He remembered how fragile her bare shoulders felt inside his grasp. The only time he could see how vulnerable she was, was when her shoulders trembled within his hands. They were so soft and tender, and it somehow always reminded him of the time he held his baby sister for the first time in the hospital. It was the scariest thing he’d ever done, being responsible for a new life. But at the same time, there was this ever encompassing love that he could feel filling up his insides. It was the same when she would lie in his arms, and it was frightening and warm all at the same time.
She woke up to an empty room. There was nothing there, except the bed she had spent the last night in. It probably couldn’t be called a bed to be honest. Just a rug and some pillows. She had to move out, and everything else was gone, sold or packed up at the new apartment. She couldn’t afford living in a house, and she honestly didn’t want to. Her dad was the one paying for everything, and after his death everything sort of fell apart. Inside and out. As she folded the covers, and put them in a box, she thought of the time she caught him writing a letter on this very rug.
“Who’s it for?” she had asked, maybe with a slight jealousy, and little hope that it’d be for her.
“So it’s not for me then?”
“You’re right here with me, why would I write to you ?”
“ I don’t know. To be poetic ?” she sulked.
She sat beside him, and started tracing the green veins on her hands. As much as he liked seeing her thin finger go up and down the bulges as if they were telling their own story, he knew what this meant. She was a little upset probably, why he wouldn’t tell her.
“It’s just letters to no one in particular. And then maybe to a lot of people. I address them to different names. The first name that comes into my mind, I think of them and make up how they are and write to them. With the forms of communication we have now we usually end up talking about nothing rather than something. With letters you put your thoughts onto paper and each word is filled with emotion. You end up writing things which you didn’t even know you wanted to say. I have a hard time talking to people, and I guess I have a lot to say sometimes. I feel better talking to paper. It’s just something I do I guess.”
She didn’t reply, silence with them was never an issue. They left things unsaid, and sometimes they’d say a lot. It was everything and nothing at all altogether.
When she was done putting the last of her stuff in the box, she left the room and bid farewell.
He lit up his first joint in 3 days. 3 days ago, he heard she’d be leaving. It was 7 am, and he hadn’t slept at all. He looked at the box she left her, but couldn’t get himself to get up and open it. His insides were dying to know what it held but he knew whatever it was it’d destroy him. “Well, what’s love if not devastating and absolutely soul crushing?” He thought he would write but he just sat there. The smoke danced around in front of him and he caught himself humming the song she used to sing.
When she got into the car, she saw her mom already in the front seat, crying. She felt so helpless when she did that. She stared at the rain drops trickling down the glass. She saw some drops stopping mid way, some going forward, some staying still as if waiting for the other to catch up. But life wouldn’t do the same. Her whole world had crashed down but nothing had stopped. Not even for a brief moment. It all felt so harsh. The image of her father’s vacant eyes wouldn’t leave her. He was hanging from the ceiling, wearing her favorite blue tie. She couldn’t help but blame herself for it all. Maybe if she had never been there they’d be living happy and well. The college tuition and her rehab weren’t really helping anyone. Her father had promised her his blue tie when she was three.
“When you grow up and have your very own ice cream company, you’ll wear this to work every day okay?”
And here she was, not even going through college. She had always found how Ray cared for her to be similar to her father. They both believed in her too much. And she always came short. Never rising to their dreams, and living off barely enough. Sometimes she felt like, she couldn’t have dreams of her own, as the weight of theirs was just too much.
It was like she couldn’t get herself to get up and breathe every morning anymore. She couldn’t face herself. Deep inside she knew Ray would never give up on her, but she couldn’t face him anymore. She felt like maybe she’d drive him off the edge too if things went the way they were going. She was a kind of broken he couldn’t fix. Not when he was so burnt himself.
So they decided not to meet again. Not even one last time. She had sent him that box through mail. He finally got up and decided to open it. It was a drab brown box, and there was a note on top.
“All this time you were writing to strangers, but I was writing to you. I started when you first told me that day and I haven’t stopped since. Only now, I can’t get myself to pick up a pen and write to you. There are voices in my head that stop me. Sometimes love just isn’t enough, I guess. It’s been seven years and I’ve kept all of them. I hope you forgive me and yourself. I hope I can too.
Forever in love, Eira.”
She moved away to another city and he stayed by his window wishing for someone to write to.