Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
‘Do you believe in fate?’ I asked, vaguely serious with a smirk on my lips ‘Do you believe in fairies?’ She retorted, answering my question in her own roundabout way as usual
“Do you really think she’ll pull through?’ Joseph whispered, almost breathlessly into the air, not really to anyone at all. It was more thinking aloud, saying what everyone else wanted to ask but dared not. There wasn’t much to be done or said that could make this okay but trying couldn’t be out of the question. Not an eye in the room was dry, apart from those belonging to the snow-white angel laid down with broken wings on the dirty old hospital bed.
‘I have to..’ He mumbled hoarsely and hopelessly, head hung low. His face was worn, full of grief and fatigue. His usual sharp appearance was dishevelled, as if the weight of the situation was beating him down into decadence. One hand on top of his head, running down over his fringe then over his weary eyes, the other hand on hers, cold and pale. ‘.. I love her’
The room stood silent apart from the monotonous rhythmic beep from the splattered machines. It was neither necessary or probably helpful for so many people to be crowded around the little area provided for her but the doctors didn’t instruct any different. Even if they had ordered for them to scatter, no one would have moved. Never would she had though when conscious that a number of people this large truly cared, wanted to be there for her. Perhaps she would never know. It was sad, to think that some of those around her were already thinking of her in past tense. I was one of them admittedly. She was a loving person. She was kind. Was. As if she was already long gone.
Though it broke my heart to consider her a lost cause, it was difficult for me to conceive having her back. On explaining this to a few of the crowd they had called me heartless, regardless of the fact that they all felt the same. Three months was a long time. Time to adjust. Time to regret all of the moments missed. All the time that I could have been nicer, could have been there for her. All of the times I had to tell her. Why didn’t I just tell her? There were times where I could have strangled her. Laughable now, not in a good way I suppose. I’d always been a sucker for irony but not even I could bring myself to laugh at this one.
Finian refused blankly at the suggestion of stopping the machines. As much as he himself had said so many times that being synthetically aided in life through medicine was unnatural. I didn’t blame him. If it were me, I wouldn’t be able to sign the order either. To kill her. That’s what it would be of course. That’s how we would have felt. She was alive, on all accounts, right now. Thought, dare I say, perhaps she was now damaged, she was still alive. She breathed, granted it was aided. She could feel. Though her mind was elsewhere I’m sure she knew she was loved. That was enough for me right now.
Slumped in a sobbing heap by her shoulder, I watched my best friend submit himself to his own guilt. We’d all been through it. Visibly, Finian was hit worst. Actually, it was me that was effected most severely. I did this to her. I’m almost certain. I’ve tried denial. Denial was a brief escape. Though every time I saw her like this, helpless and pure, completely open and broken, I felt my refusal of the truth slip from my clutches. I was sure, this was my doing. This reality kept me from saying goodbye. If things had been different, had I been able to fix this, erase it even. Perhaps if I didn’t say my farewell, she would stay. She would wake, like I’d seen her do many other mornings and rub her beautiful baby-blue eyes. Within seconds she’d smile. Her smile stopped worlds spinning. It caused the ground to shake and the sun to rise. She laughed, like trickling honey or the flutter of butterfly wings, then ask for the paper and some French toast. The house forever smelt of French toast, still does.
Lightening the tone was not possible. A crack of a joke would be inappropriate. Not to her it wouldn’t. She always found the most untimely things to be hilarious. Tittering at funerals as if it were a comedy. She wasn’t bizarre. She was unique. She’d explain, funerals were a celebration of life and not a mourning of death. I remember, ‘Why gather in some melancholy mass just to share your sadness? Is it not better to share stories about the one you loved, share memories than share grief?’. I agreed at the time, as did Finian, as did Joe and as did Dan. I heard no one telling her tale this day. Nobody dared say her name. Not once had I heard it. Suddenly a taboo.
She never liked her name anyway. She described it as a label that simply didn’t belong. Forgetting it, not possible. It stuck in my head. My favourite word, my favourite flower. I had a bunch in the centre of my dining room table. Just to remind me of her. Every time I returned home after a long day they were there, standing tall and sweet smelling, just like her. I didn’t think her name was erroneous. If anything, it was perfect, as was she. Again, was. She still is perfect. Yet, she was incomplete.
