I wanted to go all out on it. She was coming for a month and I knew somewhere inside myself, that this was our last together. Complaining about how shitty life can be sometimes, I should also respect the fact that it’s always been courteous enough to inform me when the train is on it’s way to lay me out. I catch it all the time- for not moving out of the way. In the end I guess, there’s nobody to blame, but myself.
I’d rented a beach house on the coast of southern Thailand. Away from everything and everyone. It was a selfish surprise. I know. She’d been tired from the flight, but I didn’t care. It was 4 months of agony. When we’re away from each other, it felt like a band aide was slowly being pulled off. You know the feeling. When it takes everything you have to keep it inside; swelling with a pain that holsters the throat. I mean, she doesn’t know it, but I’d hope you might.
What happened on the beach is between us. So, I’m not going to go through every detail. Was it good? Yeah. It was good. The rest of the month moved in the same way, but faster, at a train’s pace. And we moved overnight to Chaing Mai and I lost my phone in a motorbike we’d rented. We saw Thailand on that bike. She was goofy, wrapped arms around me on the back. We hiked a mountain barefoot and lived together for the first time. We ate powdered peanut butter from the jar, danced in the bedroom, and I watched her watch herself in the mirror while she blow dried her hair. Some days we woke up late. Others, I got up early for work. We fought, once or twice, but I kissed her when ever I could. Our relationship was dying. Maybe I was the only one who knew it. A month of hospice while she’d forgotten the names of nurses, while she said “I love you” the way she always said it and I sat there bedside like a prayer, giving to her every comfort that I had.
There are things that go unsaid; inside ourselves to others, and then from others to ourselves. I guess I should say that I’m happy she’s following her heart. To an extent, me thinking of her truly happy, does make me happy. There’s actually a scene from a dream I use to have that explain’s it best:
She’s in field in the African savannah. If I am there, it’s only to watch. She’s alone, standing on the bed of a pick-up, picking mangos in the afternoon sun. Placing them one by one into a wicker basket, I sit in a lawn chair with thoughts that seem to escape me. Maybe listening to a song in my mind that plays on repeat. And from where I am on the dirt road, looking up at her, I can see every aspect of her beauty. She, like a dangling fruit with dew on the rind, rocks in the summer wind. When I explained the scene to her later, she asks:
“Were you there?”
“Not quiet. I was, but I wasn’t.” I said.
“And the mangos…I just had a thought. There was something in the way you held them.”
“Yeah” She said. “Probably because they’re so yummy!”
There are things that go unsaid. And when we hid from the apartment lobby, we sobbed in the stairwell, while a taxi waited outside, trying to find the words that could close the door we’d opened. Tears cut valleys into my cheeks as we tried to shed ourselves back together. Kissing eyes, tasting the salt from an ocean that’s now become the distance between us. Maybe it isn’t words. Maybe it’s a ‘you had to be there moment’, but though unsaid, we both knew it was the end. For me it was real. Even if it wasn’t. Even if I was living in a lie. In my own version of love.
“I imagine when you bit into them” I said.
“they were ripe and juicy.”
Looking up from my chest, she smiled at the thought. What ever I was saying. I had to carry on. I had to keep that image of her…only if for a moment more.
“and I was feeling lazy while I watched you; sitting in my lawn chair, like I should of come over, but I didn’t want to ruin it. Maybe I was real? I thought to myself.”
“And in that moment, everything hit me at once: you weren’t collecting mangos.”
She was listening intently, still smiling, but her eyebrow lowered a bit.
“They were merely a coincidence at the end of your reach. To you, they were anomalies; strangers in your hands, a beautiful casualty of something more. Dying, you cradled them in the way that you embrace me. And by a simple death, and though sincerely sorry for what you’d done, it wasn’t for them you were celebrating. No instead it was the sun you were reaching for. And when I knew it, when it hit me, I said it, with the utter imperfection of words, in a voice pushed down by the ocean tides between us, and I said to you in a whisper; ‘reach into it, and if you pick a mango, then pick one for me.’
I’m not sure whether you heard me. Still to this day, I’m not sure if you heard me, but absorbed in the simplicity of the act, you just kept on picking. And I watched until my eyes grew heavy. Until the wind blew your dress around and shadows twirled like curtains on my eyes. And the last thing I remember was the glistening sun and the way you wore your smile…and that’s the last thing I remember, before I woke up.”