Tell me where it hurts, she’d say. Stop howling. Just calm down and show me where.
But some people can’t tell where it hurts. They can’t calm down. They can’t ever stop howling.
Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
A history recounted, of all the people who were not my father. I have forgotten the meaning, the moral of this. I began to write a long time ago. Everything is different now.
Late October. That year, its beauty and its horrors, unfolded in and through and around you, the opening and close, into the shadows where the world inevitably waned, where my thoughts shrouded bodies of the still-dreaming dead. When I found you, I needed so badly to be known. You were old enough to make me feel younger than I should have, and beautiful enough, in countenance, to make me want to love whatever was left of you.
I remember when anxiety was a soporific strangeness, a state of being where your body was not. I remember a cemetery in the morning light. I remember nights when I loved you, and felt it, and showed it, and you slept and I wrote until the stars fell burning from the sky. That is where I still know you, even now. You can find me there, for we will not meet in this life again.
There was never time for us. We knew that. How beautiful and absurd it was to have tried anyways. The world was closing in, and we would never meet or touch again, and I do not know what occurred after that day, when I returned to my work and my words and my solitude, and you to your disease, and I stopped speaking to you, stopped thinking of you, but I will never ask. I do not want to know. Because you looked so beautiful then, so much stronger than before–and for all of my cynicism I felt a kind of hope, the specter of a promise. That is how I want to remember you.
I blame you sometimes, you know. But someone once told me that the irrational is beautiful, and tragedy is nothing more than the collapsing of time. That is all this ever was. We were time caving in on itself: your memory decays, but your grief lives on through my unwilling mind. I am not afraid, I am not afraid. There is so little left to mourn. I grew tired of waiting a long time ago. There are no more goodbyes left to say. We were simply a story, being repeated a hundred, thousand times, everywhere and all at once.
But maybe it is simpler. Maybe I loved you, I loved you entirely, and it hurt to love so careless a thing. I once wrote that I would only remember the best of our strange and shattering days. But maybe, if I am given the strength, I will try to do this one last thing. It will be my final testament: I will be our memory’s keeper. For you, my love, I will remember it all.
My body is a vehicle for a mind that lost its meaning. The people who compel me to love as I have loved, as I loved last year, pass through my shortened life seldom if at all. How strange, how sad, how hollow it seems, that I may never know that feeling again. Is it truly better to have loved in the first place? Where I used to paint crimson pictures on a canvas-wrist, pouring shadows all across the cold tiles, I am now nothing but bare surface, a half-starved carcass, the echo of what has been done to me.
When I am free at last, it will be cold. I will not understand. Will you be there with me in the darkness? Will you tell me when it’s time? I am afraid that this is what I have become, shattering slowly beneath a self-induced lobotomy, a silence louder than marathon bombs. Sometimes, I still cry out into the shadows, but only when I am sure that there is no one left to hear me.
And what does it matter? At this point, I only ever hoped to still be alive. So all things considered, I am doing all right.