My breath lodges in my throat.
That’s what his presence does to me.
In fact, he isn’t even here at the moment and the very thought of him has the power to make my knees weak.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
He deserves to know how I feel.
Before it’s too late.
It warms my heart to be able to write this to you, knowing that you’re going to read it.
I know I’m supposed to be filled with dread of what your response is going to be but I know for a fact that if you don’t feel the way I do, you’ll just crack a joke about it and we’ll laugh it off.
But if you do feel the way I do, then please do know that I am both happy and sad.
Happy that we share this magical feeling that grows more powerful with every breath we take.
Sad that every breath we have left, we’ll have to cherish because we can’t be together for long and we both know it.
It seems unlikely to have found a love so powerful.
When I first moved into room 402, I knew that it would be a new beginning for me.
Ironic, isn’t it?
New beginning for the ultimate ending.
But I never thought I’d find love in these narrow corridors that are filled with hope.
Hope for a better future. But more importantly, hope for companionship.
I don’t know about the former, but in you, I’ve found a great friend.
I remember your first words to me.
It must have been around three months ago, when you first moved into room 403.
You said, “Hi, I’m Bob. No, actually, I’m kidding. I’m Zack. I don’t know why I say stupid things like that.”
It made me laugh.
“Why are you here?” I asked.
“My cat ate my brain” You said. “So I ate my cat.”
It didn’t make sense but I laughed so hard, I had to be carried to my room.
Ever since, we’d be found together, sharing our terrible lunches and laughing about the most random things in the world.
“I used to like Pizza before I came here,” You said. “Now, I only like reindeers.”
“I used to like donuts before I got here,” I mimicked, playing our favourite silly game. “Now, I only like feet!”
Our craziness reverberated through the walls and soon our neighbours came pouring into our rooms.
Mostly, it was your room.
I used to call you Mr. 403.
In the beginning, it was just for fun.
“How come you’re always barging into my place when I’m here thinking about coming over to yours?” You asked, once.
“Your room is lucky for me” I replied shyly.
You smiled but didn’t know that the reason it was lucky was because you were in it.
If it were anyone else, I’d still be in my room without any friends and this letter would never be written.
We were a confused group of chattering monkeys.
Everyone knew us both.
Remember what we were called?
The Weird Wonkas.
That still makes me giggle a bit.
A lot of our memories together make me smile.
You’re my best friend, Zack.
I could never lose you.
So, do read this letter fully, as boring as it may be, and know that I’m sitting on the other side of the wall, waiting to hear from you.
Even if you don’t love me back, never stop liking me.
Because I want you in my life, one way or another.
Isn’t it weird?
We’re physically so close but our hearts are so far away. But I hope they needn’t be.
Let us not complicate things in the time that we have left together.
I am saying it now, or rather, writing it now, because I don’t have the guts to say this out loud.
I love you, Zack.
As I lay back on my bed, exhausted from the powerful emotions surging through my heart, my door flings open and a white dressed lady walks in.
Folding the letter, I put it away for later.
I don’t think I want him to see it.
I’m too nervous for that.
God, her face.
She’s like an angel that got lost on earth.
It feels weird, getting this emotional over another human being in such a stage in my life.
But I can’t help it.
She is like sunshine on my rainy day.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
She deserves to know how I feel.
Before it’s too late.
When I first moved into room 403, I didn’t know that you would become such an important part of my life.
It chills me to the bone, having to write this letter to you, not knowing how you’re going to respond in return.
I shudder now, thinking back to the time when I was reluctant to move here.
Thank god for the insistence from my old neighbours, else I’d never have gotten a chance to meet you.
I remember as I took the stairs to our floor, I saw a face out of the window. God, you looked beautiful.
Peeping from behind that pale green curtain as you longed to see who the new neighbour was going to be.
The moment you saw me and the amused look on my face, you gasped and closed the curtain.
It made me laugh.
So, I put my bags in my room and rushed out to meet you.
We had a great introduction.
At least, I hope we did.
My letter is interrupted by a white dressed woman.
She knocks on my door and then enters, fidgeting around like a hurried room keeper.
Rummaging through my clothes, she starts folding the shirts.
But I don’t mind.
She’s a lovely lady.
Trying to ignore her presence, I carry on.
I fell for you then, though it took me this long to admit it to you.
It’s funny how we never acknowledge how important someone is till it’s almost time to lose everything we’ve spent our whole lives hoping for.
