Christmas time has come around once more. People were flooding stores buying up whatever gifts they could before time ran out. Houses were decked in lights and all sorts of inflatable Santas, snowmen, and animatronic reindeer. Here and there chimney smoke clouded the otherwise clear skies. And through it all, one could feel the holiday spirit descending upon the town.
"What can I get for you tonight," the bartender asked as I approached the counter.
"The usual," I said, head down.
"Spending Christmas as usual, I see," he said as he reached for a bottle of Jack and a glass. "Gonna go visit her again?" I ignored him and reached for the bottle.
"By the way," the bartender said after a brief silence, "when are you gonna pay your tab. It's been two months now, you know."
"How much?" I gumbled.
"Don't worry about it, I was only messing with you," he said. "It's Christmas. I'm just trying to lighten the mood you know."
"How much," I asked again.
The bartender sighed before replying,"Not much. Just eighty-three dollars and forty cents."
"Here," I said, tossing a hundred on the counter. "Keep the change." I took one last swig from the bottle and left, leaving the whiskey behind half drained.
Snow was falling gently everywhere as I stepped outside. I walked over to my half blanketed car and hopped inside, pausing a moment before turning it on. As I drove out of the parking lot and onto the street, I noticed that the roads were unusually empty and the sidewalks unusually clear. It seemed just about everyone had decided to return home at exactly the same time, a choice I was now making myself.
I eventually arrived to the entrance of my neighborhood, a place full of old stone buildings, some as old as the ninteenth century. I drove on until I arrived at my street. As I drove on down, I was flanked on one side by elaborate marble constructions and on the other by the simpler, more humble abodes. I continued on until I spotted my destination at the very end of the street.
I parked on the opposite side of the street, hesitating a momenter before getting out. I didn't have to open the door to be inside - there wasn't one.
"Hey, Hannah. I'm back," I said hesitantly, not really expecting a reply. "I brought some wine to share." Again, no reply. I sighed heavily.
I sat down beside the giant stone slab hovering inches above the ground. No one would be joining me to night except the bitter cold and a few bugs. I knew in my mind there was no reason to stay there, but something in my heart spoke otherwise.
"You know it's been ten years since the accident," I said while pouring two glasses of the expensive red beverage. " I still can't believe it's been so long." I picked up one of the glasses and studied it before downing its contents.
"Tell me now," I continued, refilling the glass, "how's life been? The neighbors aren't too noisy, are they? No, guess it would be hard to be noisy when you cant even lift a finger." I laughed silently at my joke, without even a cricket near enough to chirp away the silence. "What am I even doing?" I sighed eventually. "Why did I even come here? There's no changing what happened. In the end, I'm still here and you're still there. I wish things could be different. And Why can't they be?" I'm not sure when it happened, but I eventually forgot the glass entirely and began drinking straight from the bottle. Must have been about the same time I started shouting and swearing at the sky, whenever that was.
"Why does it have to be this way, huh? Why can't it be some other way like everyone lives or something. Fuck, Death! Go screw up someone else's life! Leave mine alone! And give me Hannah back! In fact, Why don't you crawl back to that fucking hell hole of yours and stay there! Why did you have to take the one thing I loved, bastard!"
I threw the wine bottle at some invisible presence that didn't exist. I never heard the glass bottle break. I was probably too drunk by then.
"What the hell is wrong with me?" I sighed as I sat down. "Look at me. I'm stuck in a dead end job barely able to support myself, relying on others to keep living. My paremts have both disowned me. Only your parents still accept me, and yet they should both hate me. If it wasn't for me, you would still be alive."
Flashbacks of a car accident suddenly flooded my mind. I could hear the screeching of rubber desperately trying to grab the road. I could see broken glass flying everywhere. I could feel fear filling my entire being. Blood everywhere, with screams of desperation disolving all other sounds. I slammed my eyes shut trying to avoid my delusions.
Eventually, all fell silent. I opened my else to see that nothing had changed. I was still kneeling in the grass beside the grave. Hannah was still dead. I was still alive. Nothing had changed.
I looked to the clouded sky. "If there is a God above, answer me this," I shouted. "Why? Why me? Why save me and not Hannah? Why? She had so much more than me - so much more to live for. Things would have been much different, I'm sure. Why?" The gentle snowfall on my face was my only answer. Figures, I though. I'm not worth an answer.
My entire body shivered in the night air as a frozen breeze ripped through the graveyard. I immediately realized just how ill prepared I was for the current temperatures. I stood up, my legs shaky and my balance ruined by the alcohol. I stumbled my way to my car, opened the door and sat silently inside for a while. As I proceeded to turn the car on, a small package in the passenger seat caught my eye. As I peeled away the brown paper surrounding the package, tears rolled down my face as I saw it was a bouquet of flowers composed of several blood red roses, a few beautiful birds-of-paradise, and about half a dozen half-bloomed poinsettias. I knew these were Hannah's favorite flowers when she was alive and I knew why I had them now.
I stepped out of the car back into the cold and slowly began trudging my way through the snow to the grave. A bitter wind had picked up, slicing to the bone, and the once soft snow was now ice. Returning to the grave had quickly become a challenge but I was determined not to let this one time of my life become my worst regret.
Just as I neared the grave, my right foot hit a slick spot. There was little time to react but the alcohol was still present to slow my reaction down to beyond too late. My head smacked onto the marble slab hard, smashing in my nose and my skull.
So this is how it ends, huh? I thought as I slowly slipped into unconsciousness. I guess this is how I'll Finally pay for all my sins, right? I felt a sudden warmth spread throughout my body despite the cold and ice. It felt comforting and relaxing, almost as if the accident had never happened, as if Hannah were still alive. It felt as though my parents, her parents and the two of us weren't quarrelling, but rather celebrating together in peace. It felt nice.
Reporter: ...a man in his 30s was reported dead by police today as his body was found lying beside the grave of who is believed to be his deceased wife...