Dreaming of Anna

The place by the window was his favourite place. He would close his eyes and let his mind go wandering, thin, claw-like hands picking incessantly on the padding of the armrest of the wheelchair to keep the gnawing pain at bay. His mind would roam free, unbound by his old, brittle frame, meeting people long dead, living, all over again, successes and failures, happiness and heartbreak. Sometimes tears would trickle slowly down his dry, wrinkled cheeks. Sometimes. Often.

Today the sun was out when the nurse wheeled him to his usual place. His hands batted away at the armrests, twitching, picking. The pain was always there. He wanted to close his eyes and fly away, hoping to leave the pain in his body behind – knowing he’d live the pain in his mind anew. It was a choice.

Outside in the street a young woman walked by. Sunlight struck her golden hair as she turned her head. Her eyes met his – and she smiled.

His eyes opened wide, watery blue and glittering from the tears about to be cried. With dark blue eyes, golden hair shimmering, white teeth shining she was right there again; back with him again, after leaving him for the longest time. The image of the wasting body in the hospital bed, tubes and wires, and in the end the long steady sound of a flatline faded and disappeared. This was her: young, strong, and beautiful, and coming for him as promised.

We’ll be together again, my love, she had said. And she had been right. So he smiled, and expelled the breath he had been holding for so long. His hands rested upon the armrests now, quiet, unmoving.

Outside the girl saw his smile and waved before continuing on her way, but he didn’t seem to see.