She jumped up quickly as she heard movement behind her.
“Sorry.” Billy held up his hands as he approached her slowly. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted to see if you were okay…the way you ran out of there…”
Phyllis shook her head. “The truth?” She sighed, “No. I’m not okay and I don’t know why I came here, but it’s where I’ve come the last year when I needed clarity or support or to feel closer to him.” She glanced up at him.. “or you.”
Billy nodded, kneeling down on the ground beside her. “This is weird.”
There was silence for a moment and she laughed a bit, laughing harder as he looked over at her, his eyes widening a bit. “I’m sorry,” she muttered, “that’s just the most honest thing I’ve heard in a while. Yeah, this is definitely weird…I can’t imagine how it would feel to look at your own headstone. Not many people get a chance to do that.”
“No.” He smiled as he glanced over at her. “I guess you’re right about that. It’s a small club. Is there video of the funeral? I’d like to see that?” He stopped, hesitating as her face grew serious. “Hey,” he whispered, “I’m sorry…that was too far. I was just trying to lighten things up. I didn’t mean to..”
“It’s not that,” she said softly, “It’s just…videos..there are some you’d probably like to see. Grace’s birth and her christening..I think there’s even some videos of the baby showers…”
“Yeah. I’d like to see all of that.” Silence settled over them again. He looked at the stone, marveling at the strangeness of seeing his name above a date of death. When he looked back at her, he saw her eyes fixed on his. “What is it?” he asked softly.
“It’s just strange. The past year whenever I wanted to talk to you, I’d come here and now I’m here and I’m actually talking to you, but you…you’re….” She couldn’t continue, the words too painful to even say. She turned her head, not wanting him to see her cry. He’d seen enough of that already.
Billy sat helplessly, not sure of what to do. He extended his hand, placing it gently on her shoulder, feeling her body tense immediately. Her head turned slowly towards him, her eyes staring into his. “You don’t have to do that,” he said softly. “I’m sorry that this is hurting you. I don’t know how to make it better. I wish I did, but you don’t have to pretend it’s not difficult for you. I know it is.”
She nodded. “I guess it’s just…after you died…” She shook her head, “After we thought you died, I would dream at night about someone coming to me and telling me that it had all been a mistake. I would imagine what it would be like when I would see you again and I held onto that for a long time. I never felt you leave me and then, when I found out I was pregnant, I thought maybe that was why. At first I was terrified. I was afraid that every time I looked at our baby I would be devastated all over again, but then I realized that baby was the only part of you I had left and that as long as that baby was here, a little part of you would always be with me. That’s what kept me going. Grace was the only reason I survived most days. And even though she filled a huge hole inside of me, I still had that dream that you would come back and I could wrap my arms around you and hold you and remember what it felt like to be close to you. And now, the dream has come true, but it isn’t at all like it’s supposed to be….”
He shook his head, a little in awe of how she could put her feelings into words so easily. “I don’t what to say except I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I really am. I wish I remembered. It sounds like we were happy and I wish I could remember everything you’re talking about. I wish I could be the person you’ve been waiting for. I can’t make myself remember, but I can do one thing…”
He stood, taking her hands in his and pulling her up to stand next to him. He could see the confusion and hesitation in her eyes as she watched him. “Come here,” he said softly as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer to him. He could feel her hesitation, her stress, her almost trepidation as she stood tense in his arms, but as he gently coaxed her head to rest against his shoulder, he felt the release. “It’s alright,” he whispered, as he felt her back shake with a sob. “It’s alright.”
There were no memories of their life together, but some things simply felt natural and this was one of them. He allowed his head to rest against hers as he drew in a breath, the smell of her shampoo and….
“That smell…” He pulled away quickly, one hand on each of her shoulders.
“What?” she breathed, tears still soaking her cheeks.
“Scarlett Mist,” he said excitedly, a smile forming on his face. “Scarlett Mist, right? That’s what you’re wearing?”
Her eyes sparkled as she looked at him. “Yes, that’s right. Do you remember that? You remember that’s the perfume I wear?”
“Not exactly.” He stopped, taking a breath and calming himself. It was one thing to get ahead of himself and get overly excited. It was quite another to get her hopes up and then send them crashing down again. She’d been through enough. “When I was in the hospital, one of the nurses had this perfume and when I smelled it, I remembered it. I knew I’d smelled it before. I remembered it and I knew it was important. Do you wear it a lot?”
She smiled up at him, her eyes now brighter than he’d ever seen them. “Yeah. Actually, it’s a scent that Jack, your brother, developed for me. I wear it all the time..every day. You used to love it. You remembered it?” Tears formed in her eyes again and she began to raise her hand to brush them away.”
His hand touched her face first, his fingertips slowly brushing away the tear. “I did,” he said softly. “I remembered the perfume and I remembered that I missed it.”