It was the song that had been playing the first and last time he had seen her. He wondered why his iPod chose it that day. Until he saw the lady who had just boarded the train. This time was not like the others. He was sure. Sure that it was her. That the gentle curve of her shoulders under the well-tailored blue coat was a familiar one. He could make out dark brown hair tied at the nape of her neck. A thick black scarf was wrapped around her neck, covering the tattoo he was desperate to see, to prove that it was indeed her.
His stop came and went but he didn’t move. She remained in his diagonal vision. He followed her when she got off, at what he deemed a safe enough distance. It had just started to snow and he pulled up the collar of his coat, his breath coming in small puffs as he willed her to turn in his direction and show him her full face. He wasn’t worried about not recognizing her. Those dark blue eyes had once looked up at him, trusting that he would always protect her. And yet he had not been able to stop what had happened all those years ago in the town that would always haunt him. That was when he remembered — each time it felt longer, hit his gut harder.
It took him half an hour to walk back home, clueless about the lights and happiness that surrounded him. The wind stung his eyes, but he hardly felt it. That would come later. When the darkness crept into his room two hours later, he had listened to their song more times than he cared to count. Each time, he felt her getting further away, just out of reach as the music faded. He kept remembering the police at their door, asking him pointed questions, a naked disbelief when he said he had nothing to do with her disappearance. It was like she had quietly melted away like the snow that had fallen for days after her family had accepted the inevitable, its delicate, white beauty leaving a permanent ache in his soul. And yet he played the song again, and again in the hope that maybe the next time, he would be able to find her though she was long gone.