Blushed plum perfume sighs through the pores of my usual black lace dress and it chases me in the wake of my departure, dusky mauve sky leaks through an oaken canopy above as the day dies in throes of arrogant colour and turns the streets to moth-bitten paintings. I wait all day in the privacy of my stifled attic bedroom under dusty pink sheets in flesh pale to the touch and cold to the eye, I wait curled as tightly as a mothball ‘til I can open windows just to let the time that I’ve shunned pour in, then I exit quietly and meet the streets, and I’m sorry, because I know you won’t notice.
I do this, I leave pristinely cleaned and preened and as beautiful as I can be, and I follow the moon when it rides high in the night, not for a dangerous thrill, but because I relish the comfort of its blanketing arms, it keeps me warmer than the crackling broken accordion [oil heater] in my bedroom, because the night is silent except for the white-noise hiss of dead stars that lull them all into such a false state, “oh the beauty of life” they say, but those stars are dead, and I feel at home because I know when I hear that sound between radio stations I am revisiting the past, and I’m sorry, because I knew you then.
There’s a new presence under my skin when I inhale the tasteless iciness of the air that stills on the edge of autumn, and it’s solemn and stimulating all at once, a new patient with a secret chart, living only on the hope she finds in the corners of a doctor’s practised smile, it’s that feeling of loving but knowing it will hurt, and I know that it will, because in winter we all hibernate and share that dreamy-eyed glance on the train on rainy days, we all know that none of us are really there when it gets cold, we’re really hiding away somewhere safe and warm behind the walls that are our eyes, and I’m sorry, because it hurts to wake up.
But it’s intangible to those who flock and follow trails left behind by others, it’s unattainable to those who choose flight over fight, it’s far too easy to close your eyes and wake when the cafes stop serving soups with crisp bread, and why not? When everyone furrows their brows in synchronised practice and pats you on the back to say “there, there, you did all that you could”, well maybe that’s true, you’ve always been frightened by the hiss of dead stars, because you’ve never really lifted your head from your mother’s breast, and I’m sorry, because I don’t know if you ever will.
Maybe eventually you will awaken from your slumber and spite the world for its silence, maybe you’ll fight to stay awake just to wait for a glimpse of what you lost, but maybe it’s too late by then, maybe I’ve already walked that walk to my favourite place where birds rest, and maybe I’ve begged you to meet me there in the coldest part of night, but maybe you said no each time, and each time smudged me and smeared me into something less human, like an eraser to a graphite sketch, and maybe eventually, I didn’t come home, and I’m sorry, because you couldn’t love the way that I love.
By Tess Van Deyk