It makes no sense, but I do it just the same. Having been drawn to the window for no reason whatsoever, I stand there peering through the crack in the threadbare white curtains that let all the light through. From here, I can see the entry to our short, dead end street, and at times I imagine your head appears over the now lifeless goldenrod that hangs over the neighbors’ chain link fence. Why you’d be walking down my street is of no importance when in reality you’ll never even drive down it.
Swirling for a moment in this imaginary realm of bittersweet phantoms, my son pops into view, tossing his baseball up and catching it in the smooth brown mitt of his glove as he trots home from the field. Like the dusty wipe of a blackboard, you’re erased from sight, breathing in bits of the ephemeral picture and choking back sobs instead of sneezes. Reality sets in. It is once again an impossibility.
I stagger backwards until I feel the bed against the back of my calves, and I sit. The book I’ve been using to relieve my mind sits open next to me, turned over, binding strained into a ridged ravine. I was so involved in it earlier; I had a hard time hiding my irritation when demanded by the kids for lunch to be made. And now I have no idea where I left off. It’s as though my mind has become lava, which when heated and engaged flows quickly and warmly wherever it chooses to go. And with little less than a change in the wind, it has chilled to a congealed, almost solid mass of cold, hollow stone.
The comfort of the loneliness I lived with before you has been replaced by the misery of the loneliness after you. It’s not been the same. I’ve not been the same. I can work doggedly every day, barely slowing down to see the faces around me, or hear what they say when I stand against the fence, cigarette balanced between my fingers, lost in the break time chatter of weather and politics and loved ones. I wonder, as I nod my head in answer to some unheard question, if purgatory, and in that case heaven, are earthbound places, and have little to do with afterlife at all. Maybe we pay for sins and mistreatment and our wrongs in human suffering – and what happens to our souls afterwards is merely a matter of leftover debt, a palingenetic transaction.
It doesn’t matter really. I’ve become accustomed to looking for a word from you, where there are none. I’ve accepted that I can call to you as often and as loudly as I want – and nothing will bring you to me. Nothing I can do anyway. It is without hope that I go to the window knowing that the skeletons in my closet matter not at all compared to the ghosts in the street.