He always wrote about his bittersweet nightmares. They always consisted of her; Ryan Durst never remembered anything else really. She would come to him and look as beautiful as ever. They would hold hands and walk around the lake, noticing the changing colors of the scenery; she would apologize for leaving over and over again. He would, every single time, forgiver her and pine for her attention in any way possible.
But last night’s was different. She had one last thing for him to do before they could be together. She wanted him to follow her to take a swim together in the lake, just as they had on their first date when they fell in love. Ryan obeyed; he wanted her so badly it hurt. As he held her by the hips in the shallow water, she turned on him and pushed him playfully into the water. He tried to get up but couldn’t. He woke up in a shivering sweat. He hated how he remembered that part.
The air was freezing. It hadn’t been this cold in a long time. In all his years, Ryan had never shivered on his morning walk. The dew had frozen on the grass, creating a fake white tipped landscape that would melt as soon as the sun’s rays decided to poke through the clouds.
It was mornings like these that Ryan missed her. The cold wind that gently brushed his face reminded him of her soft hands. It was those hands that would hold his face in front of hers so that they could stare into each others eyes.
“How long will you love me for Ryan?”
“Forever” he would reply. And he meant it too. He had loved her for so long and never planned to stop. He could remember her eyes exactly to this day. Her hazel shaped green eyes reminded Ryan of emeralds that sparkled under a gem cutter’s light. Even though she would constantly complain for attention and say “They’re just as green as anyone else’s”, he would disagree.
“They’re the most beautiful green I have ever seen” Ryan would say. Her round cheeks would blush to a deep, full red and she would look at the ground, hiding her pink lips from him. It was like clockwork, her personality. He would compliment her and she would turn away, knowing how beautiful she really was, yet trying to be modest and coy.
The sun was just started to melt the dew. As he walked along shivering, he remembered how the sunlight had hit her black hair. The thick waves had bounced beams of light wherever she walked and constantly caught attention. Her milky skin refracted sunlight to show her skinny torso that led down to beautiful full legs attached to feet that were always in high heels. He knew she made head turns whenever she was out somewhere, but she wanted nothing to do with anyone else. He was lucky; she had only ever loved him.
“Where will we live and grow old together Ryan?”
“Where do you want to be?” he would reply. And with that response she would talk about all the adventures they would have together. They would hike mountains and travel the world and swim in every ocean this planet had to offer. They could try every type of food together and eventually settle down in their home town. They would have one child, a boy, which would have her eyes and personality.
The clouds overhead that morning were an abysmal gray. Ryan wished that it wasn’t so dark outside. Though it was winter, the landscape had yet to been caked with a white snow. Instead, the trees remained dead, uncovered, their branches reaching up towards the sky with no leaves grasping towards the heavens praying for warmer weather. It had been a long time, too long, since he had done this walk with her really there.
He passed the grassy hill where they would lay down together and watch the clouds form shapes overhead. They would hold hands and joke and laugh about all the silly things the clouds formed in the sky. They would talk about their future and everything that life held for them. “The world is our oyster Ryan, there is nothing holding us back. We’ll be in love forever. Forever and ever and ever and ever…” Her voice would fade out as he became lost in her eyes.
“What are you looking at?” she would question him.
“Oh,” he would say being brought back to reality, “just you.”
Ryan continued walking on, alone, wondering what should have been. He looked up at the clouds which had melded together to create a barrier between him and the heavens. No shapes could be formed out of the gray blobs that trekked across the melancholy sky. He dropped his gaze back to the ground. The leaves blew past him like tumbleweeds as the wind picked up. He grabbed his coat and wrapped it tighter around his body. He decided to head home.
He walked up to the door of his house and fumbled around with his keys. Suddenly, he heard a voice, a woman’s voice in his home. He was confused. No one had been here since she had left. He found his correct key and burst through the door and gazed down the hallway. He saw her, he was sure of it, running toward down the hallway toward the bedroom. His heart jumped. It had been years since he had seen her. He could smell her favorite perfume, hint of lilac, as he started toward the bedroom. He got to the corner of the hallway and turned to see the door closing and heard a giggle. He could still smell her. The perfume was stronger with every step toward the bedroom door. He put his hand on the doorknob which was icy to the touch. Shivers went up his spine and he stopped in his tracks. He was shivering again, as if the wind from outside had followed him in.
“Ryan, baby, come inside. I’ve missed you” he heard on the other side of the door.
His mind was racing. He knew it couldn’t be real, yet he wanted to believe it was true. He opened the door. She was there, wearing his favorite black cocktail dress, sitting in the chair in the corner of the room. Ryan stumbled over to her and dropped to his knees incredulously. She was so beautiful. Her skin was fair and her body hadn’t changed at all. Every feature was as perfect as he remembered. Her lips were pink and full and her eyes were as deep a green as emeralds. He picked up her hand in hers. It was warm to the touch. She smiled at him and caressed his face.
