BEHIND CLOSED CURTAINS
The thing you have to realize about a girl like her is that there are no girls like her. There‟s only her, forever, and for however long that lasts, she‟ll be everything you ever need. See through her silence and sidewards glances, and find that within her rattles a captive heart that waits to be rescued from the lonely twilight hours and the indifferent wind chime. She says that she doesn‟t believe in love to hide that she‟s too familiar with longing, so be silent as the stars, and twice as patient. When she‟s tired of failing to convince herself, she‟ll offer to you her darkest secrets curt confessions in factual tones, curtained by artificial laughter, which she uses to keep herself from crying. Fall in love with her then if you haven‟t already, and if you have, fall in love again. Hold her close as a shadow, but not as heavily, and - more importantly - with all of your might. Let her know the tremors in her chest trigger tsunamis in your heart. Promise her you won‟t be like the others, like so many others before you have, but do it without speaking this time. Embraces are more eloquent than words, warmer, and more honest. She‟ll do one of two things — either break your heart or make you realize it was never whole without her to begin with. Whatever the decision, you‟ll feel it beneath your bones, in the burning spaces between your blood cells. The way she cries will be your most cherished memory, and you‟ll know by the look in her eyes whether the tears are sweet or salty before tasting them on her face. Then you‟ll kiss her cupid‟s bow until it no longer quivers, before steadying Aphrodite‟s oyster that‟s disguised as her trembling lower lip. Don‟t take for granted what happens next - highest high, or lowest low - because it won‟t ever happen again. At least not to you. I tapped my fingers on the greasy black table top, grains of salt scattered along the surface like dusting of freckles. I looked around, searching for him. Children were running around, screaming like banshees while their sleep deprived mothers sipped coffee from thin plastic cups. Nearby a man was fumbling around in his pocket for something- anything to buy some food with. His grey hair was patchy with baldness, as was his threadbare suit jacket.
I dropped a few coins on the table near where he stood. He looked up at me gratefully though his eyes glistened- cataracts? I knew little about old men or their eyes so I made my way over to the counter to order a cappuccino. I was served by a pimply teenager who looked bored. I handed him the correct money and I moved to the side so someone else can be served. That‟s the way life moves. You get served and then you move along to give someone else a chance. Taking the coffee back to the booth, our booth, I slid alone the cracked grey plastic and wrapped my hands around the cup. I held it like a swimmer would clutch a buoy in a storm tormented sea. Its heat slowly warmed my hands. I looked out of the window, though the rain obscured most of my view. The sky was angry and grey, people entering the restaurant were clad in their cold weather attire and they were all glistening with rain. I checked my watch for the millionth time, 20 minutes late. “Sorry I‟m late, I got caught up with a,” he paused for a nanosecond, unsure of his next words, “A friend,” “It‟s fine,” I said, trying to keep the venom from my words. He gazed out of the window at something I couldn‟t fathom. “I think we should see other people,” he said all at once, his gaze still not meeting mine. I stood up, pushing my chair away and knocking over my coffee. His words reverberated in my head. Echoing. It all felt like a bad dream. I pinched myself. This was not going to go away. “You‟re… You‟re breaking up with me?” I asked incredulously. Tears brimmed in my eyes. I thought I meant more than a five minute breakup in some dingy take away restaurant. He looked at me, eyes were said to be the window to the soul and his were as black as coal. I shook my head in disbelief, grabbed my bag and left him. As I exited the restaurant, I saw the old man in the corner, savouring each bite of his cheese burger. At least I made someone happy. The world spun around me, making me dizzy as I stepped out into the pouring rain. Spinning and turning, I let it consume me, the rain filling my ears, my mind my and soaking my clothes. Drivers sounded their horns angrily. I kept spinning. Nothing left to tie me to this world. A drowsy truck driver didn‟t see the young woman spinning like a mad man through the parking lot until it was too late.
I fidget on one side of the curtain, knowing she‟s on the other. We can‟t see each other, but we can hear each other. And, for me, that‟s more than enough. Just knowing she‟s okay makes me feel better. “Hey.” She doesn‟t answer. She doesn‟t answer much these days, but I don‟t mind. I do all the talking, and I make sure to talk about stuff she likes. So maybe, one day, she‟ll pipe up and commit something to the conversation. I‟m willing to wait, however long it takes. I don‟t mind. “Hey, remember that time, when we were kids, and we were playing baseball in the backyard?” I ask, starting off with a story I love to tell. Silence. “We were trying to see who could successfully hit the ball into the neighbor‟s window -remember what a cranky old coot Atticus was?- and then play it off as an accident. But here‟s the thing, no matter how hard we hit…We couldn‟t break the glass!” I‟m overcome with giggles. But, on the other side of the curtain, the silence continues. Like it always does. It‟s okay, I‟m patient. I have been for so long. She‟ll answer one day, if I keep trying. In fact… Today was the day, I felt it in my bones. It was a tingly nice feeling. “Hey! Remember when we pulled that huge prank on our boss at work?” I asked. She was fond of this tale, because it made her look crafty. “You came up with this crazy plan, remember? By the end of the day, the Boss was covered in honey, feathers, and who knows what else!” I laughed aloud. She doesn‟t say anything. “Remember the time we went to the park, and for once nobody else was there? No line for the water fountains, or the swings, or anything. We ruled and nobody could tell us otherwise!” I continued, my eyes steady on the curtain, hoping it would sway or fall or…Anything that told me she remembered, that the story provoked a reaction. “I remember „cause that was the day I ripped my favorite sweater. Remember? The one with the blue and white stripes? The very next day, you bought me a new one…” Silence. Again.
That used to be a favorite of her‟s, too. She loves to brag about what how she knows just what I like, and how I adored the new sweater more than the old one. But there‟s an eerie silence that tells me that story brought up no response, either. The good feeling in my bones is gone. She isn‟t going to answer today, I realize. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next year. I…I can wait…She‟ll answer, there‟s no reason she shouldn‟t, no reason she can‟t….She wouldn‟t leave me alone like this… Panic strikes me. Then why didn‟t she answer yesterday? Or the day before? Or all those times before that? I‟ve been waiting so long. I miss her voice so much. “Why don‟t you answer me?” I ask softly, my voice cracking on the verge of tears. Silence. “WHY DON‟T YOU ANSWER ME?” I repeat, louder. I stand up from my chair, and push the curtain aside. “WHY…” I begin to yell, but my eyes fall on the empty seat. Empty. The tears begin to fall, warm and wet on my cheeks. “I always forget…I have nothing more than memories to keep…I-I remember so much, but I always forget. You‟re not here any more. You left.” My hand drops from the curtain. I gaze at the chair, coated in dust. Nobody has been here for a long time. “Remember the time…I begged you to come back?”