I remember the silence, most of all. Its oppressive weight breathing down my neck, the want for words suffocating me. I searched, picked my own pockets, sifted through my brain. Nothing.
I awakened and life was still there, passing before me, with me watching from the outside.
Where do I enter?
Life encapsulates the space me, but Death lurks in the shadows below.
In bubblegum pink Nurse entered, hair haloed by piercing, bright lights.
My arms were weak and stiff, but she placed her there anyway, the weight of air and the world placed with her. My eyes begged Nurse not to go, but she left anyway.
The door closed softly behind, its finality echoing in the aching muscle yearning to escape the cage of my chest.
The swiftness of its drumbeat felt fatal.
An announcement? A death knell?
Panic beset me.
Her eyes captured mine.
Beautiful. Adjective. Pleasing the mind or the senses aesthetically. Her.
Deep bittersweet chocolate, earth-brown pools, glittering as the apex of twilight and as deep.
In her orbs a reflection–not quite human or whole with hollow cheeks, scared eyes, pupils blown in unmasked fear.
She moves, not away, but closer. The warmth of her is the sun, painful but necessary. What to do with my hands?
They cradle the cloud-soft skin on their own accord, the fragments of my brain insisting yes. You made this.
Searching the place where I might find my soul I come up empty.
Wherever the souls reside mine is lost.
Paradise was lost, too.
In the sweet powder and pale pink lotion softness of her smell, the diaphanous frailty of her innocence–the smile that breaks through the seeming permanent fog–it is regained.
I turn and she is there. My mother is there.
“Now what?” Breaking the silence the air rushes in.
My breath. Held again.
Oh yes. It is Winter. Under this weight, the weight of “what now” there is the Other: the sound of the place where the soul should be, where the mind waits defenseless cracking for want of Spring, collapsing under the pressure of a too-long Winter.
“What do I do now?” She smiles, that patronizing knowing smile that one day I too will have.
It says–do what is natural.
What if it’s wrong?
It’s always wrong. Do it anyway.
When we take Her home my eyes are trained only on Her. I do not observe a single leaf, I do not search longingly and with heavy anguish the budding promise of life and Spring, the escape from the suffocating blanket that is Winter.
The world before exists no longer. In my memory it is smaller.
I do not miss it.
Six Winters have passed.
According to her, I take her happiness.
She was right. My mother was right. I am wrong. Fear settled in long ago, an extension of the new title.
I am fractured. Flawed beyond comprehension. Beautifully damned even.
And more complete than I ever was.
“You take my happiness.” Her six-year-old words. My voice. Long ago, I’m certain, my words.
If ever there was a soul, a frail piece of essence belonging to me–she has it.
It is hers.
I’m doing it.
Sandwiches. Doctors. Kissing broken pieces. Hiding truth. Not playing enough.
I’m doing it.
I do it anyway.