I found him standing on our balcony, looking out at the beach. We had gotten the house for one reason; inspiration. The building had three floors, and below the balcony was a cement patio. Wrapping my jacket around myself tighter, I stepped onto the pine wood, feeling the cold morning air dance around my feet lazily.
“It’s so beautiful.” The artist observed, not looking up from his daily fascination.
His face expressed a pleasure no one but him could understand as he looked out at the slowly rising orb of light signaling the waking of the rest of the human population around us. I stood next to him, feeling strands of his jet-black hair wisp around my face. It was strangely comforting. After a moment, he turned to me, his eyes distant and transparent, affected by the inner knowingness shared between him and his, sometimes annoyingly, fluently expressed library of an imagination.
“I wish I could see it again.” He breathed, his fogger-over eyes glimmering.
“What do you mean?” I asked, letting him tuck a stray hair behind my ear and shivering as my skin became accustomed to the air in the newly-uncovered patch of skin, “You’re looking at it right now.”
He gazed at my face, a look of guilt, concern, and disappointment washed over his pale, unmarred skin.
“What I mean is, I regret…” He answered calmly, looking back at the pink and orange horizon he called home, “I miss you…”
Without giving me a chance to answer, he climbed and stood on the smooth, deteriorated surface of the wooden railing lining the deck that had been slightly worn from the habitual grasping of the support, the texture already familiarized into my palms.
“I miss you, and I’m sorry. But I won’t leave you, Ever.” And with that promise, and a small sad glance back at me, he jumped, his face unscarred by pain or worry.
I flung myself toward the beam, leaning over and expecting to see his body sprawled below in a mix of materials that nobody should ever be exposed to, but there was nothing, not a single speck of unnatural pigment on the gray span of colorless rock. My heart stopped as a voice called from behind me, strong and unfaltering.
“Do you see it too?” The voice of the man that had supposedly just thrown himself off the side of the house, spoke calmly, “Do you see it how I see it? How everyone should see it?”
He was beside me again, easing my shaking form back from the precarious position I had taken up as I strained to imagine the corpse below.
“You’re not alone, so don’t be afraid. I won’t let anything hurt you. Just promise me you wont forget me, or I’ll forget you, whether I like it or not, okay?” He proposed, his features showing peaceful contentedness, unexplainably contrasting with the action I was sure I’d seen his commit a moment before.
“But how can I forget you if you’re right there in front of me?” I questioned, not completely understanding why I was not put off by the whole nightmarish situation.
“Because… I’m not.” He stated simply, his gaze fixed on my face again.
And he was gone, as suddenly as he had come; his exit leaving me in only my own presence.
Just as the sun pushed its way completely out of the waves that had seemingly imprisoned it up until now, I remembered. I remembered that for the last 6 years, I’d lived alone in the beach house, waiting. Waiting for the halls to echo once again with the laughter that had once resounded off the walls back when things were going almost perfectly. Or with the murmur of human interaction when we would sit and talk; sometimes talking out loud, and sometimes just expressing our joy of being around each other in silence, letting the ocean do the talking.
I remembered the rare mornings I would wake up before him and wait, sitting in the patio, the prospect of a uniquely detailed discussion approaching, about his favorite subject of just why things were, blurring out the negativity of yesterday’s regrets, and the anxiety of waiting for tomorrow.
But it hit me, right then and there, that I would never again hear his optimistic laughter ring in my ears, and never again sit and feel the warmth of his strong, reassuring, arms around my shoulders. He would never join me outside the sliding glass door that let the eyes of the outdoors to see into my silent, haunting lifestyle, for another thought spilling conversation only he and I could share.
I remembered, and I finally broke. The air’s strange warm embrace that I would usually shoo away wrapped around me, and the cold strings of night faded completely, helping me realize that the artist, my artist, had left a permanent imprint on me, and that no matter how many times I waited for him, expecting him, that I would never be able to truly forget entirely.
His powerful way of seeing what the world really was and could be, marking my like one of the many canvases he owned. He painted his ideas, his thoughts, his feelings into my mind, staining me permanently with all the paints he could physically express without having to literally “give me a piece of his mind”. Even after his spirit was floated far from his body, even after they had taken away all that was left of him, and even after I had shut myself away from the earth, still wanting to believe he’d be there with me again, I would never be able to wash off the reminders. They were all there; sorrow, love, death, sickness, joyfulness, humor, abstract fragments of thought, and anything else you could possibly think of; all there in the front of my mind, always trying to sink back to the bottom to be forgotten, brushed away with the pencil and eraser shavings of his other unfinished works.
He’d scarred me, but all the while I’d failed to notice he was saving me, not wanting me to oblivious to the real world, the reality accepted by some as a nightmare. He taught me not to sleep soundly through a fear, but to remember that you may not always wake up from those that you wish just to be the mixing and analyzing of the newfound data in your head.
I heard his voice blow through me as the wind wrapped around the cold angles of the house, and suddenly, it was me standing out on the sand; the lone shape of my abode towering above me.
I was alone. But I was sure I knew better than that. Out of the corner of my eyes, he would be there; the tall confident figure of my protector, my teacher, my someone, standing alone with me, watching out for me. He’d always known how fragile I was. If I turned my head, he was gone. But I was sure I knew better than that as well. I would always hear his voice whisper around the beach; a faint hum of the cocooning safety I missed and longed for more of.
“I love you…”
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