I haven’t bothered to do much in the last couple of weeks. It’s been hell trying to accomplish normal tasks that I used to take for granted. Back when it wasn’t just me.
I don’t even go into our room anymore. I look at it like a dark ally I try to avoid at night. I’ve slept on the couch mostly. Still do my work from the computer. My job seems fine with it but I know I’m stretching it thin. Maybe I’ll go out and see the sun today.
The phone rings. It’s Henri.
“Hey.” I almost whisper it.
“Hey man. How have you been?” he asks.
I’m silent for a moment. “I’m ok.” I reply.
“That’s good man. I’m glad.” he says.
“So, do you wanna grab a drink in a little bit?” he asks with a sense of enthusiasm that already has me tired before I can answer.
“I don’t know man. I gotta..” I begin but he cuts me off.
“Look Benny. I know you’re home. You haven’t left the house since..” he stops himself knowing what he is about to say.
“I know how long I’ve been here for.” I reply.
“Too long.” he adds on. “I’m coming to your building. Come down stairs in 5 minutes.”
“Fine.” I hesitantly tell him before I hang up.
I toss the phone on the coffee table where a bag of chips breaks it’s fall. I stand up from the couch and the blanket draped over my legs falls to the floor. I look down at the disheveled wreck of a man I am. I walk around the couch where I catch my reflection in a long mirror on the wall.
I stand in front of it for what feels like a century. The phone rings.
“Hello.” I answer without looking, still staring at my reflection.
“I’m downstairs. You comin?” it’s Henri.
I’m silent but not on purpose. I’m just mesmerized at the man I see in the mirror. A shame of a man who seems to have crawled out from the underbelly of depression. I look like hell spat me out. My eyes are shot. My face is a mess of hair. The tank top has stains from food two weeks ago. For the first time I catch the smell of my body. Probably not because I smell it but because the way I look screams that I haven’t showered in days. I am a lost soul.
“Benny are you there?” Henri’s voice snaps me into reality.
“Yeah. umm. I’m sorry but I can’t come down man.” I tell him.
“Come on man. You have to get out.” his tone of desperation and disappointment.
I continue to stare at myself and realize he’s right. But not now.
“I know I do Henri but…I need a little more time. I’ll call you later tonight.” I tell him.
“Alright but if you don’t I’m gonna call you until you answer me.” he spits out with sarcasm in his tone.
“I will man. Promise. And Henri. Thank you.” I tell him and hang up.
Another look at my soiled form and I nearly run head first into the bathroom. I shower for decades and shave my face. It’s as if I am reborn in this very moment. I step out of the bathroom with a towel around my head, drying my hair. As I pull it off my head I catch the door to the bedroom in my sights.
I stare at it like a bull waiting to charge. Face to face with my greatest adversary. I drop the towel and walk slowly to the door, naked. My heart beats so heavy it might shoot out of my chest. I’m both struggling to breath and breathing heavy all at the same time.
My hand on the door knob. I’m hesitate but anxious, afraid yet hopeful. I wanna run away and never look back but…I want to be here. I turn the knob and swing the door open. The smell hits me like a ton of bricks. Perfume, air fresheners, and used candles.
All her smells.
I walk in, shaking. I don’t know if I’m cold or if I’m petrified. I stand there for a minute and I gaze around. I see her comb on the dresser. Her lipstick on the floor. The book she was reading by the bed. I walk around the bed to her side and pick it up.
‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir. She wanted to read it before we saw the movie. She always had to read the book before seeing the movie. I was never a big reader. I set it back down on the nightstand. I walk back around to my side. I see my watch and my ring on the nightstand. I had forgotten all about them. I sit down gently on the bed, as if I might break it if I’m not careful.
Again a chill crawls up my back and I catch myself shaking. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop shaking. Slowly, I lay back against the pillows, not turning to face her side. I lay there curled into a ball. I know what I want to do…but I won’t I tell myself I won’t…but I must.
I turn flat to my back and I put my hands on my stomach. I can feel myself breathing as if I was trapped in a vacuum in space, grasping for the last bit of oxygen in the room. Slowly, I reach over to her side.
For the first time, I’m in our room. For the first time, I’m in our bed. For the first time, I feel how empty her side is. And now, I feel like the lost soul I truly am. Lost without her.