Day 17

I watched the sunlight sneak around the blinds and slowly creep along the white walls beside the window. We always smiled at the way the light casts long shadows from our picture frames, like they were slowly waving at us before we woke enough to speak a word to each other. But this morning, just as the light touched a picture of us, my heart dropped.

It was you and me at your cousin’s wedding. We were “big cheesing,” as you called it, and you were holding me—exactly how you had me all night. My hands were in yours as we greeted your extended family or your hands were around my neck as we danced to every pop hit, throwback, and guilty pleasure they played. The smiles were real and the picture was no lie—it was bliss captured in one moment.

It was the future I saw because it made sense. It was your family, with me, and our happiness… I thought you framed it to remember that… to know it would happen. And now I don’t know what more you could have wanted.

I shouldn’t have watched the sun through the blinds, knowing where it shines, but I’m not sure what else to do. I don’t sleep and there’s not much else in the apartment to look at anymore. I should take the picture down. I’ll do that later today.

My days have felt fake recently, like I’m living the life of someone more dramatic than myself. I drag my feet to work and zone out in front of the computer. It’s not like me to realize I haven’t eaten anything… oh, well, it’s 3PM. Yeah, it’s not like me to realize I haven’t eaten anything at 3PM.

I don’t care what plans I am, or more recently, am not invited to. There are either fewer happy hours in our friend group these days or I’m just not included in them. But I get it. I’m not happy for many of my hours, sharing friends is complicated, and I’d rather not bring everyone down anyway.

I’ve avoided my phone recently, which I guess is good. There’s a sting when I look and see no notifications—not that I’m hoping to have one from you—that’d probably make me throw up. Instead, I’ve been looking around more.

Today, I noticed the full moon start to rise as I left work. I don’t know what it is about daytime moons, but they remind me of the summer from when I was little. There was no school, no work, no stress, and no plans. I was living for the day and to start anew tomorrow. I wished for a day like that.

When I get home I sit and tell myself I’m going to read or apply for jobs, but I don’t have the effort for either. Instead, I throw on a useless show meant for someone utterly addicted to television and allow my brain to rot. We used to call this place a home and now it feels like a cemetery for my former life.

I shower around 9PM, thank god, and I remember I told myself I’d take that picture down. When I walk into our room I hold the frame for a minute and wonder what thought it was behind your smile that would have you leave me like you did. I place it on the floor of the linen closet and climb into bed, anticipating the thoughts that will surround me as I try to sleep tonight.

I know I’m not okay, but I’m better than I was yesterday. Every day is easier than the last, until one day really screws with me, but I’m generally getting better. I wonder how you’re doing all the time. I shouldn’t, because of the circumstances, but I know it can’t be easy for you, even if you’re pretending to be fine.

We loved each other, and fought, and made up, and loved more. With every high was a low I knew we’d get through together, but now that we’re alone, I just want the best for you. There were secrets in our lives only we knew, and no, that shouldn’t keep people together, but that’s still sacred to me.

I’ll admit I still love you because our memories are hardest to let go of… and I’ll admit I don’t want to let go of them either—I just want them to be older memories that I can admire from afar. You were my person for so long that I forgot what it’s like to be my own and re-learning that is why I struggle.

As I lay, I look around and realize you’re not in this room anymore. I think I feel a little less haunted because of it. The moonlight is creeping across the now vacant wall we occupied like a paintbrush over canvas and I wonder if tomorrow will be good or bad to me. Just as I wish for the good, my world is swallowed by dreams of the summer and full moons rising before nightfall. I dream of your face, smiling, and suddenly, of nothing at all.

Silence

Ambient sound is so loud. Wherever I went in college I was followed by this unplaceable, yet greatly present something. From the clap of excitement the moment my parents’ car door opened on move-in day freshman year, to our collective roar during the cap toss at commencement, there was no moment I stopped to recognize silence. For other reasons, it continued for years after college as well.

I had fun, and there were times I was stopped in my tracks during those four years, but it was never in a way that made me rethink silence. Even on nights I’d stay in and watch my apartment door close to muffled laughs as my friends left for the bar, there was some kind of noise. Maybe it was a pregame continuing next door, students outside speaking low, or even the building humming, I had noise all around me.

It might be something only I think about, but when I was a kid I remember jumping in the pool and hearing distorted sound waves through the water. It was new, and foreign, and something about it was attractive. I’d swim from pool-end to pool-end listening to the low frequencies and wondering what caused them. To hear a jumbled flush and recognize it was someone jumping in… it was like learning another language.

I wasn’t obsessed, but I enjoyed the newness of it. I’d be happily reminded of its existence when I unintentionally submerged both ears under the showerhead – reminding me of warmer, care-free times, but nothing… nothing prepared me to the moment it all went noiseless.

It lasted for maybe two seconds, but after countless years of noise, the moment you made my world quiet was unforgettable. This was the first moment of silence I’ve felt in… I can’t tell you how long.

The earth stood still, but the memory is combined with this image of you in my head. You were invincible—bounding in front strangers and coming to a stop in front of me, beaming. I blame my tired efforts to make you find me in a crowd, and yet, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I, stupid me, was iffy about the date and you hushed hundreds of people for two full seconds. The silence you fostered became my new language.

And now that moment plays on repeat – the whole night, actually. I can’t explain why. Maybe it was the confidence you had to take my hand at the bar, or arm in the street, but it warmed me in a neglected spot. The sound was there when it happened, but thinking back, it’s just me looking at you. Your fingers bound in mine, or the tightness between us as we walked on that cold night.

It was all silent, roaring in color.