After his appointment with the doctor involving a MRI scan and the usual do’s and don’ts session, Sam decided that he needed a walk to process the new-found information. He roamed aimlessly taking random turns at intersections. An unsettling thought kept running in Sam’s mind, the kind of gnawing feeling that haunts you when you’ve left things unsaid.
Deeply Immersed in his own thoughts, he abruptly stopped walking and took out the crumpled piece of paper that was buried safely in his pocket and opened it, trying to make sense of it. He debated the question in his mind whether he should seek out the place from the sketch, since he had a hunch that it was somewhere nearby; he just wasn’t sure where.
As he walked further down the street, he noticed a girl afar, crossing the street at a junction. She was wearing a loose white shirt, faded blue jeans and a light blue scarf draped around her neck that wavered gently with the wind. As he was unable to see her face clearly, he jogged towards her to catch up with her pace.
“Hey!” he called out loud, as he neared her.
She turned around with a startled look on her face.
“I have been meaning to…” Sam continued between breaths, and faltered mid sentence when realization struck him that she wasn’t the one that he’d been looking for.
“Sorry! I thought you were someone else” an embarrassed Sam apologized to her and briskly walked off in the opposite direction, shaking his head. But, in a second he forgot all about it as he caught a tiny glimpse of a blue-green colored Ferris wheel in the distant.
Sam leaped with joy, thrusting his fists high up into the air, hollering “Yasssss”. He ran towards it as if he’d found his long-lost dog. Sam stopped at the foot of the bridge. It overlooked a river, and at the banks of which, was a carnival ground boasting of a giant blue-green Ferris wheel, a carousel painted in red and yellow stripes, an establishment of bumper cars in multi-colors, a brightly lit tornado, Kiddies’ rides and several brightly lit game booths.
A wide smile stretched across Sam’s lips which in turn always deepened the dimple on his right cheek. He was overjoyed that he’d succeeded in discovering the mysterious place from the sketch left behind by the enigmatic Asian Lady. A minute had passed when he suddenly had a Flashback:
**A man and a woman are seated on a slow-moving Ferris wheel, laughing happily on a warm summer night. Frank Sinatra’s song ‘The way you look tonight’ starts playing faintly in the background and firecrackers light up the dark sky in bright patterns of gold, red, purple and blue. The wind plays gently with the woman’s hair, toying away with the light blue scarf worn around her neck. The next moment, the Ferris wheel comes to an abrupt halt and the man pulls out a ring from his pocket and holds it out in front of the woman.
Smiling warmly at her, he proposes “Alaska Summers! Will you marry me and make me the happiest man alive?”
The woman nodded her head wildly with joy and hugged him in sheer excitement; The sudden movement bobbled their booth from side-to-side. **
Alaska walked out of the café in a hurry, and turned on the navigation on her phone, as the streets were still unfamiliar to her. She had planned to check out three apartment listings that ticked off all boxes of her requirements: Cheap & affordable.
The first two apartments turned out to be a bust as the former had a queer smell as if a rotting dead body had just been moved out of the only room in the apartment which served as the kitchen, hall and the bedroom. The latter had a pesky owner problem. As in, the owner would not stop checking her out, with a nasty look on his face; meanwhile his muddy white Pomeranian kept following and sniffing her; probably because she had recently walked out of an apartment room that smelled like dead people.
Half heartedly she reached the third and final listing, hoping it would be the least disastrous of the three. The owner of the third building was a woman named Maria who was in her late 60’s. She was severely short-sighted, wore thick glasses and couldn’t identify a face unless it was printed on a newspaper or until the person stood just inches away from her. She walked with the help of a can and limped a little towards her left.
Maria behaved formally at first, but as soon as Alaska introduced herself, Maria’s face lit up like a Christmas tree.
She took Alaska’s hand in hers and exclaimed “Oh dear child! You came back. I knew you would.”
Before Alaska could say anything, or grasp the situation, Maria hurried towards the stairs and called out behind her back “Come child, follow me! Follow me!”
Alaska obeyed without a choice, feeling a 100% sure that this was the weirdest encounter of all three. She climbed a flight of stairs and was taken aback to find that the old woman was already standing beside an open door. Alaska meekly walked up to Maria who was welcoming her in with a kind smile. Hesitantly, Alaska took a peek inside the dark room, acutely aware of her heart beating loudly against her chest and for a second she wondered if Maria could hear it too.
Her heart skipped a beat, when Maria turned on the lights, as Alaska was faced with a large painting on an entire wall. It was a portrait of her and a man splashed in multi-colors, side glancing at each other. In the painting, her head was tilted a little towards the man, who gazed at her with a deep-set of eyes holding a broad grin which revealed a handsome dimple on his right cheek.
With a blank expression on her face, Alaska whispered “Sam!”
The next two hours seemed hazy to Alaska who stumbled out of the apartment without saying another word to Maria. Absent mindedly, she caught the bus back home; to her father’s and during the journey all her memories came crashing down on her. Her past life was crystal clear. How she had moved to the city after completing her college during which she’d found the one true love of her life: Art. How she’d rented a studio apartment which she could barely afford and worked multiple jobs – serving as a waitress in a local café; babysitting and working as a museum guide to survive in the city and other odd jobs. The day all her miseries felt unimportant when she had bagged the opportunity to showcase one of her paintings in a local exhibit. It was the day she felt most proud of herself because for the first time, she could pay her bills, doing what she loved.
She remembered how she’d met Sam in the same café that she had been visiting for a few weekends. He had cheesily slipped his number under her coffee mug and at first she’d resented him, for his advances were too forward and his methods too cheeky. But she’d finally agreed to date him and thereafter they were inseparable. Magic was in the air, her life had turned beautiful once again after a very long time and within a month they moved in together. A few months later, Sam proposed to her whilst they were on a Ferris wheel chair, on a warm summer night. The two weeks after that, Alaska was joyous and in disbelief of her own luck. They planned for a spring wedding in the next year, and the wedding preparations were in full swing. But on one snowy November afternoon the miserable fate had collided with their happiness when a bus had hit them and another pedestrian at a red signal while they were crossing the street after finalizing a chapel that day as their venue for the wedding.
As Alaska De-boarded the bus and walked rest of her way home, realization struck her that her own father was completely unaware of the wedding, of Sam! A chill ran down her spine as she thought about Sam, horrified that Sam may not have even made it through the accident and all this time she was oblivious to his existence. Alaska felt sick, as if her stomach had been turned inside out and had been set on fire. Her legs felt weak as she wobbled to the front gates of her house.
As she opened the gates, she smiled uncontrollably and let out a happy sigh. In front of her stood Sam, waiting patiently for her, with that warm smile and deep-set of eyes that always made her heart skip a beat every time she looked at him.
Alaska was Home!