Smoke is caught in the breeze as she walks through Vondelpark. Caroline notices children playing in the field to her left, a group of friends sharing a meal, some drinks, and each other on the right. Warmed by the sun, she strolls down the path.
Stopping to look at the river and let the moment sink in, I’ve missed this place. I’m happy to be back. We used to have the best days here. The good old days: as whoever “they” are would say. This breath of literal fresh air is long overdue. Damn, I missed the warmth of the sun.
She approached the bridge distracted by the birds on the sky, Caroline walked into a young man taking a picture of a rabbit on the opposite bank.
“Oh pardon me, I, I didn’t see you there,” she said startled.
“Oh dear, not a problem at all. I was standing on the path. I should have stepped to the side, but it would have changed the angle,” the young man said holding his camera’s screen toward Caroline.
“Aww, that’s such a cute photo. I’ve never seen a bunny in this park before.”
“Me neither!” pulling the camera down and extending his hand, “My name is Morgan, rabbit enthusiast, and day enjoyer,” he said with a half chuckle.
Shaking his hand, “Caroline, amateur bird watcher, and trying to remember how to enjoy a day properly.”
“Pleased to meet you,” looking up to the sky, “What birds have you seen today?”
Caroline following suit, “Hmmm, well I’ve seen a little one, and some orange looking ones, and green ones, and I think one with a black tail.”
“Oh. You really know your birds I see,” he says with a gently sarcastic tone. “We don’t have any of those birds in India.”
Carline laughs, “They are native to Amsterdam, What kind of bunny was that?”
“You don’t know? That was Miffy’s cousin Muffy. He’s a legend, but not as famous as his cousin,” Morgan said with a smile.
They laughed, He’s quite witty. I’ve missed witty people.
“Would you like to continue my walk with me, I’d appreciate the company.”
“I would like that,” Morgan said.
They crossed the bridge and followed the walkway along the stream, “Smoke?” she asked passing him the joint.
“Don’t mind if I do,” taking it and inhaling, “Definitely a good way to try and enjoy a day.”
“Yeah, I’ve missed it so. It’s been a while since I smoked. It was a daily activity for some time,” Caroline says with a nostalgic sigh.
“Here you go,” as Morgan passes it back, “Pretty much since the accident huh?”
“Yup! All new meds, no bud. But that’s why I wanted to come back here. Some of the best green in the world. And no one cares if you smoke in the park,” she finished with a chuckle.
“It does have a way of pulling even more beauty out of a beautiful day,” he says on the cusp of another hit.
“Kill that one, I’ve got another, but I want to save it for the next place.”
“Oh, thanks… Where are we off to next?”
“You’ll see,” Caroline says. With a deeply delighted sigh, “Would you look at that sky. It’s truly Marvelous. I’ve never understood what people meant when they said the sky is more beautiful in some places than others. With the exception of the Borealis-es, Boreali, I don’t know the plural, but you get what I mean. If your portion of the sky doesn’t get the Northern or Southern lights, It’s just one big mesmerizing piece of ever-changing art. I think what people are really referring to is the things surrounding them, the scenery that compliments it, the feeling they have for a place. Those things may change but the sky itself is no different.”
While they both gaze at the sky a storm rolls in on the horizon, “Take the sky here, for example, it seems bigger, because there are less things to obstruct your view.”
“This is a truly awe-inspiring view. No wonder you two loved it so,” an intensely cold wind cuts through his light jacket, “Hardangerfjord, right? It’s been some time since you’ve been here.”
Turing her back to the wind to light joint number two, “Indeed,” as she puffs trying to get an even burn, “This is where Jan asked me to marry him. That was the happiest day of my life. I’d always wanted to come back here with him. It’s sad to know I never will.”
“He loves you with all his heart. He has always planned to bring you back here one day. Unfortunately, not today. As you know today is your day. And what a beautiful one it has been.”
“It has,” Caroline replies staring at the vast fjord, “A couple more hits and I’ll be ready to go.”
“No rush, take your time.”
They sit legs dangling over the edge of Trolltungal. Silently they lookout, watching the clouds approach and occasionally their smoke in the wind.
Turning toward Morgan with a tear in her eye, “Thank you for joining me today. I really appreciate it. It was nice not to be alone,” she says.
Smiling, “It was my honor.”
Facing forward, “Goodbye Jan. Goodbye Morgan,” Caroline says with a sense of relief, sliding off the edge of the cliff.
“Goodbye Caroline,” Morgan says before taking the final drag while watching the clouds.
“She’s flatlining!” shout the nurse that had been checking Caroline’s vitals, “Get a doctor in here stat!”
Through tears, in the corner of the room, Jan says, “Let her go. She wants to go. She knew there was no coming back, not in a way she wanted to live,” fighting the deluge of saltwater and mucous, “Please! Just turn the machines off and let her go… She doesn’t want to be in a coma or a vegetable… Please, I’m begging you…”
At the edge of Trolltunga Jan opens Caroline’s erne, “I wish we had more time,” the wind at his back strengthens, “Goodbye Caroline, I’ll always love you,” he says watching her ashes be carried into the expanse of their favorite place on earth.