Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Futureless Present

I stared at myself in the long mirror mounted on the wall as I brushed my hair. Cringing, I examined my outlook. It didn't look very good. My eyes showed traces of a sleepless night. Despite my better judgement, I found myself trying to ignore the sensible side of myself. I shouldn't be doing this. I shouldn't even leave the house. I shouldn't be chasing down something that had no hope of lasting. I shouldn't be trying to undermine fate.

But I was already out the door before my rational side had finished spewing that crap load of advice.

My summer dress showed effects of the wind's passage. It was a bright, optimistic day and I was carrying nothing but my phone and my favorite book. 1984 by George Orwell. Yeah it isn't a common favorite among seventeen year old girls. It explored darker themes and unthinkable realities. I didn't rightly know why I liked it so much. Perhaps it was because it kept me grounded and grateful. I liked to think it kept me realistic. 

Dreamers have no place in today's world. 

And when that realization hit, my eyes prickled with fresh tears. Of course. I knew what I was doing today and it wasn't to mindlessly fall prey to the intoxication of undying love. I reached the sand. Another gust of wind swept through the vicinity and with it I smelled the brine of the ocean. I kicked off my flip flops and ventured to the seaside, letting the cool waves touch me. I flipped through the book as I waited for Derek. 

I felt his strong arms around me a few minutes later. He hugged me from behind, pressing his lips to my collarbone. "Hi," he murmured. At the mere sound of his voice, I wanted to forget my worries and just give in to felicity now. 

"Hey," I said, my voice sounding strained. I turned around, preparing to give him the ultimatum I was mentally preparing but his closeness once again melted my defenses. Suddenly his lips were on mine, moving gently but purposefully. I tasted the hunger we both had trouble suppressing and I thought to myself, "No. This has to be right. What could be wrong about this?"

Eventually, I pulled away. Derek pressed his forehead to mine, closing  his eyes. "You have no idea how much I've been missing you," he whispered. 

"We can't do this, Derek," I finally said. 

He opened his eyes and stroked my cheek once. "What do you mean?"

"I mean we can't. Not anymore. We have to end it. Now."

"What're you talking about?" He was serious now but his eyes held an ounce of hurt.

"You know what I'm talking about. You're leaving. You're moving across the country in a  few weeks. And I'm staying here. There's no way we can keep doing this. And your parents practically hate me. Come on..."

He sighed and took my hand. We started walking along the beach, prolonging the inevitable.  "We can. I don't know how but we'll do it."

I shook my head. "I won't hold you back."

"But..."

"But what, Derek? What can you tell me that would make more sense than what I'm saying now?"

"But I love you." And he said it so innocently and simply that it just about broke my heart. I stopped  walking  and he did  too. The waves lapped at our feet again and again, smoothing out the sand we stood on, leaving seashells  behind. 

"Going on doesn't make any sense," I said somberly. 

He leaned in, kissing me again but ever so softly. "Last I checked, love doesn't make sense." 



It was all nonsense, as they both knew it. In reality there was no escape. Even the one plan that was practicable, suicide, they had no intention of carrying out. To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one's lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is air available. 
- George Orwell, 1984  



Monday, December 22, 2014

White Christmas

I hate hospitals. That's all I can think as I sit on this bitterly uninviting, pale orange chair in the hospital cafeteria. I eat the sandwich though it goes down tasting like tasteless pudding but with a consistency closer to PVC glue. I shake my head and sigh. I should be used to it by now; I have spent most of this year in the hospital. Not for me but for her. Ashley. How long she has been here I have almost forgotten. But she's getting better and that's what matters... At least I hope she is.

I throw the plastic container that held the sandwich and go to the counter to get a bottle of water. Then I am out of the cafeteria, heading to Ashley's ward. I take a sip of the water then replace the cap. As I walk, I toss it from hand to hand. That's something my mom has always chastened me about. That I do actions like that when I get nervous or uncomfortable. Before I know it, I have to reign all the negativity in because I'm right in front of Ashley's ward.

I push open the door and force a smile though that doesn't really seem necessary. I walk in and put a hand on Peter's shoulder. "Get some food," I say. The exchanges between Peter and me were always short. Usually less than 5 syllables. 

"Okay," he says. 

I take his place and smile at Ashley. Her blond hair looks a little shinier today. Maybe that is the fault of my inaccurate perception. I usually tell her about my day but I think today she wants to hear about something else, something a little more interesting perhaps. 

"Do you remember how we met?" I ask. 

She doesn't answer. 

"Okay. I'll tell you then. It was how most teenagers meet in my opinion. At a party. But this wasn't an ordinary crazy teen drinking and daring type of party. This was a simple, innocent Christmas party at a mutual friend's house. Peter's actually. Yeah. I arrived there late. You know how I'm notorious for being late. By then everyone was watching a Christmas show on one of the movie channels and from the looks of things, the gifts were all unwrapped already. I gave Peter his present then went to get a drink. You were there. You were wearing this white dress and you had a Christmas hat on your head. And I swear you looked so adorable, Ash. I stuttered a hello and you were gracious enough to return one. We went back into the living room and that was it. Not a very interesting meeting, I know. But it matters. And the insignificant things we remember tend to be the most significant when enough time has passed." I pause and look outside. "It's snowing. Just how you like Christmas. It's been a year since we met." 

Peter comes back into the room then and I decide to leave. I go outside of the hospital to take a smoke. The  air is cold and soon I'm practically chilled to the bone. There's nothing too merry about this Christmas. 

I''m standing outside a hospital I visit almost everyday. The hospital with the white walls, white floors and white sheets. I'm standing here trying to deny myself the agonizing love I have been harboring for the girl upstairs who has been in a coma for months. 

"Merry Christmas, Ashley," I mutter almost inaudibly.