Sometimes I need fresh air and this evening is one of those times. I unlock the door and step out on the old porch, which explains the unsafe sounds I hear as I step onto it. Originally I came outside my house to enjoy a cigarette to compliment my late night cup of coffee, but for reasons I’m not sure of yet, I’ve resolved to stay.
The moons brightness is almost blinding as it owns the sky tonight. With the stars resting and the clouds too scared to pass, the moon stands alone— much like I do— until its beauty is broken by dawn as the sun takes over.
I close my eyes for a moment and hum a Shins song aloud. What sticks with me are the words in its final verse, which hang around in my mind, like if the moon dropped a diamond necklace around itself this evening; both beautiful and true. It ends with James Mercer singing:
“Love is such a delicate thing that we do- with nothing to prove- which I never knew.”
One day you can sincerely be in love, or be loved by someone and the next day that love has vanished. When it’s gone, you can try everything in your power to bring it back (like I did) but it just doesn’t.
The last time I remember seeing a moon this full— this pure— was three summers ago and three days before I found her dead in our bathtub.
Could a night be more perfect? Earlier in the day, we explored the thick forest behind our apartment in Maine and the trail we chose to follow led us to a large expanse of grass, which was dwarfed by a clear opening through the vegetation canopy above us. She mentioned sleeping beneath the stars—just the two of us, alone— so we returned just as dusk covered the east coast with enough preparations to make it til morning. I lay out across the tall untouched grass, a comforter I pulled out from one of our closets, which we never use because of a tear along one of its seams, and I spread it perfectly centered under the opening allowed by the trees. Two more blankets and a giant sleeping bag were what we covered ourselves with, and I placed the only pillow I packed with us on top of a backpack filled with snacks, drinks, and two sandwiches she prepared in the kitchen, as I showered.
Myself, I lay sprawled on my back— facing upwards towards infinity— the blankets covering my body as high as my chest, whereupon she rested her head and dreamed with me a thousand dreams. No longer did we allow the unfamiliar sounds and pitch darkness of the forest surrounding the grass area to startle and uneasy us while we slept and made love, but instead was replaced with laughter and stares of passion into each others eyes. She spoke in such a different sense, a way I’ve never heard before, and I just smiled and listened. Facing me and sitting tall after she rolled on top— her arms straight, pushing her hands into my chest, and a curl of her highlighted hair half covering her face and sticking to the corner of her mouth— the moon poked itself out from behind her head, making the only visible sight her silhouette, and I knew I loved her.
A cannon of hate exploded from her the following day, a couple hours after returning home from the wilderness, which lasted until I left for work Monday morning, three days later. A weekend of relapse, of which Klonopin and Xanax owned her, led me to believe that the very love I once felt was a farce; realizing I can’t feel so strongly towards someone who isn’t capable, at the moment, to love herself. I voluntarily held myself hostage, afraid she would somehow hurt herself in a way that’s worse than the nine attempts she made by bleaching her hair, which caused so much of that beautiful part of her to fall out and wind up clogging the sink drain.
I knew all my yelling proved nothing more than a waste of breath and strain on my vocal cords, but my disappointment and confusion drove me wild. I’d ignore her as much as possible, only paying my full attention as she began unlocking the front door to go to the store around the corner—in the nude. A goat had just as good of a chance comprehending the words I spoke, as she did, so I talked as little as possible, hoping to control what sanity I’ve got left.
I caught a break finally— for a few hours— as she passed out, but upon returning from the convenience store, the idea that she may stop breathing, overwhelmed my logic, so other than when I’d bury my ass in the armchair and divert my attention to a baseball game and its commercials, I was checking her pulse every 5 minutes.
I woke up early—as always— dressed for work and turned on the news, which was my morning routine throughout the work week. She apparently stayed awake most of the night and as I drank my coffee and waited for the weather on tv, she marched back and forth— from the kitchen to the living room— crying and yelling at me because I allowed her to ruin and burn her hair with bleach. Thankful she was sobering up now( I searched the drawer of her nightstand and found her last two Totem Poles, which I flushed without hesitation) but I fueled the argument, resenting her for subconsciously breaking our relationship up, and fought viciously before finally walking out the door and heading to work.
At coffee and lunch break, I was not surprised that she didn’t call like usual. I figured she finally got herself to sleep and I silently prayed she would stay that way for a couple days, so that maybe— just maybe— she would wake up, come to her senses, and realize she needed to get inpatient help for her addiction which she just threw 9 months of sobriety away for. My most prominent thought that day as i worked, was how grateful I was that she didn’t relapse using heroin. I reluctantly decided that she would permanently leave the apartment if she refused treatment, although I knew I’d miss everything I fell for in her, when she’s capable of being sober.
