Yesterday, I loved you


I hold the gun gingerly in my gloved hand and lean my head out of the parked car to peer outside. Staring wide-eyed at the silhouettes of the trees that surround the long forgotten tracks, I see shadows dancing within the night and creating their own little puppet show. If I close my eyes, I can still remember when these tracks were still used and the line of smoke rose above the hill as a train, speeding by us and throwing dirt up into the wind, wound in the opposite direction.

'It will be really easy,' you suddenly say. Your voice is smooth, low and resounding in the car, wrapping itself around me and pulling me back to the task at hand. I worry my lip, blink a few times and then turn to look at you sitting so casually in the passenger's seat. 'You can do this, I promise,' you say, grinning. And I wish I could go back to where it started; I wish we both could just enjoy the moment.

Moments before your departure- so many years ago, when we are still in our twenties, on these formerly well-travelled tracks- I wanted nothing more than to throw my arms around you because I knew right then and there that I just could not do without you and seeing you now- your face, your eyes, your smile and your hair with the feeble light striking sparks in it- right here with me again, in this same spot and same position, my stomach drops.

Only today we do not watch the trains passing by us, we do not wonder who is sitting within each compartment and what they could be possible doing or thinking, where they would be going, and whom they would be seeing. We can't do that anymore because these tracks are closed, and you do not plan on lingering around any longer. I don't think I can take it, especially knowing it will be for good this time around; we won't be seeing each other again. You won't come back to brush the hair out of my face, letting your fingers linger on my cheeks longer than they should and whisper that you'll be fine.

'Are you ready?' you ask. I'm not, not at all. My heart is racing, thoughts rolling and boiling with the adrenaline that feels like tiny electric sparks within my veins. My body is burning with the ongoing fight within my heart, with the ancient and well known struggle of me and my words, which now cling to my throat, clutch at my tongue and forbid me to speak. But when you look me in the eye, everything seems to melt instantaneously into fragments of delight, joy, possibilities and bittersweet daydreams. 'We are a team, and I need you to do this for me. I need you, do you hear me?' Your voice is gentle, low and sweet and so very, very attractive.

I nod, simply staring at you because I can, because you are here with me once again; because that brilliant smile of yours blinds me as usual, because when you reach for my elbow my heart flips and your touch lights a fire where it meets my skin and because. . . have you always been so utterly beautiful? It is bizarre and unsettling to need this, to want this, and hold this moment: to grab it and toss it and wring it and starve without it. You make me crave warmth, and kisses and hugs. Nothing besides you and me, these tracks and this car, this silent star speckled night and these soft touches of a fading street lamp are terribly important now. Nothing weighs as much as this moment, this situation, these seconds ticking by with each breath forcing its way into my system and out of yours.

'I don't think you understand the dramatic impact this will have,' you murmur, sighing deeply and running one of those wonderfully gentle hands through the soft strands of your hair. 'Look, I get it, okay? I am asking a lot here, I know, but would you please just fucking say something?' But I can't. I can't open my mouth and tell you things to sooth your mind, your conscious. I can't even stop looking at you. 'Nevermind-' you slam your fist against the dashboard, then lean back into your seat- 'I will ask someone else. I can find someone else.' Your eyes are angry as they stare ahead, suddenly avoiding me.

And I panic, shaking so quickly that the gun nearly slips through my fingers, but I manage to tighten my grip around it again; to swallow the thick clump within my throat. I manage to ignore the frantic beating of my heart and open my mouth- my tongue's dry, my throat aches and my lips crack with the movement- and finally, after hours of just sitting here silently I say, 'I'm sorry.'

'It's all right. I always knew you not to be the smartest of them. Just focus.' I try to do as you say. I try to focus on the facts at hand and the things that need to be done. But the wind is buffeting through the open window and it sweeps my thoughts up, swirling and twirling them so vigorously that I am losing my grip on the situation- on the moment. You want me to do this, though, so I know I can because it is you who asked me. So I focus: on the multiple blows to the head that I had taken beforehand, the blood loss and the nerves that skitter away every few seconds. I focus on each breath, each beat of my heart and each flutter of your lashes. 'Good, that's it. Calm down, baby, I got you.'

