Friendship Sad Speculative

Today, once again, the table is warmed by the dawning rays of sun. The dips in between each wood grain is still lukewarm, but the sun only grows stronger with each passing minute; underneath the delicate lace of the table runner, the wood is cold there. 

Already, there are two mugs on the table, only one half-full. When lifted, they leave water stains behind them, the wood stained irrevocably. These rings are marked in patterns of duets all around this wooden table, some overlapping like rings, and others just shy of touching. Here, water is endless and infinite, stains marking a path of life like constellations in the night sky; perhaps if you knew the way to tease your future from these stains then there would still be someone sitting next to you. 

Today, once more, you have only the sun as companion. Now, the lace — bought only a while ago, still pristine and unsullied and new enough that it is possible to discern each little scallop — is warm too, and it’s whiteness is unbearable to admire. The half-full mug of already cold tea is picked up, and with all of its stains and tea-stained edges, you set it directly onto the lace. 

It will stain, and it is the only thing that has made you feel remotely close to being alive. 

Today too, your pain will be called grief, and you will be labelled mourning, and everyone will be patient and kind and understanding, and you will detest it. The windows, thrown open to let the dawn air circulate, allows the sun to warm your skin, and you want to peel this clingfilm of sunshine off. 

At the forefront of your mind, you think, it’s too warm today, but it’s the next thought that brings a shock of cold — that someone would follow up with, the sun is good for you. You hear this sentence like an echo of a hundred days distilled into one moment, and the grief rises in your chest so quickly that it is impossible to stop the tears from gathering in your eyes. 

Hastily, you wipe the tears away, and pick up the mug again. The tea is cold, and the lace is stained, and it is still too warm. The only conceivable thing you could do is to think, like you have been doing for a long time already. 

There is only one path your mind takes these days. Today, you let yourself remember. 

You had a friend who once asked, “What is there after love?”, and you could never begin to understand the question. Love for who, or what?, you began to question, but your friend only shook their head and moved onto something else, something mundane, like they had not left you a question you would never be able to forget. 

Now that you have had time to think, perhaps moments like that were all that made up life. Mundane events and happiness, occasionally interspersed by something that shifted your worldview by a few degrees before things returned to normalcy again. Life will continue, like something fundamental within you had not changed, and you had to carry with you the knowledge that everyone around you was so very human, and dreamed so very often. 

This time, your worldview had already been forcibly changed, and yet life had not returned to normal yet. It would not for a long time more, and the pain of losing still feels fresh. Grief, once an entirely foreign emotion, has become a permanent resident in this place you call home. The corners of the house are cold, and the bookshelves collect dust, and can you really call this a home, when half of it is missing? 

Time has not been cruel, and it has still moved, but it does not heal. A few months are not sufficient to forget a lifetime of memories, and sometimes lucidity is the only barrier from believing that your friend still sits by your side, still feels the warmth of the sun and still stains the wood table.

Yet, your friend is already slipping through your cupped hands. How did they like their tea? Did they make the bed after waking? Did they buy this lace table runner, or did you? Silently, assuredly, time laps at your memories and smoothens it out, leaves behind only the tender things for one to hold on to. 

Forgetting is inevitable, even in such a short span of time.

One day, one long, long day later, you will forget your friend’s name. You will forget their smile, and their face, and their every minute expression. Their mannerisms, and their favourite things to eat, and the places they once brought you to. Their humanity will become ashes and only their memory will be left, but even that is not permanent. 

Yet, you are sure of one thing. 

Even as time passes, and you forget names and places and interests, you will always remember that you had a friend, you had several friends, and they will all be remembered in the form of love. You will be able to say, I have loved this person, and they have given me memories

There is no name written on the box of memories you call your heart, but it is inscribed with whispers of love, again and again and even more, until you are sure your core is made of love and it will weather through grief and pain and loss. Time will not heal, but it will soften the blunt edges of grief and loss; there is comfort in knowing there is time before you forget, and relief that eventually, you will forget.

Perhaps, finally, you have found your answer to that question, all that time ago. 

What is there after love?

The wind blows softly, threading air into your hair and tangling already knotted locks. The sun is unbearably bright, unbearably happy, and for the first time in months, this warmth settles deep in your lungs, carrying sparks down your nerves. This heat converges in the centre of your chest, blooming, unfurling, like your own spring has finally arrived after a winter of mourning. 

There are many things after love. 

There is the warm of the sun, steadfast and unchanging and still streaming in through the open windows. There is the gentle breeze lifting your grief away, bringing the smell of flowers and cooking and earth, of humanity. There is the wood grain underneath your fingers, familiar and spelling out home on your fingertips. 

The stains on your wooden table will never be lifted, but you think it is much prettier, much more homelier that way. The water stains that you have must have seen hundreds of times are now marks of your living, that you have lived, and you will continue to live. There is beauty in tracing the new ring on the lace table runner, and knowing that there is life there.

Today, you watch the too-warm rise of the sun, and you move your chair to sit directly underneath its rays.

Today, you will look at your messages again, and try once more at sustaining this feeling of being alive. 

Today, you are still going to grieve, and you will still hurt, but each day it stings a little less, the wounds heal over just a little bit more.

You take the mugs to the sink, and for the first time in many months, wash them immediately. There is always life, after love.

August 07, 2021 03:42

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.