From where I’m looking, he almost looks happy.
The sun has finally emerged from the clouds, a fear hardly seen during the dreary month of September, and had I been around, I would have told him it was sign. We were fans of symbolism in everyday life, hidden meanings behind every mundane routine. There was attractiveness in consistency. There was magnetism in the unknown. We liked morphing our world into what we wanted it to be. Every time we could, we looked at the world through rose-tinted glasses. By the look on his face as he walked down the street, I could tell he didn’t have any reasons to smile. He wasn’t paying attention. Had he been looking, really looking, the way I’d taught him to see, he would have noticed the slight breeze in the air; it was hope. He wouldn’t have just walked by the shopping center where he worked , where everyone else was working that day; it was life. All of these things were in front of him, there, obvious and blatant, and he continued to walk with his head down.
If I could have, I would have reached for him. It’d been so long since we last spoke that I couldn’t imagine his voice in anymore. His voice never rang in the wind of my new home. And while he never talked, he listened less. If he had been listening, maybe he wouldn’t have been feeling so lonely. If he had been listening, maybe he would have noticed that the weather forecast called for sunny skies – instead of wearing yet another baggy sweater outfit. Had he been listening, he would have noticed me calling for him, everyday, endlessly, for hours, just like the wind and the sun and the rain always had. He was choosing to ignore us, I decided. The fate I had seen on his right hand was too much for him. His anguish was blinding and deafening. And in my current state, there was nothing I could do.
He was ignoring the smells. Lilacs and jasmine and nutmeg and vanilla and spice; all of the scents he once loved, the kind that would inevitably soak up into the fibers of his shirt and live there for days, vanished from his palette. The day after it all happened, he said all she smelled was ash from the bridge that I’d burned. Now, on my hands, I only smell kerosene.
I wish he would listen. I wish he would watch and look and smell. This slight facial arrangement was the most joyous I’d noticed from him; since I stopped breathing, there’d been nothing but hatred in his expression. I could feel it in his bones. It radiated. I wanted to stay away, so I sent subtle signs instead; I tried to push him to remember. Remember the way I told him the wind blows; recall how gorgeous the taste of fresh rain. The smell of wet grass after it rained... just like he told me he loved it. If he followed the rules I’d given him, he could live poetry every day.
Finally, he reached his house. Part of me didn’t want to follow him; his mother would never like me much and I would never grow on her . They all seemed burdened by my absence, like the memory of me was all-too consuming, yet they refused to remember. His mother had once called me a dreamer, a romantic, my mind full of idealist theories. I told him that his mother didn’t understand life’s beauty and wonder. How could an adult, so perfectly removed from the heartbeat of our Earth, possibly understand the connection we felt? When I had told him that, I’d held his hand. I can’t hold his hand.
Their dinner table was quiet. Nothing was said. No one asked about each other’s day. I could feel their disconnection in the air; the strings that tied them all together were unraveling, slowly, until it was hardly more than threads that held their bond. My heart ached for them. Did they not notice the stifling silence around them? He played with his broccoli, eating half and leaving the rest, and stayed put at the dinner table until he was allowed to be excused. I’d always pushed for him to have independence, to utilize her boundaries and voice. From the looks of their dinner table, my message must have hardly registered.
This is how I spent my days. I watched him, dutifully, perched from my pedestal above him. I’m sorry I had to leave him, but it wasn’t my choice. There was passion in my decision to leave the physical world; I had been captivated. All my life I’d been captivated. Could he not see the symbolism in my decision? Could he not see that, by my action, I had set him free? I had opened his eyes to a different choice, to a life ultimately different than the one his parents had force-fed him. He was my [new] prodigy, my greatest living legacy.
And that night, in bed, he looked up at the ceiling, his eyes meeting mine. He knew I was there; I could see it in his green eyes. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you,” he started. I held my breath. “I think you’re full of bullshit.”
I cried and walked away.