The light of another’s eyes aren’t enough to ward away the nightmares. Lying awake on her side, gazing in the face of her lover, she knew she’d be alone as long as she was with this Other. The light that reflected from his eyes was not illuminating; it was fearful, it cast shadows on the walls that wouldn’t be there if his eyes weren’t there. She wondered about the causality of fear and where the bravery runs off to when the colors are stripped away. Daytime was like a coloring book, she doodled nonsense in and out of the lines and somehow the sun washed away her insecurities. At night they would lie away gazing into each other. She knew he thought she was only sustaining herself and her heartbeat on the depth of his vitreous humor, but she also knew that he would never suspect the gross magnitude of uncertainty she threw around her mind during these sleepless stargazings.
It all started back in 1906. Her grandmother was born in a village to a mother who was 14. From then onwards, as the tradition is playing out, the maternal age increased with the advances of the time. Her mother was born to a mother who was 17, and she was born to a mother who was 22. Progress. But in 1906, there were ghosts, just as there are now, but people believed in them. They set out sweets and raisins at the doorsteps at dusk to both invite and ward away ghosts. Invite them to the doorstep, so that they would not feel hated, but ward them away so as to gently chide them for lingering too long, assuring them that tomorrow night the same would be done– and it always was.
Her grandmother was born to a mother who barely knew what the blood running between her legs meant when a man far too large, too ugly and too fat for her soul penetrated her in the dark of the night when the only sounds were the crickets. Everyone said crickets sang but that night she knew they were crying. Some were even dying. The night of the act was passed down from 14 to 17 to 22. And now she is lying here in the room, staring into the eyeballs and fear is crawling on the walls like dead crickets who have come to the doorstep of insanity to feast on sugar.
Unlived yet Imagined
“I see my heart beating in your eyes.”
She laughed, tracing unplanned highways on his upper arm, down the coast of skin and dark brown to his wrist. Wrists are all alike in their delicacy. Even the supposed strongest in a society has a wrist, has a fragility such as glass at every action they wield.
She stared at his shoulder hard, because she could not bear to look further north to his own countenance. Too many emotions and thoughts flying amok like mosquitoes in a trapped room. Better to envision his brachial plexus underneath his irresistible collar bone, sprouting trajectories and providing warm pulsating life to this being she found herself beside serendipitously.
“I see everything in your eyes.” He would not stop, and she never would. “I see fear, I see love, I see hope, I see pain. I see myself.”
She was holding her breath, unintentionally, yet she held on to her oxygen with so much intention.
“I see rivulets of consciousness beating and fighting their way to the surface of these windows to your soul,” he murmured, his breath smelling of cinnamon bark. He traced her eye sockets with his index finger, along her soft eyebrow down and under and up along the bridges of her nose. In that one finger, she knew, so much tenderness could not exist with another person by her side.
“I don’t know how this will work,” she sighed. She didn’t want to talk of things working, of gears moving and oiling that needed to be filled by fingers blackened with unimagined but living dirt. She just wanted to exist, but life was getting in the way.
He did not say what they would say if they were in a movie. He did not squeeze her and tell her that he would always come find her, that they would find a way, that such trivial things as jobs and careers and earthly dreams could not get in their way. Because they did not share a way. Their ways were merely intertwined, a coast and a shoreline running together until something came between them. Who can rebuild the lands and the seas?
He turned his head down to find her eyes, for she was inhaling the deepness of his shoulder, the brachial wonder pulsing like a monster she was enamored by so completely. She was unable to tear herself away from his pulse, this very proof that he was alive, that they were living, and that his blood somehow smelled of cinnamon bark.
“Let me tell you something,” she said, summoning her inner fire and staring hard into his brown eyes which, at this time, were her own.
“There is no shore without the ocean, there are no waves without the moon, there is no shadow without the sun.”
They coexisted in a place where there are more than one moon. Where the sun is not the light giver to the world but your own caretaker. She looked to the windows, the blinds a third open, and knew the yellowness outside would always be theirs within. Their world was built on looks and the sea of words they could give birth to between the banks of their bodies. The feelings they could summon as if by magic wands by the way they spaced their breaths and truths. She knew this and everything to be true.
He was wrong only about one thing. That was not fear in her eyes. That was sadness, a sadness that would never leave her because it was faithfully bound to her concept of life’s beautiful fragility.