When it was all over, he pushed me enough to create a distance and leaned back on the soft pillows, against the frame board. I laid motionless at the other side of the bed, under the blankets, hushed by the strange unfamiliar emotion that has been running back and forth through my frail sunken body.
Was it pain? The kind which crushes you almost instantly with one grip and clutches your heart enough to make your veins burst with either blood or poison, depending on who you are—if you could still remember who you really are.
Was it loneliness? The sound of an abandoned room, an empty bed with nothing but your frayed body in it, your wounded soul. Alone and isolated in its depth. Lost in its immeasurable vastness.
Or was it both? And isn’t this what you clearly know? But you are too delicate, too frightened for such bitter reality. So you mask it up with an idea that he is with you, he will always be with you. You never ask him to stay but he choose to stay. For a minute. For a while. But forever is a different thing.”
I distracted my self from all my thoughts and shut all the noise from the outside until there was nothing left but the sound of my heart, breathing and breaking at the same time. I dared to speak until I realize that no words could ever make up to what I do not—and will not—understand.
I laid there, almost frozen in the stillness of the morning sun, waiting for something to happen. A touch, an embrace, an apology. Something that will lead him back to me. Something that will help him remember in case he had forgotten who he is and where he belongs. But there was nothing in between the pillowcases and the crumpled sheets. Nothing but the sound of a dead, muted room that echoed to what seemed like an eternity of silence.
When it was all over, we did not speak. Our eyes did not cross. Our hearts did not tell. For a moment there was no pleasure, no bliss, no satisfaction. For the first time there were no promises. And I knew right then that something, something precious and valuable, was missing, lost.
I looked around the room: that small space we both occupied with unwanted fear, with deep disgust, with mistrust and perhaps regret for all the things that happened and all the things that did not.
I looked around for something to hold on to. The ceilings, dull and threadbare. The walls peeling with scratched paint. The cobwebs, the old photographs, the empty closet, the soiled clothes, the dusty furniture, the creaking bed, the lampshade. The person beside me. I looked because I did not want to sink in to the quicksand of time where today will turn into a memory. I looked because I don’t want to remember this part, the part where he was supposed to save me but later on I would realize that he will not ever. I looked because I was falling off and my hands were slipping and he was not there. I looked so I could see what damage was done and how inevitable pain was. Or is. Time can never tell the difference because eventually it will hurt the same. I looked back and forth, up and down, in and out of his cold, resentful heart to protect mine from every kind of pain. I laughed at the irony of it. I laughed at my mistakes. I laughed because it was the only way to fill the silence. I laughed because I did not want to cry.
When it was all over, he lit a cigarette and stared out to the windows, which were barely open, with spaces enough to let the sunshine in. The sun and nothing more. He was thinking about something, someplace else and I clearly know it wasn’t me. I am here with him. Here. I like the way it sounds.
Here makes you think that you are not lost. Here makes you realize that you occupy a space, that you matter, that you belong even if every second of every minute of it is borrowed, stolen perhaps.
You steal time the way you do when you put your clock face down, when your eyes refuse to look at it and when your stubborn heart tells you that the memories will go on for infinity. But they never will because time is limited, bounded. And tomorrow you will wake to a new morning and none of these will remain.
Here is impermanent . . . elusive. Here will not stay forever. So you try to inhale everything. The sight, the smell, the touch. All of it. You stuck it in your suitcase of memories in a desperate attempt to save what is left because tomorrow time will take it away and you will be nothing but a memory.”
I looked at him, his eyes nailed to the windowpanes. I looked outside but I could barely see a thing. The sun was blinding. I wanted to see what was out there. I wanted to see what his eyes could see. But I could not. Not anymore. We stared at the same windowpanes, out into the flickering skies and saw two different things. I saw an emptiness in a place called ‘here’. He saw a promise in some place else.
He stood up without a sound, without a word. I felt my lungs gasp out for air. And in that defining moment of utter confusion and deep torment, I wondered if it was the cigarette smoke or the deafening silence that suffocated my heart to death.