"Are you coming tonight?" Memory asked. An innocent question that signaled an alarm to every cylinder of my brain. My breathing accelerated, I knew what I had to do. A battle between what I wanted and what my brain would allow. I wanted to go out. I wanted to be seen and heard and felt. I wanted to dance and sing on tabletops and be a star but that’s not me. It was never me. It was her.
Everyone wanted to be Memory’s friend and for some reason, I can’t articulate, she wanted to be mine. Before I met her my world was so cold and when I kissed her she became my own personal sun. She lit my world on fire and I threw myself into her flame to keep her warm. If she is the sun then I am the moon bringing light to the darkness.
We met last year at a bar. She sang karaoke and I attempted to become one with the wall but she noticed me. Our own game of hide and seek. I always hid and she always found me. She pulled me into her circus, and oh how I wanted to be her freak. I am an enigma only revealing my shrouds of mystery behind closed doors. And just like the moon, I had a tendency to drive people crazy.
You would think for the amount of money we paid for this hotel room the covers would be soft. Though unlike me most people didn’t stay in bed for the entirety of their vacation. I threw the scratchy tan cover off. My first strike in a war against anxiety.
Just say yes Helena, my brain screamed. You can’t stay in the hotel every night. You can’t keep avoiding this. You have to ask her. My mouth opened and retracted almost instantaneously. A vibration built in my chest threatening to swallow me whole. My fingers pulled at my chocolate-colored hair. A sad attempt at distraction. The derealization of reality.
Memory shifted her weight from one foot to another, waiting on my answer. Had a few seconds passed? or a few minutes? I admired her patience and the way she never pushed me. She was always there offering comfort. Even if I was acting like a melodramatic mental patient, she didn’t seem to mind. We were polar opposites but she was the only person who ever got me. Her head tilted, blocking my mortal enemy, also known as a lightbulb. A dim luminescent light glowed through her perfect jet-black spiral curls, outlining her silhouette.
The first time we went out in public and she grabbed my hand an older Christian lady told us we would burn in hell. I stepped back into the closet. Memory laughed it off and jumped on a float at the Pride parade. I am so afraid that if I don’t go out she will leave me behind. That night I decided I wouldn’t let mental illness win.
I closed my sketchbook and walked to the mirror. My space buns were an adorable mess. I took off my oversized black sweater and threw it into the corner. I couldn’t hide my scars forever. A cheeky smile overtook my face. Why had I spent so much time hating myself? Letting the world tell me who I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to wear. Who I was supposed to love.
Memory’s emerald green eyes softened. “Are you sure?”
No one knew about my battle with a razor blade but her. When she found out she made me promise to never hurt myself again. I kept my promise and she bought me a new sweater so I didn’t have to feel self-conscious about my scars when I went out.
I threw a Xanax into my mouth and took a gulp of soda. “I’m sure.”
I jumped into a puddle destroying a reflection of the moon. “Where are we going?” I asked.
She pointed, “To the moon.”
Memory had always loved the moon and I vowed I would give it to her. No more waiting, or holding back. Tonight I will give her the moon. One stair after another each foot effortlessly flowed in front of the other. The ghosts of everyone who had entered this stairwell flooded my mind. Where did they go? What had they seen and left behind? How many first kisses and last glances had these walls seen? We reached the top and a sign on the door read exit only. If this hotel had a heart would it spill pages of heartbreak on how it too had been abandoned.
My mother left me when I was six and I spent a lot of time loathing women until I discovered I loved them. I loved them in a way society taught me was wrong. I loved their eyes and their smiles and their curves. I loved the way they tell you they aren’t hungry and steal half your food. Magical, mystical creatures.
Memory straightened her pink mini skirt and opened the door leading me to the rooftop access. The wind whispered but I couldn’t discern its secrets and I hoped Memory never figured out mine. I was tired of keeping her a secret. Keeping us a secret. I never knew my father but I would like to think he would have approved of our relationship. Tiny bumps took over my previously smooth twenty-something-year-old skin. My teeth chattered and I regretted my decision to leave my sweater behind. “Aren’t you cold?”
Memory scrunched her nose and put her arm around me. “A hoe never gets cold.” She gently placed her oversized cheetah print purse on the ground. “Help me move this couch closer to the edge.”
We placed our hands behind the moldy maroon couch and pushed our weight into it. It screeched across the pavement without much force. I wondered who had sat on that couch and how it got there. A warm, happy sensation coursed through my veins, slowing my heartbeat down. My anxiety medication had started to kick in.
We stopped a few feet from the edge. Tiny lights that represented people zoomed around town. Humans always had somewhere to go or something to do. Memory pulled out a small black cover I had once seen her use as a cape when she was plastered. She unraveled the cover revealing a small bottle of red wine.
She draped the cover over the couch and grabbed the bottle. “How many people do you think have had sex on this couch?” I broke into a high-pitched laugh at the preposterousness of it all. So many people die never having lived at all and here I was with the girl of my dreams breaking the law and making a memory I knew I would never forget.
We sat on the couch, wrapped in her secret cape drinking wine straight from the bottle. Tonight the world couldn’t touch us, tonight the world was ours. I nestled myself into her arms, taking in her scent. She smelt of hopes and dreams. I grabbed the back of her head pulling her in closer. My lips met hers and somewhere in the middle, we found love. “I love you,” I said.
“I love you too Helena.”
I took a deep breath and tried to form the words. The words I so desperately yearned to ask her. I had tried again and again but tonight I would tell her how I really felt. Everything could go wrong with this one question, but everything could go right.
I pulled a ring out of my pocket but not a normal ring. It wasn't a diamond or sapphire, but a piece of the moon. I placed it in her hand. "How’s forever sound?"
A single tear fell from her left eye as she placed the ring on her engagement finger. “Forever sounds fine.”