Everyone slunk back, some giving space for the couple to be together, some secretly slinking away feeling as if they’d cared long enough. Soon, it was just us four. The four closest, if anything. Her family, noticeably absent, as they had always been. A single child, both parents dead, no other relations. She was alone. I considered, back not long after we first met, feeling sorry for her. This, she said, would not do. It was not sympathy she wanted, having learned to be used to the solitude since a young age. She wanted a friend. Funny, how she considered herself to be the luckiest person alive with four close friends. One of which was her loving boyfriend. He was loving. Very loving. It ached.
‘Do you believe in fate?’ I asked, vaguely serious with a smirk on my lips
‘Do you believe in fairies?’ She retorted, answering my question in her own roundabout way as usual
‘Am I a fool if I say yes?’ I replied, in the same question for a question manner
‘Am I?’ She capped off, a swig of a hot drink and a smile promising more, much more than I’d wished
Our meeting? The simplest of fate, being someone in need of a room and someone who happened to have a spare. Adding a accidental bumping of shoulders and dropping of heavy books, there you have an acquaintance gained. The flyer had fallen from my grasp as I tried to save her from the public humiliation of landing face first onto the filthy sidewalk. My first glimpse at the horizon of a grin.
‘Thank you’ She mumbled, her cheeks the cherry red that was now non-existent and sorely missed
‘For catching you or for almost making you fall?’ I enquired, testing her sense of humour that was so familiar to me now, or rather used to be
‘Who says I didn’t fall?’ Complete eye contact, and I was not to know that day how serious she was
I closed my eyes, refused to shed more tears as she had nearly literally warned me not to. ‘Don’t cry when I die, okay?’ My head shook. I promised. I promised to remember but not to miss. I would never have made that promise if I knew. If I knew what would happen. I would never have told her that I wouldn’t be upset for her. I’m keeping one half of the promise though. I won’t forget her. I couldn’t if I tried. Who ever could? The girl who counted her cornflakes as she poured them. The girl who quoted book after book as though her entire head was a wonderful library. The girl who’s intentions had never once been even slightly malicious.
‘What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?’ She asked aloud, skimming through a copy of the bible she had just bought
‘Shakespeare?’ I attempted a guess, head tilted, completely distracted from my work by eleven simple words
‘Lewis Carroll’ She giggled, feet curled up beneath her in her usual relaxed position
‘Through The Looking Glass’ I tried again, to be met with a simple shake of the head
‘Alice in Wonderland’ She sighed, placing down her book, a symbol that indicated that she expected a conversation with depth and heights in which to entirely engulf her and emerge her in possibility, hope and curiosity, ‘Oh, I always wished I was Alice.’
‘Why’s that?’ As if asking was necessary, with all her talk of wanting to escape. To be far, far away, somewhere beautiful and prosperous.
‘It’s as large as life and twice as natural’ She brushed the dark brown hair out of her view and tucked in behind her ear, making me long to reach out and let it down again. Her locks were so pretty when let free.
‘Now,’ I tapped a finger on my chin, watching her features lighten, knowing I understood this time, ‘That was from Through The Looking Glass’
I’d ask her every now and then about her constant use of quotations. Spitting out lines from authors like verses from the Bible. Incidentally, she was also know to dictate from the Bible. Nothing that swayed toward the idea as a God or Jesus. She wasn’t religious at all. Her belief was in humanity rather than some all knowing being that apparently cared for us all. As much as I myself doubted the weight behind the religious scriptures these days she made me see at least some truths in it.
‘Wisdom is better than rubies’ She declared one summer day, staring out the window to the moving clouds above
‘Ignorance is strength’ I disagreed sarcastically, taking my place opposite her around the coffee shop table
‘Don’t out quote me, dear sir’ She gasped, stirring the hot caffeinated drink around with the back end of a spoon
‘Why do you always have to quote?’ I asked, seriously, wishing to know the answer to the question that had been playing on my mind since the day we met
‘It’s the only way I have learned to express myself,’ She shrugged, a coy smirk on the rise, ‘Through other people’s descriptions of life’
‘Was that…?’ My mouth gaped, not having heard her recite from anything but literature before
‘Motion City Soundtrack’ A brief sip of her hot latte, ‘L.G Fuad’
‘I didn’t know you were into music’ I tell her, sincerely, really having no clue.
