Link for the first part is available here.
I forgot how scary she could be, and the reason why she was acting like this is because I was a workaholic. I had ruined my life with extra work and not having any meaningful time for myself. I had promised Arya that I would forget about work during the whole vacation and obviously I had broken that promise.
“Please don’t be angry because I did some work.” I said sheepishly.
“I am not. It’s your life, you do whatever you want. But you promised and lied about it.” She turned her face away and started looking outside.
I felt guilty and didn’t want us to have a bad time because of my stupid behavior. Half an hour passed and then I told her, “I’ll do whatever you ask me to.” She didn’t even bother to turn her face. I moved closer and whispered, “Come on.”
She was still looking outside and asked, “Anything?”
I was happy to hear her voice. “Anything.”
“I want the window seat all day long. And you’ll let me take as many pictures of you as I want without complaining.”
A small price to pay for friendship. And so I agreed to her conditions. Then she turned around to me and added, “I may think of other things, so basically you’ll agree to whatever I want. Plus, no more working on the vacation.”
Around three hours later, we reached one of the greenest places I had ever seen. I stepped out of the bus and closed my eyes before I took a deep breath in. The fresh air was the deal breaker for me. No pollutants to disturb it. Then I opened my eyes. The town was surrounded by mountains and there were trees as far as my eyes could see. Being away from the big city was a blessing for my eyes, ears, and lungs. Who knew my eyes needed all this rest and too stare at all this greenery.
“Let’s go and check in the resort.” Arya told me. “One more thing, I booked us appointments in the spa,” and she started walking.
I walked faster to catch up. “What spa? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well Bella, because I knew you’d say no.”
She was right. Twice. She knew I’d say no, and she knew I’d like it. For once in a long time, I wasn’t the one who was taking care of others, I was the one who was being taken care of. I had the time of my life at the spa.
After that, it was lunch time. Before we ordered food, we saw the man from the bus sitting alone on a table. “This man has been alone ever since we saw him at that coffee shop,” Arya said.
I looked at Arya and then at the man, “What coffee shop?” and then I looked back at Arya.
“The one we went to the first day we were here.”
“That’s why he seemed so familiar.”
Arya also said that she’d noticed that he was wearing a wedding ring, “I wonder why he’s here alone if he’s married.”
“Business trip maybe.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. This doesn’t seem like one,” she rolled her eyes at me.
For some reason, I felt bad that he was alone and I wondered if it’d be okay with Arya if we asked him to join us. Arya’s reply was, “Why not.” And that’s what I did. At first he declined, “Not at all, Sir. We’d like it if you join us.” I told him.
As I was cutting the steak on my plate, Arya asked Mikhail, that was his name, why he was alone on this trip. I stopped what I was doing and looked up. I was a bit confused but then thought That’s so Arya. Like me, Mikhail stopped eating and blankly stared at his plate, then his gaze shifted towards his wedding ring. When he didn’t answer after some time, Arya looked at me with confused eyes. “I’m sorry, that was insensitive of me,” she told him.
He suddenly looked up at Arya and gave a weak smile. “It’s okay,” is all he said.
Afterwards, the atmosphere was a little bit awkward, but we managed to push it all away with other subjects. Before leaving our table, Mikhail said, “I’m sorry that I froze earlier.” We both smiled and before either of us could say something, he continued, “I’m going to the town, and on the way, I could tell you why I’m here all by myself.”
“Are you sure?” Arya showed her gentle side.
We started walking side by side as Mikhail said, “Thirty years ago, I visited this town with my wife. Thirty years ago like today to be precise.” There was sorrow in both his tone and looks. The way he said those words were heavy on him. Mikhail was looking around the shops and streets as though he was seeing invisible things. We walked a little bit more when he suddenly came to a stop in front of a shop and sighed. He pointed at it and said, “Here, I bought her a necklace. She never took it off. Except for her CT scan appointments.
“It all happened five years ago. A tumor in her head. It was difficult for me to see her go through all this pain. She suffered a lot. And to this day, it breaks my heart that I couldn’t save her.” He started walking, and so did we.
“It’s our first anniversary that I’m spending without her. And I thought about coming back here where we celebrated our first year together. This way, I feel as if she’s still with me somehow. The town itself hasn’t changed much since, but the people definitely have.”
He brought his phone out and showed us some pictures of him and his wife together. “She gave me the best years of my life,” he smiled as he said that, “and I wouldn’t change a thing. Not even the fights and the arguments. I miss her and there’s nothing I could do about it.”
We stood there in silence listening to him talking about his wife. I felt as if someone clutched my heart so tightly. He wiped his tears away gently. His eyes revealed his pain of losing the love of his life.
That afternoon, Arya and I walked to the lake that Mikhail had told us about. He didn’t join us, because he wanted to be there early in the morning for the sunrise and relive the memory with his wife.
The color of the sky was turning orange with the sun fading slowly slowly into the horizon behind the mountains. I grabbed my phone and took a picture of it. Arya looked at me thoughtfully and smiled before saying, “I see that you’re capturing memories, too.”
We spent that night in the lovely town, and two days after getting back to the city and our hotel, it was our time to go back home. We didn’t see Mikhail again after we went to the lake. He probably stayed in the town for a few more days. To feel closer to his wife.
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