Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It was only natural to laugh.

I remember it very clearly. It was midnight and I was on something; it kept the dull buzzing down and replaced it with a stillness, like wood. Through this, I could hear the soft rustle of the rain, gentle and persistent against the walls and the roof and the ground outside.

I kept the door unlocked those days, for visitors. They would have been welcome regardless, but it was only polite. So the water pooled into the house, slowly, as the doorframe caught the drops at a certain slant of the wind.

At the end of the trail of rain and lightning, your shadow was stooped in the dimness of the corridor. You were drying off your feet. I didn't get to see your face, not again, but the slope of your shoulders and the arch of your back let me know that your eyes were the colour of tea. So they were, and it was only natural that you wore nothing.

"How is the weather?" I said loudly. You made conversation. Of course, it was wet. And it had been a long journey here, so long, the route winding and mazelike, the kinks turning to dead ends. The road twists and turns, you see.

"There's hot water in the geyser, if you want."

I watched, fumbling with my nightshirt, as you picked up your towel from the rail and traipsed to the bathroom. As the steam seeped from the open door, it carried with it the smell of that dust-scented shampoo I was so fond of. Dust-scented shampoo, and soap flavoured in soil. When did I buy it? I must have gotten it because I liked it.

I went into the kitchen, brushing the cobwebs from the table with my hand. There were still five beers left from the six-pack in the crisper, and I brought two out, uncapping them against the counter edge. When you came to join me, I had already finished half of my beer. You thanked me, and we sat in the greyness, with the moulding table between us, your hair weighed by your shower and dripping into your drink.

"I thought I'd try a microbrew," I said. You told me that it tasted like sand, which I disagreed with, but the beer was definitely bitter. It stained the lips. You told me about that time we went to the fair together, the funny story about the draught and the beer tent and the ambulance. It was the first time I heard that one. It was only natural to laugh.

After a while, I noticed that you had turned your head towards the kitchen entrance. I thought you were getting ready to leave, and reached a hand out to your silhouette.

"It's too windy. Will you stay a while?"

You wanted to know if I was going to finish my drink before we left the kitchen. I shook my head.

"It's not a good idea for me to have more. I shouldn't even be drinking."

So we went to my room, where the bed was made. You on the left and me on the right, as it was. I turned so I was facing your curled body. Closer to you, the pillow was already wet, and the low buzzing returned and became louder. Sometime then, it became very loud, because I could see it clearly, even with my eyes closed.

In the morning, I took the two empty beer bottles outside, and set them on the ground next to my doormat, next to the other one. The rain had stopped, and the rising sun lit the flat plain with the pink light of the dawn. I had stood there for a while, hoping you'd get home safely, as there were no footpaths.

But of course you had. You had come at midnight.

I had woken to an empty bed. You must have made your side before you left. The pillow on your side was still damp, and smelled faintly of dust.

You passed away two years ago. I know, because you told me.

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