"Loving can heal." (3)
Surrounded by my loving friends and family, I sigh in contentment. But as if something inside my skull is crawling its way to be cracked, I tense up. My initial thoughts spring up:
HOLD UP. I AM CONFUSED.
I call Nate and ask if I can talk to him for a moment. He agrees, and so I ask my family and friends for privacy, and with nods, they leave the room.
Silence hangs in the air after the door clicks behind Nate. His footsteps echo as he moves closer and sits down on the chair to my left. His smile upturns a little, and he leans in, resting his elbows on the edge of my bed.
Nate Turner actually died! So how come he is right in front of me?
My brain is aching as I try to remember how this is possible. I watch Nathaniel Turner patiently wait for me to speak. He smiles a bit wider and delicately touches my hand. Astonished that he is in front of me, I study his face. He still has the same deep stormy blue eyes, like the sky ready to set rain or like the ocean before the bottomless pit of blackness; his nose is slightly bigger now but still perfect to his face, and even though his lips are quite thin, they are kissable; his jaws are strong, and his hair is fawn and messy. Nate is, exactly, how I remember him. But this Nate Turner is older. He has laugh lines on the corner of his eyes and his cheeks.
My eyes glisten, and I feel his hand holds me tighter. “Nate, I want to know what happened. How did you save me?”
“I was in the café,” he said, “And I was craving for —”
“Chocolate cake?” I finished his sentence, “anything sweet?”
“W…well, yeah,” he nods and explains, “and then I heard a crash outside the café and everyone crowded together to look at what was happening, and then I saw you, lying on the pavement, blood gushing out from your head. I grabbed you and took you to the nearest hospital.”
So he was the guy my mind was seeing before I woke up. I nod, “Thank you.”
“You’re always welcome, Mariana,” smiles Nate.
“Do you remember when we were still in high school?”
“When I saw you eating that huge slice of chocolate cake?”
“Yeah? I guess?”
“I was craving sweets that day too, and I am right now,” I say, showing him a half-eaten muffin I am holding in my right hand.
He looks at me, confused. “What are you trying to say?”
“Nate,” my tears are falling from my eyes, “I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but you died, you actually died five years ago, and it was so — awful. Thalia said you were on your way back to spend time with your friends and family before leaving for college when — a drunkard driving a 22-wheeler truck almost hit you. You avoided it and fell off the cliff! The paramedics announced— you were D.O.A., and I was miserable for a year! Every night — after I got home from school, I cried — myself to sleep, trying to forget that memory. Trying to erase it, and now, here you are. How is this even possible?!”
I half-cry and half-laugh. It is hysterical to see Nate alive and well.
He stares at me. He then sighs, “But, I thought I was the only one who knew something weird was going.”
I am shocked. “What?”
“I have a theory,” he says, “I think when our molecular particles suddenly move out of place; it makes our blood sugar drop. That’s why we craved anything sweet.”
My mouth hangs open, confused, yet the clouds are clearing.
He continues, “I have to confess something.”
I nod, “What is it?”
He shifts, but his hands still lay underneath mine. I feel his thumb drawing circles on the back of mine, careful not to hit the injection in my hand. “I don’t know how to explain this, but when I was driving home,” he pointed at me and continued, “I saw the truck you were talking about.”
“And all of a sudden, I felt like I woke up from a dream, but the weird thing was I was already awake.”
I narrow my eyes, hanging onto every word he will say.
“The Founder’s week came across my mind as if it only happened that day.”
I gasp again as I had this experience when I entered the week and remembered the night I saw the blinding lights as clear as day.
“I could feel where Ryan hit me; I caressed my jaw,” he reveals, “it’s like a bizarro dream.”
I giggle, echoing what he just said, “Bizarro.” But I pull myself together and become serious again, “Then what happened?”
“I felt exhausted, and my mouth was craving for sweets,” he then leans and raises his eyebrows. “There was a nagging sensation as if something was wrong after hearing the announcer on my radio about the date. So I went to a gas station and bought 1.5L of cola and drank. When I was about to drive off back to the highway, I saw some police cars rushing, and you called me on my phone. We talked for a while before I drove off. On my way, I saw a truck tipped over by the edge of the road.”
Overwhelmed, I pull him and hug him.
“But, how did this happen?” he asks in my arms.
I shrug when we break free. “Did we really go back in time?”
He searches my eyes as he looks at me and then laughs. “Maybe? But if I went back to the past, why didn’t I remember anything from my future self, back then?”
Shocked by the realization, I gasp. I can’t say the awful phrase, so I wrap my arms around Nate again, instead. I am just glad he is right here, right now. I think he is confused, but he embraces me back. He had no idea about any of the future because he died. That’s the reason why he didn’t remember anything.
When we pull back, he starts laughing. “I was too scared to tell anyone. I was actually freaking out!”
I laugh with him. “Cause they’d think we’re crazy!?” and sniff.
His expression becomes serious as he nods. But then he smiles at me when he says, “I think it was because of you.”
I shake my head. “I need to tell you something,” I say and show him my journal. “You were here when you read my journal entry of the day you were driving?”
He nods. “Yeah, I had no idea you and Ryan dated during college,” and then he suddenly remembers something. “By the way, before Ryan, um,” he clears his throat, “he asked me to give you this.”
He opens my Travel journal and gives me an envelope. It was from Ryan.
My mouth hangs. As I open it, Ryan’s lavender perfume hangs in the air. He probably sprayed some on the paper. My vision becomes blurry as my throat once again tightens. I pull out the contents, it is a photograph of the two of us in front of the Gazebo in Austria, and I unfold the letter. A dried flower falls. It’s Edelweiss.
I’m so sorry for all the things I have done to you. You don’t deserve someone like me. I made your life miserable. So, I asked God or the gods to give me another chance to prove my love for you. I give my life so that you could live yours. My dear Mariana, I hope one day you’ll appreciate everything that is in front of you. And I hope you get the recognition you deserve. Don’t be sad that I’m gone, love. Be happy for the fond memories we had.
I love you.
Nate rests his hand on my shoulder. “I knew he was special to you, Mariana,” he chuckles weakly. “He must be the real reason why you told me to go for Lacey in the first place.”
My tears blur my vision as I nod at Nate. I put his letter to my heart and whispered, “I love him too, and I didn’t even tell him. Now he’s gone.”
Nate wraps his arms around me once again as he lets me cry on his shoulder.