You are close enough, for me to touch. I notice you peripherally but deliberately. The others, you see—I don’t want them to know. It is a conscious effort to keep my eyes where they ought to be. A piece of my brain, though, is yours, on you. You shift in your seat and some neurons fire. I lean closer and gradually we are sharing the same space, sharing molecules, and you, also gradually, like it’s not even happening, it’s such a natural procession, you bring your hand to my arm and your fingers graze my skin, first briefly and then they stay longer; first still, then downward, curving; my arm brings itself closer to you so you have more terrain to cover.
Ok so that last bit doesn’t happen. But it’s easy to imagine that it does. So easy. So easy it’s scary. Part of me—another part, not your part—thanks the others for being there to make it easier to not move.
It is all so fragile, these connective wires between us, and yet resilient enough, to withstand ambiguity. No wait. Held together by ambiguity, in fact, so that anything real, reified, might just shatter the whole damn thing.
I can live with that.
I am completely alone, in view of no one. And no one—not one person—knows where I am, or even that I come here, to be alone. The only clue is my bike, closer to town limits. That is how I would be found, if anything should happen to me.
And what if something did happen to me? How would that affect you? As much as your death would affect me? I would be devastated. And relieved. Very, very relieved. And very devastated.
What if I tried to pretend you were on an extended vacation? Months would pass when I wouldn’t see you, anyway. What is the difference, really, for our subconscious, if we lose someone to death, rather than in place? Gone forever—”forever” is meaningless. If we are constructed by our pasts, how can an unknowable future determine our memories and relationships?
But people don’t just die. People we know. Suddenly. The odds are small. We don’t expect it to happen because it doesn’t. And then it does. We find ourselves looking at things differently, like someone knocked us in the head and jostled our cerebellum. That person we knew, is gone. And with that, everyone else we know, we know them more, because now they could be gone, too. We take people for granted, at least we did, and now we try desperately to remember every single person that’s come across our lives, and might still, again—everyone whose death might affect us. That can be a lot of people, more than can be counted. Will we be able to get them all in order before another dies?
Your presense in my life, just as easily an absense. A big, gaping, unknowable hole, where once I knew to avoid, by constant tracking, where then I would be free to exist in the spaces you’d have been if you were here but are not.
To jump off a bridge, is an act of beauty. An act of beauty to those imagining the descent, but more importantly, to the one jumping. Imagine the view! On the way down! One of the most beautiful bridges in the world, at the mouth of one of the most beautiful bays, which becomes one of the most beautiful oceans. Site to many famous suicides throughout history, and one can see why. The one question I have though—from which side did you jump? Bayside or oceanside? What was your final sight, exactly—of the vast, unfettered water or of islands dotting their way to the mainland? I know the sights from the bridge, so well, I want to see it in my mind, what you saw.
And—did anyone see you? The experience of that view, forever tainted? I once knew a girl, who was deathly afraid of bridges. She grew up on an island but she was afraid of bridges. Squeezing her eyes shut and covering them with her hands whenever she crossed one. What if it had been her—the one day, she decides to open her eyes—what if she’d seen your suicide?
She would have moved inland, no doubt.
We’ve said many false goodbyes. Then a few times separating was passed over, wordlessly, unacknowledged.
There is one goodbye, it just might become the goodbye, though it was years ago and before so, so much. An awkward hug, in the car. I smelled your hair—not on purpose, but then I grabbed at it. Not literally I don’t mean. Promises for visits were made. Promises unkept, but that’s ok. The words were substitutes, imitations, as inadequate as the real ones would have been, but safer.
Your hand stays on my shoulder, an action we both ignore as we say the false words which keep the space firmly between us. If we are talking we are not doing anything else. It is a successful, by which I mean unfulfilling, goodbye.
If you haunt me, I will sit firmly in the place on the couch your ghost will sit.