First, happy birthday! That year you were scared of is here now, no longer leering at you from across the table. How does it feel, being the age that Sylvia Plath wrote about in Mrs Lazarus? Have you died and been resurrected? Are you closer to finding what you are looking for? Are you happy? Are you still unhappy? Will you get a chance to read this, busy as you are with yourself? If I were to be asked why I am writing this, I would not know how to respond. I think I know where to begin though: from the end, from an end. One of my friends lost her mother to cancer. It is funny: we live our lives mostly oblivious of the people around us and the people we claim to be close to yet we often know so little of what goes on in their lives. She, her Mum, had been unwell for about four months and went down pretty fast. It seems evil to see those happenings as only good for some kind of perspective and a justification for my hardening atheism, and not the intensely painful and personal event it was. I’ve never been good at showing my darker emotions, and what better place to hide in than words? Yes, I am an atheist. Did you not know? Then again, how could you? Even when I was undressing before you I left a few scales on. It is almost time for me too. What does it matter if I tell you this, if I tell you anything?
I should be asking how you are doing but you have done that “disappearing thing”, you have been colourless for a while and I would be pretty much throwing my questions into the hungry ether. Are you getting better? There was that thing: you never did mention exactly what it was. How did you brush it off? Sunny thoughts. Happy thoughts. Have you read any interesting books lately? See what I mean? Even before you answer, I already feel the silence closing in. I should also say I still miss you, but perceptibly less with each passing day. I have managed to convince myself that I am okay, that I will be okay, and I will, although I do not want to. Holding onto regret and guilt is the closest I can come to feeling forgiven for my sins, even though my conscience could not be clearer. I still read your work, devouring every quote and combing through every paragraph to glean some insight into you and to catch shadows of myself, those edges which once fit into yours too perfectly. Looking into you is walking into a dark room full of good, bad and beautiful things. You should see me flipping the pages, willing that it were that you splashed more of yourself on the blankness, discolouring both the world and the soft sections of this black heart of mine. Again, I have made myself the subject of a letter to you. You probably will not write me back so I may as well. Onwards then.
I met and have seen one or two or three girls since we were last together. You know me, with this smile and this charm and all this lust to give. Even with a newly chipped tooth, the smile is still here. How? Muratina. I had four glasses and I was out like your light. I would have preferred to be kissing your full ripe lips that Friday night, instead of the floor, and painting you with the brushstrokes of affection, instead of painting the cold tiles red. It was bearably painful, much less than your finalish-sounding words. They, them, those somewhat sluggish angels, are not you and, no matter how much I prayed, they never morphed into you. Yes, I prayed. You are gone yet you have driven me back into the arms of a God I do not believe in any more. I bored easily. I went quiet, like you. They were left in tears, like me. Aside from the pining, I am also mildly amused whenever I catch myself thinking of you. How can someone so far be so important? I am tired, Lucy, so tired. When we talked, I found myself constantly wishing that they were you and you them, so that you could be where I am. I realize that I only ever saw shadows of you, and what beautiful illusions they were. I never got to taste the juice of you, swish your flavours within myself. I wished that they were like what I think you are, what little I remember of you. Are you still beautiful outside and tortured lovely inside? I missed out on your big love, on your generosity, on feeling your thighs wrap around me and myself swimming in your wet warmth. I was selfish with you, even before I had you. How I wanted you. I wanted what those others had, what they tasted and could not get enough of, what some of them even tired of. I would never have tired of you, Lucy. Your laughter sounded like the sun if it had a voice and I longed to feel that energy in my ear, vibrating on my chest as we lay in each other’s darknesses, in the darkness. Your beautiful tortured soul whispered to mine, sifting into me like gentle morning light though a tree canopy. Then it went quiet. Deathly so.
