Gail is laying in the hospital while I’m standing on the brink. Burning bridges all weekend as I cross them, and if I ever make it home on Sunday, I’m lighting candles by the beach with starry eyes fixed on the shore. No green lights across the bay, because weekend are a myth and every day is Monday. Just a vague memory or six burning bright against the flames.
Some wounds only heal over time, but those scars are here to stay.
I watch her lay there, lifeless, and understand why there are so many sleeping beauties in fairy tales. But now she is no Belle or Snow White with seven dwarves. She’s only flesh with tubes and wires, some flowers and Get-Well-Soon balloons hovering a bedside. A bracelet her favorite nephew made when he turned six, no makeup and dark purple pavements just above her cheek. Serene, beautiful and peaceful, despite the hazmat ambiance of a hospital room. Hashtag #Iwokeuplikethis, and she looked just as perfect as the first time we made eyes and I just knew she was going to be something.
“John? Where’s John,” A weak voice, two notes shorter than a whisper.
She is surprised to see me standing there at first, but then she flashes that familiar smile so unquestionably unforgettable. Fun and full of memorable, something that never quite loses it’s glow, like watching someone trip or stumble in public. Yet there was a certain kind of sadness in the curves of her lips, in every moment of her happiness, like when you reach for a box of cigarettes and find only one soldier left. A frown formed, only, it was shaped upside down. Like when somebody says they miss you, but you don’t really feel the same way. A half hearted exchange, overdone, overkilled. Packed like this paragraph filled with too many similes.
And that’s what she does to me – filling me full of phrases and cliche’s I hate to see other people be a part of. As if our experiences are the same. As if anyone has ever experienced this pain that is so unbelievably mine.
“I must look horrible.” She says.
You say it like it’s something new.
“And you’re still a jerk. Do you still write?” She asks, and I say yes.
“Show me,” She pleads. And I do.
“You write a lot about girls.” I pause and nod.
Most of them are shades of you.
“What about that night?” She says. “Remind me how it went.”
It was snowing, and I met you at the movie theater wearing a suit.
“Why were you wearing a suit?”
Because my other plans cancelled. I was going to…a club, I think, and the birthday person caught a cold or something, and the whole thing was cancelled. But I spent a lot of money on that suit and I still wanted to wear it so.
“Ohhh, so in other words, because you’re an ass.”
Yes. Because I’m an ass.
“How old were we?”
I was 20, I think? You’d just turned 18.
So you just turned 18, I was wearing a suit because I’m an ass-
“And a pedophile,”
Yes, right, I was an ass and a pedophile, and we saw that movie with Jessica Alba about her eye. She could see the future because of it, and at the end when she gets stabbed in the face some guy in the back of the theatre yelled ‘Bet you didn’t see that coming bitch.’
“I remember that.” And she laughs.
We stayed in the food court talking about your little brother and how out of place I looked in a suit. You put on my tie, so we could match, and when we were getting kicked out at around 3a.m. you straightened your tie and told the security guard- ‘Expect to hear from my attorney.’
She smiles and grabs my hand, I stand still and uncomfortable.
“What made you come?” She asks.
“…you’re dying.” I say finally, because it was something I needed to hear myself say.
“Don’t you always say ‘we all are’?”
“It’s different now.”
“You still love me.”
“I’m not here to win you back.”
She died on a Monday.