‘Please,’ She giggled, eyes down into the misty brown mug, ‘What literati doesn’t appreciate music? Words put to beautiful sounds is nothing short of magical’
She said that I knew her. Not just knew her. Anyone could know her, really. That woman who came into the store once every Saturday. The lady who bought only a pack of gum then pleasantly greeted everyone she met. No, I knew her. The real her. An introvert, forced to extract pieces of herself and project them daily. The life of a party where there is no real life. A diamond among the rough. She positively glowed. Her intelligence and integrity perhaps set her apart from many others. She didn’t brag about her talents. To this day, I’m not sure she really even realized her talents.
‘You have no idea how amazing you are’ I would push, so wanting her to understand
‘Yes I do’ Her face hidden behind yet another classic novel that she was trying to get through again, ‘I am secretly narcissistic. Very secretly. Although, I am the only one worthy enough to know’
‘I’m being serious’ I laughed, forgetting how she used sarcasm as a defence mechanism every once in a while
‘As am I’ She turned a page, making me wonder how she managed to read so quickly, easily going through three pages every five minutes
‘But if it’s a secret,’ I beam, thinking I may have caught her out this time, ‘You just told me. Hence, no longer a secret’
‘Perhaps I have deemed you worthy’ She outsmarted me simply, ‘Feel free to boast’
Worthy. As if I could ever be worthy. Worthy of her. It was comical. Finian was worthy of her. They both had this way with words, a magical ability to take simple metaphors and bring life to them like Frankenstein’s monster. Technically, it was thanks to me, or rather my fault, that the both came to know one another. She wanted to meet my best friend. He wanted to meet my roommate. I never saw it being likely. Never deemed it possible for the two of them to click so fantastically. She loved his crudeness, he loved her sincerity. I remained quiet, watching the development, shamefully wishing for arguments or even slight disputes. With the good there must always be the bad.
She wasn’t vicious in disagreements at all. Not snide and unkind. Rather, she went silent for a while. She did not like fights. At anytime when she felt a quarrel building she would make herself scarce. I was told of when she was young and ‘impressionable’ as she would say. Her parents had troubles. Shouting and screaming while she cowered in doorframes, clutching her battered copy of ‘The Wind In The Willows’ like it where her holy testament. Tears running down onto the head of her unwashed, old teddy bear that she had named Cord. Short for Cordelia from King Lear. She felt it described her well. Always had she felt like Cordelia really. ’So young, my lord, and true’.
‘Why do you do this to me?’ She scrunched up her nose in the way she always did when upset
‘Do what?’ I replied, faking innocence blatantly
‘Forget it’ She looked down at her feet and I knew, I just knew, that she wasn’t going to let it go. Not inside. She couldn’t. What had I done?’
Joseph was lost. I could tell. The way he shifted his weight slowly from one foot to the other. Considering sitting in the spare seat to her left then thinking about leaning against the wall to his right. Regretting, wishing, day dreaming like the rest of us. He was never as close. Him and Daniel were never as close. That is not to say they weren’t close at all. Perhaps she confided in them more than she did me. I suppose I was never to know. She did speak highly of them though. I say it as though she ever spoke low of anyone. That simply was not true. I had not heard her ever talk about anyone as if they were beneath her. She never considered anyone beneath her.
‘I’ve never known anyone Jewish before?’ She weighed up her words before releasing them, as she always did, screening her sentence for any type of offence that could possibly be caused
‘It’s overrated’ Joseph chuckled, heartily in his earnest and slightly goofy way, ‘I know plenty of them’
‘I suppose you do’ She smiled, eyes moving from him, to me, then back again, ‘Pleased to meet you all the same’
‘Ditto’ He nodded, unafraid of seeming lowly when using slang around her unlike me
She would have never called me on it. She would never have pointed out that I sounded common. Of course not. She was a lady. Perhaps calling her a lady made her seem arrogant, royal or old? Not at all. She was twenty three and unbelievably down to earth. As for royal, she was far from royal. Growing up on the rough side of town with many a black eye often as proof. So I’d been told. I wasn’t around to see her through her upbringing. I really wish I was. Though she never said it herself, it sounded like her childhood was slightly less than pleasant.
