She Would Have Said Yes
I got up really early the next morning, really early considering I doubted I had gotten more than a few hours of sleep. I was supposed to still be on my pain medication but I had stopped taking it because I felt as if I deserved to feel the pain. Donna was dead and I wasn't, so I thought a little bit of pain was deserved.
I didn't trust myself to walk to work, especially since my balance was a little off and it had snowed a few more inches. I called a cab and I had it take me to work. It was just a little after six and I knew that no one else would have been there that early yet. Which was good considering I wanted to already be there before people arrived. If I were already there it would be harder to send me home, I theorized.
I entered the building and made my way to my office. Donna's desk stared ominously at me. I knew that I was going to have to get used to it as not being her desk anymore. Someone had brought a box over and had placed it on her desk chair. Only a picture had made it into the box, so I realized whoever it was hadn't gotten up the nerve to clear it off yet.
I took a minute to actually see what was on it. There were a few pictures, one of the whole staff taken in the post-Mandy days, a few pictures of her and me at various events, and a picture of her family. I picked up the picture of her family and I realized how she never ever really talked about them. I wondered now why I had never noticed that fact before.
Also on her desk were various other things, my appointment book opened to the day of the accident, a paper airplane I had thrown at her a few weeks earlier because I was bored, a little clock with a note to see how far off my watch was everyday, one of Toby's rubber balls, a tiny bottle of vanilla lotion, an earring that was missing it's mate, a cherry candy cane that Margaret had passed out a few weeks earlier, and a coffee cup that said, 'I love Cats.' Everything looked like it belonged there. Like it was waiting for her to come back to it.
With trembling hands I picked up the box and I started to put all of Donna's personal items in it. Tears streaked down my face as I did this, but I knew it had to be done. I cried even harder when I opened a drawer and I found the underwear that had been messengered to me almost a year earlier. I had no idea that she hadn't gotten rid of them.
Also in the drawer was the skiing book that I had given her. I opened it and found that the front cover had been tear stained. What I had written there must have really touched her mushy side, because a few of the words were smudged. I had meant every word of it then, but the words meant so much more to me now. I hoped she knew they came from the heart.
With a deep sigh I began to finish filling up the box. When the box was full I carried it to my office and I set it on the floor. It pained me to realize that almost five years of Donna working for me fit into that box. I thought that there would be more.
I grabbed my appointment book off the top of the box and I realized that Donna wasn't going to be there to de-code the messages for me. I still hadn't quite figured out her strange handwriting, but I guessed that now I had no choice. I flipped back to all of the appointments that I was supposed to have the past week and I organized them from their degree of importance. I made a note next to the really important ones and looked to see what I else could be pushed back.
I was so engrossed in doing that, that I didn't hear C.J. enter my office. I have no idea how long she was standing there, but all I know is that I didn't notice her until she angrily cleared her throat. I glanced up and I caught the look that she usually only reserved for people that she was very upset with. I gulped a huge gulp of air before I said anything to her.
"Yes?" I asked meekly, knowing full well that she was about to explode on my ass.
"Just what do you think you are doing here?" C.J. demanded, with her hands on her hips.
"My job." I replied with a shrug, and getting the dagger eyes for it.
"Josh, you only got out of the hospital yesterday!" C.J. exclaimed.
"I know." I replied quietly, though making no attempt to apologize for it.
"Are you trying to put yourself back in it?" C.J. asked incredulously.
"I need to work C.J." I replied as I began to look back down at the work on my desk.
"What you need is..." C.J. began but I cut her off.
"What I need is Donna back, and since that can't happen I guess work will just have to do." I replied crossly.
"Oh Josh." C.J. murmured softly as she noticed the box of stuff from Donna's desk.
"She isn't coming back C.J. I need to accept that. I keep trying to fool myself into believing that this is all a bad dream, but it's not. That's why I took all of the stuff off of her desk. The longer it sits there the harder it's going to be to take it off." I replied softly.
"Have you gotten yourself a temp yet?" C.J. asked slowly.
"No. I don't think I could deal with that quite yet. A desk can be cleared easily enough, but a person can't be. I can't just call for a temp and pretend that Donna never worked for me. So for now I'll just work without an assistant." I replied sadly.
