The promise: A story by Sonal Singh

I rested my head against the white window frame and inhaled. The air smelled crisp, of pines and junipers. There was a nip to it, whispering of ebbing autumn in the higher reaches of the mountains. Winter was knocking. Samar’s favorite season!
Soon the hills would transform into pristine sheets of virginal white. The snow would glint like twinkling crystals strewn over the slopes. He had loved this transformation. Had loved how the jade slopes seemingly receded into alabaster tones.
‘It is the perfect place to raise a family,’ he had said.
A cheery wood fire burned coating the cottage in mellow warmth. We had bought it together, the cottage. It was the first thing we had bought together.
What else would two orphans buy if not the safety of a permanent roof?
We had both been raised in orphanages. Fate had brought us together and love had blossomed. We were like two kindred spirits in a sea of strangers. Like homing beacons, we had found our way to each other and stuck.
Oh, the cottage had been beyond our means. But, we had both loved it on sight. With our combined, albeit slim incomes, we could just about manage to pay for the loan EMI.
 The pragmatist that I was, I had asked my husband, ‘Samar, what if something should happen to one of us? How will the other pay for this?’
He had smiled. His lopsided smile always made his eyes crinkle. That day they had twinkled too as he said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s all planned. I promise you, this cottage will be ours until death do us part.’
I had smacked him with a cushion, at his words. He had thrown up his hands and laughed that full-throated laugh of his at my childish gesture.
All this talk of death made me cringe. It was the death that had snatched by parents, my home from me.
Now, as I looked around the warm interiors, I felt Samar’s absence more than ever. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, was it? We were supposed to do this together. Yet, now here I was, alone and pining, no aching for his company.
The pain was still too raw. I brushed at the tears that brimmed over, adjusted my spectacles, and focused at the papers in my hand. Reverently I ran my hands over Samar’s name on the document – his life insurance payout.
He had kept his promise.
The cottage was ours but sadly death did us part.