Staying Gone

September 28, 2007
Allow me to explain the world; I’ll show you it in its entirety. A slur of colors, speeches, and emotions put together to form our self-being. Here it is, all of life’s mysteries unraveled. From trees to food to change.

I asked her where she was from and what she was going to do with her life. She didn’t know. She just wanted a place to crash for the night, somewhere safe from the harshness of the world. I didn’t bother telling her that it was impossible to be sheltered from the inevitable.
She returned at night, each time standing in front of my door. Her cheeks would redden, contrasting nicely with her milky complexion, and her lips never moved, yet pleaded to come in.
I never hesitated to ask her in. Just for a drink, I’d say, but I knew we wouldn’t.
Instead we’d pour ourselves a glass of one another, the perfect blend of intoxicant to keep the world moving. We would simply lose ourselves in conversation, our voices juxtaposing into the darkness of night.
Our conversations were always insignificant with meaning, talking about the silliest of things. Hours were spent on how to grow a Juniper tree and how to make the perfect lasagna, and she would have the most child-like smirk on her face as she explained her world to me; a world of trees and food.
During one of those late night conversations, I asked her name. She told me that she had none. At first it baffled me, and I thought she was a liar, but I grew to understand. She was too beautiful, too special. A name couldn’t capture her essence. A name wouldn’t tie her down.
So every night I watched her sleep so soundly. She wasn’t afraid of stormy nights that were so frequent of Washington, nor was she afraid of dwelling in a stranger’s home for no apparent reason. I didn’t care what the reason was though, just so long as her locks of hair continued to sweep gently over her face, and I could continue to admire her beauty and innocence.
Sometimes I wondered if she was real, or perhaps I had merely dreamed her up to keep myself busy. I never did think to touch her.
But that’s just how it went, how we were. We would build on each other, block after block, emotion after emotion.
Maybe that’s why she left, because she didn’t have anything else to give.

One evening, there was an unnerving silence. No knock on the door.
I stayed waiting until two that morning, trying to consume myself with the droning of the television. As the night wore on, I would frequently make the creaking trip downstairs, turn the porch light on, and unlock the shabby, wooden door.
So I got into my Mercedes and drove noiselessly down the street, still managing to break the street’s tranquility with my racing thoughts.
What happened to her? Did she get tired of me? Did I take too much of her time?
I didn’t know where she was, and I was scared. For her well-being, and selfishly, my own.
I had grown to take from her so much, just allowed her simplicity to speak to me, to teach me. I needed her. Her presence made the world so simple. Her love for trees taught me that things can grow, like how I grew to need her, and her love for food taught me that things can be created.
I couldn’t just stop needing her.
I took a right left turn on Pine and scanned the empty downtown sidewalks. From the corner of my eye, I saw a figure move into the darkness of an alley, and slowly drove my car to further examine the movement.
It’s just the homeless guy that lives off the corner of Juner, I thought. His raggedy beard covered most of his face, and his frail bone structure suggested that he was hungry.
My thoughts streamed back to her.
Food. Creation. He was in need of a better life.
I slowed my car to a mere crawl and handed the man the bag of chips that I had been saving for a snack, and a twenty-dollar bill. I doubted that I would ever use the money—once I found her, everything would be alright.
He didn’t say anything. He simply looked up at me with those eyes, oh those eyes like hers, that made talking so useless.
And just as quickly as he had looked up at me, my car clamored to a stop, and it began sputtering words of lost hope. But I wouldn’t listen.
Instead, I started walking. Where to? I didn’t know. I just let the cool breeze blow me into the mystery of night, and I let the shy bit of moonlight act as a guide. Together, they led me to a bus bench and reassured me that I was indeed on the right path. The right path to what, I wondered. I hoped it was her. But it was the right path, so I guess it really didn’t matter.
The number four bus arrived and I climbed its steps and took a seat behind an elderly lady with blue streaks in her hair.
I wondered where the old lady was going so late at night, or maybe it was so early in the morning, but I tiredly dismissed my questions.
I examined the back of her head for a couple more minutes, but it didn’t keep my interest so I turned my attention to the other passengers.
The Asian man two seats ahead of me was reading a magazine and cleared his throat every three minutes. To the left of him was another man with blonde, spiky hair, who tapped the lacerated cushions ahead of him.
It was like a scene from a movie that could be rewound and played over and over again. The man would always clear his throat, and the other guy would always tap the cushion. It didn’t change. Their lives wouldn’t change.
I continued to stare out the window, not moving. Maybe this was better. If nothing ever changed, there would be no more hurt, no more pain.
The bus came to a halt, in turn ending my thoughts. The old lady in front of me stood up and walked slowly to the front, careful to walk down the bus’ narrow steps. I followed, somewhat eager for the chance to get away from the monotonous bus, its people, and my thoughts.
The cool, autumn air engulfed my body as I got out, and I couldn’t help but welcome the change from the bus’ stale scent. But it wasn’t really autumn, was it?
I walked about a mile in no particular direction. I tried to pick my mind for memories of her, stories of where she might be, but I couldn’t remember any. I could barely even remember what she looked like.

I walked a couple more minutes, but came to a stop right there in the middle of the street. I heard her voice.
How angelic that voice was, its soft harshness penetrating the silence of the street. I looked around, trying to spot her from the shadows.
She wasn’t there.
So I continued to walk, still with hope of finding her. But I was tired, oh so very tired. I continued to walk, closing my eyes. Just so they can look rested for when I find her, I told myself reassuringly.
It felt so good.
I was blind.

A tap on the shoulder forced me to open my eyes and they met with hers.
She led me to the sidewalk and beckoned me to have a seat. I sat. We sat until the sun began to poke its head from behind the hillside, both of us hesitant to break the silence.
I couldn’t speak. We didn’t speak. No words could express ourselves, so we simply let our hearts make conversation.

Hello, my heart whispered. I wanted to break the silence, not destroy it.
Where did you go?
I’m not sure.

Another hour of silence fell. The sun began to light more of the street, and her face finally left the obscurity of the shadows. It was so beautiful. She was so beautiful.
I picked up my finger and moved it toward her face, but I can’t remember what happened.
I never did touch her.
I waited a couple more minutes for the conversation to start up again, but I knew it wouldn’t. Still, I tried.
Do you want to go back to my place for a drink? I asked, my heart trying to spit the same words that I had always spoken to her.

I watched her leave that morning, disappearing into the nothingness of the world.
Things change, and that’s that.

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