The wooden bowl lays untouched just a few inches away from her hand. Today it’s a few centimeters closer than yesterday, so I’m guessing it’s a good thing. The hot water in the glass has long gone cold and I don’t bother to reheat it.
Everyday it’s the same routine: I boil the frozen soup-packets in water, defrost the peas, cook rice and assemble all of this on the table, while trying not to spill anything. And she comes and sits, with the same expression that she had two weeks ago.
I’m trying. Everyday I’m trying to break into the wall she has built around herself. She spends most of her time inside the wall, only to be occasionally disturbed by my voice calling her for a meal. I’m trying all my best to make her see the sunshine when all she has been seeing is the darkness for two weeks.
I don’t know what its like inside those walls. All I know is that its tiring. From where I’m sitting right now, I can see dark circles in her eyes. I see her muscles stiffen when she moves. She never complains of a headache, but I know she has one. I don’t think, she even feels all of these anymore.
She said that Maryse knew all her secrets. I doubt that now. I don’t think anyone has ever known what goes on in her mind. Now, without Maryse, I doubt if I can even make a dent in the wall.
She was always the talkative one, when we were growing up. You could always see a group of people surrounding her wherever she went. She always had a smile on her face. I can see the seven-year-old version of her in my head. Golden- brown, curly hair struggling to be kept in place by pins. Her cheeky grin and her eyes. I look up, at her while taking another bite of rice. Not much of her appearance has changed, I can say, except for the liveliness in her eyes and her smile, which always made you smile back. I always thought she had everything, maybe she did but, I never got the chance to ask. She was in her own world, and I was in mine. More specifically Maryse and her were in their own world. She was basically another half of Maryse or the other way round. They were practically two pieces of the same thing, out of which if one was removed, there was no strength to the other. It almost felt like they powered each other.
I was never there in the picture. It was always Georgie and Maryse. There was never a Delia in the picture. I was always the one standing behind the door, peeking in when they played. Always the side one, the one who everybody looked at with sympathy, for not finding a friend like Maryse. They had their own ways of communicating that I didn’t understand.
I can’t imagine how she’s feeling right now, sitting across the table, from me. It looks like she’s almost forcing herself to eat. Well, what can you do anyway? Eating to stay alive doesn’t seem necessary right now. Seeing Maryse’s face does. Her eyes bare a far-away expression. I imagine she’s going over all those memories she had with Maryse. The time they went to Africa together, or the time when they cooked together. Or just any day when they were together.
Who knows which war she’s fighting in her head right now? I imagine it feels like a huge part of you is plucked out and you are left to fill in that part with whatever you have.
I know that her life came trembling down that night. The siren of the ambulances could be heard as I came rushing to the hospital. Georgie wasn’t showing any sign of panic or worry. Her expression was the same as it is now, just blank. Maybe she knew, that Maryse wouldn’t come out of the ward, wrapped in bandages. I think a part of her was crushed right at that moment. I play all the moments of the night in my head. I don’t have to try too hard, because all the events of the night come into my head, at any time, uninvited. I come to the part when it was confirmed. When almost all our hope of Maryse surviving was washed away when we saw the doctor came to us, to tell that Maryse hadn’t survived. That, the impact of the truck was too huge on her car. My eyes burn and I quickly rub my eyes. How hard must it be to be fighting off tears all the time?
The sun feels like a warm blanket around us. Everything around us seems to be glowing. The coconut tree sways as if it agrees with me. All around me, paint bottles and brushes are scattered. Georgie is sitting in front of me, her face covered by the canvas.
Its almost a month later, since Maryse died. Georgie and I have just been lazing around at home. I have been talking to her, sometimes just gibberish. Sometimes, stories. Long, endless stories about my time in college. I have tried cooking more with her, something I don’t usually enjoy. I have tried almost each and every activity that I could think of, which Maryse and her would enjoy. In the beginning, she just followed around, not doing much, and just lost in her own world. But recently, her face seems just a little bit more alive. Her eyes look a little happier than they were before. She’s also been telling me small instances which she had with Maryse. “Once, Maryse and I had got lost on a beach.” She laughed as she recalled and her eyes crinkled at the corners. I kept listening to her in contentment knowing how much she had changed.
A half an hour later, I have what looks like the painting of a flower vase in front of me. I take a look at hers and all I can see is some golden and brown. She flips the canvas and I see the image more clearly: The sunset, but more like the four-o clock afternoon sun when everything seems to have a layer of glimmer over it.
“This is beautiful.” I say.
“I saw this sight with Maryse.” I’m shocked with her speaking about Maryse.
“This looks almost like the painting of the sunset which Maryse and I made in Africa.”
“Wow, that’s beautiful.” I reply.
She stares at the canvas for a little while longer and I see a drop fall on it. It falls just below the sun, smudging the colors. Now, with the tear drop, it looks like a sparkle.
“It’s never going to be the same.” she pauses. “Anything that I do, probably will never be the same again. Cooking is never the same without her. It feels empty, useless. Somehow, it doesn’t seem the same without the mess she would have created.”
“But Georgie… you were talking about evening walks you took with Maryse, we could- “
“I told you. No matter how much you try, she will be this empty space. There will be this empty space within me.” She chokes on this last statement.
“Thank you, Delia, for being with me and giving me comfort”
I drop the paint brush, and enclose my arms around her. Her hair smells like lavender. I look at Georgie and her face is soaked in the sun’s warm, golden glow. She smiles and I it looks like she’s finally feeling the sun again.