eventually, everything resurfaces
I am interested in longing,
in longing so deep it threatens to splinter a person apart
— Rachel Yoder
A few hours later.
It takes some time to convince him that I was more or less stable now and would not collapse before anyone else's welcoming feet again. Or any kind of motor engine, for that matter, If I ever decided to head outside for a whiff of some rather questionable fresh air. Safe to say, it takes me at least an hour and a lot of heavy, pressuring stares before he lets me out of his sight. Not that I could blame him. Even though that kind of hovering attitude; irritated me worse than a nasty, itchy rash. Heating my skin more than a steamy and passionate rendezvous session with a poison ivy bush would.
But still, I get it.
For some reason, he cared, and I was grateful for it. Even if I sucked at showing it. There were times when I thought of myself as an Italian matron, expressing my care and concern by bringing food. It was the best way I knew how - a small smile creeps to my lips but is quickly replaced by a deep, ulgly scowl. At that simple task of showing affection, I was more or less decent. But as the mental state goes, and communication skills when it comes to any type of feelings... Well, let's face it. In that area, I was a shipwreck. Though even I had my moments sometimes.
I think quietly, shifting between people, corridors, and eventually, the seemingly endless flights of stairs. I head to the roof, sneaking outside before anyone could notice or protest against it. Blocking the heavy door with a piece of a cardboard box, so I would not get shut out, leaving my sorry ass to potential hyperthermia and a not-so-pleasant ice statue effect. With some hesitation, I inhale deeper and then exhale very slowly. Releasing the tension in my chest a bit, letting the lungs take in as much oxygen as they wanted. Mmm, even though the air was freezing, it felt good as it expanded under the ribs, scratching almost painfully from the inside but making me feel just a little bit more human.
I close my eyes and hold back on any unwanted thoughts and feelings that could slip into the cracks, rocking the already unsteady foundation. The only thing that I do, let in, are my senses as I concentrate on all the seemingly insignificant things in between. On how the wind moves against my skin and fingers, as my hands open wide, my head lifted back, eyes closed. Or on how each sound vibrates in my eardrums and under the muscles. The street traffic blending into an unknown melody that somehow soothes my mind. With time I relax slightly, allowing myself to be in the here and now, but eventually, some time later, he finds me.
I'm not even that surprised. Somehow, he always found me, sensing when my mood would drop or when my thoughts were further away from him, from everything. Maybe he felt the notions that I had been ignoring so well. Never truly realizing how the things inside of me changed after taking out that ring a few weeks ago, that still meant so much to me. The simple silver one, forever painted in daisies and bruised time. Blurring out the longing for someone that once felt like home against the rubble and dust of the world that left her colder, quieter, somewhat defeated.
With growing tissue around the parts that she managed to stitch the best way, she knew how. Healing slowly, but with visible nylon, threads sticking out of her, reminding her how rushed she acted. Not caring about much more than to stop the open wounds from gushing deep crimson. Not taking all the time that she should have to peace herself back in the right way. Her tapestry, consisting of glue, cotton patches, and torn pieces of grey scotch tape.
Temporary solutions for the wounded ones.
Struggling, I move away slightly from the past and slowly retreat to reality, suddenly feeling very tired. I have been very moody because that little thing pressed deep into one of my drawers, hidden under the layers of the surface life. The returning memories, hitting at me, taunting my mind. And what happened today did not help my case either. Too many waves, pulling me down at once. At times I could resist my past, but my past could not do the same. And the only reason why I haven't noticed it until now was because there were so many things to handle first, ripping me constantly in all directions. And above all, ladies and gentlemen, I was a good runner, fleeing away from my problems smoothly, on instinct, not letting any more pain in.
But somehow, it regularly found its way back to me, just like he did.
