When we awoke again it was spring and the sun’s light was just barely beginning to break through your blinds, the bands of light bending in and caressing us in a tender warmth. It is with the strength still radiating from that warmth that I write to you in hopes of melting away the bitter chill emanating from the depths of your glacial state of being.
Your arms were cinched around my waist, our torsos tightly pressed against each other and our legs a tangled mess from the countless hours we had spent asleep. I knew by the unsteady pace of your breath that you were awake. To break the silence I spoke in a gentle softness that slipped through the air like the breeze blowing outside of your window,
“Hello darling.” You could hear the smile crack across my face through my chapped lips, broken and dry from dehydration.
“Hello,” you mustered languidly in response.
“What shall we do today love?” I said while exhaling the last bit of my lingering exhaustion in a heavy heap, as though I was finally rested from the long night, day, and night once more I spent asleep in your arms.
“I suppose we should shift our focus to foraging for food rather than continuing to habitually hibernate for another day,” you replied with a smirk slapped across your face, amused and satisfied by the rhythmic fluidity of your response.
“I am famished!” tumbled out of my mouth desperately. Yet I was met with no reply.
Instead, there we continued to lay, soaking in the silence. We were both wasting away from the several nights we had enthusiastically foregone our primal urge for sleep and ignored the pangs prompted by the forgotten feeling of hunger. We had reveled in our finite time playing together, the prelude to my upcoming departure to Bali. Do you remember all of the time we spent exploring each other’s voice penned on paper producing pages upon pages covered in sloppy handwriting? Can you recall the inspiration spilled from us with fluidity while scribbling sheets of poetry, random momentary reflections, and insomnia induced concocted narratives we pieced into what we perceived to be exquisite poetic prose created for each other’s amusement? When I walk along the shoreline I am haunted by the scent of the Egyptian sheets that covered your bed, how they had swallowed our sweat as our skin slipped against one another, overcome in moments of lustful madness and then in the darkness they had sheltered us from fear with several of our soirees with insomnia induced psychosis in those hours we spent lost in the chasms of our own minds. And then the last night came before my departure, and I wish for my memory to dissolve into the hollow space that separates then from now.
“Love,” I said sweetly. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”
I could feel your body tense, heartbeat quicken and your breathing pick up its pace as you spoke, “I honestly don’t want to think about it, I want to pretend that it never happened. In fact, I don’t ever want to know what actually happened.” Your tone was stern but ridden with fear.
The silence you demanded sliced through me, even your body was rejecting the mere mention of what happened, leaving me alone, the narrative of which replays relentlessly in my mind.
It was the middle of the night. You stood up, let out a deep, labored breath, then suddenly your body went rigid and you fell backwards onto the couch. I was not prepared, it all happened at such a rapid pace.
I have forgiven myself for not being able to immediately process what had transpired before me. I thought you were acting out a cruel joke, and I just stood there and screamed at you to stop. When I realized what I was witnessing was the product of our indulgence and irresponsibility that had been dictating our actions, I froze. I have not yet found a way to forgive myself for that. I watched your body begin to shake uncontrollably, your limbs flailing, your eyes rolled back into your head and foam was spilling from your mouth. When your convulsions finally stopped, I was sitting on top of you, trying to make your body stop shaking. I sat there and stared into your clenched face, into your beautiful vacant green eyes. I was silent.
I still wish I had not bit my tongue at the last words you uttered to me seconds before your collapse, “This is a big one, I can’t even see what I am doing.” Those words still sting my heart and make my brittle bones ache with remorse. I should have stopped you in that instant. I should have said something. Anything.
I watched you finally surrender and take what I thought at the time would be your final breath. I did not call for help even though my phone laid there next to us, instead I started pleading with you to survive and began pounding on your chest and punching your arms. How fast it was that your flushed and beautiful face was completely drained of its color once you were deprived of oxygen. I was certain you were gone.
You laid there, not breathing, unconscious, your eyes were open but now rolled off to the side, locked in an empty stare. In that moment I knew the person I had become, all the hideousness that had been festering inside me for years. Putting your life in my hands finally confirmed my ugliness as a human being, there were no more facades, my fake innate goodness absent when you needed me most. And with that realization my only response was to begin to beg the cosmos to let you come back. I was wasting what time you still may have had left, time that could have been spent calling for someone to arrive that had the ability to save you because I knew that I could not.
I tell myself that your humanity must have been the good to my evil, because suddenly your body shuddered beneath me and your heart beat once more. You resurfaced from your glimpse down at the endless abyss that waits for us all, gasping for air, in sparse, deep breaths but unable to move. All I had done to resuscitate you was barter with hope and plead with despair for you to return. I found myself flooded with a selfish form of gratitude as I witnessed you begin to battle and beg for breath. Minutes passed as you laid there gasping for air while I sat silently holding your hand and watching as the green and blue painted across your face began to fade and slowly disappear. You looked like a child having encountered their first fear, and for you it was the darkness. You still do not realize that part of the darkness you fear is actually me.
