“Dwight, I’m sorry. I know I am supposed to be there with you at this moment, but my dad is sick, and mom needs me here. I hope you understand. I’ll talk to you soon! I love you, baby.”
He played Hanna’s voicemail again and again. She’s been out of town taking care of her mom and dad. It didn’t surprise him that hearing her voice, even a recorded one, soothed him. Still, it would be different if she was with him, actually holding him in her arms, whispering to him that everything is going to be alright.
He took another swig from the bottle of beer he was holding as he thought of his own parents bitterly. His dad, having been galvanizing with another woman, finally left his mom. Their seemingly happy marriage came crashing down, and even though he couldn’t deny that he practically grew up in an environment where parents screaming and shouting at each other were perfectly normal, he just couldn’t bear the thought that he just became a product of a broken family. He came to the realization that his parents’ marriage wasn’t really a happy one.
He paced back and forth, thinking of what else to do with his life. He set his beer bottle on the coffee table in his apartment, and cupped his head with both hands. Once again, his argument with his dad rushed his thoughts.
“I’m sorry, son, but I think I deserve this. I can no longer bear to be with your mom. She can barely last the day without the alcohol flowing through her veins,” his dad said, tossing all the clothes within reach into a suitcase.
“You did it to her! She’s been hurting and you didn’t care! Why did you have to leave now? Why not sooner?” Dwight shouted.
“I did it for you. I didn’t want you to grow up without a father. Don’t you think you should be thankful?”
“Then you should’ve let me grow up without you!” Dwight screamed.
“You ungrateful bastard! I’ll never be spoken to like that!” his dad spat, aiming to punch him, but he caught his fist.
“Leave us here alone, Dad! I promise I will never be like you!”
Then Dwight stormed out the door, finding his mom just outside crying her eyes out. He couldn’t take the sight of her. So helpless and beaten. He wanted to run to her and tell her that it’s okay, but he simply walked past her. He went out of the house, never planning to go back. Somehow, he blamed his mom too. For being weak. She should’ve fought for his dad, for her, for him, for all of them. She shouldn’t have let their family fall apart. But instead she chose to sulk finding refuge in alcohol while she watched from a distance how his dad continued to rupture their marriage with infidelity.
He drove his car as far as he could. He never had any intentions of going back, for he knew that there was nothing to get back to, aside the debris of their now shattered home. He used to be so proud of having such a perfect life, and secretly laughed at those who cannot even manage to spell the word family. But now he was one of them, and there is no escape for him from pain and humiliation. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Finally, his apartment came to view and his car finally skidded to a stop.
He took the longest shower of his life, washing away the wounds he didn’t know were there all along. The hurt in his heart had always been there, eating him up from the inside, ever since he learned that arguing parents were unusual. Crying was only for the weak, but he couldn’t muster the strength to admit that he was weak and vulnerable. When he stepped out of the shower, a sudden thought came into his head.
Hanna. She had always been his refuge. Her love has always been his salvation through the battles in his life. Before he met her, he was this flightless bird who who seemed to lose all the reasons to sing. But Hanna took care of him, until he was finally free. He never thought that he could be loved that much, that he could be the world to just one person, when he grew up not knowing what love really is. He told himself that he would forever be thankful for that very moment Hanna came into his life.
And he never thought that a day in his life would come that she would fail him. For the first time in his life, she failed him. He needed her right now. Right at this moment when his soul had been broken up to pieces, he needed her to help him put the pieces back together. She is a piece of it, and without her, there would always be a gaping hole in his life.
He called her once. Twice. Three times. Again and again, but she didn’t seem home. He fell asleep for he didn’t know how long, then he woke up with her message blinking in his phone. What am I supposed to do without you? He said loudly, tossing a pillow across the room. He got up and dressed. He had no idea where to go – all he knew was that he’d die of despair alone, waiting for the rescue that he knew would never come.
His car came to a halt when he saw a familiar looking lady standing by the entrance of a diner. He went out of the car and the lady smiled at her.
“Hi, Dwight! It’s been so long. How are you?”
“Cassie, I am not so good at the moment,” he admitted.
“Why? What happened?” Cassie asked, looking concerned.
“Can we get out here, talk somewhere else maybe,” he blurted.
“Sure. Wherever you want to go,” Cassie replied.
They drove away and stopped at a bar and restaurant they used to go to when they were together. Cassie was someone he used to date, and he thought he loved her for all she was. But then it wasn’t good and enough for both of them, causing their relationship to come to an end. They found a table for two, and he ordered drinks for both of them.
“So, what made you down this low?” Cassie inquired.
He gulped the beer in his mug before answering. “Mom and dad finally broke up.”
Instead of shock, Cassie let out a smile. “So what else is new, Dwight? They have been on the rocks for ages, right?”
He took another long gulp of beer. “I know. But a realized break up is another story.”
Cassie sipped her wine. “Okay… but you should have seen this. Your mom and dad definitely deserve peace and quiet after a long time of hurting each other. Don’t you think?”
