It was Bernard who had bargained with the heavens, offering his own life in exchange for Eleanor’s. And now, as fate would have it, the powers that be hadn’t taken his life but had instead snatched away Eleanor’s memories. A fair trade, he reassured himself, for she
Yet, despite his self-comforting thoughts, Bernard couldn’t suppress a bitter chuckle. It was as if the past decade had been nothing but a lavish pipe dream.
Gazing upon her gaunt, pale face and bloodshot eyes, and the rueful smile that played upon his lips, Eleanor’s heart constricted, tightening in discomfort. She thought it was a cardiac issue at first and pressed her hand to her chest. The odd pang faded quickly, and in that moment, Garrett took the opportunity to gently push aside her other hand.
“Eleanor, your husband’s back. You should chat with him; I’ll head off now and check in on you another day,” Garrett said, his voice light yet tinged with concern.
As Garrett turned to leave, Eleanor, gripped by a sudden anxiety, called out to him, “Garrett, don’t go. I don’t know him. Please don’t leave me alone; I’m scared.”
Those two words, “I’m scared,” hit Bernard like a hammer to the heart, deeply embedded and immobilizing. It felt as though a rugged nail was piercing through his heart’s chambers, unrelentingly claiming his life…
Bernard, who had been propped up against the hospital bed, finally lowered his heavy lashes to look at the fear-filled Eleanor beneath him. “You’re afraid of me?” he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Eleanor wasn’t afraid of him per se; it was the unfamiliarity that terrified her. But she didn’t know how to express this, so she chose silence, even directing a plea for help towards Garrett with her eyes.
Bernard had never seen how she loved Garrett before, only heard her whisper his name in her sleep. Now, witnessing it firsthand, he felt all his convictions shattering.
His fingers, pressed against the bedsheet, curled into his palm. It was only when his fingernails cut into his skin, drawing blood, that he suppressed the pain and slowly sat
Embarrassed and despairing, Bernard looked at Garrett, “If she’s afraid of me, should stay with her. I… I’ll be going.”
As he spoke, tears threatened to spill from his eyes. Perhaps afraid of being seen in such a state, Bernard pushed himself off the wall and staggered away.
Watching the retreating figure waver, Eleanor felt her heart ache anew. This time, the pain was clearly for Bernard. But she looked up at Garrett, whose face was etched with gravity,
and she was sure-she loved Garrett. Memories might fade, but her feelings couldn’t
regress, could they?
Confused and fragmented, Eleanor sought answers, “Garrett, can you tell me what’s going on between him and me?”
Garrett met her bewildered gaze, replying, “It’s not something I can explain in a sentence or two. But you loved him deeply, enough to risk your life for him.”
Although Eleanor found it hard to believe, she didn’t argue with Garrett, simply saying, “I don’t feel love for him now. I only feel that I love you. So, Garrett, if there’s a chance you haven’t let go of me, then there’s a chance for us to start over.”
Outside the hospital room, leaning against the wall, Bernard overheard this and felt his frail body tremble, as if a cold wind had blown right through him.
Aidyn and Scott, seeing their boss’ heartbreaking face, felt a pang of sympathy. He hadn’t even taken the time to put on his coat in his rush to see his wife and had run into the hospital through the snow. And now…
His wife had forgotten him, remembered only Garrett, loved only Garrett. What would become of their Mr. Laurence? Could years of love be dissolved by amnesia?
Inside the room, Garrett pulled up a chair beside Eleanor’s bed, ready to speak, but Bernard no longer had the heart to listen. He staggered out of the hospital, his steps unsteady.
Aidyn and Scott made to follow, but a raised hand from Bernard stopped them. They understood he needed some space and halted
Bernard, bracing against the pain that threatened to shatter him, leaned on the hospital walls, each step more graceless than the last, until he emerged into the snow. The flakes had grown larger since his arrival, quickly blanketing the cold ground…
Standing at the hospital entrance, he looked up at the swirling snow and felt an
overwhelming sense of solitude. It was a loneliness that seeped from within, unbearable, and the world before him started to blur.
As his tall frame fell backward into the snow, the pure white flakes settled like dandelion fluff upon his face, melting slowly upon his flawless cheeks.
Though clad only in a thin suit on this snowy night, Bernard felt no chill-perhaps his heart was cold enough to numb his senses.
Before consciousness fully slipped away, he gazed up at the snow-filled sky and whispered in his heart, “Eleanor, I don’t think I can hold on much longer. If you ever remember me and I’m not here anymore, please don’t blame me…”