Short Stories.

Silence.

 

When we awoke again it was spring and the sun’s light was just barely beginning to break through your blinds, the bands bending in and caressing us in a tender warmth. Your arms were cinched around my waist, our torso’s tightly pressed against each other and our legs a tangled mess from the countless hours we had spent asleep. I knew by the unsteady pace of your breath that you were awake. To break the silence I spoke in a gentle softness that slipped through the air like the calm breeze billowing outside of your window, “Hello darling.” You could hear the smile crack across my face through my chapped lips, broken and dry from dehydration.

“Hello,” you mustered languidly in response.

“What shall we do today love?” I said while exhaling my last bit of energy in a heavy heap, as though I was exhausted from the long night, day, then night once more I spent asleep in your arms.

“I suppose we should shift our focus to foraging for food rather than continuing to habitually hibernate for another day,” you replied. I could hear that smirk of yours slip across your face, amused and satisfied by the rhythmic fluidity of your response.

“I am famished!” tumbled out of my mouth almost desperately. Yet I was met with no reply.

Instead, there we continued to lay, soaking in the silence. We were both wasting away from the several nights we had enthusiastically foregone our primal urge for sleep and ignored  the pangs prompted by the forgotten feeling of hunger.  We had had reveled in our finite time together, blindly believing it to be a blissful occasion, the prelude to my upcoming departure to Bali. We had spent our time exploring each other’s voice penned on paper producing pages upon pages covered in sloppy handwriting. Inspiration spilled from us with fluidity while scribbling sheets of poetry, random momentary reflections, and insomnia induced concocted narratives we pieced into poetic prose created for each other’s amusement. We delved into the art of painting and composed our own masterpieces of monsters, completed colorful compositions of profiled faces, and added abstract whirlwinds in different contrasting hues upon canvases then plastered the aesthetic mayhem we created on the empty walls of your room. The walls themselves did not even remain unscathed from our artistic debauchery, they still dripped from the gray paint in which we lathered them.

Your sheets where we continued to lay were still stained with the memories we made sitting in silence, focused for hours on end, competing to creatively counter each other’s clever writings and produce pandemonium in our painting. And yet during those quiet intermissions, we were so close in spirit that we could feel the heat emanating from each other, cultivating our inspiration and basking us in its warming radiance. The Egyptian sheets that covered your bed, had swallowed our sweat as our skin slipped against one another, overcome in moments of lustful madness and they held our fears from several of our soirees with insomnia induced psychosis in those hours we spent lost in the chasms of our own minds. And then the last night came before my departure, it became the night you died.

“Love,” I said sweetly. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”

I could feel your body tense, heartbeat quicken and your breathing pick up its pace as you spoke, “I honestly don’t want to think about it, I want to pretend that it never happened. In fact, I don’t ever want to know what actually happened,” Your tone was stern but I could hear it was ridden with fear.

The silence you demanded sliced through me, leaving me alone. Once again you had left me, as the lone architect, surveying the scenery of what had transpired that night as I laid there with you, wrapped in your arms. The narrative replayed relentlessly in my mind.

It was the middle of the night. You stood up, let out a deep, labored breath, then suddenly your body went rigid and you fell backwards onto the couch. I was not prepared, it all happened at such a rapid pace. You had taught me everything I knew about engaging in our habit of synthetically induced sleep and sustenance deprivation which had just caused your collapse. You had always been so steadfast and strong, you were my lighthouse, providing the guidance I needed to  navigate through the waters in which we had been carelessly treading. It was as if the pillars constructing our previously safe holdfast,  had come just come crumbling down.

I have forgiven myself for not being able to immediately process what had transpired before me. I thought you were acting out a cruel joke, and I just stood there and screamed at you to stop. When I realized what I was witnessing was the product of our indulgence, irrationality and irresponsibility that had been dictating our actions, I froze. That I still grapple with allowing myself forgiveness.  I watched your body begin to shake uncontrollably, your limbs were flailing in every direction, your eyes rolled back into your head and foam spilling from your mouth. When your convulsions finally stopped, I was sitting on top of you, having feebly attempted to try and contain your erratic movements. I sat there and stared into your clenched face, into those beautiful vacant green eyes that had always left me entranced but now haunt my waking thoughts and sleeping nightmares. I was silent.

