It was summer when, night after night, we fell asleep with fast hearts and hurried dreams of sunlight, fresh air, and new adventures. You kneading my spine and pulsing through my veins, me telling myself that happiness never hurt anyone and, if worst came to worst, misery is always refundable.
Seconds turned into days and memories in the making as I was holding your hand, growing luckier day by day. One morning you said you’d never seen a spark before, that most people don’t sparkle. I knew I was light years away from what you saw in me, but your eyes were so used to the dark that even a little light like mine could blind them.
Like dust particles exposed for twenty seconds by summer sunshine before moving back into the shade, happiness lasted until the end of August. Then you held me an extra second, enough to let me know that it all meant something to you too.
Then it was winter. Coffee cups, train stations and flowers in all hands celebrating lovers’ day. Everything that was once so familiar had vanished into thin air. There was a ghost town in my head and millions of explosions at the edge of my skin. I caught glimpses of them when the nights grew cold and I couldn’t sleep, so l started telling myself real stories about the girl who once lived inside my body.
This new heart could not be mine. It beat too slowly, like flickers of memory of what was once young and alive and was now somewhere else. Somewhere with warmth and the hope that one day it might become the sparkle an old lover had thought it could be. They simply called it winter. I called it the winter of my heart, when my soul grew icicles from my discontent, when the power of my body went off, and when the rain came down for days. And then days diffused into months.
I leaned back and waited for the winter to push silently into spring once again. I wanted my aliveness back more than I could say, so I kept silent and let it find me again. I watched others from behind tea cups and listened to their stories as if peering over the fence at someone else’s summer, trying to catch a ray. They were no different from me, I thought, having seen enough.
Once their stories inevitably drifted towards the loved and lost, they quickly started to squeeze the loneliness out of their skin with shaky fingers. No one believed they were desirable when they were missing other people, but they were all missing other people. I would have loved to press fast forward and skim over everything, because sometimes I couldn’t take seeing myself in everyone else.
But I stayed and waited and listened, and I learned about how these things go—for all of us—and, in the process, I missed a little less and wanted a little more. Until, one day, the spark returned.