“You know, we should get on a train and leave right now. We could go away as far as we wish.”
She slipped her thought out loud, her fingers slowly ran through the pave of soft grass underneath her long purple summer dress. She grabbed and pulled the small plants repeatedly to keep her mind steadily pinned onto what she had to say.
“We can live on the island? Far end of this nation, in a small brick house, surrounded with salted air and fishy breeze.
“We could go sit and fool around on the beach. Find the biggest, weirdest shape of stones to lie on. We could even do the skinny dipping—” She paused, suddenly felt absurd for what she just said, firmly pressed her small lips together, and sat in silence for a few seconds. ‘That was dumb.’ Putting those dreamy thoughts out there to the world is silly.
But—it doesn’t really matter right now, she guessed.
‘Skinny dipping?’ The thought sounded much better in her own head. As brave as she likes to present herself, she is not and never going to be into it. But he is. Almost of all things she’d said no to, that he wanted to do, he’d always find a way to get her to do it. She started reminiscing on their latest vacation, picturing him throwing her up on his naked skinny back, then run to the beach and jump into the cold salted water with no hesitation. She screamed, scowled at him, scratched on his back. Very angry, she was.
“Ok. Perhaps, it’s a good idea.”
‘Shove me with your greatest mad face!’ Mimicking his voice, she blew a small giggle through her nose, tilted her head to her side and stared at her chipped acrylic nails. She never before let her painted nails broken. A perfectionist as she used to be; her long straight black hair must be neatly done and shiny, her skinny body must be tidily dressed, and her oval face must be covered with tint of colors. Now, all she saw was merely her nails are getting too sticky from taking lives from the grass. She carelessly wiped its sticky juice off on her purple dress.
“You know what?.. maybe it’s best to just listen to the wave sound,” She softly whispered a better idea. Smiling as the waves started performing a symphony in her head. Relaxed, she felt. Before they moved in together, he used to take over her radio with a playlist of hundreds different nature sounds whenever he visited her place. ‘How dare you?‘ She always shouted at him. On some weekends, a guitar would be tagged along. He’s good at that; performing annoying noises, turning her TV room into a cafe, setting her kitchen on fire, and leaving his mess in every corner of her apartment.
“I’ve been reading your ‘Places We Didn’t Miss’,
“I know, I know, I shouldn’t intrude on your privacy. On your diary of ‘us’, which is why I still think I shall have a full permission to open it… whatsoever, our pictures on the cover were falling off, so I had to fix it. I couldn’t help it. You know that I didn’t mean to break our rule, right? I mean.. you were going to give it to me once I turned 30 and we’re going to read it together anyway…
“And since you were away… I thought then.. maybe I could just do it right away, right?
“But ‘course! I remember we had promised you’d be the one to read the first chap—” she paused and looked away, her swan-shaped black eyes escaped the world for a few seconds.
“What I said, about us leaving, going away as far as we could, I meant it. You know that I’m in…I’ve always been…,” she closed her eyes, trying to feel his strong arms loosely wrapping around her body, trying to preserve the warmth he’d left, but as his diary read its first chapter in her head, she came to realize how excruciating it is for her to hold onto every piece of him. She abruptly raised her voice, “You know what!? I am not sorry and I am actually very angry right now.
“Why didn’t you take me with you? Why didn’t you want to take me? Why didn’t you ask me? You could’ve… we could’ve… Please, tell me. Take me with you. Why didn’t you—” you sound ridiculous. Stop it now. She told herself and started searching for a lighter in her purse. She placed a cigarette between her dried pale pink lips and lit it, as if it will calm her down. Perhaps it will. It has been her best exit from reality for some time now. She exhaled the smoke through her burnt nose, closed her eyes, and lay on the bed of greens.
She sighed, “I’m moving.
“And you are going with me, alright?”
She rested her arm on her forehead, quickly blinked her eyes trying to conquer the sun that shone through the branch above her head, then put on her best smiley face. “You don’t gotta pack anyway…” She grinned while trying to get a small laugh out of herself. She knew it wasn’t funny, but making a joke out of things are now her way of lifting emotions upward.
“It’s our little blue beach house. One you pointed out the last time we went looking around. Big TV room definitely, a kitchen for you to burn, and a majestic sized bed surrounded with white wooden windows… it’s just how we like it.” She turned her head sideways as if it could prevent the sun from reading her mind. He can. ‘You’re easily read, you know? Stop pretending.’
“Since then, I’ve been doing really well, better, in case you’re wondering,” she sniffed, rolled onto the side of her body, blew the last puff of smoke through her mouth, and watched it curl along the young dandelions standing among the weeds and uneven grass. She felt the urge to cry, his voice slowly creeped into her mind.
‘Lie next to me, will you?’
‘I think our lives are quite like these puffy… fluffy little flowers.’
‘Come on, hear what I gotta say—
‘…Hey, Baby! I’m serious,’ he got up on both his elbows, stared at her silly face for a seconds, then playfully pinched and kissed both of her pink cheeks, and went back to lying next to her.
He thoughtfully continued, ‘Dandelions, they are everywhere. Standing, one next to one another. Never alone. All are pretty much the same, all have the chance to bloom, all have the strength to stand tall and strong against the harsh wind, ruthless sun, and cold storm.’ he turned to her, brushed a strand of her dark hair away from her rosy cheek, and buried his face into it as long as he could, as if she’s about to disappear.
He whispered into her ears, she could feel his sweet warm breath,‘…But all have limited time to bloom and puff. It’s a cruel world we’re living in, alright? One day, we all each gonna be falling apart. All of us must be gone, you gotta know that.’
He softly bit her ear, ‘So baby, within the time you own, you gotta bloom—
‘You must remember, I’m doing it too. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to explore the world, alright? Don’t be afraid to lose one bit of you to the wind, it’s all right. Don’t be afraid of what’s waiting for you. Don’t be afraid of the rain. Don’t be afraid of the uncertainty. Be brave to show your petals to the world. I’ll be right next to you, alright?
‘You are not alone, never.
‘I’m here with you. You gotta know that.
‘Now, Mrs. Roberts.. now, you gotta get up. it’s time, alright? it’s time.’
‘Now, Mrs. Roberts, get up,’ he got up, held her body tightly like it’s his last time, and looked into her eyes. He shouted, “Mrs. Roberts, it’s time. Mrs. Roberts!”
She gasps, breaths in a pungent smell of medicine, feeling startled by the bright lights above her head and four white walls surrounding her, “Yes, yes!?”
“Mrs. Roberts, are you all right? I’m terribly sorry I had to wake you. But it’s time. Please, sign here. You’ve already filled all the required information. So, everything will go as we have discussed yesterday. You can be with him while we…” The explanation from a man dressed in a white gown who recently woke her up gradually falls into silence.
She closes her eyes, listens to the wave sounds hitting the shore on the other side of this big white building, smiles as she gently kissed the familiar thin hands she’s been tightly holding onto, feels his warmth for one last time, then she tucks their old diary under both of his hands, “I’ll see you soon, alright. I’ll never be alone. I know that.”
“I gotta know that.”
© Jidapa Chang-in