“Charissa? Charissa Oscar?” the young man exclaimed in surprise. She could barely believe her eyes as she took in all six feet eight inches of the blond youth before her eyes. The last time she had seen him, he had been hooked up to a machine, barely hanging on to life. She didn’t believe that he would ever recover.
Moving away, two cities and three failed relationships later, here he was before her eyes, as large as life and with a healthy glow to his previously pale cheeks. The calico cat rubbed itself against her elbows as she propped herself up, its rounded haunches and silky fur bringing her back down to earth from her distant memories. He set down the tray he had been holding almost like a shield in front of his chest and reached a tentative hand towards her. She took it, feeling the warmth and work-roughened skin against her smoother one. He was real.
“Devon Ather.” she murmured more to herself than to him. She remembered everything all too well. The shrill beeping of the machines strapped to him, the metallic feel of needles poking into his skin, pale as the snow that constantly fell in sheets outside his hospital window, everything about him white and cold…and dying. She had cried till there was nothing left to shed, and let herself be pulled away from him by her mother who was concerned that her only daughter was slowly dying along with the young man who lay as still and as beautifully cold as a statue on top of a marble sarcophagus. She had left him behind to die.
Hot tears spilled down her cheeks even as she rose to her feet and tried to hide her face behind the long sweep of her dark red hair. Wet splotches patterned the floor beneath her feet. His footsteps moved away and she heaved a sigh.
Charissa. That had been her name once. She had tried so hard to erase her past. Their past. For everyone’s sake, she had been told that it was the best course of action. She would be forgiven if she lived her normal, humdrum existence in the city of a thousand people until she lost her own identity. But she had suffered so much.
A tissue popped into her line of sight, startling her. Devon was as awkward as always. Not even a near death experience had changed him. She smiled through her tears and prepared to launch into apology mode. Years of living among people who thought themselves superior to everyone else had taught her to apologise as fast as possible and walk away. Don’t turn back. She opened her mouth and a finger pressed lightly against her lips, stopping the flow of words she was about to say.
Everything died in the back of her throat as she looked up into his face. That same face she had spent hours looking at, afraid that all she would see for him would be the darkness of his own world and yet so in love with him that she could not look away for fear of missing a single breath, perhaps his last.
The same platinum blond shaggy hair, thicker and glossier than she remembered, the same full mouth that was constantly quirked at the corners as if permanently hiding a joke from the world, the same smooth planes of his cheekbones and clean-shaven jaw. He smiled. The cat purred. The last few years melted away into a maelstrom of emotions. Happiness, sadness, joy, relief, shame, love. She couldn’t imagine how she had managed to live for so long without him. They had always been a pair, destined from the start to be together, as cheesy and clichéd as it sounded. But that was the way it was. Chaos and Death. They went hand in hand.