My Hidden Lives // Prose

165. about why I won’t need patterns to remember him by



The sea, the sea. Go to your old mistress, I thought, immerse your body in the salt water to say goodbye, yourself for the last time. Go to the sea and jump in head first as you’ve always done. Then rise out of eternity, let the salt dry in the sun and be done.

The ancient wounds will wither like flowers, peel off and fall with the sun-burnt flakes, you’ll begin to see you’re not too far gone for fresh skin to form over your bones, for thighs and arms to transform into agents of flight once more, for sores and aches to be dulled in time with a single breaststroke.

But the waves I’d imagined would wash the excess away were not the blue and emerald of the Mediterranean. Queerer still, the black tresses I awoke to find had spilled across my pillow, were the eternity I’d been looking for to assure me that everything will go. Nestling into the salty memory of another day, I let my dream of becoming new slowly fade away. I decided to let the old scabs stay.

The sky, the sky. Scars of white clouds and airplane tracks lit up by the sun, with its help, I hoped my own pain would seem as majestic, as innocent. I wanted to learn weightlessness and the art of evaporation from those who do it best, to be able to always change with the seasons, to remain inconsistent in my form and structure, because it so often comes to be that bodies are inflexible and when you bend them the wrong way – even with the best of intentions – they break.

Then I stepped out into the open air, white crumpled sheets in heaven above and me, standing beneath all this imperfection – even more crumpled, still more imperfect.

And yet: grinning, still smiling, more at ease than in the rooms I had designed so carefully, adorned with bits and pieces of the lives I’d lived (the good ones). It was strange to think that all the pathways and patterns had lead me there, staring at a single, torn-up piece of cotton wool blocking the sun, and instead of what I thought I should do – soar upwards with my birds and join the clouds – I much preferred to stay with both feet firmly on the ground and be a spectator.

Because my little cloud was lonely and whimsical in the baby-blue vastness of the morning sky, because it reminded me of the time I was afraid to be alone that had long since passed, but most of all, because it bore the imprint of a birthmark I once found hiding on his lower back then trailed kisses along his spine up to the neck – I could swear those love-lines shone with a light that was all their own.

Back then, I looked him in the eyes and teased him. I wouldn’t tease him today, I’d only look up and say –

„Hey! You’re keeping a cloud safe for the sky until next summer. Careful not to rub it away when you try to rinse the salt off.“

The night, the night. In the crook of a forgotten cove, we watched the stars tumble to the Earth as we used to sometimes, weary and drunk, down to the curbs of the streets. No one collected us in their pockets, though, no one cared enough to wish on us or wish us well – so we did the best we could ourselves.

All the most important constellations were there with me that night, not above but by my side. The falling stars were caught in the webs between his muscles and if I had a wish within me then, I can’t remember it now.

Maybe the fault lies with the years that have gone by, maybe the mythologies I was once so fond of. I struggle still to tell the difference between who he was and who I’ve made him out to be because of a childish desire I once had to sleep in the sea and kiss the sun on its back. In the end, I am well aware these patterns were probably imaginary. His hair never resembled a wave, his spine a shining airplane trail. His body was freckled, but it was far from an astronomy map.

It was only a dream to assuage the passage of time – that life can move forward in an orderly fashion like the earth, that we can swap bodies come a different season, that pain comes for a reason we cannot readily recognize and all that seems wasteful or sad is but a natural side effect clearing room for something bigger that is yet to come.

But I needn’t have gone through all this trouble. Even without the metaphors, without my silly and awkward embellishments, without simile and comparison, the truth would’ve remained as unchanged as it will always be.

For a short while awhile, he’d made me happy.


You think, therefore you are.

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