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Unfinished Business - By Aaroshi Sahgal
The café was brightly lit and had a cheerful, welcoming glow. Couples and families could be seen through the windows, and their laughs were genuine and pure. I used to love everything about Peter’s Café: the coffee, the food, the workers, and most of all, the customers. Everyone was always happy. This place was like a haven that people came to in order to escape their troubles. I used to be one of those people. However now, I can’t even bring myself to step inside. I didn’t want to deal with the memories again. They haunted me.
It’s hard when you lose someone who meant the world to you. It’s even harder when things ended on the wrong foot, and you never got any closure. What haunts me the most to this day, is all the things I never got to tell her.
I still remember the moment when I saw her again years after the incident was supposed to be put to rest. However, my blind eyes couldn’t recognize her in this new state. I guess it just solidifies the fact that I was a pathetic excuse for a husband.
She was like a diamond covered with soot. Her delicate frame was hidden behind the shadows of Peter’s Café, and I could only see the sides of her faded brown knapsack. I knew someone was behind the leafy walls but I could not see their features. The creature’s mysterious manner made me wonder if they were homeless, or perhaps it was the wanted fugitive that everyone was gabbling about. But when she finally stepped out of the shop’s penumbra, all these petty thoughts vanished from my mind.
All I could think about was how breathtaking her features were, and the lovely way in which her gossamer hair danced with the chilly evening wind. Her pale face was absent of color, and the angles of her cheekbones were prominent. I shifted my gaze to her eyes, and that was where she lost me. Hazelnut in color, the girl’s eyes were incredibly large and filled with worry. They were so empty, yet brimming with bottled up stories. She bit her lip and her forehead knotted up in a maze of lines. She shivered and drew her torn up woolen blanket around her tighter.
It was such a cold evening, and the wind was howling through the trees. Hardly anyone was left in the area. She hadn’t noticed me yet. I held my breath, anxious for her to turn this way. She was so beautiful, even while wearing such tattered clothing. There was no way she could just be some beggar from the street.
There was no way. She lacked the desperate hunger in her eyes, and there was an air of grace that she possessed that I had never seen before. Even with a face so pale and clothes so tattered, she was simply radiant. Anyone else would find the situation comical; a fairly well-off merchant was becoming captivated by a girl off the streets. I couldn’t explain how I was feeling; all I knew was that I wanted to know more about this girl.
I felt inclined to help her, if she was willing to accept my help. What was it about her that seemed so…familiar? Why did I feel such a strong connection to her when it was obvious that we came from two radically different worlds?
And that’s when it happened. She looked up sharply, and our eyes locked. Oh her beautiful hazel eyes; they drew me in. I felt weak in the knees when she glanced over. Should I walk over there? I dared myself. I pushed my chair back barely an inch, and began to stand up. Of course, my elbow hit the table. I whipped my head around just in time to see the half-filled cup of coffee spill over the table. Wonderful. Could my timing be any more perfect? Flustered, I rushed to clean it up with my handkerchief. I didn’t want to form a bad impression before I even talked to her.
After cleaning up as much of the mess as I could, I turned around praying that she hadn’t left. The girl wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Before I had time to think, I felt something grip my shoulder. I whipped around to find myself staring into the girl’s face. I held my breath, unsure of what to say. She was glaring at me so intensely that I felt a shiver run down my spine. It was like I had lost the ability to speak. Her eyes that once seemed so anxious and beautiful were now filled with such a fiery hatred that shocked me. The silence was unbearable. After what seemed like hours, her lips parted and she spoke.
“How did you ever find the nerve to come back? You aren’t wanted here.”
She pushed my shoulder away, and I stumbled backwards. I quickly caught my balance and looked up, just in time to see the last strands of her hair disappear behind the corner.
As I gaped at the area where she was once standing, I understood the freakish reality that I had been trying to convince myself wasn’t true. She detested me. Of course she did. Why wouldn’t she? After all, I’m the reason that her soul will never find peace.
I’ve had time to absorb the full impact that my actions had. I had killed my wife, and I had destroyed her soul. Her ghost was forced to haunt this town for who knows how long? I only wish that I could have one last conversation with her. You know, explain everything to her and find some twisted form of closure. But of course, it’s too late for that now. I could never expect her to hear what I have to say.
The worst part of it all is that I know I have no one to blame but myself. I had hurt the most amazing person to ever enter my life, and pushed them away because I was blind to what was right in front of me and I didn’t realize what I had until it was gone.
I constantly find myself replaying the events of the incident in my mind, obsessively analyzing every detail again and again, and trying to find some way to forgive myself and make it seem less tragic. However, what’s done is done. I guess the relationships that haunt us the longest are the ones that remain unfinished.
||Aaroshi Sahgal is a sophomore at Mission San Jose High School and lives in Fremont, Calif. She loves writing, fine arts and Indian classical dance.