She played her part beautifully, quietly listening to the mother joke about his recent doings.
“You don’t know how much fun he makes of me. Whenever I say I am going to try dieting, he starts laughing.”
True to his word, he started laughing. Hope touched her. Maybe if understood his mother, he would understand her.
He laughed easily and naturally. It was the only thing he could do to express himself.
“Here, stand next to the bed while I get a refill.” His mother told her. “He gets agitated if he’s alone.” His mother explained.
She nodded and stood next to him. Almost immediately, he turned his head to look at her.
“Muh! Muh! Muh!” He tried to say something to her.
“What? I can’t understand!” she told him as she inched closer. His hand found hers, and he clutched it tightly, almost making her wince in pain. His strength surprised her and she squeezed back.
“Muh!” he insisted, his eye never straying from her face. She stood there quietly holding his hand, aware of his father standing behind her.
“Talk to him.” His father said.
“What should I say?” She asked. She had never been at a loss for words before.
“Anything. Tell him about your day, he’ll like that.” His father suggested.
Obediently, she started, “I reached a couple of hours back and came straight to meet you.” No reaction. “I got some stuff for your folks.” She paused. No reaction. She felt like she was talking to a wall. She felt like an idiot, he probably couldn’t even understand what she was saying.
From the corner of her eye, she watched his father leave and then whispered gently into his ear, “I feel silly, I need a reaction, please say something!” To her surprise he started laughing.
Loud, uncontrolled laughter. His mouth was wide open and his eyes fluttered quickly. His hands moved and his fists started clenching. He seemed to have quite forgotten that he was holding her hand. For a second, she felt scared. He was supposed to be unpredictable now, wasn’t he?
Desperation clawed at her and she held his hand once again, “Tell me you remember me! Tell me!” She cried, her voice half muffled with emotions.
“Mmmmmmmh!” he said again.
She rubbed her eyes lightly. What had she expected anyway? When she had decided to visit, his parents had told her in no unclear terms that he was nowhere being normal. That she shouldn't, if she was hoping to see some of the old him. That if she was looking for closure, she wasn't going to find any.
But still, despite all odds, she had hoped against hope. Allowed herself to revisit old emotions and now it seemed like there was no escaping it, she could feel the wet trail of tears dripping down her chin as she resigned herself to the immense sadness she felt.
Regret for the loss of years of happiness that she had spent with him. The fond memories, filled her with sadness.
The man she had once loved had been reduced to this.. this figure.. in front of her..