Theory 13

It smells of summer. It smells of death and chaos and an infinity of unknowns. Of loss and burden and shame. The warm sun and budding trees foreshadow devastation and darkness. I cannot escape a scent. The summery perfume of his death is pervasive. It seeps in my windows and hides around every unopened door.

And the cascade of anniversaries. I sit, celebrating his birthday, looking at pictures of his warm body and dark head of hair. What has he become? Into what ashes has his beating heart dissolved? I remember. I remember your birthday and how you felt under my hand. I am the record keeper, the scribe with no authority. He was born, 29 years ago, yesterday. He died last year, and yesterday. And every night in the crush of my desperate dreams he dies, only after he chases and suffocates me. This bed is still not my own, and in every detail I cannot escape what my life has become. “I used to” is my response. How common a thing, how ignorable. I used to have a laptop case, I used to have a place to store my bike, I used to have a beach towel and a couch and a kitchen counter and space and light and the ability to cope without the exhaustive energy I put out to just get through the goddamn day.

I am not myself, or I am myself on hold, I am stagnant. I fear what was easy, I hold too much to myself. I used to think of the infinity of possibilities, of the chance for change and now I see death and despair around every corner. We are not safe. We are not immune. We ought to count the seconds til the inevitable, til the moment hits you that you are not the select few who make it, unscathed, to the end, to the ashes. Tragedy will strike, and you too will suffocate under loss. Will it be this train car that crashes, this plane that burns, tonight will my ceiling finally cave in on me? I am not who I am, I cannot be one single entity, but that I am all things loosely bound together and collapse is imminent. I am, we are, without control. We hold on to smoke.

 

Theory 4

It’s like a metronome subtly picking up pace. The ticks grow quicker without my noticing, and then – it seems – suddenly my hands are vibrating, rapidly twitching in beat with the thumping of my racing heart. I’m on the corner, a block west of where I had a home, where I woke up and brushed my teeth and sometimes stood quietly in the dark at night and just looked at what I had built, what I loved, where in I welcomed the world. Where I found him. My mind is as still as my heart is quick. The adrenaline empties my mind this time, and I can’t focus on what is in front of me- even though I am watching my hands thinking… damn, that’s weird, why am I shaking? And in that hour-long second my mind is empty of everything but one thought: that I MUST help him. That he is there, that he cannot breathe, he can’t breathe, he cannot, why aren’t you helping him, you can’t just sit here and do nothing while he dies he’s dying he’s dying he’s dying and I’m just sitting here, I’m just…

and then the light changes, the little man blinks on and I cross the street, and I take a deep breath and I try to see where I am- ok, he is already dead, that’s a hardware store, I am safe, that’s the grocery store, I cannot help him, there’s a stop sign, he’s already dead. He’s already dead. He’s not fucking breathing and he stopped breathing a long time ago. Huh. A long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away – where time sits still, perching itself on the door frame- the door frame, the last thing I saw before time paused and a vacuum opened up and everything was sucked in and his incredibly strong body is there, but really, really cold.

And now somehow I can see my breath when I walk to the train in the  morning and all the leaves are this strange incongruent yellow and auburn, which makes no sense because when did I leave the summer? The heat made sense. It makes sense that my body should be uncomfortable, that just the thought of walking should arouse sweat and stickiness. Now that the days are beautiful and cool, I feel all twisted inside. A knotted tree trunk. I ache on his behalf, listing to the side as the wind blows, full of memories. I grow around his life, I consume it. Who else will know him?

I can’t even finish that thought. I’m like a spilled jar of marbles, each one holding within it a unique thought of him. I hate him, I miss him, people must know about him, I’m so ashamed, I’m scared of my dreams, I’m suddenly sickeningly aware of how fragile everything is… it goes on. But see, I get it out. I walk past the street corner, I touch my living friends, who take me out to dinner, despite my momentary panic attacks on the street corners. It feels good to hug my friend after dinner. He is so warm, his big, beautiful, beating heart sets mine on pace again.