One Last Gift (Final Chapter)

As she began to collect her thoughts more clearly, after recovering from nearly drowning, Melanie wanted to know something. “What took you so long Chase?”, she asked eagerly. “It’s a long story”, he said looking at the river that nearly took the life of the girl he liked. Deep down the thoughts swirled in his mind. Imagine what would of happened had he not made it here in time. Another woman lost in his life. No, he couldn’t bare the thought. First Amy, the woman he loved but the timing was off, passed away, and then Melanie almost died; the woman he liked the moment he met her. He didn’t want to say anything initially, since he did move back recently accepting this job. The last thing he needed was to get in trouble for trying to have a relationship at work. But the moment he met her and heard that southern accent, he knew he would like her. The question was: how to ask her out on a date? Now the question is: how to explain to her where you actually were?

Earlier in the morning Chase was in jail. “Hey, c’mon Phil! Don’t keep your visitor waiting!”, the guard shouted behind the door. And trudging in came a man who looked depressed but accepting of it. Phil was not a tall man, but not too short either and had the belly that many would call beer-belly. If only they knew how accurate they would be. “Hello Phil, how are you doing?”, Chase asked the inmate. Phil replied, “Doing better, but the nightmares still persist.” Phil, looking blankly at the table at which they sat, was sad about something. Something that Chase knew exactly haunted him. It was the same thing that haunted him for such a long period of time. Haunted by the death of Amy. The only difference was that Phil was traumatized by the fact that she died by his hands. For Chase, he was sitting face-to-face with the man who killed the woman he loved.

“I brought you cookies that I got on the way over here”, he said to Phil. Phil wondered, “Thanks, but why do you do this Chase? Why do you come visit me?”. It’s a good question, as typically one would want to hurt the person who took away a loved one of your own. Yet Amy’s family, friends and Chase did not hold so much anger at Phil; and Amy came to find out why. The day Amy died, she reviewed from afar, was the day Phil’s life completely came undone. He was a wealthy stockbroker, with his own firm, and had a trophy wife named Sara. Things were going great, until it came to a crash; stock market crash that is. Time’s were getting tough, and Phil had to get rid of some things. The wife was none too pleased with that, and fell for another man who was Phil’s friend. She decided she had enough with Phil and left; making sure she took some of his property along the way. With his business wilting, marriage collapsing, he only found comfort in the bottle.

Several weeks of binge-drinking and simply not caring about anything can do some damage. For Phil, he lost the respect of his kids who were off to college. His wealthy friends no longer wanted to hang around him much, and his parents and siblings were not comforting at all. No one told him to seek help, only to stay away from them. So he drank. And drank. And drank. Till finally one day, he ran out of alcohol to drink; it was time to make a run to the store for more. But he became so accustomed to the buzz, he had no idea what he was about to do was abnormal. So he got in his car and attempted to drive. Was that light green? No, I think it’s turning yellow! Crap. I better hurry, because I don’t want to wait another several damn minutes here! Thoughts of these, and more, swirled in his mind as he tried to make the light. What he didn’t realize was that the light was red for several seconds already. What Amy didn’t realize was that her time on this world had come to an end.

As Amy watched what was transpiring, she was in utter amazement. She had always thought that the man that killed her was a low-life man who had no care for anyone. Instead, here was a man who’s life was crumbling before him and had no proper way to cope with it. She could see the regret in his eyes. How he wished he could rewind time, and undo everything that he did. This was a man who lost his life, except he lost it way before he came here to prison. And here was Chase, the man Amy loved, doing for her what she would’ve done had she been able to; forgive him. “Because in times like these, where you feel all alone in this world, it’s good to have someone there for you”, Chase replied, “And though at first I couldn’t stand the sight of you, after getting to know you, I understand what you are going through”. “I know the two of you weren’t dating at the time, but I know how truly connected y’all were. . . I thought I had that, but I was so very wrong. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for taking that away from you”, Phil softly spoke. Chase looked at him reassuringly, “Yet here I am for the third time visiting you, keeping you company, letting you know it is okay. I forgive you Phil, and if I know Amy she would probably say the same after knowing what you have gone through”. Chase thought of how Amy was such a kind, forgiving person. He hoped she would understand why he was doing this. This was about moving forward for everyone involved: Amy’s family, Chase, Phil, and perhaps Amy. He wondered if somehow she was watching from above all that was happening. Wouldn’t that be something? A gentle cool hint of air swept past his face; must be the air conditioning throwing out extra air.

Amy, from afar, was trying to hold back tears. She wishes she had another chance at life, of falling in love. . . of Chase seeing her again. But as far as she knows there’s no way for that to happen. Is there? “I mean, there’s reincarnation! Right?”, she pondered, “How does that even work? Well then again, look at me now”. That’s when she realized she still had a purpose here, she needed to convince Chase to hurry over to the river with Melanie. Opportunities like this don’t come often. In the room Chase and Phil were in, there was a television hanging up on the wall. They paid no attention to it, when suddenly the channel changed to one with people out in the woods near a river. The volume slightly rose to the point Chase’s attention drew to it. An hour and a half had passed in their visit, and seeing that commercial made Chase realize he had another engagement to attend. “I must go now Phil, but I’ll try to come visit by the end of the month”, he reassured,”Don’t give up. Life works in mysterious ways, and you are not alone”. As the visit ended, Chase ran to his car. It was going to be a 45 minute drive to the river, assuming traffic was not heavy.

“You are an incredible person, Chase”, Melanie calmly said. She could see the compassion he has for other individuals, and to have that for the man who took away the life of someone he cared for deeply takes amazing strength. “Something tells me there’s more to you than what we see at the office new guy”, she added. Chase smiled, “Well hopefully the rest of the day we can spend time knowing each other better”. She shyly smiled, “I’d like that”. And soon the rest of Melanie’s party returned to learn about what happened. After feeling guilty for leaving her, they immediately welcomed Chase and really enjoyed his company. They would go on to give their stamp of approval of him for Melanie; he was a great guy for her. Her mother and sister would agree when they would meet Chase for the first time 5 months from now. A year and half year later, Chase would get down on one knee and ask the question Melanie was waiting for. He would do it at the top of a hiking trail that was the highest point in the state. They loved going on outdoor adventures, and what better way than to ask at the most beautiful outdoor site they’ve ever been to.

They would go on to have three children; two girls and one boy. And they would grow up to be successful on their own. All that and more laid ahead before them. As Chase and Melanie were ending their day at the river, a guy on his bicycle rode past them; accidentally dropping his book next to them. “Hey! You dropped your book!”, Chase yelled at the man. He picked it up and looked at the cover: Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology. Suddenly, a small gust of wind brushed past his face that he swears keeps following him. . . Amy. . . He looked up to the sky, thinking, could she be closer to him than he realized?

And so, Amy fulfilled her purpose and was able to get her own closure. It’s bittersweet that once again, she has to walk away from Chase and her loved ones. But she knew they were all in good hands; they don’t need hers anymore. “So what’s next?”, she legitimately asked to whoever was in charge of this whole spirit thing. Do you wish to move on? Or do you wish to try again? She could hear this question being asked to her. She gazed upon her family, that she was watching, and thought for some time about it. Finally, she said aloud, “I want to have another chance at life!”. As you wish. . . But, to do so, you must help one more person. A complete stranger who has shared similar experiences as you. “Alright, let’s do it! I think I could get used to doing this. Well. . . not exactly, but a chance to help another person? Why not? So, person-in-charge of this thingy, who’s next?”, Amy asked confidently. And with that, a new story begins. . .


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