and dusted off her knees, then she embraced me, gazing into my eyes as she asked, “You okay?”
We were back in my apartment by late afternoon, and Holly dithered about and then said, “Okay, I better get going.”
“No Holly, stay!” I almost commanded.
She looked at me sheepishly for a minute, then she began loosening the tie of her skirt, and I said, “Holl, no, no; we’ll just you know, watch TV or something.”
“James, I’d like to, I mean I want you to make love to me.”