When She Asks to Stay
When the weather is cold, you put on a heavy coat to keep you warm. To protect you from the cold, from the snow. From the bone shivering chill that creeps up your spine, and you can’t think about anything else. The coat keeps you warm, inside and out until it’s six weeks later and Spring has sprung. It’s going to make you sweat, going to make you hot but there’s a part of you that doesn’t really want to take it off yet. You can’t part with the idea the coat served its purpose, and now it’s time to put it away. You can’t part with it yet.
I longed for you. For your scent to stain my shirt one more time, for your sunny smile and for your blonde curls and for your brown eyes. I longed for you, ached for you, grieved for you.
Walking along like so many of us do in a park, in a mall, or in a downtown street at one point, you’ll tire. Your fight hurt, so you sigh and resolve to sit on the next bench you see. It’s unoccupied right now, so you sit and exhale your fatigue with another sigh. I was in walking along a downtown street when the overcoming need to pause took my hand and led me across a crosswalk. The bench I sat upon was cold and empty, for right now.
Somewhere in the air beneath the excitement of the bars and the restaurants, I found a much needed silence.
When she sat beside me, she was older than I thought.
Blue eyes silver and reflective, like lights on a biker or runner at night, letting you know he’s there. Shining in the darkness.
She’s quieter than I expected; time is wisdom, and perhaps she knows silence is one of the wisest things you could have. I wondered at first if it were she had nothing to teach me, if it’s that she had no stories to tell. But she was dressed in such dark colors in a vibrant world that I couldn’t help look only at her; nothing else.
You shouldn’t look at me that way, Grief says. You’ll get used to me, I’m here to stay.
She draped around me like a wool coat, a barrier against the cold I’d felt. Warmed only by brown liquor in my stomach, it was a relief to relax. To soothe myself without the day-later discomfort and reminder of my loss. Her arms around me warmed me inside out, outside in, and all around.
Her touch was not without a fraction of a doubt I’d never hold her the way I you. But that, too, faded away like the cold.
We met for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner. With her beside me, I didn’t think of you. I could think neither of the things we’d do, or places we’d go to. I thought nothing of you.
Six weeks passed, with longer days and stronger sun. I know I’ve been getting hotter, warmer from the inside. Too hot, too hot to touch. Spiciness of both body and mind, no longer did I want her to wrap her arms around me. To weigh heavy on my shoulders.
It’s springtime, now, nearing summer. We’d had breakfast, lunch, and dinner even less. Once in a while, see-you-sometime, and how I missed you… I won’t confess. It’s been a sinking feeling in my stomach, you know.
Grief and I had lunch one day. Long before, I’d ask her to stay. Then, she’d ask me to stay. But today I’m ready to walk away.