short story #35: The Last Time

He still remembered the last time he held her in one of his bear hugs. He could still feel the warm kiss she gave on his forehead. He had closed his eyes and savoured the moment even as he tucked a wayward strand of her hair behind her ear.

If only he had known at the time, that fate was going to cheat them out of a future together. If only he had known that it was going to be their last goodbye, their last hug, their last kiss. Fate and Death had conspired and stolen her away from him forever. The fact he couldn’t remember the last words that they had exchanged ate away at his soul.

Every day, her room and the closet full of her clothes smelled a little less like her and a little more like him. The walls now stripped bare of the photos that they were once covered in, seemed to close in on him at times. He still couldn’t bring himself to take off his wedding ring. Grief, heartbreak, hollowness, and misery squeezed his heart until he became numb to pain. He cried till he ran out of tears. Even breathing seemed like a chore. Days and nights blended in alternate cycles of pain and numbness.

When it became too much, he dragged himself off, albeit reluctantly to a grief counselling group. Though it was a struggle at first, he gradually learned to cope with his grief. With time and a lot of effort, he realised that he could remember her without the grief overclouding their shared memories.

This story was written in response to Mindlovemisery’s Photo Challenge #333.

The challenge is to use the given photo prompt as inspiration for a poem or short story.

For the visually challenged readers, the photo shows a young man and a woman in an embrace. The man’s face is visibly yet his eyes are closed. The woman’s face is away from the camera.

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© 2020 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.

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