Sunday, February 17, 2008
He looks down from the second storey of the museum and tried to tune out the crowd gathering around him. These days he finds it so easy to forget about the outside world and just do nothing.
And as he stares down at the whitewashed hallway, memories came flooding back. He remembers that fateful day. He was whiling away his time trying to lessen the stress from his shoulders. It was a few days before the opening of his solo exhibit. A solo exhibit! Who would have thought that a regular guy like him would be given a chance of a lifetime? I guess his definition of ‘regular’ is definitely different from Mr. Scott’s as the curator seems to think of him as ‘brilliant and fascinating’.
He was just standing there looking at the crowd, watching them in their hurried paces, people needing to be somewhere else. And then suddenly, she was there.
From somewhere in his mind, he remembered thinking how his heart seems to be beating a bit faster and how the world seems to be more quiet than normal. At that time, he would probably have heard a leaf falling for the sudden calm.
She looked up and stared right through him. And he wondered why she seems to be immune to his hard stare and come-hither looks. And then he saw her smile. But her smile was reserved for someone else. A hug, a kiss was exchanged and his heart was broken.
He ran down the stairs to get a chance to meet her but when he arrived, she was gone. He looked at the multiple doors downstairs and wondered which one contains his treasure.
A door from the other end opened and there she was. She walked over and smiled at him.
“You’re Greg White, the artist.”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“Your photograph is in the pamphlet for the exhibit. I am looking forward to seeing your work.”
He beamed like a schoolboy in front of his crush.
“Are you also an artist? Do you have any exhibit here?”
“No. My dad works here so I get to go often.”
He nods. As if he understands well what she was saying. He just wants her to keep on talking.
Greg turned around to see Mr. Scott walking towards them.
“I see you’ve met my daughter Meg. She’s a fan of yours. She’s the one who convinced me to bring your work here.”
He looked back at her and a telltale blush suddenly creeps on her face. His heart seems to swell bigger.
From that day on, the two of them were always together. She was there when he received his first toast of success and was there to share his joy on the first sale of his work. It seemed like a fairy tale that will never end.
But it did. He remembered it like it was just yesterday. The phone rang in the middle of the night and a disembodied voice suddenly announced, “She’s gone.” And everything seems to crumble.
He didn’t know how he arrived at the hospital where she was rushed the night before. All he knows is that looking at her lying on the bed, she seems to be just sleeping. How can she be gone?
Mr. Scott caught up with him at the hospital and tried to console him even with his own grief.
“She loved you and you made her happy in the last few days of her life.”
“Why didn’t you tell me? You should have told me. You have no right!”
“She asked me not to tell you. She made me promise not to say a word. And I had to honor her wishes.”
He cried then like he never cried before. He felt like a heavy hand was continuously pressing on his heart, making it so hard to breath. And tears just kept on coming. Days and months passed and yet the tears sometimes still surprise him.
A tap on his back brought him back to the present. And as he looks down at the empty hall, he was hoping that he would see her there walking, smiling and greeting him once more.
But the hallway remains empty.
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