I focus on the fact that I can do this; that I ought to hurry before you decide to choose someone else. I focus on the fact that it's you sitting with me in this car; it's you who needs me, wants me and deserves everything you ask. 'I can do this,' I mumble. I call forth the deepest reserve of willpower. This is just one last test of conviction; one last struggle to get out of the mud, one more pull and I'll be up the ladder and out of the ditch. 'I think I can.' I flash you a nervous smile, a frightened look.

'I believe in you, baby,' you say quietly, reaching out to brush your fingers through my hair. The comfort it brings is nearly overwhelming; my heart clenches and I fear for a second I might go into cardiac arrest. You are so perfect: your jaw, your lips and biceps and even your spine; from the tips of your fingers to the curl of your toes and the crook in your smile, even the wink you throw my way. I'm so frightened and I can't look down at the gun in my hand or I'll panic. So instead I continue to look into your eyes that are astonishingly beautiful in the dim light; you're astonishingly beautiful in any light for that matter. 'I got you, baby, I got you,' you say with a breathless laugh.

I close my eyes and press my cheek against your hand. This simple gesture reminds me of the time when our hearts once seemed synchronised, when the beating inside my chest went wild and I swore I had a lion's heart because I could do anything. I still can. With you, I know no fear- you guide me, push me, pull me and shove me out of the way. 'This is the last step. Do you have the letter?' you whisper and your breath ghosts across my skin, making me shiver in anticipation.

'Yes,' I answer and open my eyes. There's a moment when you blink- your eyelashes falling in heaps, fluttering down to your cheeks- and the ecstasy of past nights and previous endearments catches my breath. You purse your lips and rub them against my temple and it is like a gift that binds me, spilling and flowing and wrapping me up so tightly that I fear I might burst. 'It-It's in the glove compartment,' I stutter, pointing in said direction. 'Will this really work?'

'Once you do this, I will be fine.' Briefly, you brush your lips against mine, dwelling for just a few seconds while I am lost in the feelings that you stir within. 'Do it just like I said, baby and then this will be behind us. I'll be so happy, and it will all be thanks to you.' You finally kiss me properly, thoroughly and it is wonderful and glorious, teasing my nerves and strengthening them; a taste of victory, temptation and belief itself. Then you pull back and murmur, 'This way it will all be ours, everything.' My stomach clenches and coils and heat rises. 'You got this.'

And then you retreat, pulling those slender fingers away from my face, quickly taking your warmth with you. You flash me one more grin, one more quirk of your lip and rise of your brow; you let me bathe in the gleam of your sight one more time. For you, I can do it. 'I don't like to be too close when it happens, baby, so count to thirty and then do it, all right?' I nod nervously and watch you step out of the car. 'You're doing me a really big favour, I appreciate it. You know I love you, right?' I nod again- I know you do- and you close the door and start to walk off into the darkness ahead.

I have to pause for a moment, to stop the tension from building within. This is where we first met, long ago- how many years have it been now? These tracks were a memory of false illusions and silly daydreams, of simple gestures and soft touches; of grinding hips, stifled moans, butterfly kisses and hearty laughter. I can do this because you asked me to. I have to do this because you're the brand upon my skin. I will do this because I love you too- I always have and always will.

I stare out the window, my eyes never wavering from the passenger's side. My grip tightens around the gun again. I'll do it just the way you said to. Did thirty seconds pass already? Are you somewhere near the tracks, just standing there to smoke a cigarette and wait for the sound to ring through the night? I bet you are waiting for me. You have to use me, I completely and utterly understand that.

But it still makes me nervous, and my body begins to shake again because you are not next to me; you are not holding my hand while I pull through with this and there is no more warmth around. I can take the blame; I will take it. I gasp out a breath, trying to assess the situation again- through a blurry vision because this is big and just so much, so frightening. There's something throbbing in my head- in my heart and bones and nerves- and bile rises in my throat, but there's no time for that. I switch off the safety, place the gun under my chin- the kiss of the cold steel brushes my neck- and aim upwards, towards the back of my head and the world seems to go quiet while it waits for me to just do it.

My heart is wild, but my breaths are even now.

I can do this. I know I can because once upon a time, you really did love me.

I shut my watering eyes, inhale deeply and grit my teeth. Then, my finger lets go of the trigger.