I look down at the contents lightly nestled into my hand as he asks, surprised. Staring at me as if holding a pack of cigarettes was worse than what I did before. Like I should be feeling more sinful from this than actually from killing someone. From taking a life that was not mine. Yes, as if nicotine and yellow-stained fingers were my biggest problem now. Oh, how silly seemed the sins in his mind in comparison with mine. I think but then shake my head. But how could he know or even suspect my real atrocities? The filth that lingered under my fingernails, forever stained in gone powder. It wasn't his fault that I did not have enough of a backbone to let him in completely and tell him all that sit rotting inside of my darker, infected parts. I stare back and shrug my shoulders, feeling the crisp air slip past my wrists and under the sleeves of the leather jacket. It takes a lot of energy not to shrink from the chill, staying calm and poised. Yet despite it, my body remains motionless.
I watch his eyebrows furrow slowly.
Then why are you...
Holding it helps me calm down.
I don't think I follow.
You could say it's a souvenir.
Alright, you have to give me more than that.
I gaze at him for a moment, and then the words just flow out, spilling smoothly as if water over pebbles in a rushing stream.
It was my fiance's. He died, nothing more to say.
He's taken aback by my answer, his eyes growing wider as he takes an unconscious step back, probably not even realizing it. I inhale the cold air and then slowly let it out again. Letting another sharp, heavy stone fall out of my lungs. I almost hear it hitting the pavement beneath my feet with a low sound, and then I straighten my back, something both loosening and deflating in my core. Well, eventually, he would have found out anyway. So why prolong it? I gaze up at him, parts of me quietly surrendering. I was just too tired to keep up with all the secrets. I had too many of them as it was.
The way he says my name sounds more like a question than anything else. It makes me uneasy. I never liked any form of pity, and the worst kind of pity was hearing the sharpest words in the world covered in silk. I'm sorry for your loss. The only time I would let people do that to me was on the day of the funeral. And only then. And today was definitely not such a day. I cut him off abruptly before he can say anything else.
No, stop. It doesn't matter anymore. I moved on. So let's just drop it, alright? No need to dig into the past. Nothing good ever comes from it.
I step further away from him and go to the edge of the roof, knowing how bitter my voice sounded but not really caring. I look inside the paper box and stare at the three lonely cigarettes and a simple red plastic lighter. I pull it out and play with it for a moment, then sigh and hide it, putting the packet back inside my jacket. I cross my arms and lean against a low brick wall, separating me from the empty space in front of me and the twenty floors below my feet. The wind, blowing the hair around my face as I watch the stars gradually set into the deep blue ink, pink and maroon-colored sky. Wondering how much longer I would have to go through this mess. Was there even any way out? Or was it just a case of waiting for the grave end?
After a while, I turn around and see that he must have left some time ago, letting me with this moment and the memories. He left me in peace when I needed it the most. It was one of the things about him that I could easily fall in love with if there was anything in my to still love. I had doubts about that because all there seemed to be left was just a block of ice that grew bigger with every day. Thick, almost unbreakable, and wrapped around in silence. Coated over a heart that had been bruised one too many times and lost a will to feel certain empty notions. It was beating, of course, feeling, existing. Caring. Caring so much. But was that enough to feel, everything?
I walk down the staircase on stiff legs, feeling a chill in the bones. The cold banister only intensifying the sensation, causing my teeth to ring loudly against each other, the late-night and the lack of sleep taking a haul on me. Though what I was about to just do, made me feel even colder. But it was needed. I open the inside door and walk into the hallway of the building. I know Charlie's shift isn’t over yet, so I look for him without rush, eyes scanning the place, face crinkled from too many thoughts. I can feel stress and exhaustion tugging at me, the world around gently buzzing, lights a bit too bright, and noises unpleasantly heightened, my head starting to pound mercilessly. But it was nothing, just a sad, depressing part of my life now. Humans are a specific kind of creatures; they adept even to the worst things. Even though it made my skin crawl to think that I was now used to the pain. To this form of insanity. An overstretched material no longer serving its purpose.
I finally find him at the main desk, filling some patient's paperwork and setting the medication dosages. A faint smile stretches my lips; I guess I learned a stuff or two while coexisting in his complicated, medical world. And if I ever went back to stealing morphine, I would be much better at it than just a month ago. He looks up at me, distracted, and sees the barely visible smile on my face, but he’s not fooled by it.
Nora, what’s wrong?
He notices me shiver.
God, have you been up there all that time? I thought you would go to the library or to some argument session with Morgan. Not that you would actually stay on the roof. Are you insane?
