The last line we wrote together was utter horseshit but I can’t bring myself to delete it.
The stars shone forth from his eyes like lasers.
I stare at the horizontal blinking line for so long that the screen saver comes on but I still can’t hit the delete button.
Drivel. Meaningless drivel. Worse, I can’t remember how serious it had been, either. Had we known how crap it was and laughed? Had we thought we were challenging Shakespeare and rejoiced? I can’t believe I don’t remember.
18 months and I’d finally been ready to try to write again but now? I’m trying desperately to remember that session but all my useless brain is telling me is that it happened. I know that we sat on our little sofas in the living room as always, typing away on a collaborative document. But I can’t remember anything else about it. I should. I must.
I’ve always had a sense of things. I once saw a boyfriend off at the station, waving until his train pulled out of view and I can remember thinking, “That’s the last time I’ll ever see him.” I mean, he was as empty headed as a particularly dumb jellyfish and my appreciation for his finely sculpted abs could only carry the relationship so far so maybe I can’t claim premonition so much as determination. And there have been times where I’ve gotten it wrong - I had the same clear thought on four different occasions when driving away from my ailing grandmother and was only right the once.
I had no idea that that writing session would be our last.
I leave the computer on my dining room table and go to sit in the position I was in on that day. Maybe this will help summon the memory? It doesn’t so I retrieve the laptop and sit with it the way I would’ve done. I try to remember details so I can conjure his spectre; the position of a coffee cup or quantity of flowers in a vase could be the key ingredient in this spell I’m weaving.
Still nothing so I squint at his spot and am glad that I didn’t replace the sofa last week after all. Battered and bruised, it still bears the indentation on the seat from every time he sat in it; gradually forming an impression that has forever changed the shape of it. I can relate.
Okay. Maybe imagine the clothes he was wearing - blue hoodie? Red jacket? Oh god, I can’t remember that either. Why can’t I remember this?
Can I remember anything? His laugh? His singing? The way he walked? We used to joke about my appalling memory and that all my key memories were stored in his head instead. What the hell am I going to do without access to that?
He would have remembered what I was wearing and what we’d thought about that abysmal line. He would have carved that last time into the walls of his subconscious and he would have been able to pull out the image of me laughing at him or frowning about semicolons or debating the morality of character decisions or whatever the hell we were doing out when the darkness felt like it was crushing him.
It is. It is crushing. It feels raw, sharp, bloodied. My chest is being squeezed by a thousand thoughtless forgettings and my vision is as blurry as my stupid, stupid brain.
My laptop slides off my lap and hits the floor and I follow suit. On my knees with my arms stretched out in front of me - child’s pose I think it’s called in yoga but for me it’s the pose of abasement, of shame. I almost wish someone was here so that I could explain that for all my promises of love, I can’t even remember the last time I saw him. I’m a fraud.
My shoulders curl inward, drawing my arms back towards me as the pain in my gut intensifies and I know that this was a mistake.
I knew that this might hurt but I’ve torn the scab off and there’s nothing underneath but the swirling abyss.
There are so many metaphors for grief and some of them fit, some of them don’t. But this isn’t grief, it’s disgust and shame and regret. And fear. If I’ve lost this, how long before our entire time together is nothing but old diary entries and faded photographs? I should’ve written more fucking diary entries. I should’ve written about his favourite breakfasts (pancakes) and the way he wore his hair (long to disguise the thinning patch on top) and his favourite lines in films (let’s play a game of Fuck Off… you go first).
My throat is treacle and glass: the breaths that pass through it stick and slice.
Our writing wasn’t the biggest part of us but it was shared and it brought us closer. Our novel was crafted in focused writing sessions and on car journeys and in whispers across pillows. We sought to improve each other through questions - what does the character want? Who is the centre of this conversation? What is the cost of using that power? We built on each other’s ideas, creating a narrative that was richer than either of us could create independently. More complex, more precise, more engaging. I rediscovered the things that had drawn me to him all those years before. His sharp intelligence and his keen ear for the absurd. His writing was witty and kind; it bewitched you.
It was him that had suggested the novel to begin with. We’d been hiking and neither the weather nor the scenery were favourable. Together we spun tales of other planets and the creatures that lived upon them to make the experience less miserable. He seemed to get excited without warning - I guess the idea just burst into life all at once for him - and demanded that we write our ideas down when we returned to civilisation. His grin was infectious and he lifted me with glee when I agreed. Despite my protestations and squirming, in that moment, I was overwhelmed with how much I loved him. He seemed to glow and when I looked into his eyes, I noticed the shards of green speckled in on the background of blue.
Oh wow. His eyes. I can remember his eyes. And I remember the way he looked at me. Okay. Okay. Maybe I haven’t lost everything yet. But how long will that last? How long will I remember details and moments?
Trying to continue our writing was a mistake. I’m not ready. Maybe one day but definitely not yet. But I’m going to write today and tomorrow. I’m going to write and it’s not going to have a clear structure or a discernible plot. I don’t even give a fuck if the grammar is right. I’m going to write down every moment I can remember because otherwise, they’ll all disappear and then what am I left with? Just a black hole in my heart where someone important used to be? No. He deserves more.
I’m going to start with that bullshit sentence, too. I’m going to start with the forgetting to remind myself that the stakes are high on this one. It’ll sit on the front page with nothing else around it and every time I look at the document, I’ll remember how much I loved him.
No excuses, just begin.
I miss you.
The stars shone forth from his eyes like lasers.