THE EMPTY STOOL
It was already a warm summers morning in the waking city at 7am, when Tina a 36 year old office clerk left her lonely flat, on the upper west side. As usual she took the stairs down onto the street. The trees covered the walkway casting shadows over her as she walked to her favorite cafe, a block away to get breakfast, before a grueling day in the office. This had been her routine, her way of life for the past few years since moving into the neighborhood. She remained a stranger to the area, to her neighbors. She passed strangers on the street, she met daily, only nodding and smiled. The neighbors knew she lived there, but didn’t know her name or what she does.
Little did they knew that her nights were full of pain and grief, often crying lonely, silently in pillows, through the dark cold nights. Even the warm summer sun and bright days never gave her any joy. She just existed and chose to stay like that.
She had fond memories of another life, a life when she met a friend, Dave at college, become really close, memories of Dave asking to marry her, the small ceremony, the celebrations. Memories flooded back night after night in her flat, their first house together, when she landed a top job in the hospital, nursing and his new job as a web designer. They had everything, wanted for nothing, their lives were full of love, full of passion; One day they even planned for children.
This dream, their dream was to be shattered at the highest point. Their world came crashing down, when Dave was took ill. Thinking it was a cold, he refused to see the Doctor, thinking it will be over in a few weeks. The cough got worse, he got more ill, his health falling, sickness in the morning, pain through the night, weight loss. It was too late to save him. Tina took time out to nurse him, he was now bedridden and on a morphine syringe drive.
When she thought he was asleep,Tina would climb up onto the flat part of the roof, where they used to spend nights under the stars dreaming, sleeping in each other arms. Now these nights she was alone, curled up on the floor, she would look across at the city lights, hear the cars on the road beneath her, often crying in the rain to hide her tears, she was to be strong for Dave. each night praying for a miracle to happen, It never came.
The house once full of music, full of life and laughter, full of dreams, hopes and promises, went suddenly cold and dark. The sands of time had run out for Dave, he passed away holding Tina’s hand as he lay the bed, her head on his chest as she dozed from sheer exhaustion. She felt him stroke her hair, then felt his hand slip further down then dropped onto the bed. She stirred, looked, looked deep into his eyes as his life drained away, he was leaving her forever.
She could not remember much of the following months, faint glimpses of the Doctor coming, Dave’s mum holding Tina as she broke down on the floor. The funeral was hazy, she remembered it took place, that was all she remembered. The house became a memorial of their lost life, she locked the bedroom door, refused to enter. She went back to work, but soon left. In the end Dave’s mum told her to move away, fresh start, take the memories but leave the physical, she even offered to sort the house, sell it and sort everything out. Tina loved his family so much, and was grateful they still loved her despite the severed connection.
‘You will always be part of this family dear’ she would often be told.