I could never find a proper way to say this, even as the tears keep coming and I lie awake in bed.
You betrayed me, and I thought we were going to have a life together.
After a while, I throw off my bedspread and move out the door into the dome-like sky. The sky was always so beautiful back in the regular lands; here it feels fake. Everything feels fake, feels almost surreal, like at any moment now, I would wake up and find your honey blonde hair tickling me in the face, ready to wake me up.
It’s too late to make amends now. You and I both know; wherever you went from me.
But it never was a dream; every sleepless night I would throw off the fake sheets and stare up at the dome, the clear glass displaying my perfect reflection of tangled brown curls and oversized nose.
Your head was always up there in the clouds, stuffed with all the lies you used to tell me; fantasies I couldn’t yield to believing.
I never wanted to leave; it kind of just happened.
Tell that to your mother, father, family. Don’t talk about it with me.
I dug my finger into the soil below me, patting down the fresh Earth to plant another seed. “How about mint?” I asked myself, pulling a seed from my pocket.
Peppermint. Always loved your peppermint; and the garden.
For however long that I’d been here, the plants always greeted me, from seedlings to growing plants to ones that bore the perfect fruit. They changed, unlike my clean-shaven face and slim stature, the unnecessary need to eat. How long has it really been Karina? How long has it been?
Day after day, I am the one who feeds the kids, draw back the blinds to find the birds chirping, and yet I can’t find happiness. It’s been long enough for me to lose hope, short enough for me to linger on.
There are no animals where I am now like there used to be. Only a field of daisies and a stretch of soil lasting for miles. At the end of the daisy field, there is a barn, just like the one back home, and then there is the sleeping room. There isn’t anyone here; except the comfort of silence, and sometimes not even silence is around to be with me. And then, all that is left of the noise is a steady stream of pumped in air, slowly filling the dimmed waste of space.
Why do I still wait for you to come home at 5 o'clock, sitting on our dining table watching the driveway, waiting for a car to come home? I know I shouldn’t blame it on you, but how can I not blame it on the man who was supposed to come home and eat dinner with his family, but never came?
I found out I was dead a long time after I had wound up in the fake room. Now that I’m reflecting, I’m mildly amused that I didn’t realize this before.
We never did find your body. All we knew was that you had been in an accident. Not a car accident. Just, ‘an accident’. We didn’t figure out who or what did it, but you were gone for good by then.
When I had first arrived, I thought I was alive. Maybe it was just my own poor vision, but after falling for what had seemed like two hours, I landed on the bed. My research office wasn’t on a mountain, but on a tiny sector in a bustling city. Three hours from Normandy exit trains, an hour from Lakeside shores where the roar of the cars couldn’t silence the sea, even during heavy traffic days.
We used to travel to Lakeside, rent a cabin down there for a day or two. The kids loved Lakeside.
Wishes on stars; also including the fake ones attached to the dome doesn’t come true. Nights went by when I prayed to go back; the first few days banging the metal cups on the dresser against the dome. After what I thought was a week went by, I found out I was dead.
I will never forgive you for what you did to me. You can’t make it up to me either-because you’re gone forever.
Not forever. I remind myself like I do every day. “Just until I figure a way out of this.”
Thinking. You think too much Elmer. Sometimes, there is no way to fix things that have been broken so many times that no glue can help them stick together again.
But I know that if I can tell her, she can understand why I needed that night shift during the blizzard. I can fix this like I always have. Mistakes, I make them so much I can prepare a recipe, Karina.
That, you are capable of. But you are gone and though my heart aches to talk to you one last time, it won’t work.
I’ll build something I haven’t tried yet. Send a message. Anything-to say sorry.
You’re dead. Gone. Non-existent anymore.
But I am still here Karina. They’ve kept me away from you, and now I’m lonely. Lonely. So lonely that I hold my breath and see if I will die again to feel something; but nothing matters. My heart doesn’t beat and I don’t breathe anymore. Not even the measly portions of small offerings have done me much good. Soon, another dawn or nightfall will arrive and I will endure another sleepless night.
The sunsets are beautiful here; still beautiful I should say, that whenever they come, I think of you. Call me sappy, I dare you, but I can barely put into words how much I miss you.
A proper way to say this is impossible. A way I could reach you is only through the soil because all soil, in some way, connects to the Earth.
Sometimes, I take the weed cutter and trim the plants by our barn. The kids play in the hayloft now, almost halfway up in height.
There are many days that I look inside my room, then out into the neatly trimmed grasses leading to the barn. I wonder what’s in there each time I pass by it to plant new seeds, rocking back and forth in an old, worn chair. Thinking has become a thick weed with no roots, spindly stem spiraling higher and higher until I hurt. Hurting is the water for the roots of thinking-at least-when you’re dead. What I’d give to listen to somebody’s voice or dance to the music blasted from our old radio which hardly worked.
At the crack of dawn before the moon completely set, we’d turn our radio up and dance for hours until the butterflies came. And they came in swarms as we danced before the sun. The creatures flit over our heads, though I never got the chance to take a picture of their beautiful arcs. Those dances, you and me, the butterflies in the morning; they make me hurt and love the most.
As always, my sleep is disturbed by the steady flow of my tears, but I toss the covers over my head this time, bothered by the fact that the dead might not need to sleep. Until the dome flickers a bright ray of light into the glass sliders, I don’t get up, counting numbers, singing nursery rhymes and lullabies.
In my dream, I dreamed about you.”
Finally, after I slipped on my shoes and padded out the door to plant my seeds, I stopped, my eyes wavering upon the barn at the end of the field. Memories whizzed by my head, silvery words prepared to engulf me.
In my dream, we were flying.
I wasn’t ready to go in there yet.
We were flying, soaring high to the moon.
But though my head boomed and pounded, I found myself walking to the barn across the field.
The mission was made of laughter and the surface was perfect. I defied gravity and let go of the Earth.
The sound of my boots squelching in the mud brought me to the barn’s entrance. Now that I was up close, the barn looked larger than it had been across the grassy field. Slowly, I fingered the metal handles on the doors and creaked it open, surprised to hear a small echo vibrating through the room. The echo was like a small pulse, maybe how mine would’ve sounded like if I were alive.
A whole new world was being created, and after we explored the moon together, we clasped hands the whole way back home.
At the top of the barn, there was a small lightbulb, which I had to stand on a stool to reach. As the lights flickered on and off, I caught glimpses of artwork, stained glass, and books lining the walls, but in the center of the room lay a small jar, concealing two glass butterflies. Falling to my knees, I picked it up, taking a closer look at the butterflies. The barn had a musty smell about it, so I took the jar outside and unscrewed the lid, my ragged breaths fogging up the insides. Suddenly, the glass began to crack in my palms and where glass once lay lifeless, two purple and green butterflies danced into the day, flying free.
The Earth was on my jeans today as I positioned the weed cutter in place, aimlessly walking towards the grassy plains where we used to dance. I sat there for a while, watching the sunrise until I saw them. Two purple and green butterflies were flapping their wings my way, perched on my shoulder. You had come, after all this time.
And somehow, I knew those butterflies were sending my message. Forgive me, Karina.
I will never forgive you, but today I might be willing to dance with you.