What do I want? What did I want then? I do not know any more. Some of my dreams came true, others died. It is all the same to me now. There are no dreams where I am headed. I am happy but my happiness is pierced by an emptiness I cannot trace. Therefore, I am not happy, when all is stripped away, in the night when the quiet and the dimness blanket me, in the day when I get lost in my thoughts, walking unfeeling from work. I notice easily the smell of unwash around me and how the wind whips the dust into our faces, blinding us all over again. When I look around me, I see them buried in their phones with solid bovine concentration. I only notice this because of the way you reached for your phone during the lulls in our conversation, the way I know you read on it, hiding in it, in the music and the pictures of naked women, painted, photographed, drawn, erased. Are you them? Do you see yourself in their agonized allure? Do you also draw yourself as you imagine the way the artists traced the lines and the colours? Are their curves yours too?
I was never this self-preoccupied, but this is the last time I will be talking to you. Remember when I mentioned my friend’s mother dying? So am I, by my own doing. I won’t go out a bag of bones, barely able to move or too sick to feel. Did I mention that I was tired? I feel that I am repeating myself. I may as well be dead already. The world does not make sense. If it did, we would know why we drifted so far apart, or at least I would know why you snatched yourself cruelly away from me. You once mentioned that you would get jealous if I got another or get hurt when I was gone. I almost believed you. I wanted to so badly. It has been more than a year since your words fell like raindrops in the desert, barely touching the parched skins of my conscience. Now, my mind has dried up and crackled-closed onto memories of our too-short shared intimacies. Your restrained and gracefully-worded goodbye was death’s kiss, but this is death’s embrace, and I am gladly going into her arms. My eyelids are heavier than your heart and this pen is too big. Was it always this size? My head is swimming and my throat burns with songs that will never be sung. I feel clumsy, tripping over feelings that lie prostrate and tepid. Did I just smell you, cocobutter-lotion delectable? You are not here. Or are you? Will you come find me when you are done with this dull life? I will wait for you then, and I will keep waiting. I will have all of time. Now, I do not. She calls to me, singsong sweet and I am floating to her quiet place. Come find me? Promise to come find me when you are done hiding from… I do not even know what it is that scares you. Come find me, Lucy.
It is these fucking pills. These beautiful little pills. They work so slowly. I thought I did not have time, yet here I still am. I am so sleepy and I cannot stop until the whiteness swallows me. All I see are colours swimming before me, your colours mixed with mine. I am naked. I took off all my clothes before starting. I will not need them where I am going. If I was still in the thick of the life that now ebbs out of me I would be sneezing my lungs out. I am not. My skin is hotter than when you touched it. The Old Spice I am wearing is coming off me in waves, not as yet overwhelmed by the rancid sweat frantically dripping, ticking off the seconds, slower but harder than the heartbeat in my ears. I wish you were here to tell me that I should stay, that I will one day make something more of myself than a dreamer and a heartbreaker. And I did break your heart, much more than I broke the others. You wonderful twisted creature, I twisted you further, wonderfully. Did I ever tell you I love you? Yes, I love you, and I loved you from that first day when your shy face peeked at me from around the corner, when we searched each other out in the pulsing crowd, our resonance above the cacophony drowning with us.
Am I holding you, holding onto you, curled around you crookedly like the gnarled limbs of an old tree on a rock? Are these your thorns digging into my hands and feet, not allowing me peace, not letting me let you go? I have never held you, not the way I have dreamed of. But, I have to go now. I can feel my insides closing in on themselves, settling down for the jump. Before I go, promise me you will learn to embrace your demons, just as I tried to embrace them. Believe me, I did try. My head is heavy, no longer with you, but with water, with air. I wonder what a dead man’s wish may mean to you. I wonder where you will be when they find what is left of me. Will you cry for me, Lucy? Do that, at the least. I know somewhere inside you there is a small ember burning for me. I have to believe that. I hope they bury me in an unmarked grave. I made no mark when I was here. I deserve no honours. Promise me you will plant a flower for me? Something useful like an onion. I could not resist this one last idiocy with you. An onion: layered and inducing tears. You may as well plant yourself next to me for we are not much different. I am going to lie down now. See you on the other side?