The sun was shining dimly through her window curtains. She didn’t care what the time was, or what day it was. The only thing she felt was the hollowness in her heart. Even though Frank died three months ago, she missed her husband dearly. Julia got off her bed and stared at the spot next to her. Empty, just like how she felt inside. It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.
She had never thought she would have to auction her house away. The house that was filled with happy memories. Taking a quick shower and freshening herself up, she strolled through the kitchen to fix herself breakfast. She grabbed the newspaper from the doorstep and checked the days’ headlines. Another murder. She sighed inwardly and trotted back into kitchen to check on her eggs.
After breakfast, she sauntered into the attic to bring out the cardboard boxes. The day had finally arrived, the day she will be putting away all her memories in a box. Dragging them into the living room, she carefully plucked the photo frames of its hook from the wall. Staring at the picture, she could clearly remember the day the photo was taken.
It was summer of ’09. Frank was away for a meeting in Frankfurt. Being a Financial Advisor for a multi-national company, it had its pros as well as cons. He was always travelling. Either Beijing or London, or this time, Frankfurt. Julia had been upset. He was going to miss her birthday, yet again. She didn’t like Frank travelling so much. They had hardly spent any time together. But this time, he had arrived a day earlier to Melbourne. He surprised her by arriving at the doorstep exactly at 12 with a bow tied around his head. When Julia opened the door, she cried in shock. She hugged him hurriedly, crying in his arms. Frank laughed as he hugged her back. She tugged on the bow off his head before he caught her by her arms and kissed her. She didn’t even realize he had taken a photograph at that point.
Smiling at Frank’s silliness, made her heart clench. She will never have these moments again. He will not be standing with a bouquet of flowers every time he would come back from his meetings. Every Christmas, every Thanksgiving will be celebrated without him by her side. Just the thought of being alone without Frank made Julia weep. Tears swiftly rolled down her cheek and fell upon the photo frame. Pulling it closer, she cried.
Just then, the phone rang. It rang a couple of times before it went to voicemail. Ever since Frank’s funeral, Julia had ignored the rest of the world. Her mother and her brother called endlessly to check on her. But she overlooked their concerns. Putting down the photograph on the table, she walked out to their garden. Her feet swept upon the soft grass which she had managed to mow the day before without crying. Frank would always mow the lawn on every Sunday while she made lunch.
Julia walked over to the little swing they had constructed at the western corner of the back porch. Well mostly Frank did while Julia made fun of him. Julia ran her hand over the wood till her fingers touched little dents. It was her and Frank’s initials engraved onto the wood in the middle of the backrest of the porch swing. She seated herself on the swing and pulled up her legs towards her chest and rested her chin on her knees. Looking around she saw the hibiscus shrubbery that she planted after fighting with Frank.
“Frank, why don’t we plant red hibiscus over here.” Julia said as she pointed toward an empty area of their garden. “Red Hibiscus?” Frank shot an eyebrow. Julia nodded enthusiastically. “Okay, but from where are we going to get this red hibiscus from. You do realize we don’t get it in Australia.” Frank said as he scaled the wood for the swing. “Well, I was thinking you could ask your friend from India to send a sapling?” Julia asked Frank, smiling slyly. The log scale dropped onto the ground with a thud. Frank stared at her with his eyes wide open. “Do you know how much that will cost us?” Frank was bewildered. He loved his wife, but her demand was a little outrageous. “Please Frank, I’ll put in all my savings. You don’t even have to spend a dime on it. Please, please, can we?” She whined. Frank hung his head in defeat. “Fine! But you aren’t putting all your savings. I’ll pitch in half.” Julia screamed in joy and hugged her husband tightly. “I love you, Frank! You’re the best!” Frank chuckled. “I know!”
Lost in thought, Julia didn’t realize tears had welled up in her eyes again. She wiped away her tears with the back of her hand when she noticed a shiny object that was placed in one the hibiscus plants. She got off the swing to reach out for it. It was an envelope with a silvery thread tied around it. It had been addressed to her. She recognized the handwriting, it was written by her late husband, Frank. Opening the envelope, she removed the letter.
