Silently;

You had gone in the middle of the night. The blankets on your side of the bed laid crumpled on the floor like the shedding of a snake. Your big camper bag was gone from the shoulders of the wooden chair.

The once feisty room now seemed empty and cold.

Ah, you had left a note on the bed. Your handwriting was so horrible it looks as if

“A flamingo tried to write, right?”

A laugh escaped from my chest and I remembered the way you covered your face with your palm in a pretense of embarrassment.

Thank you, the note said.

Were you truly thankful to have left me in this mess? With no direction, no map, this hollow emptiness and this pain… this, this heart-wrenching ache.

I ripped the note into pieces and wiped the tears from my cheeks.

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Fallen.

You

took it all away. One moment you’re sweet as honey, the next you’re as cold as ice.
What! The edge of anger in your striking blue eyes shatters my armor, it’s
a war-hammer
that slams into the walls of my heart.

Slowly, then all of a sudden.

Life brushes past me, its serene existence sending ripples through the air. A light breeze, smelling vaguely of leaves, caresses my cheek, and the rugged surface of the park bench presses into the back of thighs. Slowly, I stand. Strange. A quietness fills my mind as I watch the scene before me.

I start thinking about what I did today, what I ate for breakfast, what I said to Mom before I left the house. What I didn’t do in the past month. My gaze focuses upon a couple, their bodies leaning upon one another’s, their fingers entwined. A smile creeps across my lips as she leans in for a kiss and his ears turn bright red. Cute. He runs his fingers through her shoulder-length light brown hair, the way you used to do it. He pulls her towards him before planting the kiss softly against her lips. Confusion bombards me momentarily as memories start trickling into my head in a steady stream. His silhouette uncannily resembles yours, with broad shoulders and a slight lean towards the right. The way you placed your elbow slightly behind your back. How you liked to wear white, light shirts on a sunny day, and the way your biceps bulged slightly from your sleeves.

“Hey, been waiting long?”

I tear my eyes away and look over my shoulder. A young man places his arm around my back and guides me to the park bench. Apparently I seemed to have wandered quite a distance away from it. The leaves of an old oak tree rustle overhead, and I remember, for a moment, of a special summer. But it slips away from me and I feel the odd texture of the bench pressing into the back of my thighs once again.

“Taking a stroll?” The young man sighs and wipes my forehead with a damp towel. He has light brown hair that curls slightly upwards, and deep, dark eyes that look strangely familiar. I like the way his skin glows in the midday sun and strangely, I feel secure. Something I hadn’t felt in months.

I stare at him for the longest time and he fidgets a little uncomfortably under my gaze.

“Is this a staring competition?” He asks, his eyes glimmering with amusement as he laughs and places his hand over mine.

I am reminded of a time long ago. Of myself before a coffee maker, and of an older version of the young man standing behind me. He calls out my name and I turn, smiling. He gives me that same look with his eyes, and I am filled with a sense of belonging and warmth.

But all too soon, it starts to blur and fade. Afraid and confused, I clutch the young man’s hand tightly as if I am hanging on the edge of a cliff and holding on for my dear life. He strokes the the back of my hand with soft, rhythmic strokes and I am reassured by his warm smile and gentle touch.

“I’ll be right here.” He pats my back in small, smooth strokes with his other hand, and I feel my breath deepen and fall into harmony with the rustling leaves. I hear a ringtone, and he puts his hand into his pocket and retrieves his mobile. He gives me a “wait a moment” gesture and I nod quickly. Parts of his conversation slip through and it vaguely registers in my head.

“Yeah, it’s getting worse… Mistook… think she’s forgetting more…Yes, dementia.”

Dementia. That word rings in my head as I stare absently ahead.

The sky burns a deep, orange-red, and the clouds look like puffs of red explosions, like they did during The War. Birdsong entwines with the sound of soft rustling leaves. A sense of urgency and fear engulfs me and I remember.

“Jack! Where are you?”

“Right here Mom.” The man beside me clutches my hand tightly.

“Thank goodness. Where’s your Daddy?”

Silence fills the air as that moment of clarity drifts further away.

“I love you Mom.”

 

—-

[timed writing!]

Facade.

“Heyy!”

That’s how it always starts. Always, with her shrill, overly cheerful greeting that is two octaves higher than it really should be. I feel the usual throb in my ear and wince as I prepare for the next torrent of soprano pitched, glass shattering how-have-you-been-s.

“I’ve been great! Just a little busy here and there, you know,” I reply with a forced smile. A little vagueness helps from time to time I suppose. It helps when I’m trying to protect the last shred of privacy I have left over my life. My eyes unconsciously follow the diamond-studded silver ring on her finger–her left ring finger. She flicks her shiny, ebony hair and it swishes as it sweeps just past her shoulder in perfect, soft waves.

“I’ve been great too! Did you know that recently John and Emma have gotten engaged? And there’s Trix and Hodgson….” She talks animatedly with her thousand-volt smile. Her voice unintentionally trails off into the back of my mind, where it becomes a constant hum, like the hum a refrigerator gives off in the middle of the night.

“…Jane?”

A deep, gentle baritone snaps me back to reality. My hazel eyes lift and meet his striking blue orbs. An all too familiar magnetism traps me. I feel the empty plastic cup I’ve forgotten about slip from my fingers. It hits the ground with a muted thud.

“Whoops.” He bends down and picks up the cup in one smooth, fluid motion.

My head yells in panic as the thud resounds in my heart. The wall of my defences cracks like glass. It grows and spreads like an ugly web and it branches out like a dead, withered tree. I manage a small “Thank you” as I try to breathe normally. Slow inhales and exhales. Now it’s his turn to start with the how-have-you-beens.

I repeat my answer, but he is a natural-born vagueness detector. He gives me that look with an arch of his eyebrow. I feel my breath hitch and for half a second I am overwhelmed, compelled to let him in, to drown in his warmth. He always gave me that look whenever I was keeping something from him. I always gave in.

“Congratulations,” I find myself saying as I smile and hold my arms out. He gives me a puzzled hug and she follows suit. “I’m so happy for you guys!” I pat them both softly on the back and try to fight the whoosh of sadness that brushes past me.

Berserk.

Hey
You call out to me, pleading with your green orbs that I was once so enthralled by. You smile, confident that I’ll be okay. That it’ll be okay.

We play pretend like nothing ever happened, like so many times before.

It’s enough, stop it. Fxxk off

Suddenly, my name sounds like a rat in the sewers. Dirty and disgusting. I don’t know what I feel, what I should feel. Is it anger? It’s a murky river. Rain starts falling and I watch as it drenches everything–

There’s a roaring fire, magnificent as it shines red yellow orange

tears brim at the edges of my eyes and I watch it destroy you with its destructive lick
in my mind.

18 years.

                 Destroying me. 

That’s what you do best. One look through your straight lashes and I’m down on the floor.

You would tell me what I couldn’t do, how futile my efforts were. Your hits were always hard across my cheek, the shackles tight around my ankles. But

guess what? There’s a fifty in the ashtray

for your car that I’m driving down the highway.

Dedicated Poem//