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.