“Ryan, I’m home. I told you I would be back.”
“How is this possible?” Ryan exclaimed. “You left…?” He was unsure of himself. What had really happened? Where had she been? How was she here right now?
“Sweetie, it’s alright. I’m here now, that’s all that matters”
Ryan put his head on her lap. She warmed his entire body and continued to caress his head. “Don’t leave me again. Please, don’t ever leave me again.” He said as the tears welled up in his eyes. He looked up at her and knew this was for real. He knew he was right all along. Everyone told him she would never come back; and now they were all proved wrong. The tears stung the corners of his eyes as they began to fall down his cheeks. She tried to wipe them away, but they kept falling down. Ryan Durst let himself melt into her and allowed tear after tear to fall into her lap as she held him with a reassuring and warming grip.
“Baby, let’s go for a walk together. Just you and me, like old times” she said after he had finished.
He immediately sprang to his feet and to grab her heavy coat. “I’ll be fine dear” she said as she started to walk toward the front of the house, sashaying her dress while she left the room. Ryan threw on his thick jacket and bounded after her, opening the door as he always did and followed her into the blistering cold.
They held hands. Her hands were so warm that his entire body seemed affected by the heat she was giving off. Ryan assumed it was due to his extreme elation that made his blood pump furiously. She led the way down to their usual path, the one he had completed a round on nearly ten minutes ago. They went an unusual way, winding around the river going counter clockwise instead of their regular direction. Ryan assumed it was because she wanted to get to the tree where they had marked their initials on that was by the water. He was right.
They stopped right by the giant oak tree that held two initials within a heart. They read:
R.D. + L.S.
“Remember when we carved these baby? It was the first time you told me you loved me. The first time you told me you would love me forever.”
Ryan remembered that day. She had been as perfect as she was now. Not a single thing had changed about her. He combed his hand through his hair and pushed her face towards his. He was lost in her eyes yet again. He fell into them and continued to fall into an eternal green abyss that reflected light and love all around him. It wasn’t until she pulled away that his falling sensation proceeded to stop in his stomach.
She got up and stroked the indents of the initials in the tree. Ryan followed her and stood behind her, his hands around her hips with his head on her shoulder beside her head. She giggled, knowing all she had to do was get up for him to follow
“Don’t ever leave me again” he said in a serious tone. He flipped her around so she was facing him. “I mean it, baby. I can’t hold myself together when you aren’t around. I love you so much. I always will”
“I know you do. I know you will” she said softly as her hand reached up to caress his face. “But I needed time, to know that you were true to me. I wanted to make sure you could surpass any test for me. And now there’s only one more. One more until we can be together.”
“Of course, let me know what it is baby, I can do it this minute. Don’t hold out on me for anything longer. It’s already been ten years” Ryan nodded as he spoke to her. He was so excited; he wouldn’t have to wait any longer as of today.
“I want you to tell me you love me how you did the first time. Let’s fall back in love like we did before” she said.
“Alright baby” Ryan’s mind was moving at a mile a minute, “I can do that. I’ll do it for you.” The thought of holding onto her forever was the only thing on his mind. He started to undress down to his briefs while she walked to the edge of the water. When he was ready, he met her down at the water’s edge and they waded in together, hand in hand.
The frigid water felt like knives piercing his skin and digging into his bones. Every part of his body screamed as he slowly stepped further and further into water. The warmth from her hands had subsided, leaving him completely vulnerable to the freezing lake. She let go of his hand and dipped her body completely in and shot up from the water, her hair glistening in the winter sun. Ryan dropped to her knees. He shivered while he worked up the courage to dump himself backwards into the frigidness that surrounded him. He plunged the back of his head into the water. His heart pounded and screamed. He came up gasping, but, before he could catch his breath, he was forced under by his neck with a tight locked grip. He stared up at her, her beautiful black hair shimmering and her emerald green eyes pierced his gaze. His lungs grappled for fresh oxygen as he tapped her arm; yet she stared down at him, not breaking her stare. Ryan had confidence she would let him up until her grip increased in strength. He yelled underwater frantically, but only a gurgling and surge of bubbles was released. He could see her mouthing “I’m sorry” as her voice in the back of his head said “It will all be over soon Ryan, it will all be over soon” Ryan’s vision started to get hazy as his arms fought to release her grip which wouldn’t let up an inch. He felt himself getting weaker, as the pangs of pain in his lungs increased, deprived of what they craved. Her voice kept repeating the same words “It will all be over soon Ryan, it will all be over soon” as he felt his arms drop back into the frigid waters of the lake. With his last ounce of strength, he gurgled into the water, “I love you,” and then felt nothing.