He remembered everything about that day.
The days, weeks, and even months before and after were a blur. But he remembered every single moment of that day.
He woke up earlier than he usually does; the darkness outside still pressing against the windows of the house as he walked through it on his way to the kitchen. He walked quietly, without turning the lights on, and avoiding the boards he knew creaked.
He remembered idly thinking, as he did yearly, of replacing those boards come summer. The house was old. Sturdy, yes, but was wont to creak and groan. By the time he reached the kitchen he has decided, as he also did yearly, to leave the creaking boards be as they add to the house’s character.
He went into the kitchen and turned on the light. Curled up by the door is an alarmingly large, gray wolfhound. He reached down to rub the dog’s head. “Good morning, Dracula.”
Dracula yawned, thumped his tail on the floor, and answered with a soft woof.
The copper skillet gleamed as he placed it on the stove. Within minutes, the kitchen was filled with the sound and scents of sizzling meat.
Outside the window, the dark was slowly giving in to light. Unable to resist, he finished cooking and walked out the door to stand outside the porch and breathe in the cool country air.
God, it’s beautiful, he thought. Watching as the rays of the yet unseen sun start giving colour to the world.
The door behind him opened and closed quietly. Then he felt the heavy weight against his legs as Dracula leaned against him. He reached down to ruffle fur and, when he straightened up, felt the warmth of the slender arms that wrapped around his waist. In silence, they watched the sun burst out to the sky; the tall man, the slim woman, and their faithful dog.
Breakfast was slow and easy, as it always was during Saturdays, a welcome change from the harried coffee and cereal during the weekdays. He read the paper while her sleepy eyes stared out the window.
“I love you.”
He looked up, saw her looking at him. The declaration did not surprise him, as she always does it during odd moments, but the seriousness of her gaze made him wonder.
“Is something wrong?”
She smiled. “Nope. I just wanted to say.”
Her smile widened as he fidgeted. “Don’t worry. You know I don’t need to hear it back.”
It is not that he does not love her, no. In fact, he loved her so desperately. He loved her as faithfully as the sun rises, with the passion of the strength of a million tempests, but words? There are no words yet created that would allow him to tell her how much he loves her.
“Ready for your trip?”
She grimaced. “Yeah, unfortunately.”
He chuckled. “You did write a book about Chiang Mai.”
“Yeah, well, who’d have guessed writing about a place would earn you an invite to a city festival. Are you sure you can’t join me?”
He was tempted. Really tempted. A few weeks ago he almost said yes but…
“I’m sorry, honey. But the wedding tomorrow was scheduled almost two years ago. I can’t blow them off.”
“I know, I know, I just thought I’d give it a shot.”
She looked so beautiful, sitting there in the sun-drenched kitchen, with laughing eyes.
“How about this. You go to Chiang Mai and do whatever visiting writers do and I’ll go take those wedding photos. Then let’s meet back here in three days to pack and then fly off to Morocco.”
She burst out laughing. “That sounds great! You got our tickets?”
“As a matter of fact..” He held up the airline tickets he was hiding in his paper and had the amused pleasure of seeing her goggle at them.
“Are those…are we…”
“Yes, they are and yes, we are.”
Her eyes lit up and she let loose a joyful laugh as she stood up and launched herself at him.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I love you!”
He smiled and held her tight.
Five hours later, he lifted her suitcase out of the car as she stood beside him rummaging through her purse.
“Got it!” She said with relief as she pulled out her plane ticket.
He set her suitcase down and reached out to hug her. “Have fun in Chiang Mai. And take lots of pictures.”
“I will. Drive safe, okay. I love you.”
“Because I find it hard to say it back to you.”
She smiled, “I already told you I don’t need to hear it.”
“But I can find no other way to tell you that you bring colour to my world.”
She hugged him tight. “You goof. That’s how you do it. That’s more than enough.”
He smiled. “See you in three days.”
She reached for her suitcase. “Morocco, baby!”
He stood there, his hands in his pocket, as he watched her walk through the airport gates.
The drive back home took two hours as he had to drop by the store to buy food for Dracula.
When he got home, he set down the bag on the kitchen floor, turned on the small television and tuned in to the news.
Deciding to prepare for the next day’s shoot, he took out his camera bag and laid out the contents on kitchen table.
His mind was whizzing with calculations and possibilities on lighting and framing as he picked and chose lenses that he almost missed it. When it finally registered, he slowly turned and focused on the television humming on the counter.
Commuter plane going to Chiang Mai. A busted propeller. One hundred seventy-five passengers and crew. No survivors.
He knew. Oh, he knew even before they came to tell him. Somber-faced and quiet, they came to tell him that all the colour in his world has gone.
When they left he closed the door and curled on the couch. Dracula padded over, whining, disturbed by the loud keening sound coming from him.
Receiving no response, the wolfhound jumped up the couch and sat by his foot, a silent sentinel watching over as grief and darkness slowly poured in.