Too Much, Then Not Enough
by Elise Oddity
Chapter 8: The Surface
My stomach felt empty when I woke, but small inside of me; the appetite I'd developed a day or so ago had withered into a faint sickness, eating away at my insides. I took off with a travel mug full of coffee, cursing myself for not bringing sunglasses. The sun was just hovering over the trees, shining right in my eyes as I drove onwards, unwilling to distract myself with scenery (as nice as it was).
Experiencing that drive is so much different than remembering it. Everything was liquid, lucid, calming. Now I only have fragments, echoes of the feeling. It's sad how we always envy the past, or hurry for the future. It's not often we enjoy our present moment for all its worth.
The driveway was empty when I pulled in. I killed the engine, and listened to the silence that blanketed the neighbourhood at such an hour. The only people who got up early on a Sunday went to church, or at work, like Damien must have been. As a photojournalist his hours were inconsistent, but that part of it managed to keep life from getting too dull, or seeming that way. Even as I glared back at the sun through gaps between trees, watched the slants of light tumbling from rooftops, staircases for angels leading down to the gleaming asphalt, there seemed something bland about it. I yawned and reached down for the lever that opened the trunk.
Welcome home, Lindsay.
I carried my suitcases inside by myself, and ended up dumping them on the bedroom floor. I'll unpack later, I told myself, and wandered around the house for a while looking for something to do. But there was nothing to clean, and nothing to cook as I wasn't hungry, so there I was again, in front of the mirror in our bedroom.
Everything looked the same. Sure some little things had moved, but other than that the little house appeared exactly as it had when I left. When we painted, a year ago, we chose quiet colours for the walls – dark blues, pale yellows, some grey, and white for the bedroom. It was easy to see my outline against it. I watched myself taking in breaths, shoulders rising, mouth opening; a void.
Inhale! My body did it without being told. Automatic movements kept me alive.
Without really thinking about it, I slid the mirror back to reveal our closet, and therein, my wedding dress. I slid off my skirt, my socks, and then slid my blouse from my shoulders. The dress, a simply off-white number, didn't fit like it should have. It didn't look right on me. But maybe I didn't mind.
I pulled my sketchbook from the suitcase, along with the small package of pencils and lay on our bed, which would've smelled strongly of us had I not been so used to the smell, and let myself get comfortable. I cradled my things to my stomach, where they were cold but hopeful against me. Warm me, warm and soft. I let my body breathe for me as I relaxed. My eyes fell closed.
I think there are three kinds of happiness. The kind you have to work for, experience pain for, and the kind where you accept what's around you and let it sink in. Sometimes they overlap, causing ripples. My world puckered quietly, rising and then falling again until everything was smooth.
And there was the happiness that fills you when you have nothing else.
When I opened my eyes, Damien was lying on the bed beside me, watching me intently. I heard his footsteps on the carpet when he came, and when he closed the door softly behind him.
He smiled as best he could in the position we were, touching my shoulder softly with his hand. And though it was afternoon at that point in time, he said, "Good morning."