I still wish I had not bite my tongue at the last words you uttered to me seconds before your collapse, “This is a big one, I can’t even see what I am doing.” Those words still make my brittle bones ache with remorse regularly, I continue to be plagued by the frequency with which I replay everything that happened. I should have stopped you in that instant. I should have said something.

Still sitting on top of you, I watched you finally surrender and take what I thought would be your final breath, the last bidding of your ravaged and beaten down body.  I did not call for help even though my phone laid there next to us, instead I started pleading with you to survive and began pounding on your chest and punching your arms. It was a terrifying to see how fast your flushed and beautiful face was completely drained of all its color once you were deprived of oxygen, it was almost instantaneous. And by that point I was certain you were gone.

You laid there, not breathing, unconscious, your eyes were open but rolled off to the side locked in an empty glazed over stare. What continues to frighten me is that I found myself unable to cry while I was overcome with an immense sense of fear. My only response was to begin to beg the cosmos to let you come back. I just sat there, wasting what time you still may have had left, time that could have been spent calling for someone to arrive that had the ability to save you. Then your body shuttered beneath me and somehow mustered the strength to allow your heart to begin to beat once more. You resurfaced from your glimpse down at the endless abyss that waits for us all, gasping desperately for air, in sparse, deep breaths but unable to move. All I had done to resuscitate you was barter with hope and plead with despair for you to return.I found myself flooded with relief, happiness and gratitude as I witnessed you begin to battle and beg for breath. Minutes passed as you laid there gasping for air while I sat silently holding your hand and watched as the green and blue painted across your face began to fade and slowly disappear. You just laid there with fear reflected in your eyes as you tried to communicate with me, but only muddled moans and grunts plagued your speech. You looked like a child having encountered their first fear, and it was the darkness.

While still afflicted with the inability to pronounce any coherent audible words, you regained control of the movement of your limbs. You tried to communicate with me by attempting to write what resulted in incoherent phrases and random babble scratched upon a piece of paper. The words you managed to scribble together were the humorous parts and pieces of phrases that we had engineered and exchanged in witty banter which had brought us so much laughter from earlier that same night. You had reminded me of all the time we had spent frolicking on the sandy shores that stretched before your house, that memory now existed in stark contrast to your current state. I sought refuge there remembering how we had laid in the sand listening to the ocean waves stampeding powerfully toward us, wrapping our own private deserted beach in an wet embrace, then kissing the sand goodbye as the tides pulled the surf back out into the ocean’s seemingly endless expanse, leaving us entranced enough to take time to comment on its epic vastness. We had even scoured the skies searching the blackness for shooting stars passing through the Hawaiian sky. Your feeble attempt to communicate those memories, instilled hope within me that you were not gone and I  remember I managed to muster a subtle chuckle and smiled, only you could find a way to make me laugh despite being faced with the end of yourself.

I suddenly wanted to scream all these enduring details, I needed to fill the void you insisted on permitting to persist to protect yourself from the reality of the possibility that your decisions could have caused your ultimate finality. You would not let me tell you how scared I had been by what had transpired. You would not let me tell you that you had just survived a seizure brought on by a cocaine overdose. You refused to let me explain that you had pressed your body to the brink of its own demise from too many syringe filled doses delivered through too many needle points having pierced into your thirsting veins in too short of a time. You had thought you were invincible while wearing countless needle marks that you had collected on your forearms like a badge of shame, they often reminded me of clusters of constellations caressing the night sky. You do not remember all the work we did systematically rewiring your psyche for those three long hours, all that work piecing your parts  back together like a puzzle that had been damaged during your seizure.

