A Slow Moment

A tale of love

You’ve somehow subconsciously logged him into your body. Every morning, you wake up to the flutter of his eyelashes against the back of your neck. The curtains give a little shake, stealing wisps of sunlight into its soft beat, and you give a little smile across your spine. In a slow moment, you turn over to kiss his eyes but catch only gauzy air. A diaphanous image of something you once proudly called your own.

Sigh.

Now all you see is stuccoed ceiling, an expanse of alabaster that looks down at you knowingly. You lie there, blinking only to appease a nerve. You’re tired. You feel faceless. You feel sick — where is that heavy odor coming from? Hurriedly, your eyes fix themselves on the clock — 12:34 p.m. in angry red. Huh. Isn’t that something — they begin to pulsate — the numbers, I mean — and one by one, like vultures, swoop over your head, then again, and again…

Ever since he rushed out of your life, you feel like you’ve become uglier. You can barely recognize yourself. Everyone you know thinks you are happy because of your youth and your certainty, but these are, of course, false impressions — you’ve allowed the faces of your successful friends, your contented colleagues, relatives, and acquaintances to usurp your own appearance, so that now your only job is to exhaust yourself with this faux buoyancy. At the center of your chest, the roots of your life have curled unwittingly into a state of obsolescence. No amount of recognition could restore them back to what they originally were. But what does this matter? You’re asleep anyway.

Another sigh.

From mymodernmet.com

Yet for all those feelings, all those sentiments, they will never amount to those other feelings, those other sentiments. You used to feel so much. You used to see colors, and distinguish them, and taste them. Their flavors were ornate and flamboyant, so intricate in their entirety. You used to pick up every detail, every note and tone of those colors. And those colors were colors he gave you, delivered neatly in a present box, an explosion of sensation awaiting within. You were a child then, receiving your very first set of acrylic paints. He taught you what to capture, where to find the colors, and how to unify those splatters of pigment into loud, blazing shades you could never forget. He did his job: you never forgot them. But as with everything else, great lessons learned are stored into memories, and memories inevitably fade. Consequently, the flavors are remembered, but the tastes forgotten. Time has glossed itself over your past, rounded your heart’s tongue into stone. The only way to keep a moment from slipping, from dying into a memory, is to keep it going. But this is too ambitious of a thought — you might as well let it go.

When you were younger, your mother used to always tell you that choosing a love was better than being chosen by one. You never quite understood why that mattered. Then one day, when he charged into your life as if by a burst of wind, you felt golden and you sparkled deliberately, with all the self-assured intent you could muster, right in front of her darting eyes and defeated mouth. Sometimes to be loved isn’t a choice — it simply happens. Indeed, you felt deliriously lucky to hold his hands in the little cafes and to occasionally smooth his eyebrows with open caresses. You were his puzzle project, and he put you together.

Once, he pulled the duvet over your body and held tightly. You felt the severe heat of his embrace and allowed yourself to burn in his passion. I think… he was cautious enough to allow you armor, a protection of cotton and down. Still, your heart was ablaze and turbulent in the force of his temper, a temper which blew castles into your spirit. He was everything… and he gave you your life — conducted your repertoire of dreams. You never imagined that he’d go so abruptly— never could have envisioned that
solemn day he put on his Oxfords, buttoned up his suit, and sprinted for the train. You helped him pack his suitcase the evening prior to his departure. Your face was nestled wretchedly in the arches of his neck and you begged him to return soon. You huddled over what was left of the light, struggling to prevent it from meeting the arctic draft. He lifted the bend of your chin and said lightly, “I can’t make you any promises.” And then he vanished, leaving behind him a trail of fallen petals.

You’ve somehow subconsciously logged him into your body. You wake up to the flutter of his eyelashes against the back of your neck. The windows are shut; it is cold and unclear outside. A chill crawls across your spine, and in a slow moment, you lift a palm to shield your nape.

Sigh.

He hadn’t come back. You waited, of course. You waited in the dark of closets, where you allowed yourself to flood your eyes. Later, you waited in a sea of camaraderie, a place to smile and laugh patiently against a sinking heart. You expected no less from yourself. You measured the time in seasons, and soon lost your conception of seconds, minutes, and hours to meaningless instances. You simply waited and let the moments go by. You waited, only to drift into sleep with a treasure chest of all your recollections. A trove of dusty senses carved into the gravity of earth. A casket filled with quiet prayers.

By the time you get out of bed, the sky is roaring blue. Hurriedly, your eyes fix themselves on the clock — 1:23 p.m. Your heart breaks, keeps on breaking, has always been broken. You think time is unforgiving and cruel. You put on your clothes, eat breakfast, and open the door to a tree-lined street: busy and moving. Whisking through it, you are a bubbled vessel made of
resilient cellophane. When the light hits the lines of your face, you shut your eyes and walk on. In a slow moment, you will open them again.


If you liked this piece or thought it was interesting, please hit the recommend button below!

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Charley Zheng’s story.