There is a nice apartment above the bakery. It is inviting, relaxing, with an air of elegance and sophistication. It’s where he first said those magic words to her, and she first 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, covering a fist-sized hole. She thinks of it as her life flowing, fighting, freezing and unfreezing. As for the hole, she thinks of it as him, then thinks of it no more.
At night, she still wakes up with cold hands and feet, and pillows piled up high under her head. Joy springs out of her like loud screams, keeping her awake. Happiness is the only thing unhappiness comes out of, once consumed; and she had so much it. No wonder it’s overflowing now.
She looks for the little warmth left inside. Summer was hot and hazy and breathtaking, and she forgot to save some for the upcoming winter. But summer is always infinite while it lasts. No one thinks of when the bright reds will turn into dark shades of autumn. She still sleeps in the position of a question mark. The answer is still him, every time.
During the day, she locks herself inside. There’s a mountain of her knocking at the door, but her place is already full of things that came wrapped up in fresh and exciting only to add up to the enormous pile of things she now can’t get rid of. She doesn’t want any new versions of anything. After a while, she takes immobility and calls it maturity.
I know it won’t be long until the girl with vanilla personality and purple prose dies again. I’ve watched it happen so many times. I laugh to myself, remembering her first great escape. 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. It was a glorious scene.
Eventually, she will open the door. She will still be afraid of the new, but not more than she will be afraid of the stillness. It just takes some time to tip the balance in life’s favour again.
“Now,” she says, “get me out of my head. It’s much too quiet in here.”
“Fine,” I whisper. “Where to?”
I know the answer before she does, for I know the things she misses. It’s the things that make her come alive. I’ve been watching her all night, taming feelings inside wine glasses, hoping for stormy weather.
“You know what,” she laughs, “I’ll go anywhere with you.”
“You couldn’t get away if you tried,” I tell her. “I’m so glad you stopped trying.”
She nods. Behind her, I can see the flowers she keeps on the light wooden window frame, next to a couple of empty glasses and a money box half empty. Or is it half full?
“A long time ago,” she says.
Outside it’s still raining lightly. It hasn’t stopped in a long time, as if the skies knew this would be the appropriate weather for a while. He left in a hurry, because the way he used to feel about things was over. They’d been shipwrecked there for a long time, but one day the music faded to a background noise and she could finally hear him. It hasn’t stopped since she leaned out the window and watched him walk to his car.
But her comfort zone looks warm and welcoming, with too many candles burning all over the places, but she’s not one to be lectured these days. She lifts her head up again, and looks back in the mirror. Her dark coffee eyes are still alive with lust for life. Dear her.
“How about tomorrow, and tonight we plan it?”
“Got anything in mind?”
I know that, just like in the morning she believes in the day in front of her, at night she believes in better days. I’m not going to try to fight her on it. She needs to imagine a future that she can get excited about, and I know exactly what she gets excited about. It’s playtime.
“Tomorrow I disappear,” she confesses, and I know it’s because tonight has been too heavy.
“Oh? Are we running from anyone?”
“Not running from, running to,” she says, I know what she has in mind, but yet I ask her –
“Tell me everything, I’ll start drawing. In the morning, we’ll breathe new life into them.”
She laughs and doesn’t say anything, but she thinks of trains and smiles and sunsets, and holding hands with beautiful strangers who remind her that sadness is overrated.
“I just want to explore the lengths to which life can take me. After, I can move slow and calm again, like floating across heavens and night skies. You haven’t lived until you’ve lived like that, don’t you agree?” she asks in a gentle voice.
She thinks of playgrounds and rooftops and flying over clouds and cities at sunrise with an energy nobody could tame.
“You have lived like that,” I remind her.
She thinks of soft winds and late night drives, with her arm dangling out the window and my favourite songs on the radio, staying up past midnight with a cigarette in her mouth and watching old films, riding her bicycle across cities, being on fire.
“I need another chance to live like that, then. Like a second right to be born into this world and maybe get it right. I’ll keep taking them, again and again, because I don’t see what else is there to do with this soul surplus I have.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Not now, self. Not now.”
She moves one hand slowly around her neck, and wipes the steam off the mirror with the other. I believe we’re done here.