Thursday, April 5, 2012

You once again mistook him for your own.


You vomited the last four hours and bits you can't remember. Parked cars. An innocent sidewalk. He stood behind you. A meter or further. As if to leave at once if a single soul would choose to pass, as if to deny that his eyes could see your back hunched, your hair all over your shoulders, your scapula defined by the shadows made by the lamp post, the straps of your dress hanging on your arms. Beads of sweat. Humid night air.

"I don't know you," he said. "You don't know me," you said. And you wished it was true. If only that four-word exchange was enough for closure. To the unspoken fights, a truce. But It wasn't.

"You didn't eat again, haven't you?" he said. You nodded. and you can see the disappointment in his face. You can hear him thinking, "You never learn, do you?" You wanted  at least a pat on the head. Or a pat on the back. But he didn't do any of that. And you didn't really mind. The wanting was just a substrate to the dryness of your mouth, and to the acid in your throat. "Let's go home," he said.


A five minute walk to his apartment. There was no usual intertwining of fingers, no marriage of palms, no static from the sudden touches of arm against arm, no small kisses, no side glances and affectionate smiles. No words. Just a walk to his apartment. And a few flights up.

You stepped inside his familiar room where you used to chew up on afternoons and swallow midnights with sleep and things that come with it, where you used to keep your secrets, where you used to walk around naked, where you used to undress, as if your hands weren't enough, you needed the help of his. "Where I used to," you thought to yourself. Where you used to.

You washed your face. He was changing. And you never needed to ask where things were. Because you still knew. You never really tried to forget. You still knew where your place was on the bed -- beside the wall, not curled up too much so as not to push him off to the floor. That was when you'd lie in bed and watch him walk around, watch him brush his teeth, watch him rub his nose, watch him rub his nose again,  and wait for him to come to bed. But that was then, you just laid in bed, faced the wall, closed your eyes. No goodnights.


In the middle of the night, still half asleep you have awoken to his warmth, his arms around your waist. His nose digging in at the back of your ear. You used to want him there. Somehow you still wanted him there. Deep breaths. You try not to move. You knew he was half awake too. And you were both being careful, spooning in the glory of the dancing shadows casted by the light of the moon passing through his open window.

You were still not done with shedding off the remnants he left in your bloodstream. But you thought it was okay. Just that one time. You thought that maybe it was okay to give in to the increment of the longing that have built up beneath your cheeks. Hot flush. Warm rush. "Just this time. Just this one time, it's okay to be weak."

You faced him, rested your slender arms across his chest. The familiar beating. You can feel it. You can hear it. But you never wanted to listen. Too afraid to not hear your name. He held your hand. Your fingers still fit. Perfectly. You were contented. "Just this one time. Just this one time." And he held you tighter, as if not to let go. And you held him tighter, as if not to let go. Don't let go.

In his familiar room where you used to lay side by side, where you wished time would cease, where you wished to paint and keep memories, you laid side by side, limbs braided meticulously enough to convince time to cease, to paint and keep as a valued memory. But the alarm screamed. High pitched voice, badly strummed chords -- confusing the dancing shadows. Unmusical. Deafening. Caustic. It was time to go. Time to let go. "Don't let go," you could hear him thinking. "Don't let go," he could hear you thinking. Don't let go.


The sound of the door as you shut it close, the sound of your shoes as you walked through the resting corridor, the flights of stairs, your routine glance for the security camera to record, the cold early morning air, the moving images in your cab ride home, all of them echoed the sensation, the crumbling of bones in that last tight union of chest against chest, of heartbeats duet. No goodbye, no locking of lips, just interlocking arms caging divorced bodies.

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