There they are again, my tears, because what you say resonates so much, touches my heart in a way you’ll never know but probably understand without me saying anything. I just don’t have the words to express myself to you, admits the writer, the one whose love flows right into another poem to hold onto them, my feelings for you out of control. Before you I never believed in that bond I feel whenever you send a picture or a line. But your timing is so impeccable, throws me off balance for you always seem to know when to say what I need to hear or when something preoccupies my mind.
And then last night
they all crushed down on me
forced me on my knees
shook me deep
and left me curled up like a ball
lying weeping on the floor
my heart ripped out
my gut wide open
gaping like a wound
“Is that a hickey you are covering or why are you wearing a scarf,” she asks, unaware of the wound she rips open by asking her question, the inner turmoil I’ve been trying so hard to keep to myself.
“Of course,” I say with a forced little smile, images of my dreams still vivid to me as her curiosity darkens my mind, leaving yet another scar from missing you so badly day and night.
“I won’t mention her to you,” he said, “I promise.” The smile he gave me genuine. He was convinced I was the lucky one for he was interested in me. After all, hadn’t I been the loyal friend to lure him into bed? The fact that he had just left his wife and now asked to move in with me a form of flattery for him, a sign of devotion not shared by me.
For anyone who knew Elsie, the story I’m about to tell won’t come as a surprise. Elsie was hands-on, her clothes often covered in mud, her behavior boisterous at times. In her family, she was the quiet one, for everyone else, she was rather peculiar with a sense of humor bordering the crude. With a heart too sensitive for the outside world, she kept her feelings hidden behind a facade of I-don’t-care, her emotions aggressive whenever she feared someone threatened to expose her inner world.
Her stories always rather gory, her friends were used to hearing fables of lost limbs, wives celebrating their husbands’ deaths and infected dog bites. They didn’t flinch at pet names such as Ebola or Plague and had learned to laugh off her regular slurs. So one day, when Elsie started to tell one of her stories in a voice bubbling with suppressed rage, no one questioned the name she used to describe a beloved family member and that, in return, said a lot about Elsie’s friends themselves.
“Didn’t I tell you,” Elsie asked half annoyed. “She’s finally dead. I can’t believe how long it took her to finally call it quits.”
“Come again,” he says, his eyes unfocused like his mind.
“Do you want Karen for the early shift or Thomas,” I fight hard not to sound annoyed for this is the third time I ask.
“What day are we talking about again?”
I breathe in deeply, faking a smile. “Monday,” I reply in a voice that surprises me myself. How on earth did I just manage to stay so friendly?
“Ah yes,” he shrugs. “I don’t know. Who else do we have?”
“Two shifts, two colleagues available,” I moan. Now there it is, my impatience in full bloom and I know my Medici glare is not far away.
“Right,” he agrees, his eyes squinted as if he’s trying hard to focus. Concentration it couldn’t be, because after 90 minutes into our meeting I know for certain he has none whatsoever, especially not today.
“I don’t know,” my friend shrugs. She’s a fresh 22 and looks at life with much more cynicism than I did when I was her age. “I don’t see Catherine with any man. Somehow no one seems to fit her strength.”
I look at her for a moment, then nod, “I think I know what you mean.” And yet it feels strange to hear myself saying that, especially since my friend only recently told me how much I remind her of Catherine on occasion. So what does that say about me?
“She’s so self-sufficient,” my friend continues. “It feels odd to suddenly see her so vulnerable, so needy.”
“She isn’t needy,” I protest before I realize my friend has struck a chord. “She just wants to be loved.”
“Yes, maybe.” A laugh.
“And she deserves to be loved,” I argue with someone who I know is too young to understand the pain that lies in the realization that, by the end of the day, love is as rare a find as luck.