leave behind a whisper

She is sitting across me on a blue couch, cushion across her lap and remote in her hand. She is watching television with no apparent concentration, flipping channels when one bores her enough. She pulls her hair back with her hand, and finally switches off the television. She looks to me and says “Let’s have sex.” She says it with her eyebrows raised and a small shrug, as if it were the logical alternative to nothing on television. I shrug back and begin to kiss her. She tastes of apples and cigarettes and smells like my shampoo. There is no other conversation.

An hour and sixteen minutes later, she walks to the window in her college t-shirt and my blue size ten kitten heels. She lights a cigarette but doesn’t smoke any of it. I watch her for some time, staring into the world outside as if trying to piece some puzzle together. She has a slight frown on her brow, like a child with a new game.

“There is a Japanese word to describe the moment of falling in love,” she says, almost as if she is talking to herself. She turns to me and she asks, “Can you imagine it? A word. As if everybody can feel the same way when they fall in love.”

“I can’t,” I say to her in a whisper.

If everyone could feel the same way, everyone would have to be in love with her. They’d have to have been there, when it was happening to me. They’d have to have been drawn into our first conversation, both of us nervous and fidgeting and eager. They’d have to have listened to our first phone conversation, all fourteen hours of it. They’d have to have kissed our first kiss, felt the sun on their toes and the fear in their stomachs. They’d have to have seen her try to put a fork through a pea, and watch her wait till a piece of chocolate melt on her tongue before she ate it all. They’d have to have seen her dance, drunk by the sea, or sing, with a toothbrush in her mouth just before a shower. How can a word tell you all that in just a word?  

Her cigarette burns out, and she flops herself back on the couch. She is restless, I can tell. In fact, I know what she wants to talk about. I have known since I kissed her an hour and twenty three minutes ago. It’s not something I don’t know has been coming. I wait for her to bring it up anyway.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” she says eventually.

“I know,” I want to say, as if I understand. But I don’t. My eyes tear up even though I am willing them not to. I don’t understand. I hold her hand hoping she doesn’t let me let go. I say it, even though I don’t believe it. Even though everything is telling me not to. “I know.”

“We can still be friends,” she says. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t believe it either.

“We can’t,” I say. I don’t want to be friends. Not with her.

I remember an argument I had with her a while ago. We had just watched a romantic film. We kissed every time the couple on screen kissed. We ate lots of popcorn and laughed at the people sitting next to us. (Discretely). When we came out, she said with a similar intensity, “When lovers aren’t fun, they shouldn’t be lovers anymore.” I disagreed. Love isn’t just fun, I argued then. We had shawarma for dinner and philosophy for dessert. Our argument spanned the entirety of greek to post-modern love. It ended abruptly when we saw a poster for a kung fu movie. “Kung fu trumps romance,” she said, so we quickly bought cheap tickets for the late night show, went in and kissed some more.

“Don’t call me,” I tell her. When lovers aren’t fun, they shouldn’t be lovers anymore.

I want to hurt her, but if she is hurt, I can’t tell.

There isn’t anything else for us to say.

I take my toothbrush, pack my underwear and leave.

On my way home, I try to imagine what the word must feel like. The moment of falling in love.

It must sound like two trains passing, must feel like butterflies in the stomach, like jumping off a cliff and like warm cup of cocoa, like the quiet of home and the song you’d like to hum; all at once. This word is probably a quiet word, like laughter or cheer, a frizzy word, a word that will make you want to hold someone’s hand and share someone’s blanket. It must sound like her and me on a sunny morning, reading opposite pages of the same newspaper, eating from the same bowl of cereal, leaving the marshmallows for each other.

All moments pass, some in such a rush that they leave you with your ears ringing and spots in your eyes; disoriented and stranded. If there were words for everything, there would be a word for this too.

All moments end. 


SwB said...

Very beautiful. So happy to come here after such a long time. Hope all is well.

A said...

Next time, I see you, I am going to tell you that we can't be friends anymore because no friend of mine is allowed to be this talented. That's all.

Sita said...

SwB: Thank you muchly!

A: Hello pumpkin-pumpkin. Hello honey bunny.