“Here lies he, who learnt to love and live”
Lily’s coal-black eyes met the words carved on the grave. Tears escaped with summer wind before it dripped out.
The funeral seemed as calm as his death. But still, there were haunting murmurs from both his admirers and rivals.
Lily stood up to leave the crowd and walked towards the two-fold mansion. Each step she took dragged her to the cauldrons of memories. The more she resisted the gush, the more violently it seized her.
His boundless laughter still echoed in her ears like lost music and that fountain pen with golden nib he always carried in his breast pocket never failed to write for her, and write about her. Though she never succeeded to grasp the full depth of his lines, the intensity of his choice of words, she always enjoyed the way he described her in his own fashion.
Everything turned out to be a memory now. Time always played wickedly with all living and for Lily, it became a routine.
The great hall welcomed her with its deadly silence, only her heavy breath replaced the stillness. She began to mount the old staircase.
This house wasn’t alien to her, thirty-six years ago. But now, things have changed utterly and only that Oaktree remained the same and thick, where she used to spend afternoons with him, reading her favorite novels.
His room stood before her as if waiting for years. And the moment she stepped inside, the scent of white lilies stroked her nose. For a moment, her heart stilled and her breath collided. An intense long lost desperation mixed with the air for some moments.
She moved toward the table where those dying lilies rested. She could feel her heart in her throat, throbbing harder.
She sat on his dusting wooden chair, lost in thoughts. Five years of solitude have changed her a lot. She still wore the ring her husband gifted on their first anniversary as a token of his memories. After all, memories alone will be left behind as immortal and burning as ever. Death wasn’t new to her, it was more like an inmate in her life. And solitude, it lived within her. First being an orphan and now being a widower.
But love, it always confused her, ever since she met him, “her secret poet”. That’s what she addressed him and he enjoyed it more than she did.
The call of wind woke her up from those threads of thoughts. She moved her wrinkled finger through those piled books. Among them, she noticed something familiar. A black leathered book with a golden lining in the corners. It was the same book she gifted him years ago, demanding to write a novel. How can she ever forget that?
Her heart started to panic again like a wounded soul and she slowly opened the book.
“To Lily with love”
Was scribbled with black ink on that yellowish page.
Those coal-black eyes began to fill with tears. Tears she failed to shed for years, tears that refused to flow before his tombstone. Those ageing cheeks embraced the heat of those falling drops.
‘He knew I would come!’, ‘he knew I would….’
She thought. And endless unasked questions started to flood in her mind without mercy and she sat there holding that book, without turning any more pages.
Now, who’s left to ask those quests she carried for years, other than his words.
A young voice startled her. She turned right and saw her young self-standing on the doorstep. Her daughter Anna.
“I have been searching everywhere for you mom”
She said and moved towards her.
Lily gave a forced smile and held her hands.
She sat beside her. Again silence filled in for a few minutes.
“Shall we go home, mom?”
“Yes”, lily replied like a whisper and stood up to walk, carefully holding that black leathered book in her left hand. And at that moment she knew what love stands for.