How much of life is a game? It crossed my mind as I laid in bed, Faye’s lingering look across the room at Don still etched upon my mind—educated but vulnerable, porcelain but not pristine, edgy but not too sharp—she was the last one here; the last one that I remember being here; the last memory that I have of two smiles bouncing around the room with no cares overshadowing them, places to be but nowhere they’d rather be. Fresh carrots. But then the next day and the next day and the day after that I nibble away happily in my head—a memory of what was, leading to what could be would be should be, but will it… be the last time that she shares that memory with me?
Image by ROSS HONG KONG via FlickrI roll over into the place where she once was, an indentation untouched on a chocolate-colored pillow, and find a trace of what still lingers, but never stays long enough and my mind leaps from the cliff, giggling, feeling the rush of chance in my hair, massive risk with eyes tightly shut because I forgot my goggles (I always forget something), and I don’t want to see the bottom when it abruptly arrives. “He died flying,” they’ll say, but they’ll never know that I hummed a tune with the lyrics of a small girl singing in my head, “Und hier ist ein roter Ballon. Ich denke an dich und lass es gehen...”
And in that split-second before death, I discovered that I was in the wrong country.
Have you ever been to Spain? she whispered while fright of what I’d see kept my eyes from opening. My head shook back and forth in my head, but I don’t know if my head shook back and forth in her stead. And France? Playground’s greatest hits turned more loudly than the consuming carousel of Something Wicked screaming, “CHINESE. JAPANESE. DIRTY KNEES. LOOK AT THEEEEEEEESE.”
Will you go with me?
The carousel stopped. She looked at me. She got older. She stared into my eyes and no words entered her mind that deserved to ruin a moment of care-ity. “YES!” my own brain shouted. “YES! THIS IS THE RIDE I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!” I stared back. Neither blinking. “I don’t know if you’re serious,” I thought. She nuzzled into the crook of my neck. We slept.
It echoed from the bathroom, bouncing off the tiled floor and walls, You’ve hurt me. My eyes popped open. Like freshly cut flowers, beauty singed my nostrils as if wafted from the dark tufts tickling my chest. I dared not move. Do you like what you see? a deeper voice asked, this time from outside the bedroom door. “Stay out,” I thought. “You’re fucking crazy,” not knowing whether I was speaking to the voices or the voices inside of myself. Show some respect, they said in unison. My leg twitched, a tinge of anger that emanated form my hip and surged out through my toes, straightening said leg like a seasoned plank. After forcing my eyes closed, I focused on what I had—her with my arms wrapped tightly around—and serenity washed my face, body and feet with the elixir for a beating heart. “Stop acting like children,” I thought. Somewhere a deadbolt twisted in a door frame with a snap and left on this side a sealed silence.
I matched the rise and fall of my chest to her own breathing and tried to see into her dreams—to leave my world and enter hers—but she squeezed me tightly in her sleep and thought, "Staaay."
Thunder began rolling off somewhere in the distance; first tumbling of a stormy forecast. "But I want to go with you," I replied as the last blocks crumbled...