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Please Stay

Stay.

The word was foreign to her, a traveling soul that had never stopped to rest in one spot for more than a few months at a time. It was as if her physical anchor had a meter on it, the fine for going over nothing short of suffocating boredom and asphyxiating normality. He was her rope for as long as she could remember, pulling her up from the deepest sediments of the dark waters of her life into his strong, warm hold where he would keep her until she was to be released again.

The sad thing about time is that it causes things to fray as they are worn away by, if nothing else, time in itself. Time had frayed the hems of the bellbottom jeans she had bought from that vintage shop in that town she no longer remembered the name of, and in fact she does not think she ever knew. Time had frayed the gold tassels of the hallway rug she trod on each night in the exact same spot as she walked to the kitchen at two in the morning to pour herself a glass of water. Time had frayed the rope that always pulled her up whenever that glass of water turned into something that burned more than cooled.

She had never taken the words seriously, always unable to truly believe what it was that people were telling her but never caving in to see herself. After all, seeing was believing, and who was she to finally believe in something for the first time in her life? No, she could not lose her identity now, not for this. He would not want her to do that; he would not want her to be so, so, so, incredibly selfish as to put whatever job she had at that moment in jeopardy just to take a few days of vacation to visit an old friend. Oh, no, he most certainly would not want that, and if he could have said that on his own, he would have articulated the words “far sooner and far more articulately than her”.

Whatever excuse she came up with, it was accepted with little complaint or question, for no one had questioned her or any of her excuses for years. He was the only one who had ever thought to question her, and he now paid the price for trying to chip away to find the beating heart of an iceberg floating through life in waters nearly as frigid as her own skin. He had stopped trying to warm her years ago. He knew just as well as her that she preferred her skin cold, frozen and numb to the almost unimaginable pain of kisses and caresses she felt from those she hardly knew, reminding her that she was human and capable of love.

She could not outrun her fears of confrontation forever, however, and soon the rope pulled her back into his hold by his last string. Now, here she sat, staring into his seemingly lifeless face that held far more than anyone else besides her could see. She saw the unseen sights on his closed eyes, the way his nose twitched without moving when he heard something funny but did not want to laugh, the unsaid phrases resting on his lips as if they were mocking her with their lack of existence. She was as close to him as she could be, but she was so distant now that he might as well not have even been there. When she took his thin hand in hers, it was the first time the tips of his fingers were ever colder than her own skin. Her cheeks were stained with cheap mascara and eyeliner from tears she had cried so few times in her life she did not know what to do with.

Somewhere, from the deep abyss within him, came the knowledge of the presence of someone else. A woman…one who had weighed him down his whole life and kept him where he was, no matter where else he had wanted to go. It was always his choice, though, whether he kept attached, and he always had, refusing to ever let go or leave her. His whole life he had stayed, knotted to her by something stronger than any fisherman could ever hope to acquire amongst his ropes. He summoned his last bit of will, something he had not felt he even still contained within himself any longer, and forced his eyes to flutter open just in time to see her body rising up as he felt her cold hand begin to slip away from his. Then, his final plea, the only thing he ever asked of her in all of his life, escaped through his lips in a soft, hoarse whisper that could hardly be considered a human voice.

“Please, stay.”



Seeing may be believing, but hearing is nothing to one who has spent their whole life perfecting the art of being artificially apathetic in order to protect their own truly delicate emotions. It was up to the anchor, now, to decide where to pull herself up and stay where the rope would have always put her, or remain in the dregs of the world.

The tide rolled in, the current rocked, and the last string on the rope snapped with a pain that can only be felt during the final good-bye of one with empty, unclasped hands.



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