I walked through my front door just after 3:30pm that Monday, my skin caked in a mud-like substance, caused from my endless sweating and 8 hours of drywall dust mixed together and smeared across my arms, neck, and face. I crossed the living room and into the kitchen where I hung my backpack on the back of a chair. I turned the faucet on and splashed cold water on my face, then tilting my head beneath the cold stream, I drank ferociously until I noticed I didn’t see her as of yet. I took off my damp tank top and threw it down the cellar steps— towards the hamper— then started up the hardwood stairs that led to our bedroom and shower. As I reached the top and turned down the short hallway, I could hear the staticy radio blaring from behind the bathroom door, directly across from where I entered our room. I sat on the end of the bed, untied and removed my boots, tore my socks off my feet, and stood up—staring into the mirror that leaned atop her dresser. I was filthy and just wanted to shower. I walked to the bathroom door and raised my voice— telling her to turn the music down and hurry up so I can cool off— but the radio remained at the same loud volume. I didn’t think anything unusual since she never talks to me until I apologize after an argument anyway, whether I’m right or wrong, so when she didn’t respond to me after asking her to lower that noise, I simply thought I’ll put an end to this drama by surrendering and telling her I’m sorry, once she exits the bathroom.
But, I couldn’t hear the shower head running— and now that I think about it—I didn’t hear it upon reaching the top of the stairs, as I passed the bathroom door nearly 10 minutes ago, either.
I knocked hard on the wooden door. I was annoyed and tired—aggrivated and hot— and I wasn’t in the mood for these games of silence she’s played during other fights. I knocked harder this time and when I did the door popped open a crack and the song, “Time to Pretend” by MGMT, rose twice as loud as it was a minute earlier. Ironically the singer sang the words,
” I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.”
and instantly I thought to myself that she’s dead. I don’t know why I jumped to such serious acquasations, such as an o.d. as quickly as I had, but she usually would answer the ruckus I caused banging on the doors, just to shut me up. Anxiety ridden and prematurely searching for full breathes of air to inflate my lungs due to a sudden rush of panic, I slowly opened the door, hoping I was wrong more then I’d ever hoped I was wrong before.
I first saw her green towel bunched on the bathroom floor. I don’t know why I always remember such a mundane object— it really has no brilliance towards anything which follows— except that maybe my mind is programmed to subconsciously begin any tragic event with something that makes sense, of which a bathtowel in a bathroom does just that. Next thing that came to view was a spoon—its concaved part facing up and placed somewhat carefully on the surface of the toilet seat cover— and with a miscolored piece of fabric in it. A cotton. The bathtub— stretching the width of the room across the back wall— was infront of me now, but the image of what I saw processed slower then an NFL challenge review, and exactly how I wouldn’t believe the refs as they called a penalty against my team; I couldn’t admitt that I was staring at my girlfriend— naked and lying afloat on her back, her eyes as wide open as they were just a few nights earlier while we shared the universe and all its complications— now lifeless as I searched for any indication she wasn’t dead. But she was dead and the only indications I found all pointed in that direction.
I don’t understand what happens to the essence of time or why a thousand years are lived— between the realization of finding another human being dead and the acting in response to try and save their life— but an eternity was felt as I looked down at her. As I snapped out of my state of shock, I knelt down by the foot of the cast iron tub. I reached out and grabbed her wrist, searching and hoping for any sign of a pulse, but instead found myself holding the dead weight of her limp hand in mine. It felt cold—as cold as the bath water I just took it from— and I stared; first, at its palm and fingers that curled like four half-moons, then I turned her hand over, no longer the pinkish and pale skin that molded her body so beautifully, but instead bluish tint and grey tones meshing together, only resulting in a color not much lighter then a bottlenose dolphin.
I looked her body over; imagining a movement or some restlessness as if I’ve been mistaken this entire time, but she wasn’t sleeping as I’d hoped for. Her eyes were open— one more then the other— and her full lips still had its wrinkles and cresses from being chaped all the time. Her collarbone was prominent as ever as it rested below the water line. So was her stomach, only her breasts emerged from the water, and again, I stared at her beautiful body like I did whenever we made love. But her chest was not rising from her quick and rapid breathes but instead stayed motionless.
I know I did not cry aloud but my tears never stopped running as I stood up and shadowed her just laying dead in front of me.
I reached into the water, pulled the drain plug, and waited for the tub to run dry. I knew I had to call the police but I could not allow for a scene to accure in which my girlfriend was being studied naked before all these strangers. I wanted to respect her—as one would respect the dead— so I left the bathroom, entered our bedroom, and gathered together an outfit to dress her in; shorts and underwear, sports bra and tank top.
It was harder then I thought to dress her and it took me almost thirty minutes to do so, but I lifted her out of the tub and dressed her slowly. Her dead, lifeless weight, prevented this to be an easy action but I succeeded and carried her back to our room where I laid her on our bed.
I kissed her because I had to. I kissed her to say goodbye. I sat beside her until the police, fire department, and paramedics arrived. They did nothing except ask me what I know. I told them I found her in bed and I though I flushed the evidence of her overdose, it was clear that was the case.
I loved who she was. She was real. She didn’t beat around the bush. She was difficult to handle at the end, but I cared too much to abondon her. I tried too hard at times and I slowly evolved into somebody I wasn’t. Somebody who would walk a million miles just to make sure she was ok. I loved her; in my own way, and she loved me in her own way too. She used to look at me in wonder, in awe, and smile that long teeth filled smile, pouring her feelings upon me at once.
And at that moment, I pictured her smiling, and I knew she was with my mother—whom passed away only 6 weeks earlier— and I knew she was safe. I finally knew she was happy.