It was a cold night on December 23 and my birthday. I had to go home to my hometown in Pittsburgh to celebrate the Christmas week with my mother. It was lonely, even with mom there with me. I wanted to spend my birthday with my closest friends and my boyfriend, Brian. Fortunately, they called earlier that morning to tell me they were driving to the Pitts to be with me on my special 21st anniversary with the world.
I was very excited. Mom was set to go to my grandma's house for a visit that night and she felt bad I had to be alone on my very day. I assured her, though, that I would be fine and that I'd just watch some movie and eat some cake. She promised to bring me a special chocolate chip cake when she came back from grandma's. Turned out, I wouldn't really be alone that night.
I cooked whatever was available in the pantry since my friends told me they were bringing food over so I didn't have to do anything but wait for their arrival. But I was fidgety and had to work on something even after cleaning the whole house.
By 8, I was perched on the couch, staring at the wall clock. It was running really slow. They said they would arrive at around 8:30. I glanced down at my phone, waiting for a call or a message from them - or Brian. He never sent me a message today or called me. When I asked our friends, they said he wanted to greet me face-to-face so he wouldn't speak to me until they got here.
It kind of sucked because I really missed him, but I played along anyway.
By 8:24, the lights suddenly turned out and the whole place had gone dark.
"Shit," I cursed. Did it really have to happen now?
Then someone knocked on the door.
My heart skipped a beat. I couldn't help but recognize scenes like this in thriller movies. Who was that on the other side? Could it be a serial killer of some sort?
I shook my head. I was delusional.
I stood up and used the light on my phone to find my way to the door. I took an unnecessary deep breath and opened it...
My previously terrorized face morphed into a huge grin. I immediately hopped and embraced him in a warm, tight, I-missed-you hug. He hugged me back with his free arm, just as lovingly.
When I pulled away from our lock, I saw him smiling so gently down at me. I wanted to kiss him right then if I didn't remember that our other friends was supposed to be with him yet they were nowhere of sight.
"Where are the others?" I asked him, glancing around behind his shoulders and saw nothing but pitch darkness.
"They'll be here soon. I wanted to be here first."
I smiled, then frowned. "You...walked?" I craned my neck again, looking around behind him.
"It's very dark inside," was what he said, ignoring my question.
"Yeah, must be a minor defection in our line. It would be fine soon...I guess."
He nodded, looking at me a little strangely.
"So, wanna go inside?"
I closed the door behind me when we entered and found him lighting a candle. He opened the box he was bringing and mounted the little candle above the chocolate cake.
"Happy birthday, darling."
I smiled again, a little teary. The darkness around us made it romantic, if anything else.
I blew the candle - I wish to be with this amazing man forever - and opened my eyes to find him smiling at me.
"What was your wish?"
"If I say it, it might not come true. And I really want it to come true."
He nodded acceptingly and placed the cake down on the coffee table. He fished something in his pocket and opened a velvet box in my face. It was a necklace.
"Oh god, that doesn't sound cheap."
"You don't deserve cheap."
I teared up again. Who could be better than this man?
He walked around me to stand behind my back. I helped him by holding my hair for him. He fastened the silver necklace with a diamond pendant in my neck. I caressed the stone with a soft smile in my lips.
He leaned closer, his surprisingly cold breath tickling my ear, and whispered. "Your wish has come true, babe. Till death do us part."
A chill ran down my spine because somehow, it sounded creepy. I was about to turn around when my phone rang.
I answered it, still feeling Brian's cold presence behind me.
A teary voice spoke when I answered.
"Gilda, where are you now? Why do you sound distressed?"
Then I heard a sob broke from her on the other end. My heartbeat raced again. "Gilda?"
"I'm sorry, Amy. We were almost there. Then..."
"Then what, Gilda?" I couldn't stop the panic from my voice.
"We crashed. We crashed, Amy. We're at the hospital now."
I gasped. "Are you hurt? Is anybody hurt?"
She didn't reply for a moment to cry. The presence behind me was still there but I couldn't turn around. Sweat was breaking from the pores of my body and a huge lump took residence in my throat.
"Gilda, please speak." I pleaded.
"Brian...Brian didn't make it, Amy. He was our driver and he... oh god. I'm so sorry..."
I snapped my phone shut. I couldn't keep listening. The silence and darkness surrounding me was beyond what my braveness could take.
"Brian?" my voice was little and it croaked.
Nobody answered me and then I knew...
I touched the jewelry hanging from my neck and I knew...
My wish did come true. And I didn't know whether to be thrilled or spooked.
When the lights turned on, I found myself alone with that cold presence still lingering.
Brian, what a gift.