There was a time that everything made me think of you.
The first morning's whistle of a bird followed me – haunted me – for so many sunless dawns; the smile of a stranger would remind me of your insouciantly lonely half-smirks, always setting a challenge. I could not look at the sky because of the times I'd watch you watch it, like some vaguely interesting television show, as I longed for your attention. What currently occupied you was dull – always boring in comparison – compared to the thrill of something ahead. Even the past, which had no bearing on anything, was a matter to be preoccupied with.
I couldn't hear a child's laugh without wondering how it would compare to that of your voice, had you been younger. I associated small, irritating flies with gazing as your hair glinted in the hazy light of the fireflies, on the first night you had to get away from everything. I associated everything ugly, brutal and physical with the jaded, painful look in your eyes as you thrust forward your fist.
You said, you promised, that we would escape from everything together – one pleasantly warm afternoon in a field, one brooding night lying on a hill – and that time would be only for us, just to relax and talk and not to feel. The arrangement, as it stood, was not for us to care about the other's teenage angst or problems with parents; when we talked, it was about the pleasant weather or your hangover or who was winning our current tournament of childish word games. At times, I would ask some stupidly profound question like, "are we running, Li?" or convince you to make daisy chains with me.
You'd smirk, empty-eyed, and say: "Don't be ridiculous; we're hiding." And I would laugh – softly, contentedly at first, and later bitterly, like the thought depreciated my entire existence.
"What are you hiding from?" There was something hurt within you, an old, weary ache that I wanted -- beyond even your love -- to explore: to roll up your sleeves, run my hands over your face and examine your wounds, those old battles you fought with anyone and everyone you could. I wanted to open my eyes and see into you. You showed no reciprocal interest, but I understood. Care wasn't required; without words, when it started, we had agreed this.
I did not ask. You said nothing about the reason you needed me -- you did, I know. (I have to believe that.) You stayed, and it was more than enough. I had more than my fair share of you; many afternoons would be spent playing voicemail tag instead of studying, both of us too stubborn to end the the amusement and answer the phone. You skipped dinner one night to eat all of your sister's Halloween candy at a bus stop, with me. We were comfortable together, away from the pressures and the issues of adolescence, never extending our wandering eyes and misplaced hands to each other. There were kisses, but they were cold, chaste affairs when we'd ploughed through a bottle of vodka and you thought that kissing on the lips was too conventional.
I didn't even notice that you never said forever.
You'd promise me the evening, the night if we couldn't face anyone else. When we'd patched ourselves up and felt ready, perhaps you'd suffer an embrace or a brief interrogation regarding the health of your family or the exploits of your sister. Talented, you gave away just enough to make it addictive. I greedily hoarded these tiny, teasing puzzle pieces, anticipating a complete picture.
I forgot that outside us, time still moved, and soon time would split us apart. No two lives can remain concordant forever, no matter how strong the bond between them: circumstance, external influence or death will sever even a bond of blood, in time. Everybody leaves, and as unhappy as it is, this must be accepted.