I needed to confront you and repent for all of the decisions I had made the night. I wanted to tell you I would not have let you die, that I would have dialed 911, that those 60 seconds during your dance with the darkness, that the time between your last breath and your own body’s recitation felt like hours, days and years were inching by endlessly while I just sat there. The emptiness reflected in those green eyes of yours, perforated my soul and minced it into almost invisibly small pieces, they remained as a constant punishment for my lack action when you needed me most. All I could do was sit there pleading and begging and bargaining for you to come back to me. I know that I should have spent that time calling an ambulance. I know I should have forced you to go to the doctor immediately following what had just transpired, instead of allowing you to convince me otherwise. I’m sorry that I did not have the courage to collect myself enough to do anything to save you when there was not anyone else around to take on that moral responsibility. It was not the fear of any legal consequence that left me paralyzed, it was staring into the face of what could ultimately be my own fate. I am sorry. I am so sorry. I changed my flight the following morning because I did not want you to be alone after everything you experienced.  Bali could wait, I wanted to make sure you were okay.  But after all of it, you were here, lying in bed next to me, the time surrounding your lapse of life, a non-communicable occurrence that left me devoured and swallowed by its shadow.

“Okay,” I conceded. I was lost in memory of you, green and blue, with foam soaked lips and that lifeless stare of forever’s bleak but absolute surety coming for us all painted across your face, which I know will always be there to haunt me, always to keep my company in my loneliness, chiseled into the annals of my memory.

I turned over and you laid onto your back and stared up at the ceiling, I could tell you were adrift in thought. I wondered how far off you currently were from my stranded state with guilt and fear holding me hostage, confined in a lonely prison cell, encased and slowly suffocating in my own coffin, replaying all those terrifying moments from that night like a relentless highlight reel projecting the past.

I crawled up your side, pulled my arms around your chest and laid my head down to rest so that I could hear the heavy thump of your strong heart. Then I took my hands and encircled the outline of it and let my lips loose several small but deliberate kisses upon each perfectly timed beat, and thought silently to the heavens, ‘thank you.’

We stayed wrapped up in each other for another five minutes or so before we crawled out of bed, both of us physically able to face another day. I cooked you breakfast and you sat on the bench outside on the lanai, watching the sun and swell rise in a deafening silence. I told you I was going to the store, but that was never my intention. It would have come as no surprise to you had you known that I drove out to Keana Point, you knew that I always called it my happy place. There I walked down to the shore break still baffled with my inability to cry as I reflected on the person that I had become. I decided to stay and I skipped rocks for most of that day. I imagined that I was throwing all of those rotten parts of myself away. I watched enthralled in the way they delicately skipped across surface of the water then visualized them sink to the bottom, where I wanted them to settle and remain at rest, anchored to the ocean floor far away from me. I fully intended to leave them there and be strong in my resolve, until I started to feel a painful ache in the places they had occupied, as though each of the pieces I had discarded had already dissolved. I felt their presence as they came roaring back toward me on waves that crashed before my feet on the shore. My soul compelled me to grasp for them in desperation, having regretted my decision to leave them behind and their familiar discomfort I had always used to keep my life in disarray. But they were pushed and pulled at the whim of the tide and slipped through my own pruney fingers, dissipating out into the turquoise water, as if confirming I had finally made a sound decision greater then myself. It was then I was reminded of that leaky sink faucet in your bathroom. It seemed to always hold fluids that dripped so steadily, I pictured that it held all of your own personal pain and discontent in the water that flowed down the drain and into the current of a stream roaring out into that same sea that lay before me. The continued existence of your leak it seemed, would always push the fluid comprising your painful parts into a riptide within that sea, forever pulling you away from the liquid which dissolved those discarded pieces of me. With this sad realization I retreated into my favorite memory, a reoccurring dream that had always made reality seem less ugly, in a picturesque setting where the entire world seemed airbrushed. Surveying that scenery in silence I finally understood, that needless to say, it had been our words that had failed us.

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