"Will you sleep with me tonight?" She had asked softly, her dark, almond-shaped eyes pleading with him. He was about to head out, coat in one hand, as he looked at her wearily.
She continued, "Just one night? You don't have to do anything - just lay beside me and maybe hold me for a minute will do..." Her eyes were like reflections of the night by now - glossy with unshed tears, dark with fear.
He pursed his lips. He had promised Jenna that he would accompany her to a function this evening, and she would be angry if he failed to turn up. Furthermore, there were a couple of important people he was to be introduced to tonight - the kind of guys who sat on boards and could aid in his business potentially. "Sorry, baby, not tonight," he whispered gently, brushing aside a wisp of her hair. Then he had turned his back and simply stepped off into the night.
When Anthony and Angelica met at a mutual friend's birthday party, he had been a car salesman barely making ends meet. She had been the belle of the night, and a brilliant legal assistant who was due for another promotion at the end of the year.
They started going out, and managed to turn a whirlwind romance into a more stable sea of love. More importantly, they became partners - in life and in business.
Anthony started his own business dealing in security systems, and did very well after the first year. Angelica quitted her successful career to help him out in the business so that he could channel all his energies and resources on clients management. She had never complained once - not on the nights she worked till the wee hours or when they had to eat plain pasta for dinner.
When success gradually set in, he began to change subtlely, starting from his taste in clothes to the places that he now chose to dine. Then he began to attend more networking functions and entertained his clients more frequently, coming home later and later over the months.
Angelica had stopped helping out with the business because he could afford to hire employees, so Anthony asked her to be a homemaker instead. His allowance to her was very generous, and he had thought this would make up for everything else that he had stopped giving her - attention, care and concern. They rarely saw each other in the evenings over the last two years; and when they did, they ended up fighting or discussing the weather.
They both knew that their marriage was disintegrating; she had tried to talk to him initially. He would always shrug her off or deny that they were drifting apart. He would get angry at her whenever she tried to question him on the wisps of perfume on his shirts, or rumors that she had heard about him. He was always not around during festivals or special occasions, but would give her very extravagant gifts such as jewellery or a sports car.
Not seeing her face and not hearing her voice negated his guilt, as he began dating a beautiful socialite- someone he met at one of the clients' country clubs. He did not care if his wife knew about her or not, because he was infatuated with her, and it seemed she was very enamored with him as well. He did not hate his wife, but she had stopped being important to him. Or so he thought.
He had not shown her a single shard of concern even when he started to notice that she seemed to tire more easily; that her pallor was almost greyish as the days went by. Even when she started wearing turbans and headdresses, she had merely smiled and told him that it was the latest fashion. He did not ask much, because he was busy with his business and his beloved Jenna. It was the fourth year of the marriage, and Anthony had toyed with the idea of ending it.
They endured this soulness marriage for nine more months, and then she had stepped gently into the dark night and never returned. She had been diagnosed with final stage cancer but had never had the opportunity to tell him. Afterwards, she had decided that since she would leave the world soon, it was better for him to have found himself another companion so he would not be upset over her demise. Therefore she suffered in silence and did not intend to mention her situation to him at all.
In her locked drawers, Anthony also discovered a myriad of documents embodying truths that shocked him to the core. There were many copies of emails and letters from companies which were all linked to her directly or indirectly - and they were all his clients.
She had started many companies under her name or names of contacts who were willing to help, and ordered lots and lots of useless devices from her husband just so he could kickstart his business. Every single cent of that generous allowance he had given her had been pumped back into his business, and he had not even suspected anything at all. He had simply wallowed in his own good fortune and newfound success, slowly casting her aside without a care.
Either that, or busy squandering the profits he had generated on Jenna, who had an endless list of demands and fancies.
Angelica's last request had been the simplest of requests, the kind that most wives did not even need to plea their spouses for. Yet, he had not been able to fulfill it for her.
Now, he would never be able to share the same bed with her ever again, or feel the warmth of her lithe form against his torso.
They were at her wake, a black tie event attended mostly by some relatives, what little close friends they had, and a handful of kind business associates. She laid in the rich mahogany coffin so peacefully, her skin an even shade of ivory; she resembled a perfectly-carved statue and exacted the same kind of stillness.
As the priest continued droning on, Anthony cast his eye to the coffin once again. He clutched the bouquet of flowers tightly in his hands, wishing that his hands would stop trembling with the onslaught of emotions overtaking him at this juncture. His heart was constricted painfully as the eyes burned with tears that fought to be let out freely.
Then the coffin was lowered into the earth and he tossed the bunch of white flowers upon the cold, glossy wooden case that contained the woman he married five years ago. Anthony's head was spinning and everything seemed surreal.
It was over. A few friends and business associates came over to offer their departing condolences; some squeezed his numb shoulders, but the only memory that stuck were the cold, sorrowful eyes of Angelica's mother as she nodded at her son-in-law. Her eyes were exactly the same as Angelica's, even the pain in them mirrored Angelica's eyes ever since their marriage starting falling apart.
He knelt down beside her grave, so new it was almost gleaming from the morning dew. A million thoughts raced through his mind - a kaleidescope of happy and hated memories all mingling into one huge mental mess, along with the way he pictured her as she covertly sent businesses his way. Was that how he repaid her?
Fresh waves of agony descended upon the heart that was already tender with pain, and he felt like yelling out badly. Yelling at himself for his blind folly, yelling at the heavens for taking her away, and yelling at the world for this unfairness bestowed upon him.
Never again, never would he ever see her smile or hear her voice; never again would he see those deep eyes of hers looking right through him, and never would he have the chance to thank her properly for everything she had done for him all this while.
Cherish, the one word no one had taught him. The one single word that might have made a world of difference in his life. It was too late now.
The gloomy skies began to cry, and a light rain began to descend...
copyright © thearcticstar 2015. All Rights Reserved. This article is purely fictional hence any resemblences borne are strictly and purely coincidental.