There is a nice apartment over the bakery. It is inviting, relaxing, with an air of elegance and sophistication. It’s where he first opened the door for her, and she touched his face with new love on her fingers and let warmth spread throughout her body.
The whiteness of the kitchen’s walls holds a painting of a dark blue river running wild over black rocks. She thinks of it as her stop-start anxiety, and she smiles. She knows there is a fist-sized hole behind. She think of it as him.
One night, when it was raining lightly outside, she leaned out of the window to wave him goodbye when a hot wind whipped across her arms. It was still summer. He was the kind of man who made her think. He made her think that she was happy. Thinking about it now feels to her like looking over a fence at someone else’s summer.
When she lifted her head up all she saw was snowflakes, so she went back to bed, gently took his hand and showed him to the window. His eyes went straight to her dark coffee eyes. The music faded to a background noise and life stopped and stood still for a while.
Then the blood in her veins went crazy and it started raining.
She loved the adrenaline rush. The girl with vanilla personality and purple prose was dying. There was somebody else fighting to live inside her, who wanted winter over summer, then summer again. Everything and all at once packed up in a big snowball rolled down a hill, faster and faster with every breath she took. Maybe it was the courage coming from the new-found happiness, asking life for more lemons. Maybe it was the frightening something in still life: the smell of death, a familiar sight, nothingness, or maybe everything, because both look just the same. They look like the ending.
He left in a hurry, because the way she used to feel about things was over. He felt tired; tired of living, because life gets tiring sometimes. Simplicity complicated overnight, so he had to move on from the things that weighed him down. The rain washed over him as he walked away. ‘Maybe she likes the rain, because it washed the forever away from her skin and she never liked tattoos anyway,’ he thought. But she closed the windows to the rain; the house was turning cold.
They’d been shipwrecked there for a long time. They deconstructed life and made a mess, so it was hard to leave. But now it was hard to start building again.
She liked her first great escape. She knew where she was. It was an indefinite moment in time, one that doesn’t get mentioned in stories because it doesn’t exist. Stories have no time for praising the rebels unless it leads to taming them. She was in between stories, jumping from one building to the next, making self-love happen in a heart that always had to refill from elsewhere. She could see the light, and was scared to take her eyes from it again. She wanted better. She could have lived with worse too. Anything, but something more, or less than the flat line.
After a while, she wanted back to their old life. She wanted back, because back felt nice and it smelled like home, and because she had figured things out. “Some people are made of light. Some are made of darkness. What am I made of? Most of the time it feels like I’m made of past,” she wrote somewhere. Then she ran around her past in circles, struggling to keep her distance, until part of her collapsed. It didn’t feel right. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Her breakaway wasn’t the answer, because the answer felt wrong. Trying to divide times proved to be like drawing chalk marks on water. Life felt liked a burden, but all the months she had spent separating winter from summer and high school from love next to him, putting them on different hangers to create more space suddenly became just as useless. Burdens, she realised, be them him or her earlier days weren’t the reason why she didn’t feel alive.
‘You know what alive feels like?’ she asked him over the phone one month later, when she finally dared to call him.
He shook his head, but didn’t say anything.
‘It feels like now,’ she said, and he could hear a smile in her voice.
It was like a lasso.