Emily died. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. In a rather terrifying manner involving a slippery staircase, a glass pane and high heeled Jimmy Choos.
At first, Steve wanted her back. If that wasn’t possible, then he was going to join her. Still, he never felt death reach out with its claws to grapple that soul of his. Which made him wonder whether his soul fled, never to be caught, or whether he was yet to see what was to become of him. He had no clue. No idea. Maybe he should put on a pair of Jimmy Choos himself and marathon down Deringer station to try and catch the seven o’clock train, he thought.
The 34 year old investment banker had it all at one point. A great job, a great car and Emily. He and Emily were the quintessential city couple. Him, with a chiseled, angular face that demanded attention, and she, with a face that was the perfect opposite: calm, kind and simple.
Following Emily’s demise, Steve Pritchard went through his days calculating every emotion, not exercising motion until his notions were clear. They were never clear though. No longer did he tread upon the ground as if it belonged to him. Rather, he moved erratically, from place to place. He could never reclaim the solace that he yearned for. He never imagined himself without Emily. He never managed to find that which made him true again. All he found was a hopelessness bound in desperation. What else is there for me? He pondered.
“There goes Jenny…look at her, Steve, she seems to really like you, and I mean really like you,” his colleague Marcus said as Jenny merged with the rest of the crowd at tonight’s Christmas office party.
Steve would not entertain Marcus’ comments about women. Heâ€™d look away–at the ground, or at the distant setting sun, or at some other thing that excused him from a reaction.
All he could do was stare at a blank page and write. Thatâ€™s what the doctor recommended. Steveâ€™s thoughts would evaporate into words across the ether between mind and page, between heart and space.
Write Emily a letter as if she was still around, as if you could still call her up and let her know how much you care about her, Dr. Fredrikson said.
Steve wrote it by hand. Meticulously, on ruled notebook paper. His cursive script wasnâ€™t so bad. It was quite legible and had a floral quality about it. It had more serifs and curves than a teenage girlâ€™s scrapbook.
Always is a very big word. It implies forever. It means that youâ€™ll be missed. It says that Iâ€™ll love you for all time. That no matter what happens, no matter what will prevail, my heart will be but a reflection of your smile inside of me. With every passing moment, with every beating of my heart, I will be glad to know that somewhere out there, youâ€™re smiling at me.
He wrote many more letters. Some were written on a word processor, others by hand, and some where even written on his cellphone. Little snippets, conversations, feelings and other matters that he wanted Emily to know. Many were trivial.
He once wrote, 2nite is sushi nite at Asahiâ€™s. Book for two? Miss ya. He even sent it through. Three days later, he received an automated text message notifying him of delivery failure.
Emily’s number was still on his speed dial. â€œE,â€ thatâ€™s what he called her. â€œE,â€ heâ€™d say, looking at the miniscule screen of his phone. Heâ€™d dial it. An invalid number tone would come through.
For months Steve wrote for Emily: at work, while waiting for a bus, on a napkin at some deli. He saved everything. All of it. The files, the printouts, the napkins. Heâ€™d stash them in his briefcase. A Prada Emily gifted him on their first Christmas together.
As he looked out the 31st floor office window, beyond the crowd of boisterous colleagues and bosses, Steve noticed the rain turn into snow. Itâ€™s Christmas season already, he thought.
He could see other office parties across the city light up the towering buildings. Anonymous people mingling, trying to find each other in a city that was both the epitome of loneliness and the vestibule of success.
In the window’s reflection he saw his own familiar crowd of anonymity. People he worked with but hardly took the time to get to know.
He took a photo of the snowfall with his phone’s camera. He noticed Jenny’s reflection in the window, in the photo. He looked at the window, at Jenny. She was quite animated, giggling at whatever Marcus was saying.
Steve typed 2morrow is sushi nite at Asahiâ€™s. Book 4 2? This time though, he sent it to Jenny.
Across the room, he noticed Jenny take out her illuminated cellphone. She looked at him, smiled, typed and sent a message.
A few seconds later, he received, I’d like that very much.
This Christmas, Steve found himself again. So many words, so many heartfelt sentiments, only to finally return to who he was: a man with a heart that prevails no matter what the consequences. He loved Emily and he still did, yet life is a plurality of loves that takes you from place to place, from heart to heart and from truth to truth.
Perhaps Jenny would be my nextâ€”and last, truth, Steve hoped. Perhaps.