‘I am not.. Ungrateful’ She gulped, twiddling her thumbs in a nervous dance
‘Having regrets doesn’t make you ungrateful’ I comfort her, my fingers gentle on her shoulder, her head lent on mine.
‘I wish…’ She stopped, a sad shake of the head, regaining what she would consider to be rationality, ‘There was nothing wrong with my growing up’
‘Was there anything particularly wrong with it?’ I attempted a careful approach, unfortunately not careful enough clearly
‘Do you think….’ She inhaled, slightly harshly, ‘…I’m just being whiney?’
‘No’ I tried some honesty which I had been told by her on several occasions that it was the best policy, ‘I think you’re allowing yourself to release your anger’
‘I do release my anger’ She protested, knowing herself that her statement was a fabrication
‘You lock yourself away’ I point out, hoping she might realise her own actions
‘I do what’s necessary’ A shrug, the obvious end to the awkward conversation that was bound to end in a smothering quiet as usual
‘Why…’ Finian croaked, his lips to her dainty fingers, held tight in his own
‘Don’t Fin…’ I try, almost beg, ‘It’ll only hurt… You’ve done it before…’
‘We were happy’ He mumbled into her skin, as if wishing she’d remember and stir from her slumber, ‘We were happy. I thought we were…She was…’
‘Fin…’ Daniel wept quietly from his corner, his first contribution tonight, remaining distant otherwise, ‘Just don’t…’
‘But…’ He cried, rocking forward in his chair, ‘I’m the one who’s supposed to be unhinged… I’m the one who’s bent out of shape… She… She was the strong one’
That’s what we all thought. Our girl, she was the one keeping Finian together. She’d experienced the lows with him. The nights of wrong medication and tough scrutiny. She was there through it all. She’d been with him through it all. It seemed that it was practically impossible to get her down. She was always, always happy. On the surface she was happy. To the rest of the world, she was happy. I was the only one she let her guard down to. I was given this rare right to see her at her weakest.
‘I don’t mind if you cry’ I stroked at her hair, letting light kisses trail on her forehead, soothing her
‘I know…’ She sniffed into the front of my chest, shifting her weight in my lap, ‘It just makes me feel…weak’
‘You’re human are you not?’ I laughed, holding her tight and truly almost wanting her to cry. She needed to show some emotion. Any emotion. All I ever saw was happiness. Surely she had to have repressed so much sorrow, anger, misery, remorse?
‘I wonder sometimes’ She buried her nose into the crook of my neck and I felt her eyelashes brush my skin, indicating her eyes had closed.
It was in that moment I experienced love. Real love. She’d told me about love before. Tried to teach me, as if it were a song or a simple phrase in a foreign language. It was like she wanted me to feel, experience, what she imagined. I couldn’t, not at the time. Not until later did I really feel it.
‘Love looks not with eyes, but with the mind,’ She began, painting invisible shapes into the palm of my hand, tracing my life line
‘Shakespeare’ I was sure this time, having read ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ after hearing her quote from it so many times. She nodded.
‘All love is sweet, given or returned’ She tried again to catch me out but I was getting better at her guessing games of late
‘P. B. Shelley’ I grinned, knowing that I was right again, hearing her say that line a few times before
‘Love is the only poem incapable of wording in any language’ She fixed her gaze on my eyes, peering deep into the windows to my soul. She was searching for something. For what, at the time, I did not know. ‘It is a touch, a look, an experience. Impossible to teach or fake.’ I thought on this a very long time. I’d never heard of it before. Though it was very accurate. She’d managed to describe it to a tee, finding the perfect quotation.
‘I’m not familiar with that one’ I puzzled further, bugged slightly by the author’s identity escaping my knowing
‘That…’ She adjusted herself, leaning back against the arm of the couch and straightening the end of her dress out to fan across the cushion, ‘…was an original’
Her words. Her authentic words captivated me. Always. Even the note she left. Even in her state as she was, her writing was still beautiful. Her referencing, quoting, highlighting. The use of ampersands in certain areas and the word ’and’ in others. The flow of her joined up lettering. The penmanship. Beauty in words. There was so little of that these days. The emphasis on abbreviation for impersonal messages written up in some buss shelter and sent for a low service charge, less coherent than five year olds with crayons. She made words, melded languages.
