I reach over to see if he’s there. The bed is still warm where he had been lying. I pretend to be asleep when I hear the bedroom door open. The room fills with the aroma of coffee and the floorboards creak, as he slinks into the bed next to me. He leans over and kisses my cheek. ‘Come on sleeping beauty, wake up, or we’re going to miss it.’
Smiling, I tell him. ‘When I agreed to this, I didn’t think it would be at 4 am.’
‘I promise you. It will be worth it.’
I smile. ‘And if it’s not?’
He laughs. ‘Then I’ll never watch a football match again.’
Crossing his fingers, he tells me. ‘I promise.’
I get dressed in the dark, pulling on my jeans and white linen shirt. Although it’s June, it’s still chilly.
He kisses me on the lips, and we leave the cottage. With no sun to burn it off, the lane is shrouded in a silver mist. My boots crunch on the gravel as we head for the beach. Seeing I’m cold, he stops, puts his arms around me, and kisses me on the forehead. Five minutes later, we reach our destination.
Reaching the empty beach, he puts down a blanket. ‘I can’t believe you’ve never done this before.’
‘Getting up at this hour is not something I like to make a habit of.’
My eyes welcome the sunrise, its golden light dribbling over the sea like honey. We sit there in silence. It was one of those moments that doesn’t happen often, but when they do, they must be treasured.
I tell him. ‘That was something special.’
‘I told you so.’
‘It was so perfect.’
‘So, I can still keep watching the football then?’
‘I’m never watching TV again. This what want to see.’
‘Well, you’ll have to get up earlier.’
‘It’s a promise. It will be worth it.’
He asks me. ‘Want to go swimming?’
I smile, ‘Come on, then.’
I peel off my clothes. ‘Are you coming in?’
‘You go ahead. I want to remember this forever.’
‘OK, don’t be long.’
I walk into the water. It was cold. Much colder than I thought. I turn back to tell him to be careful, but he’s not watching. He’s lying lifeless on the sand.
That’s when my dream turned into a nightmare.
Our life became doctor appointment after doctor appointment and hospital visit after hospital visit. Until the visits stopped. Because they were not needed. I cried as I’d never cried before. I cried at his funeral. For days and weeks, I cried as though grief had taken over my life. I hated waking up by myself. I hated there wasn’t the smell of coffee in the morning.
Suddenly I woke up. It was the same dream I had every night.
Our last day together. Each time I woke up, I would swear I heard the door opening and could smell the coffee, but the flat was empty.
I could feel the kiss in my dreams every night. Except this time, something was different. I put my hand to my cheek, and it was cold as if a ghost kissed me on the cheek. I smiled, knowing he was still there.