I saw him again yesterday at three in the morning.
A soft thud disrupted the eerie silence of a warm summer night as I lay on my bed reading Wuthering Heights. Trailing the source of the sound, I caught a glimpse of his chestnut brown eyes staring longingly at me from the half-open window pane. I could hear him breathe heavily as he jumped down on the stone floor.
The room grew colder and I could hear cats growling, maybe, at a distance. He made no noise as he approached me, warmth melting from his eyes as he stroked the back of his fingers on my left cheek. My heart skipped a beat or two and I froze.
Memories of those carefree winter mornings came rushing back. It used to be his annoying habit to touch his cold fingers on my face and then laugh at my disgust. Back then, that was a normal, funny thing for him to do. After all, he was my best friend, my safe space, someone I had known forever.
Last night, it was all the same. Only his hand felt colder, almost lifeless, and his face was sadder than I had ever seen him. Something about his drifting expression told me he was hurting, bad, as if there was nowhere else for him to go. I could feel my blood surging as he stooped down and held my face lightly, staring at me as if he had a plethora of questions messed up in his head, as if only I could bring him solace.
Slowly, I felt my eyes close, life fading away.
We used to be like Juno’s swans for as long as he had life under his skin. But now it’s different. It has been different for the last couple of years.
No, I didn’t see his lifeless body turning to ashes. But I remember the day when everything went quiet after long nights of howling and mourning over his death.
It has been nine years now since that day. And just like seasons, lives have changed. The pain has subsided and the howling has stopped. But can anything fill the void a close one’s death brings?
Maybe you can create compartments for every painful memory and stash them in the far corner of your brain, promising yourself to never look inside it. Maybe you can replace the pain for a while with mindless, futile pleasures of life. But does the pain ever truly heal? Well, last night told me it doesn’t.
Sometimes, however strong the chains, the walls break and you start feeling the void again—painful, horrific and sinfully empty. Maybe it is me who keeps coming back to him; maybe it is me who has nowhere else to go.
I don’t know what last night was about. Was it just my mind making up scenarios or was it him hoping to escape oblivion’s curse? What if it was really him trying to tell me he’s still here?
You know what?
I believe he’s still here.