Her love for literature bled through always in her life, sparking odd little nicknames for everyone or simple quotes to replace real, natural speech. Again, I’ve returned to the use of past tense. Always in her life. As if I wasn’t standing here, inches away, her still living quietly on the edge of existence. As if Finian wasn’t here whispering for her to come back, please come back. As if Joe wasn’t hiding tears , like he wasn’t allowed to be seen to be sad about this. As if Dan wasn’t clearly distraught, running through her last days and thinking ‘it could have been different’.
‘I can’t drum’ She admitted, sitting on Daniel’s stool, though he never usually let anyone sit there
‘I can teach you,’ Daniel nodded, smiling at her, playing with a drumstick between his fingers
‘Well,’ She considered it, weighing it up in her mind, you could see it in her face, ‘If I don’t submit myself to secondary socialisation I’ll never learn’
‘What book did you get that from?’ Finian laughed, leaning against a doorframe, watching from the sideline as he usually did
‘I don’t always have to speak other people’s words’ She answered, looking directly at me, knowing that I knew it was true
‘I like hearing you quote’ Finian wandered in, standing behind her and dropping to his knee to hold her around her waist
‘I like hearing you be yourself’ I whispered under my breath, aware that no one heard, half glad too
I loved her for her. Sure, her constant dictating from classic novels added to her charms and eccentricity but I liked having these glimpses into her thoughts. Her real thoughts. She proved to me, every once in a while, that she was more, much more than just words. Now, she had none. Lying back in the sheeting that would be uncomfortable and I can only assume that if awake she’d have a line to answer with. A titbit, from literature, about itchy bed covers.
‘Where’s Finian today?’ I’d question, watching her sit alone with her book as became such a familiar sight to me
‘Making love with his ego’ She sighed, switching hands to be able to balance a latte on her thigh
‘David Bowie?’ I asked, enthralled and mesmerized, not even aware that she was a fan
‘Ziggy Stardust dear,’ She smirked over the rim of her mug, eye not leaving her written word, ‘And Fin is missing in action, again’
‘I see,’ I nodded, not surprised at all that Fin would leave her with me for yet another afternoon. As usual, he’d gone out with his other friends, not bothering to tell his girlfriend, just assuming she’d be fine on her own. ‘Well, you’ve got me’ I was being sincere. She always had me. Not to sound cheesy, but she had me at hello.
‘I love you Kaleb’ She said, like it wasn’t a big deal, like claiming the weather to be fine this day.
A headache, words too heavy for my shoulders to carry this time. It had been building up. All this time, I held her glances, her smiles, her laughs. I waited, felt happy for her, for her and Finian. I’d even grinned myself, grinned and beared the crushing pain in my chest with every kiss, every shared joke. This, however, I wouldn’t bear, couldn’t even. She couldn’t love me. It wasn’t possible.
‘As a friend,’ I exhaled slowly, picking up the book from my left and tossing it precariously to the coffee table. It stopped almost dead in front of her. Alice In Wonderland, ‘I love you too’
‘No,’ Her eyes sank, unlike anything I’d seen before, ‘I love you’
‘You love Fin' I got to my feet, running away as I felt was needed to save myself from wounding
‘I’ve always loved you’ She looked away, reducing her voice to barely a mumble, unsure of herself in a way I had never heard before. I felt an anger. Anger, like I was boiling inside. She couldn’t love me. I knew her months before she had even been introduced to Finian. She had opportunity, opportunity was plentiful. Toying with me. She must have been toying with me.
‘I don’t even know you’ I shot back, seeing her wince but not stopping, like the heartless bastard I was truly exposed to be. ‘I know Shakespeare. I’ve gotten to know Shakespeare very well these last two years. P. B Shelley? Possibly one of my closest friends. Lewis Carroll and me have been in a fucking courtship for near twenty four months. You? Who are you?’
‘You…’ Tears, I saw tears and still didn’t stop. I didn’t know that she was that fragile. I didn’t know that my little porcelain flower was so delicate, ‘You know who I am Kaleb... You’re the only one who knows…’
‘Oh yes,’ I snorted cruelly, not hesitating to throw verbal blows like none of this mattered, ‘You’re Alice In Fucking Wonderland right? So Alice, how is life going for you? With your handsome boyfriend, your endless supply of knowledge yet blatant blindness when it comes to the feelings of even your best friend?’
