Wait For Me
The blue Aisha looked out the window. This was the spot where they had spent so many happy afternoons. She had been content just to sit with him, enjoying his presence. They had sipped Strongberry Tea while playing Cheat. He could hide his emotions so well; she was never able to tell when he was cheating.
At other times they would stare at the harbour, making up stories about what the ships would encounter. He had always seemed eager for adventure. They had been so young, and so happy.
But all that was gone now.
She gazed out over the ocean. Waiting.
The harbour was empty. The beauty of the azure sea did nothing to ease her longing. It lacked the one thing she waited for.
The Meridellians had taken him away. For a worthy cause, they said. For honour, they said. For glory.
Honour and glory meant nothing. They were only words, used to recruit the young and foolish. They had used his yearning for adventure to tear him away from her.
He had gone, lured in by the gilded words, just like so many other young Neopians. Gone to defend Meridell. Gone to fight the Darigani army. Gone forever.
But she would never stop hoping, just like she would never stop waiting.
The celebration had spilled into the streets the day the first ship had returned. She could still hear the music and happy conversation long after midnight had passed.
But he had not returned.
The next day another ship had arrived. He wasn’t on that one either. Another day, another ship, another celebration, another night spent waiting in agonizing hope. He would return any day now, she was sure he would, and they would be together again. After all, he had promised.
‘Wait for me.’
She could still remember every detail of that fateful Summer’s day. She remembered the glare from the sun, the cries of those left behind as their loved ones were led away, but most of all she remembered the way he had held her as he whispered his promises. Promises that everything would be all right, that he would return, if only she would wait for him.
‘Wait for me.’
The last words he had spoken to her.
‘Wait for me.’
Words that had given her hope throughout the years.
‘Wait for me.’
So she did.
She waited while the seasons changed from Summer, to Autumn, to Winter and back again many times over. All through the daylight hours she stayed in the cramped room that overlooked the ocean. Waiting.
He would return. He had promised, and he had never broken a promise to her before.
She remembered the first time she met him, in the coffee shop where she worked.
It had been raining, and he had gone to the Catacombs to seek shelter. She had seen him through the window, and their eyes had met. He had ordered Strongberry Tea, and although she wasn’t the one who served him, he had come back every day until she had.
They had talked, and it was then that he had promised that he would always be there for her. He had promised that he would always protect her and keep her safe from harm.
He had lied. How could he protect her when he was the one who had brought her so much pain? Did he know that he was speaking a lie, even as he uttered those words? Did he know that that was one promise he would be unable to keep? He had always been so good at concealing his emotions.
She had been on her own for so long now, waiting for him. All she had now were her memories, and his promise. She clutched onto his last words with all her might. They were the only things that were keeping her here.
‘Wait for me.’
Memories of happier times pulled at her, suffocating her in their embrace. She could almost see him, sitting beside her, smiling at her the way he had the last time she had seen him.
She couldn’t stay, remembering what she had lost.
She fled to the second floor corridor, hoping for peace. But peace eluded her.
She paced up and down the corridor, her footsteps echoing throughout the empty house. Her long, white dress brushed over the dust gathering on the floorboards. The servants had all left long ago.
And still she waited.
Suddenly a long, drawn out squeak shattered the silence. She stopped pacing, hope fluttering in her chest. She knew that sound. That was the sound of unoiled hinges. Someone had opened the door. She couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe.
Could it be... after so long... was today the day that her friend would finally return?
There was another tortured squeal as the door was closed and that spurred her into action. She flew towards the front door, her feet thudding loudly on the stairs.
Finally! He had returned. But when she reached the front door he wasn’t there.
She called his name. A cry. A question. Why wasn’t he waiting for her?
She heard a pet's voice, soft and persuasive, answer her cry. ‘Come this way. Everything’s fine. Just follow me.’ It was him! It had to be him.
His voice wasn’t the way she remembered it, though. The words danced to a strange tune, floating from soft to loud and back again. She struggled to make out what he was saying.
‘Follow me... spacious... living room..’ His voice was getting farther away.
She could hear footsteps echoing from farther within the house. She ran after them. “Where are you? Please, wait for me!”
She wandered through the house, following his footsteps and calling out to him. But he never stopped. He passed through every one of the downstairs rooms. It seemed as if he was looking for something.
“You can stop looking for me. I’m here!” Why wouldn’t he listen to her?
She had waited for so long for him to return. Now they could be reunited. But why was he hiding from her?
Maybe he wasn’t hiding. Maybe he had already gone upstairs. The house was old and draughty, and the footsteps she was following could have easily been echoes from upstairs. That would explain why she hadn’t been able to see him.
She ran back up the stairs and ran to their room, the one overlooking the ocean. They had spent many happy days in that room, and that was surely where he would go to look for her.
He wasn’t there.
Frantically, she ran from one room to another, searching through all of the upstairs rooms then rushing back downstairs again. Her feet thumped loudly on the wooden floor.
Her search ended back at the front door. She could go no further.
She heard footsteps behind her, but she didn’t turn around. She sighed. It wasn’t him.
‘I’m sorry, sir, but this house is just too spooky. There’s no way I could live here.’
‘Are you sure you don’t want to buy? It’s quite a bargain.’
It would never be him, but she would still wait for him.