My eyes were locked on the plaid chair that sat empty across from me as the people milled around exchanging conversation as though it made a difference. I didn’t know these people. Their perfumes mixed with the faint smell of mothballs to completely obliterate the little bit of her that was left in the room.
“How are you doing, Bill?” a deep, booming voice asked, drawing my attention up from the chair where she sat every day.
I looked up to see Steve, Sam’s old boss, frowning down at me with a red face. His black suit jacket was open, and his tie hung to the left revealing the straining buttons of his shirt beneath. He had a glass in one hand and an unlit cigar in the other.
I chose not to say anything and let my eyes wander back to the red and yellow fabric, hoping that somehow she had returned to her seat.
“Talk to me, Bill. We’ve known each other for so long, you can talk to me about anything,” he said.
“I don’t want to talk,” I snapped.
“Alright, man. Just remember that I’m here for you,” he said throwing his hands up.
For a moment, I thought I smelled Samantha’s perfume in the air. I closed my eyes hoping to hold onto it as long as I could, but it left as fast as it came. When my eyes opened again, the man was gone, and I was alone in the sea of people once more.
“Dad? Are you okay?”
I looked up to see Aiden staring at me. His brows were knitted in the familiar way that they had since he was a child. The inside rising just barely above the outside as the wrinkles in his forehead showed he was approaching middle-aged. He reminded me of his mother in his bright blue eyes.
My eyes darted back to the chair, and I my breath caught in my throat. Samantha was sitting there, tears in her eyes as Aiden’s words carried on, mixing with the sound of the throng of people in our home.
The pain of her leaving crashed into me all at once. I felt the tears streaking down my cheeks, cool against my hot skin. She nodded as a small smile twitched at her lips. Her hand reached out as though calling me to her. I reached out for her as I found a half-breath.
“I missed you, Sam,” I sighed as the chair moved from beneath me. The air held me for a long moment, suspended somewhere between the solid and the surreal.
I felt the soft, warm, and familiar feeling as her hand brushed my cheek. A vague twinge of pain registered somewhere unimportant and far away, but I pushed it from my mind and reached further, catching Samantha’s arm as I pulled her to me.
“I missed you more,” she whispered in my ear, leading me down a dark corridor.
“Where are we going?” I asked.