I sat up in my bed with nothing around me but the memories of last night. My mind felt blank as my room, the only accessories the clothes that have been seeking refuge on my floor for weeks.
I could hear the movement of another body in my house, the space was small. I could hear the movement of bare feet slowly dragging around the carpet in the spare-room and finally slapping onto the dirty white of the hallway. I imagined the pink feet turning red with each failed movement. You tried so hard not to wake me up. But every morning I would sit up in bed like this while you moved around my house. My mop of brown hair getting more and more tangled as I moved the back of my head in small circles across the material covering the headrest. You would clean up the evenings mess, even if there was nothing to clean. And I would sit up in bed pretending to be asleep. It was a sort of ritual we shared without ever realising it. The silence of the house carved this into our minds like so many stamps on a letter. It stuck to us with intent and meaning.
You had been living with me for a few weeks now. You showed up seeking safety, I asked you to stay for my own. The truth is, I had never felt more comfortable. I now sit back wondering what life was like before you moved in, even though it was no more than a month or so ago. I could not remember if I was scared of the space between the kitchen and the hallway. But the moment you showed up I realised this was the lonely spot in my house. And now I needed the slaps of your feet and the heavy breathing of your body to fill that void.
It scared me whenever I thought of this. How quickly we are to recognize a missing spot in a picture the moment we add a new face or movement.
It petrified me to believe that I was ever that lonely. In my mind there was never just me. I never got up alone in this house, eating my breakfast cereal as the morning news ran on repeat. There was only now. There was always another person ready to listen. You belonged at my kitchen table sipping beer, reading a book I would eventually tease you for picking up.
It took me no more than a few days to beg you to stay. But you told me that this was not possible. That you had places to go. You had the money and the time. I could not imagine having to be alone again. The honesty in each of your words, never belittling me.
Gently letting me down from an ideal I had carved into my own body. I scar on the body was no more than a memory with a house. And then you explained to me that memories are not to be held onto, that they were supposed to be used to create the outlines of the future. The words caught me off guard and I stumbled across each verb and noun like a drunkard.
But eventually I realized that you meant not to hurt or betray me. You only gave me what you had to give.
And I made peace with not ever having all of you, I knew after all that I would forever have a part of you, a small bit that no one else could ever have. And I figured that made it all better. That small space was better than all of you. It meant that the part of you I got to keep was more mine than anyone else would ever have. The small part I owned meant no one would ever fully have you, unless I agreed. And I knew that you had a part of me as well.
I finally got out of bed and walked into the kitchen to find you had gone. A note carefully pinned onto my refrigerator told me that much. The fridge was humming as if nothing had happened and I kicked it for its inconsideration.
I tried so hard to remember the night before you told me you would leave. I begged to have one more cup of coffee with you. One more silent debate while the sirens on an ambulance cried into the distance of our town. But you were packed and ready to go. I knew you would return months later. I knew this because you promised me. And I could feel the honesty in you promise as much as i felt the loneliness in your absence, but who was to say that I would not be in bed again. How many lives would you have come across while I was sitting at home waiting. How many beds and blankets would touch your body. You would not care. You’ve never been one for details. Much like the first painting you bought me, the first of many, it was simple and with no finer details other than the artist name. And you loved it more than me. Months from now did not feel real enough. I made songs and letters of silence to fill the time between day and night. I plastered the walls in my hall and my kitchen with pictures from magazines, photos of strangers I took on the bus, pieces of clippings about deaths in different countries, lines of poetry that read nothing more than absence of the heart to fill the walk between the different rooms of my house.
I walked back to my bed, the front door stood open as I had walked outside to see if maybe you had decided not to go. I wanted to believe that you were sitting in your car waiting for me to run out and stop you. But I saw only tracks on the gravel and the house across the road within which the old lady with the 3 cats lived.
I lay my head back onto the yellow pillows I had picked when I was new at playing house, and I sank into the deepest pool of myself I could find. And I waited.