ANDY TU - IF SHE WERE THERE
If She Were There
As his feet slush against the flow of the river, he hears birds chirping like that melody his wife used to hum. Where is she? No longer there with him. But if she were there, she'd say that the water is much too cold to be in, and walk along the bank at his side, softly kicking the lighter pebbles while avoiding the darker ones, a game she used to play. He used to wonder why she did this, but now realizes that it stemmed from the time her father told her, not now, not now, as he hurled a shovel into the back of his truck without a glance toward her searching eyes that made their way to him, watching from the window of his tree house which seemed to sway even though the air was still and he was frozen with a feeling much like the cold of the water tingling through his feet.
If she were there, she’d ask him why he’s stepping out of the river. He did say it was the most refreshing feeling—the current washing between his toes—didn’t he? It’s just not the same without her there, jesting to push him in, like the rising breeze, testing his balance which has not been the same since she passed. He wonders, if he slips and falls, will it bring him that joy he felt when she pushed him in? He almost wishes the wind would thrust him in just so he can see, but instead it’s softening, nestling against his chest the way she used to hug him after a day apart, strumming through his hair the way her fingers would.
There are only a few clouds above, yet a raindrop has fallen onto his check. Perhaps that’s enough to shed a tear. He wonders if those memories still haunt her, if she’s unable to forget her father’s stumbling footsteps, late at night, how her mother would sigh and sip from the bottle of wine hidden inside that box of letters, and if she still remembers the first time she ran away from them to cry in his arms.
Where will his mind wander tonight, when the hush of stillness streams into their bedroom? If only she were there, then his worries would depart. He’d ask her to hum that melody he loves so much, the one that reminds him of summer, and the birds would join in from a place above, a place he can't see but feel, like the heaven they created before she passed. If she were there, they'd share the sunlight that’s smiling at him through the thinning branches like the first time he ever saw her.
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