I hate it when we fight. I don’t like the frown on your face. I hate the fact that I have to stay away from you. But please baby, it’s not what you think. I am not cheating on you. I love you. I love you so much that if I could, I would write it in the sky. You are the shining light in the darkness. Work has just been difficult lately. But don’t you worry, by next month everything will be sorted and we can finally take the vacation to Toronto that you’ve always wanted. Till then just bear with my busy schedules. But please, don’t shut me out!
All I want is nothing more, just to hear you knocking at the door. To forgive me and to let me back inside. I can’t stay away from you when I know the only thing that separates us is just a wall. If I could see your face once more, I think I’ll die a happy man I’m sure. But when you said goodbye, I died a little inside. I laid in tears all night because you weren’t there by my side.
Did you know I fell in love with you the first time I met you? At our favorite diner, Curby’s. I never told you but Brock was the one who wanted to actually ask you out but never could. He was just shy, so he pushed me forward to ask you for him. But I wasn’t a good mate. When I walked over to you and your friends and asked if I could have a dance with you. You laughed and agreed. Baby, your laughter made it a seal deal for me. I knew I was going to marry you. I told Brock that day when we went back and made sure he stayed away from you. Call me crazy, but I wanted you. All of You. My crazy hibiscus girl!
And trust me, baby, the feeling is still there. Every time I’m with you, I feel like I seeing you for the first time, the same way when I saw you at Curby’s. I’m not just better with you, darling. You bring out the best in me, a part of me I’ve never seen. So don’t ever doubt that I would ever cheat on you, love.
I didn’t know how to say this to you, so I wrote this letter for you. I hope by now, you realize that I love you unconditionally. I would quote Twilight for you right now, but I know you would hate it.
Please don’t be mad at me anymore.
I love you, Jules! Love you from the day I met you.
P.S. Look inside the envelope.
Julia couldn’t contain her cries. Her heart cried in pain as though someone was trying to rip it out of her chest. She choked on her tears as she opened the envelope again and checked inside. Pulling out the golden chain, she gasped in surprise. The pendant was a red hibiscus. The flower was dark red in color, the stamen had diamond embedded on it while the petals were gold laced. It was beautiful.
Her knees gave out and collapsed on the ground. Feeling remorse and guilt, her cries got louder. She wailed for Frank, for his death, for everything. Her thoughts went back on the day he died.
“I’m going out for a while!” Frank said as he jogged down the stairs. “Where are you going?” Julia asked. “I’m meeting the boys for a bowling game. Will be back later.” Frank said. Julia huffed in anger. “Are you sure you are going to meet the ‘boys’?” Julia asked sarcastically. Frank sighed in defeat. “Julia, not again. I’ve already told you before I’m not cheating on you! Why don’t you believe me?” Frank said in a flat tone. Julia got back to do whatever she was doing. “Fine whatever. Do whatever you want. Go meet your boys, have fun.” Frank exhaled soundly. “Julia, I love you.” With that Frank left the house.
Three hours later, Julia waited anxiously in the living room, waiting for Frank to come back. Hours passed by and Frank had not returned. She called him a few times but every time the call went to voicemail. She was freaking out. Frank was never late, even if he said he would be back later. Just then the doorbell rang. Julia ran towards the door and flung it open. Two policemen stood at her doorstep. Julia grew more anxious. “Mrs. Johnson?” One of the policemen asked. Nodding her head she replied, “Yeah. What’s wrong?” Both of the police officers had remorse casted over their faces. “What is it? Tell me! Is it Frank?” Julia screamed.
Julia couldn’t remember the trip from her house to the morgue but she remembered seeing Frank’s lifeless body on the cold steel table. She was told by the cops that he was stabbed multiple times in his stomach before the mugger snatched his wallet, phone and watch. Julia broke down. Her mind was all over the place. She couldn’t understand why Frank wouldn’t just give the mugger his stuff. At least he would be alive. He would still be next to her. The police had handed over a photograph, which was the only thing found at the crime scene. A Polaroid photograph of them kissing on her birthday.
Julia had regretted not following him that day and calling him back. To say she was sorry and how wrong she was to accuse him. Her heart broke in guilt for never getting to say how much she loved him. For not saying goodbye. She sat on the soft grass of her garden as she cried for the love of her life.