A Walk To Remember
She was sleeping silently next to me, but I knew she was only pretending. She was probably wide awake, thinking a million different things, just as I was.
“Let’s go for a walk. I am tired of this place,” I whispered to her.
I could hear the smile in her voice as she whispered back, “Where to?”
I took a deep breath, pretending to think it over. I wanted to know where she would escape to if she could. So I said I couldn’t think of anything and asked her to tell me where she would want to go.
“Somewhere green. Or just really bright and colorful. Everything here is so boring.”
“Okay, let’s go. We are in a field of green, rolling mounds of earth tumble as far as your eyes can see. The sky is completely cloudless and the sun is mercilessly beating down on us. There are animals here, grazing in the pasture, but they shun us, like everyone. We walk barefoot on the grass and it isn’t soft like people tell you. It prickles us in anger because it has been burned by the sun. You sit on the ground and stroke the leaves of grass with a soft wonder. I don’t understand how you can love something deeply and still trample over it without a thought.”
“I don’t know what you mean. But take me somewhere else.”
“It is a day forecast with clouds, the kind that you hate. The clouds cover the skies, somber and resolute, as if protecting the sun from our vulgar dispositions. You sit at the windowsill and look at the drops of rain making rivulets on the window pane. I know you feel a deep ache in the hollow of your chest, where your heart used to be. You don’t understand the source of it, but you choose to replace it with hatred, hatred of the rain that people say represents gloom. I pull you out of your warm shell and the rain pours on you, washing your thoughts away, replacing it with cold shivers. The goosebumps adorning your skin tell you that an overwhelming sea of emotions has submerged you. You don’t understand what it means but you choose to laugh. We follow the croaking frogs to the edge of a rainbow and you try to fit it in your pocket but it sits on your head like a crown. You drink the clouds and hug the rain, you cradle the mud and kiss the droplets.”
Something between a sigh and a shiver escaped her lips as she whispered, “More.”
“The breeze on this beach is biting your cheeks but like a fool you laugh against the wind. You look at the infinity of the ocean and you tell yourself it is conquerable. We pass other couples entwined with each other. Face buried in a hug, lips whispering kisses, arms shielding from the world, hands tying down the other. There is something so inherently romantic about the idea of getting lost in the immensity of the sea. Like a black hole it chews up worlds and we surf its waves like we could one day be part of it. The waves swallow infinities and they crash at our feet as if we are its masters. And the sand, and the sand is the most sinister of all. It stays between your toes to remind you that there is nothing that ever stays.”
“What do you mean by all this? You are depressing me. Stop it.”
“Okay, I will take you to a happier place. We are walking down a crowded, festive street. Perhaps it is Valentine’s Day. The streetlight chooses to illumine the shinier things in its yellowish glow, like your rosy cheeks. Our closeness makes people jealous. They envy us being in love. It fills people with a bitter happiness. Young love, they idealize it, they shame it, they love it, and they hate it. They want to be it. We are the envy of the world. They will write stories about us, make movies on us. Two sick people who found love in the last of their days. It will be so beautiful. Aren’t you happy now?”
“I don’t want to be the envy of the world. I want to live.” I could hear the tears in her broken voice.
“You can’t live too long, but you know what you can do. Get a bucket list, gather as many experiences as you can. Do some crazy things that you would never have done if death wasn’t prodding you to come play. They tell you they will be so sad to see you go. They lie, they won’t be sad. They will be relieved, that finally they can move on. You can’t even perform your own bodily functions, and it is humiliating for you. But how painful must it be for them, to see you rotting away like this. It becomes exhausting to see someone you love, dying by pieces. And the worst part is that they get to live, and live with the burden that they have to pretend to not be relieved. It is a relief but, once the ordeal is over. They should be able to admit that. But they will have to live the rest of their days as a lie.”
Her silence told me that she was too disturbed by my words. But what did it matter. I could die tomorrow morning. Or maybe she would die.
“Let me take you to a place where I have always wanted to go,” she said in her melodic voice. “We are walking on a steep hill, the climb is hard. We huff and we puff and we finally reach the summit. You can see everything from here. It is like everything is just a fairytale that exists in a faraway reality. This hospital, these needles and tubes, the smell of disinfectant. But perhaps we are the faraway reality. Perhaps we are the ones part of the fairytale. While everyone gets to live a normal life, not knowing what may happen when, our expiry dates hover right above us. There are ways to deal with it and there are ways to deny it. Since it doesn’t matter, let us hold hands and tell each other we are in love. Since it doesn’t matter, let us plaster a smile on our pain. Since it doesn’t matter, I will walk into eternity holding your hand, walking along paths that everyone has tread on. Since it doesn’t matter, we will not be anything special, just two dead lovers.”
She stretched her hand across her bed and reached out to hold mine. She caressed the spots where the needles had scarred my skin. Tears were flowing through my eyes as I blinked rapidly to get rid of them.
“I’m sorry I was so cruel,” I whispered.
“It doesn’t matter. I still love you.”
She fell silent and so did I. We held hands as we thought of a million things that could never be done with half a life.