I’m using the word ‘funny’ because it makes me laugh pondering about our fickle human minds.
If I were to specify one thing about you that I love the most, I’d probably pick your ability to be playful and serious at the same time.
I remember the conversation we had, the one about the equality of men and women. It started off as a silly argument.
“I think true equality is when guys apply nail polish for their girlfriends” You said, biting into an apple.
“Well, I think it is when guys agree to eat the nail polish” I replied, nodding my head to make it sound wise.
“Guys should do the dishes”
“Girls should repair cars”
“Guys should understand emotions”
“Girls should understand the lack of emotions”
You stopped briefly and we both just looked at each other.
Then we smiled widely till we broke out into uncontrollable laughter over our silliness.
“Frankly,” You said, still smiling. “Girls should stop fighting for equality.”
“Oh, really? How come?”
I expected another silly response.
“Because,” You shrugged. “I mean, we females always fight unnecessarily for the nice things about equality but we don’t want equality in all the stuff. Like, we still want guys to ask us out and lift heavy stuff and pamper us. That really isn’t equality, is it?”
What you said that day still makes me ponder over that issue sometimes.
You’re gorgeous, Sarah. I don’t think I’ve said this to you often, mainly because we’re supposed to be ‘just friends’, but I really think you’re beautiful. Everyone else does.
I imagine it would be unbelievably amazing if we could spend the rest of our lives together. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at me that way. Like a life partner.
But I have, ever since the first time I saw you and I know we can’t be together for long, but I can’t help but wonder if we could be, for a little while at least.
“Do you need anything?”
I look up from my letter.
It’s the white dressed woman.
“No, thank you” I say and smile.
I wonder if I should give her a tip.
So, I’m going to tell you this.
I love you, Sarah. I have, for a long time now.
We met only three months ago, I know.
But in lives like ours, we shouldn’t be wasting any time.
If you feel like you like me back and that you can imagine being mine for a few more days or hours or whatever, then please do come into my room immediately and then hug me so tightly that I can’t breathe for a while.
Room Number 403.
But if you don’t think you could like me that way, then come into my room anyways and we’ll share an apple and talk endlessly about the most random stuff like we always do.
Because, either ways, I want you in my life.
I feel light headed.
Putting the pen on my dressing table, I fold the letter and press the buzzer.
My breathing is starting to get a little weak. It scares me because I don’t know what’s happening to me.
The white dressed woman comes back into the room.
“Are you ok, Mr. Zack?” She asks.
I smile, nod.
“Take this letter for me” I say, trying to sound normal. “And give it to Sarah in the next room. Tell her it’s from Mr. 403”
She looks doubtful but takes the letter anyways.
I pull out a hundred from my pocket and hand it to her.
Her eyes get wide in shock.
“Keep the change” I joke lightly and she smiles.
“Thank you, Mr. Zack” She says.
Once she leaves the room, I close my eyes and fall into eternal sleep.
The White Dressed Woman
I look at the folded letter that Zack has given me and smile.
It’s quite obvious that these two are in love.
They look quite lovely together.
It’s depressing that they had to meet here, in this dump of a hospital ward.
I breathe in, a lump in my throat.
Zack must be waiting for her reaction.
Knowing that they love each other and that they’re each about to find out that the other feels the same way, warms my heart.
Room 402 is staring back at me.
I smile to myself, imagining the look on Sarah’s face when she reads this letter.
She deserves it, this poor girl.
Such a dreaded disease at a young age.
God can be quite punishing at times.
Opening the door, I walk in and gasp.
Sarah is lying on her bed, her arms folded together, her face expressionless.
I know, without checking her pulse, that she is gone.
Staring at the letter in my hand, I try hard not to cry.
She’ll never know how much she’s been loved.
As I go closer to her bed, I see that she has a letter in her hand.
It says ‘Zack’ on top.
My hand quivering, I take her letter and place Zack’s over her heart.
I then call for the doctor and leave the room.
With Sarah’s letter in my hand, I go back into room 403.
But Zack is gone too.
That’s all it takes to break my control over my emotions.
I sit in a corner and weep, knowing that I’ll probably be the only one who’ll ever know of their love for each other.
I weep for all their missed opportunities and stolen moments of happiness.
But I mostly weep for the letter that they’ll never see.
After an hour of sitting in shock, I get up, wipe my tears and place her letter over his heart.
With a hope that they’ll cross paths in heaven, I close the door behind me and move on to attend to the other patients.