She stood still, her tiny shoulders and ribs (that thankfully can no longer be seen) moved gently with each breath. Each tiny breath like the wave that swept in, like her laughter used to be. She looks at me and asks if it is done. I nod. I meant to say “almost”. Just like I had meant to say “stop”, or “please don’t” or “take me and spare her”. She doesn’t wait for my answers anymore. She skips over the boundaries of our shadows.
Her outline of me drawn in shaky fingers, looks like a human being pulled apart beside her own shadow – a child, complete and perfect. But she looks at her shadow and calls it weird, just like how she called the ocean weird.
For her the smiling children in the glossy magazine were weird, a chocolate bar without an occasion. without a reason were weird, the memories of home she wanted to forget were weird, the days she walked to school with her friend and the days the sun went down as she slept over the struggles of homework were weird. She sat down and tried to come up with an answer for my “why”.
“the ocean is so huge. as huge as, all the things i can’t have but once i had them. it is weird.
it is weird how this ocean is mine now, the breeze is mine along with the sky but i don’t want them.
you have memorized my shadow. you keep bringing me back to life but you tear up so easily as if even you don’t believe yourself. as if you don’t believe in me .
sometimes i feel that this ocean is our gift to each other, it is our heart free of our bodies. sometimes i believe that i am here and you are here and the world where my head can rest in your lap still exists.”
You look at me and I look at you the way broken things look at the hands of an angry god, the way complete beings look down at things that can never be their equal.
You and me, we take turns, learning to feel pain, to give pain reaching for the light in each other’s eyes, making copies of each others memories and spilling the ink on the originals.
You and me – we are children left alone unsupervised with this steel instrument of love. We now know of the blood and bone within our skin, thanks to this blade. We now know how to keep distance when nothing keeps up apart.
When we lose our color, our teeth of milk and cruelty, when the blade loses its shine and looks like any other rust of this world, only then we know the pain of having walked past a life we could have had, the journeys we could have walked, the meaning we carried in our selves for each other sake, the meaning we never looked up, never cared for.
The last stranger at the funeral home brought in the worst rain of the season, the coldest wind of the night along with your last letter. He leaned against the window and called up everyone he won’t be able to meet today looking at me all the while. As if he knew every word that I was reading. Probably waiting to see whether I cry at the same lines that he did. His eyes look like the ones who have got used to crying for things that cannot be undone, for a life that cannot be. I wondered if he loved you. Maybe he did. Maybe you knew. I hope you did. He sat beside me trying not to grieve more than a mother, trying not mourn like a lover, making himself invisible with every word i read under my tearful breath
“…even when I sat at the dinner table with my brightest smile and deepest hunger, i couldn’t convince me that i needed to exist here. even the warmest embrace of this world could do nothing but break me. i knew opening my heart could only bring floods and all ends of all kind. i knew all along of this end. forgive me for pretending otherwise….”
It was like magic running the highlighter, the bright crayon over the sepia hands of her. She didn’t complain or cry as we ruined another photograph of hers, as we tried to hide the evidence of her failed love, our failing life.
We cut her out, moved her away from the one who looked like us. We placed her side of story, her half of heart in the albums. Albums that felt lighter now that the responsibility to remember only the good, its difficulty was no longer our business.
We shredded few faces of his, few others we drowned in ink. His face was the reason we couldn’t look at ourselves, the reasons of all the hurting words we learned so fast.
After we ruined everything for good we stared at each other, and saw the tears we should’t be having in us. This wasn’t how magic is supposed to feel. Why? Why was there no thrill, no relief in what we had done? Isn’t it our turn to be free from the one who left?
I planted the idea of a happy family, a happy tomorrow, into the eyes of my mother with breaking tips of my pencils against her granite eye lashes.
I told her the story about the boy who is ever so sad because his parents didn’t care enough, who weeps on his empty birthdays, who weeps into my heart. I tell her I am not so fine myself. Maybe she didn’t hear me clearly, cause she didn’t stop her daily charade of writing her “the last letter”.
I cleared her bed, her table, her words, her being from the perfectly modeled replica of world in my mind. I showed her, “Look, this is how I will look with you gone. Look, look at what you must not do to me.”
She pulled me close, and held my hand for a bit too long, a bit too tenderly as if letting me know, telling me “Look, this is how I look when I am alive. Look, look at me pouring out of myself, dragging my feet even till the end. Look, look at what I can no longer live as.”
And I stood there for a long time, slowly understanding things I possibly couldn’t. I stood there for a long time, till my mom’s face was replaced by that of the ever so sad boy as he held me, letting me cry into him for the hundredth time.
I drowned the flowers one by one. The poison of beauty now runs through the rivers on this land, they fill his backyard in every season of rain. A child with his smile drowns another boat of dreams, the flood is a field of paper, the flood is all that is left of me. She stares into me, waiting for a reflection to surface. She walks into me to see where I end.
She tells me about the boy she can’t love and the boy she can’t blame as I dissolve and submerge the red gates of her house, the garden of forgiveness, her school shoes, all roads to her friend who doesn’t smile back anymore, the spoons that remind her of hunger for farthest worlds and people.
She asks me how deep will be this pain of losing herself, how long she would have to smile through this hate. I flow into her heart, wondering, if there I could turn back to the flower I was, if the end of my hate could be the end of her pain. If I could be her answer of hope.
When I speak of what I thought my life would be like, what I still want to be if I was not dying in my skin, they give me a funny look as if I am seeing things.
And frankly I am seeing the only things that give me hope. I am aware of their imaginary status and how separated by time they are from my life.
But I wish instead they would just smile along as if I am a child who speaks of ten professions in one breath and not remind me how I am losing out in life as a woman just because I am trying to breathe as my dream once in a while.
years from now i hope my living room has a space for a lovely piano. i hope my fingers would play something beautiful on it. that here i would smile and not know of the passing time. that i would learn to love my walls as much as the world that stands on the other side. as my child misses me, cries for me, tries to keep me alive when i am not, i hope she feels this music she can’t hear, i hope she sees the future i couldn’t finish living, i hope she knows that my warmth is more than my skin and my blood running under it.
In every country, in every city, on every street stands a home that could have been ours. I am a daydreamer like that As I passed the house with an always crying child, as I passed the house with the overwhelming smell of incense, as I passed the house with singing reality shows played on repeat I only thought of the life we could have there. In my mind, we fit every house, we fit every role. Even if our body was stripped of every muscles and every bone even if we put back together the wrong way, even if we our heart were to be rearranged, in my mind we would still fall in love. That is how we had molded the spirit of our love- to be stubborn (if not right or just). But now there are years when I don’t remember you, and yet there is no sadness in me that is capable of ruining me. You are gone and I am trying to grieve for something I don’t particularly miss. As I pass the houses where our stories used to be staged I realize they are again the buildings of strangers that I am supposed to keep my mind away from. My sadness selfishly keeps uttering, “I need to love someone, someone who won’t do this to me. I need to love someone, to believe in love again.” I reach home with bloody nails and bruised fingers leaving behind bricks with our names scratched out.
twenty-six steps away from the cold end, we stand together as if we are both looking at a foe we must defeat together. a child passes us by with a yellow balloon. how misplaced it seems, this child in this place made of storms.
this is something i don’t want to do. our steps will fade into the deep end of this lake while the mother in me would summon the face of this child as a hope of what i could have had if I could endure a little bit more.
an invisible small hand curls around my fingers as your voice falters and you mess up our last song. the ghost of your future, whatever face they may have, have also arrived. so i put back the sweater on and you check the calls you must return as the ones who intend to live on only do.