A Message From Her
“Robbie it’s your turn to speak.” whispered Ida Robbie’s youngest sister.
Robbie had been lost in his thoughts. Death had a way of making a person feel physically ill he thought. When he looked at Ida in this moment he couldn’t help but notice the bags under her eyes and the raisin-like texture of her pale skin. He remembered how he used to put her on his shoulders so that she could get a better look at the little ducks that liked to swim on the pound by their house. He remembered how blonde and curly her hair had been. Now, his little sister’s hair was dry and grey.
“It’s funny… I’ve spent all night rehearsin’ and now I hardly know what to say.” said Robbie clearing his throat.
“Robbie do you need some help?” said Ida.
“Don’t worry bout’ me Ida I’m a big boy” said Robbie.
It took him a few attempts but Robbie slowly got up from his bench in the front row of the church. His cane made a little thud on the wooden floor with each awkward step he took. He had gone to this church his entire life. The church had looked fairly similar when he had gotten married there. He could feel a pain in his heart when thinking about the way Magnolia looked in her mothers wedding dress. Robbie was tall and lanky. He stood hunched over all of the time now and had bad knees from years of various sports. He felt hot and worried that he might be sweating. He wanted to look his best for Magnolia if she was watching the funeral. He limped slowly to the podium. The church was quiet besides a few coughs and sniffles. He overheard someone whisper that he didn’t look too good. The tears began to form in his tired eyes. He felt a little light-headed but he had to push through. He held the pieces of notebook paper that contained the speech he had slaved over all night in his trembling hand. He cleared his throat.
“Let me just put on my readin’ glasses” he said into the microphone.
He coughed, wiped his eyes, and then searched his pockets for his glasses. With shaking hands he put on his big square glasses. He adjusted his bow tie and looked down at the tear stained papers. Pull it together Rob he thought as he crumpled up the papers.
“Now then I’ve always found it more meaningful to speak from the heart… Magnolia was a special woman. She was sweet like her name and just as beautiful as an angel who had somehow fallen to earth.”
Robbie began to cough.
“She was my wife and also my very best friend”.
Robbie suddenly felt a sensation in his chest that he had never felt before. He felt like something was crushing him, a feeling of strange pressure.
“I can remember the first day I met her like it was yesterday…ehhem…We were only eighteen years old and it was a few weeks after school had started… excuse me…ehhem…I had been watching her from my locker.”
Suddenly the world around Robbie was spinning. He felt hotter than the time he and Maggie had gone to Mexico and gotten so sun burnt that they had to stay in the hotel all week. The pressure made it hard to breath. He fell to the floor. Robbie could only hear muffled sounds of people in the church calling for help and rushing about the pews. He was now somewhere entirely different. He was back at Pinewood high reliving one of his favorite memories, the day he had met the love of his life. He was there as an observer. He felt no pain in his knees and no pressure in his chest. Pinewood High looked exactly like he had remembered it. It’s Skinny hallways, Maroon lockers, and boys in their letter-mans jackets talking about the next football game. He was leaning up against a locker looking at her gathering her books.
“Robbie! Robbie! Hello I’m talkin’ to you! Quit starin’ she is gunna think you are some kind of creep starin’ at her like that all the time! Jesus!” He remembered Kyle saying as he shook his head in disapproval.
Kyle! How he missed Kyle. He had forgotten how short Kyle had been. Kyle only ever got to about 5’7. Back then Kyle had always been completely convinced that he just hadn’t gotten his growth spurt yet. Robbie had forgotten how handsome Kyle had been even though he never dressed particularly nice. He wore jeans; his favorite beat up tennis shoes and a white collard t-shirt with the sleeves cuffed. He had a pack full of cigarettes in the cuff of the sleeve. He remembered how tan Kyle had been due to all the work he had done on his father’s farm over the summer. When he laughed he exposed the small gap in between his two front teeth that Robbie loved to tease him about. Seeing Kyle this way again was refreshing. The last time Robbie had seen Kyle was in a hospital room. Kyle had been showing off his new dentures before his last surgery.
“Relax Kyle. I plan on talkin’ to her but I just gotta’ wait for the right time” Robbie had said with his signature smirk.
Gosh did he look young. In those days he didn’t need any pills to get him through the day.
“Well, she is new in town so it might take her awhile to figure out how strange you are… if I were you I’d act real quick” Said Kyle laughing.
That laugh. That laugh was so full of life.
“Kyle you can’t just walk up to a beautiful girl like that and not have a plan of action.” Robbie had said. He remembered how much he had meant it too.
“Well, you better think up that plan real quick cus Ms. Big city is walkin’ this way!”
“You know I’m not blind… I could see you staring,” she had said with raised eyebrows.
Robbie remembered standing like a deer caught in headlights. He had been watching her at school for the past few weeks but had never thought she would come up to him. She had long brown curly hair with freckles that seemed to dance across her button nose. She had a small round face with dimples on both cheeks and big green eyes. She was wearing a red dress. It felt good to see her this way instead of in a hospital bed with tubes running everywhere, small patches of white hair on her small head.
“This here is my best friend, practically brother Robbie Waltz Jr. and I’m Kyle” Kyle had said patting Robbie on the back.
““I’m Magnolia but people call me Maggie”
“Well, Maggie we were actually lookin’ at that sign for the spring fling and Robbie was wonderin’ if you had a date” Kyle had said.
“I see… Is that an invitation?” She had said.
“Yes I would love to be your date,” he had blurted out.
Boy had he looked foolish all read in the face.
“Perfect” she had said smiling from ear to ear.
Right before she had made her way down the hall she quickly turned around and had whispered in his ear “i've been watchin’ you too”.
He remembered how perfect his life had felt. There was no arguing over money, or crying over a miscarriage. In that moment there was only happiness.
“Maggie, Maggie” Cried Robbie.
“Mr. Waltz can you hear me? You’ve had a heart attack but you are stable now.” Said a young doctor.
Robbie opened his eyes slowly. He was in a hospital gown in a hospital bed. He could see his clothes and his favorite bowtie on a nearby chair. He could hear the hum of the monitors and could smell disinfectant and chicken noodle soup.
“I saw her”. Robbie murmured.
“Mr. Waltz you are very lucky to be alive” said the doctor.
Ida walked into the room with tears in her eyes.
“Robbie you scared me half to death”
“Ida do you remember when I used to pick you up so you could see the ducks?”
“Of course Robbie.” Ida said reaching out her bony hand.
“I miss those days and I miss her Ida.” Said Robbie looking at the window.
He could not believe his eyes. Written on the fog of the window he saw “I’m always watchin’ you.”