The next morning, I wake up groggy. A fog settles on my mind and my eyes, that are swollen from all the crying, and can’t see much properly. The rest of my senses prickle with anticipation, screaming that there’s a change in background or that something is missing. It’s only after a few seconds that bells of realization start ringing in my head.
I remember now that the blanket of grief last night was accompanied with the hasty thought of returning to my wife. The timepiece needs to be set to a particular time. You only have to close your eyes to open them again in another parallel universe. I might have slept as I closed my eyes.
An uninvited panic floods me all of a sudden. It sinks its claws around and my breathing becomes erratic. I am not sure if I was to sleep through the process because my pockets are empty, and the timepiece is nowhere to be found. I search around the stale room in which I have woken up. My mind searches for where it has seen this room before until finally, I recall that this was my hostel room, I am right where I wanted to be.
The only problem is that there is no timepiece. Allen’s face flashes across my mind. And I remind myself to collect myself so that I can think straight. So, I take deep breaths to calm myself. At first, I don’t see any improvement in my state. Finally, it settles down somewhat. I figure that my muddled feelings have brought me here.
I search around the bed that I have woken up but to no avail. So, I just head to the small sink attached by the left wall and splash cold water on my face. For some time, I sit idle. Then, I put my nerves together to go and get a glimpse of her. It takes me a long time to figure my way back to the University’s main campus.
But, it does not take me long to see her face among a sea of faces. Here long hair that she used to tie at the nape of her neck in a bun is cut into a bob with a few of her locks falling directly into her eyes. From afar, she catches my eye but she does not hold my gaze. Her eyes pass over me like she does not know who I am. That’s where I realize that maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t recognize me?
Because there’s no glimmer in her eye. It is almost as if her she looked at me like I was a stranger. So, I press my way through the crowd around me to go to the road where she’s standing, turning her back to me now. The excited chatter of the students is akin to bees buzzing in unison. But my ears don’t catch a snippet of anything that is being spoken. My eyes are trained at Allen’s back and I just want her to look at me so that I can say a ‘hi’ at least.
As I swim through people, I see Allen’s back that is vibrating with laughter. One of her friends must have cracked a joke. Allen always had a bubbly personality. But what happens next doesn’t quite register in my mind for a few dull seconds.
I hear it first before seeing it. A honk. Then a boom and a crash. And then, there’s blood everywhere. It was a bus is all that my senses can understand. And though I see it first, I still don’t believe it: Allen lies on the road, enveloped in her own blood. Dead. Finally, screams pierce through the air.