“I don’t deserve it. They didn’t even consider how I would feel. They were both such cruel, selfish monsters! ” he exclaimed.
“Dwight, don’t talk like that. You knew that your mom and dad loved you. Maybe not in the way we all knew, but in their own way. Maybe they were just weren’t meant to love each other. That’s all,” Cassie explained.
He thought about what Cassie said. Maybe they did love him. It’s just that love didn’t work for his parents. They’d rather be alone by themselves than together. After all, he was old enough to take care of himself. He must have hurt, but his parents now probably plucked out the confidence that he would understand what they were going through. They deserved to be happy. He deserved to be happy.
“Thanks, Cass… you were always great at things like that, you know. I missed the old times,” he finally said.
“I know. I miss them too,” Cassie smiled.
After a few more drinks, they went out and headed to his apartment.
“Are you sure this is okay?” Cassie asked as they walked inside the elevator.
“Yeah. I could use some company tonight,” he smiled at her.
He jammed the keys to the lock and opened up the door. “I’m sorry about the mess,” he added.
“This house never changed. I always loved your shower,” Cassie teased.
“I know. You didn’t even want to get out of there,” he teased back, laughing.
“Dwight, I’m sorry about what happened. You know, between us. It could have been a wonderful relationship, had we fought for it,” Cassie’s face turned serious.
“It doesn’t matter,” he whispered. The next thing he knew, his face felt her breathing.
Then they were kissing. He didn’t know for how long, then, Cassie suddenly broke free.
“It’s late. I should go.”
He reluctantly let go of her, he wasn’t even aware that his arms had somehow snaked themselves locked around her. He walked her to the door, and they kissed one more time as they were standing just outside the elevator door.
They continued to kiss when the elevator door suddenly burst open, they just stopped when they noticed the girl standing inside.
It was Hanna.
He stood frozen at her sight, and as the elevator door slid itself with its customary slow speed, he was fast enough to be able to slip himself inside the elevator.
“Hanna, I didn’t… I can explain…” He stammered.
“I know what I saw,” Hanna said flatly.
Silence hovered them for what seemed like eternity. When they reached the ground floor, Hanna didn’t even look back. She stepped out and walked as fast as she could until they reached the spot where Hanna’s car was parked.
“Hanna, please… listen to me,” he pleaded.
“My parents needed me too, but I figured you must be a wreck so I decided to come over. I didn’t know you were already being attended to perfectly. I could have saved myself some travel time,” Hanna glared at him. That was the last look he saw in her eyes before she went inside her car, gunned the engine and sped away.
He didn’t waste a second, he ran to his car and started his own engine. He drove as fast as he could, trailing Hanna’s car. He couldn’t afford to lose her. He already lost his family. Hanna was his only lifeline. It was such stupid thing to do. He should’ve held on to his faith in her that she would always come to his aid. He hurt her. Just like the way his dad had hurt his mom. Now him and his dad were even.
He could see her car still speeding away. As Dwight drove after her, he thought of all the wonderful things he and Hanna had shared, and the defining moment of his unfaithfulness just a few minutes ago. Then he noticed the truck speeding itself toward his car, toward Hanna’s car. A blinding light erupted. He heard a sickening crash.
Hanna’s car just crashed into the truck.
Dwight couldn’t even remember how he was able to get to the hospital. The white walls, the labyrinthine corridors illuminated by several fluorescent lamps, the doctors in white coats, the nurses in scrubs were all a blur. All that was clear to him was the fact that Hanna was lying unconscious, with severe concussion and some internal injuries – and all of it was his fault. He was all to blame for everything that happened to her, for that fateful night, for that horrible accident. If anything worse could happen, he would never forgive himself.
It took Hanna three weeks to gain her consciousness. Dwight debated with himself if he was going to visit her, or he would just wait until she was out of the hospital. Hanna must still be mad at him. But he wanted to see her so bad.
The familiar odor of antiseptic greeted him as he walked through the familiar tunnel like corridor. He breathed deeply as he reached for the door that led to Hanna’s room. He just hoped that she was sleeping. It would be easier. He slowly opened the door and he saw her sitting on her bed.
“Hi,” he smiled.
Hanna smiled back at him. He took this as a good sign. He sat on an empty chair next to her bed.
“How are you feeling?” he reluctantly asked.
“Still a bit sore. But I’m sure I’ll be alright,” Hanna answered.
“Are you still mad at me?” He asked.
“Why should I be mad at you?” Hanna asked, sounding confused.
“You know, for what you saw. Don’t you remember?”
Hanna stared at him blankly. It took her forever to finally speak, and when she did, she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You… you… do you know me?” Dwight should’ve asked her the first time.
“Aren’t you one of the nurses?”
Dwight looked at her eyes, the ones that used to look at him with love and compassion. Now, those eyes looked back at him blankly, gone were the ones that used to be full of promise.