Yes, in all ways. I feel like answering but then shrug, not being able to focus entirely on his words.
I need to talk to you.
Of course, yes. But only if you go to the cafeteria and get yourself something hot to drink and eat. I will meet you there, but I have some things still that need to be done.
My arms cross, and I take a demonstrative walk to the wending machine, pull out a few coins from my back pocket so he can see, and get a paper cup of tea, steam rising from it as I sit on a chair nearby.
I’m good. And can wait here for you.
Was the show necessary, Eleonore?
If it made you say my full name twice in one day, then yes.
I take small sips of the hot over-sugared liquid, never taking my stare off him. He looks like he has to deal with a spoiled five-year-old, and he’s not that far off, to be honest. But he doesn’t understand what’s going on with me and how fragile I have become. I don’t want to be far away from him, in case I might break again. I have been feeling weaker since we met. Better, more peaceful, energized at first but now more like on pain killers that worked too well. Addicting, blurring my senses, and with a hard crash, if I didn’t take the right dosage on time. Just like when I was taking drugs, better for a while, and then even worse than before. Constantly craving more. Just to stop the pain, the thoughts, the voices.
He made my life bearable, with an illusion of normality, but there was an enormous price that came with it. A falling apart car could only run so long, no matter what kind of miracles the mechanic could perform.
Don’t make me sit there alone, Charlie. Please? I would rather be here to know when you’re done.
He stares at me for a while, his expression slowly changing. It’s worried again. I tense, trying to swallow the big lump in my throat, tears starting to form unexpectedly. I take a bigger sip of tea and gaze at the cup with an empty stare, not wanting to feel anymore. He walks over until he reaches me and then crouches beside me, touching the wrists gently, the warmth filling my skin, circling in the veins, and reaching my tired mind. My eyes start to sting again, but I compose myself at the last moment.
What’s going on, Nora?
His sigh is heavy and tickles my skin.
Is it because of that seizure you had in front of doctor Sorentine?
No. Well, in a way.
He nods a few times.
I'm getting closer then. And is it also about what you told me on the roof? And the lighter that you hold on to so tightly?
Finally, I make myself look up at him and then nod, almost unnoticeably; not sure what would happen to my emotions if I tried to speak right now.
Alright. As soon as I finish up with my things, we will go to the cafeteria together and talk
about whatever you want to, deal?
I feel like a little kid again and groan, waving my hands dismissively in the air.
Yes. Now get up from your feet. You’re making a spectacle of yourself.
I watch as his face loosens the deep frown and spreads into an almost normal smile.
Why? Are you feeling embarrassed by it?
No, I wouldn’t want any of the nurses here to think you are proposing to me and then beat me up in some dark alley behind the dumpster. I hear such acts of violence are common in hospitals. Especially with attractive male nurses inhabiting the area.
He laughs out, shaking his head, and then with a bit lighter step, he heads back to his responsibilities. I watch as he disappears and then walk up to the reception, tapping on the counter until I get some proper attention. A middle-aged woman with glasses and a strong presence about her looks up and gives me an all-knowing look.
I need a cigarette, really bad.
You don't smoke.
She states with authority.
No, but you do, and I am more than aware of that secret stash that you keep away from your husband. Twenty cigarettes a week, like clockwork.
You’re too observant for someone that always looks out of place, my dear.
It helps me get by and stops the wolves from eating me alive. Come on, I know you have a coffee break soon, and I'm really desperate for some nicotine.
I send her a long look, grabbing her stare, knowing that she will understand.
I need to prepare for a battle.
She sizes me up for a moment and taps against a plastic pad three times.
Fine, but next time don’t be blabbering on, letting other people know about my place behind the dumpster. Especially, mister sweeter than sugar and more bothersome than all saints behind the holy gate discussing bloody politics.
I chuckle loudly, and it makes my insides unwind until the weight on my chest gets smaller. I truly loved that woman; she could always pick me up from the gutter of my existence. And that spoke volumes.
That’s a promise.
https://theprose.com/post/230936/with-all-my-senses ( the beginning )
Previous chapters :