‘Kaleb…’ Great heaving sobs from the very back of her throat, fighting for air, fighting for control. Even I, myself, was struggling to keep from crying, keep from scooping her up and kissing her haphazardly until she couldn’t breath, ‘Why are you being like this?’
‘I have loved you since I first almost knocked you off of your feet. You choose now to tell me that all this time has been a lie? All this time I’ve conditioned myself to try and believe that we were simply platonic?’ I stopped, the salt water threatening to spill over my reddened face. I came closer to her, she fought away.
‘You never said a word’ She growled, snatching up her book from the coffee table, turning her back on me in the ultimate gesture of anger that she would give, ‘I’m to blame for this? For not falling at your feet? For you not picking up on my absolute dependence on you, my adoration in you from day one? Well, fuck you Kaleb. I love you. Know that.’
‘I do,’ I mumbled as the door closed for the final time, the final swish of her long blue dress, ‘But I can’t’
I’d never heard her swear before. Never. Not even when she’d been upset before. Not when intoxicated. Never. It was me to blame. For the last words she heard. For the confession that turned out to be less than sweet. Though it was not said in the note found at the apartment. Found by me. Found at her feet, raised over a metre from the ground, her elegant black heels suspended in the air. Flying, like an angel. My angel.
‘Mr. McCabe ’ The gruff interruption from the elderly gentleman, assumed to be the doctor
Finian lifts his head slightly, catching a glimpse at him before dropping eyes back to her face. Emotionless. Unnatural. So very unnatural. No smile today. Not even for me. Not for anyone.
‘Mr. McCabe.. Can I talk in private?’ Finian refused to look at him again. Regardless, he nodded and forced himself up from his spot, instantly almost falling. Joseph and Daniel caught him. They looked at me expectantly, asking quietly if it would be okay to leave me here for a short time. Going to get Fin some water, some food, some sleep perhaps. I agreed, it was required.
I was alone. Well, we were alone.
‘I’m sorry’ I whispered, feeling instantly foolish that I was stood there talking to myself, ‘Look at me, talking to no one. This isn’t right. It’s not. You shouldn’t be here. You know that’ Talking as much to myself as to her.
I squeezed my eyes shut tight. All of two years, condensed into a small, two minute clip in my head. Every smile, every laugh all stored up. All saved for a time I imagined, when we were old and gray. She and Fin had married, two children, who in turn had grandchildren. I was with someone, a fraction of her beauty and not even a touch of her quirks and intellect. Her sons or daughters would be reading, forever reading. They’d develop her love of the written word, even when computers made books obsolete. She wouldn’t care, she’d still visit book stores. Even if it meant she’d have to use some market web site and order her books. Then, and only then, would I retrieve my memories of her. Remember what I was missing. Tell her grandchildren about their grandmother in her prime. Tell of her compassion, her talent, her beauty. Not now. These memories were not for now.
‘God,’ I croak aloud, not sure what to do but to cry over her, holding her tear soaked hand as Finian had done, ‘This isn’t right…’
Her note. Dear Kaleb, Please believe and always remember to forget. It is better than living with regret. Fin didn’t get it. Not at all. He might have even skipped the parts in which he had no mention. Just reading the chunk to her dear Fin. Signed at the end with a ‘Saying goodbye doesn’t indicate the end. It’s simply a polite way of wishing an eventual reuniting’. I laughed, pained.
‘Goodbye Lilly’ I kissed her pale blue lips gently, as I had so often imagined. It wasn’t the same. It wasn’t how I wanted this to be. ‘I’m so sorry… I love you…’
The stabbing pang of jealousy and guilt and grief all rolled together simply equalled nausea. My eyes glazed, finally letting myself cry over her. Though I promised her otherwise, it was simply impossible. She would understand. I wished for nothing more than to apologise. Get the chance to ask forgiveness. I let everything out too late. My usual plans were dashed by a shooting star that flew in and out of my life too soon. A tear ran down my cheek and onto her own. It hurt to think that I was the one who let my dear flower, my dear Lilly wilt.