I suddenly wanted to scream all these enduring details, I needed to fill the void you insisted on permitting to persist to protect yourself from the reality of the possibility that your decisions could have caused your ultimate finality. Your memory of the night is completely void. You would not let me tell you how scared I had been by what had transpired. You would not let me tell you that you had just survived a seizure brought on by a cocaine overdose. You refused to let me explain that you had pressed your body to the brink of its own demise from too many syringe filled doses delivered through too many needle points having pierced into your thirsting veins in too short of a time. You had thought you were invincible while wearing those countless needle marks that you had collected on your forearms like a badge of shame. You do not remember how I refused to let you fall asleep while we tirelessly began piecing your parts back together like a puzzle, your speech, your movements, your cognition, all that had been affected during your seizure.
I needed to confront you and repent for all of the decisions I had made the night. I wanted to tell you I would not have let you die, that I would have dialed 911, that those 60 seconds during your dance with the darkness, that the time between your last breath and your own body’s recitation felt like hours, days and years were inching by endlessly while I just sat there. The emptiness reflected in those green eyes of yours remain as a constant punishment for my lack action when you needed me most. All I could do was sit there pleading and begging and bargaining for you to come back to me. I know that I should have spent that time calling an ambulance. I know I should have forced you to go to the doctor immediately following what had just transpired, instead of allowing you to convince me otherwise because of your own fear for what had just happened. I’m sorry that I did not have the courage to collect myself enough to do anything to save you when there was not anyone else around to take on that moral responsibility. It was not the fear of any legal consequence that left me paralyzed, it was staring into the face of what could ultimately be my own fate and an innate evilness that must consume me. I am sorry. I am so, so sorry. I changed my flight to Bali the following morning because I did not want you to be alone for the next few days after everything you experienced. But after all of it, you were here, lying in bed next to me, the time surrounding your lapse of life, a non-communicable occurrence that left me swallowed by its looming shadow.
“Okay,” I had conceded. I was lost in memory of you, green and blue, with foam soaked lips and that lifeless stare of forever’s bleak but absolute surety coming for us all painted across your face, which I know will always be there to haunt me, always to keep me company in my loneliness, chiseled into the annals of my memory as a reminder of how I had failed you that night.
I turned over and you laid onto your back and stared up at the ceiling, I could tell you were adrift in thought. I wondered how far off you currently were from my stranded state in my mind, guilt and fear holding me hostage, confined in a lonely prison cell, encased and slowly suffocating in my own coffin, replaying all those terrifying moments from that night like a relentless highlight reel projecting the past.
I crawled up your side, pulled my arms around your chest and laid my head down to rest so that I could hear the heavy thump of your strong heart. Then I took my hands and encircled the outline of it and let my lips loose several small but deliberate kisses upon each perfectly timed beat, and thought silently to the cosmos, ‘thank you.’
We remained silent for another five minutes or so before we crawled out of bed, both of us physically able to face another day. I cooked you breakfast and you sat on the bench outside on the lanai, watching the sun and swell rise in a powerful silence. I told you I was going to the store, but that was never my intention. It would have come as no surprise to you had you known that I drove out to Keana Point, you knew that I always called it my happy place. There I walked down to the shore break still baffled with by inability to act and reflected on the person that I had become in the moment you needed me most. I decided to stay on shore and I skipped rocks for most of that day. I imagined that I was throwing all of those rotten parts of myself that had failed you away. I watched enthralled in the way they delicately skipped across surface of the water then visualized them sink to the bottom, where I wanted them to settle and remain at rest, anchored to the ocean floor far away from me, but I felt their presence as they came roaring back toward me on waves that crashed before my feet. My wretched soul compelled me to grasp for them in desperation, having regretted my decision to leave them behind and their familiar discomfort I had always used to keep my life in continuous disarray. But they were pushed and pulled at the whim of the tide and slipped through my fingers, dissipating out into the turquoise water, as if confirming that after everything that had transpired, by letting go of them, I had finally made a sound decision to be a better version of myself and perhaps I could be saved. It was then I was reminded of that leaky sink faucet in your bathroom. It seemed to always hold fluids that dripped so steadily, I pictured that it held all of your own personal pain and discontent in the water that flowed down the drain and into the current of a stream roaring out into that same sea that lay before me. The continued existence of your leak it seemed, would always push the goodness of the fluid comprising your painful parts into a riptide within that sea, forever pulling you away from the ugliness of the liquid holding those similar discarded pieces of me.
With this realization my love, I retreated into my favorite memory, a reoccurring dream that had always made reality seem less ugly, in a picturesque setting where the entire world seemed airbrushed. Surveying that scenery in silence I finally understood, that needless to say, it had been our words that had failed us.