And she was the lily perched on the edge of a bench, quivering, quivering (just about to collapse, wither away in a breath). I wanted more than anything to gather her in my arms, to stop that blue velvet shaking, to feel her breathe, cry against my chest. To make her remember, to let me recall all the things she taught me; let me be the one to remind her, this time around.
To show her how much I've learned, the ways she grew me and those flowers we hijacked in May, suffocated from too much fertilizer (panting for fresh rain). To show her that I'd never forget.
Maybe, maybe to plead that it didn't have to be this way.
(I would whisper it in her ear, so no one else could hear…)
But she sat on the edge, fingers clenched tight like the wrinkles of a scrunched napkin, all white and afraid. She looked at me with pale eyes, misty eyes the color of autumn fog; her lips pressed together, so the pink veins barely disappeared. (suppressing the shadow, maybe a smile?)
I licked my lips, and I felt so graceless and awkward standing there in the middle of a blackened park with one lamp light shining on her ghostly face, a clear candle.
And I croaked: "Remember me?"
And I was half-afraid the answer would be 'no.' (please don't be, please remember me, will you?)
I wanted to ask her so many things, so many stories. How much did she remember? All the colors she created in between those shades of frozen cities and falling sky scrapers, milky days, sweet rain, high fences, open fields, cold hospitals, broken bottles, lonely benches, fireflies, and the words, running down and spilling away…
Did she remember?
More importantly, did she want to?
The way I wanted to, the way I wanted to recount, relive everything, all those bursting fuchsias and rainbow fish scales, torn apart and pieced together, the things I could no longer read, the things I dreamt of, gold pieces under the pillowcase.
Tangled beneath the sheets, lost.
I wanted to reclaim them. I wanted to share them with her, the way we had. The way she had begun, the way I ended. The way this story will always be told.
And then the tears sprung through her cheeks and she was alive again, so very alive, with everything bursting and hiccupping against the salt, the gray watering back to blue; and there was me on the bench beside her and she crawled into my lap and cried the night away, and I was happy, I was safe, there was peace. (calm I hadn't felt in years)
And she was the little girl in the park, on the bench, crying to the people, her beautiful song.
That was the last time she ever cried for me.
I saw her again, from time to time, but things were never the same. It was as if she had given me her everything, in that single instance; all she could give to me, because she could no longer own it. She'd dreamt me a rainbow to keep by my bedside when I was lonely; when the sky turned green and everything rolled over, I'd have her song to play over in my head. Her tears to hold in my hand, and her smile to remember.
Life was routine and the road slipped by: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, October, December, January—I can't remember everything or anything at all.
And then there was April and May again (her time of year), and the tulips blooming all up and down the street we used to hijack, reds and yellows and oranges. Strong, like her smile used to be. I remembered the hospital stint, then, and the cold sheets; and that one beautiful thing I had noticed because—I don't know why.
And the night in May, the night in May I will always remember, just like her song.
It was a walk home and I was tired (always was now), and things were no different from the way they had been running. I hadn't thought about the girl in a while; she'd retreated to the recesses of my mind, awakening only in those darkest hours when the light wouldn't turn on and I heard the old monsters again, quiet in the closet, calling out in my brother's voice. When I thought I saw ghosts by my bedside, when I couldn't sleep anymore because I'd remember peeling the onions and the tears never coming, not the way I wanted them to.
That night I had been working late, and it was getting dark fast. It fell like a curtain, veiled and not quite solid; but you could feel it brushing up against your knees, barely, like a ghost kitten. And then I heard: the rumble, the thunder, and all of sudden the sky was crashing down and shattering to pieces. Down on my head, the rain pouring everywhere, into the gutters, and it was dark, so very dark and wet.
And just as suddenly as the rain had come, there was this feeling that sprung up inside of me, violent and desperate, deep choking. I started to run (I don't know why), the water rushing up higher and higher, filling up the streets. Me, sloshing through the puddles and the water spraying in my eyes and me with my heavy feet hitting the ground, splash splash, splash, stumbling through the dark and the rain. (her song, pulling me in, to somewhere I could remember)
My lungs were on fire, throbbing, and I sucked in air like a madman, so tired, so very tired; but I couldn't stop, no. The feeling was growing madder and madder and its hungry roots went down deep and struck a note inside of me, so loud it was deafening with the rain drumming against it, and the thunder clashing like great cymbals. And then her words coming back, so clearly, every word as vivid as her touch; what is love? a burden…
The words pouring into my ears to fill me up, to drown me, sweetly.
And my own words, the words I spoke to her, too.
Everything sinking together (sub-level) and everything bliss and I began to scream, sing, shout, dance for joy, or whatever that feeling was, because I still can't name it. My throat was hoarse and my eyes were stinging from the water getting in them, but it was okay because everything was on fire, and no one was there to douse it.
And in the rain I could dream, because she would let me dance in the puddles, getting wet and filled up with her song.
(No one to take her away from me this time; I'd find her for sure.)
And me running down the streets with the tulips blooming in the rain, sucking up the water with their great fiery tongues, and I could swear for a moment they were singing with me; they could hear it, too. And I ran around with the tears dripping from my face, I don't know where they came from, but they were warm like a mother's perfume and they mingled with the cool of the rain, and the sensation was extraordinary, truly.
And then when I opened up my mouth to let the rain in, to drink, it—
It was sweet.
And the sourness that I'd remembered then was gone, washed away, and I could remember her fully, without the ash in her eyes. And I thought: I could live again.
It was her day, and the thunder called her name.
Wow, I think it's done. Probably the first story I've ever actually completed, ha. Looking back, this was really a nice experience, and I'm a little bit sad to see it end. But I guess it's time to move forward, right?