C.J. was quiet for a few moments. I guess she didn't know what to say to that. So she just stared at the box on the floor. I didn't know what else to say so I just let her keep staring.
"Did you get the chance to ask her?" C.J. asked softly as she came closer to my desk.
"No, I never got the chance." I whispered as I closed my eyes.
I wondered if tears were going to fall, but none came. I just sat there picturing how the night was supposed to turn out. I just needed to go a few more blocks until I was at the right place to ask her. But we never made it that far and I imagined it would haunt me for the rest of my life. Just as I knew surviving the accident when she didn't would.
"Donna had this feeling that you were going to ask her. She said that she could tell you were hiding something from her. She begged me to tell her if you were or not." C.J. recalled slowly, breaking the silence.
"Did you tell her?" I asked softly hoping that maybe she knew after all.
"Not in so many words no, but I think it was hard to keep my real answer from being written all over my face." C.J. replied gently.
"Just a few more blocks and I would have been able to ask her." I replied wistfully.
"She would have said yes Josh. She would have definitely said yes." C.J. stated softly.
"That's the part that makes this hurt the most." I replied as I swiveled in my chair and faced the window instead.
C.J. caught a glint of the ring by the reflection on the mirror. She came over and she pulled on the chain to reveal the ring. I heard her gasp at the beauty of it. From out of the corner of my eye I could see a tear streaming down her cheek.
"You really did love her didn't you?" C.J. whispered after a moment.
"With all my heart." I replied softly.
I don't think that C.J. noticed that I had them engrave the words, 'To Donna with all my heart' on the inside of the ring. She dropped the ring and I pushed it back down under my shirt. This time it was carefully hidden.
"It wasn't your fault you know." C.J. stated gently.
"Those words may be easy to say, but they still aren't very easy for me to accept quite yet." I replied slowly.
"My door is always open if you need to talk about her or whatever." C.J. replied very sweetly.
"I know, thanks." I replied sincerely.
"It will get easier Josh." She assured me.
I didn't answer her. Instead I nodded and I pretended to engross myself back into my work. C.J. must have gotten the hint because I heard the soft click of my door behind her. I glanced back up at it and I saw a replay of one of the million times that Donna had done that very same thing. I wondered if I was ever going to get used to not seeing her.
I was still engrossed in my work a few minutes later when Ainsley came into the office. She looked a little better than she had when I last saw her yesterday, but that wasn't saying much. She still looked like hell, probably how I looked like come to think of it.
"I didn't know you were coming back to work today." Ainsley said softly.
"I had to, sitting around at home was only going to make things worse." I replied, not really looking up at her.
"I had a dream last night...but you might not be ready to hear about it so I'll go." Ainsley said as she turned to leave.
"Ainsley, wait." I pleaded with her.
"Yeah?" She replied after she stopped.
"Sit down and tell me about your dream." I said as I motioned to my visitor chair.
"It was about Donna." Ainsley said slowly.
"Go on." I whispered.
"She asked me to look after you." Ainsley admitted softly.
I didn't know what to say to that so I just nodded. But nodding only made my head felt like a jackhammer was pounding through it, so I stopped. Ainsley must have seen me grimace in pain, because she got the wrong idea.
"Is that idea really that horrible?" Ainsley demanded angrily. "And besides you said that you wanted to know."
"Ainsley wait, I have a bad head ache that's all." I assured her.
"So you don't think that my looking after you is a bad idea?" Ainsley asked, her eyes brightening a little.
"Just as long as you don't get too carried away." I muttered.
"Well, in that case I advise you to lie down on your couch and get a little rest. You look like hell Josh." Ainsley replied.
"Thank you Mama Ainsley." I mocked.
"I'm serious Josh." Ainsley said as she pointed to the couch.
I decided that it was probably best to do as she said, because I had begun to feel a lot worse. As Ainsley helped me on to the couch, I wondered if Donna really had visited Ainsley. There was no way that she would want me to get over her that soon would she? But before I could answer that question I felt myself being pulled into the realm of sleep.