Window Flowers

February 14, 2010
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He leaned against an aged wooden railing that lined the balcony. Lighter in hand, he pulled out a cigarette, placed it between his lips and let it hang there like a Christmas ornament. His shaking hand cupped the flame as he desperately lit his Marlboro Ultra Light. Carbon monoxide flooded his lungs as he inhaled with the urgency of a drowning victim. I didn’t know what to say. At that moment, under those conditions, words simply couldn’t form in my head or on my lips. I knew the moment that he started flicking his lighter that something was wrong. That repetitive flickering. I hated it. I knew what it meant. He had explained it to me once.
“It’s a subconscious thing,” he explained, “it messes with people. I might be sitting there, listening to someone go on and on. For every time they piss me off, I light the flame for just a second. And then again. And again. It’s like the whole Pavlov’s dogs thing. Eventually, they’ll stop. They get it.”
This was different though. He wasn’t mad. Well, maybe he was. I wasn’t the one who was telepathic. That was his gift. I’m not a hundred percent sure I believed that, but, there was something there. We talked about it, the way he could read people. It was uncanny. The way he knew exactly what I had been thinking. On more than one occasion he had pulled the exact word I had been thinking off the surface of my brain and just stuck it out there for the whole world to hear. Or, well, at least a vacant apartment. There were times when I stayed away from him, just because I was positive that he knew what was on my mind. I felt like every secret I had was written on my face - at his disposal.
He wasn’t reading my mind at this moment though. I don’t think he could even straighten out his own thoughts. He hadn’t even acknowledged that I had followed him out there yet. The cars in the lot below seemed to hold his attention. His eyes lay fixed on the windows and the pavement. Anything to escape from this instant in time. I knew what had happened. Somehow I knew the second his hands had covered his face. I also knew there was nothing I could say to help. We just had to wait it out. Patiently. Helplessly.
Minutes passed and he finally spoke.
“I knew that you would come out here when you saw the lighter,” he said without looking at me. ” I tried to come out here alone, but I couldn’t stand the silence. That’s why I came in to get you. I just could formulate the words to explain that.”
He then went on to divulge what I already knew. He explained the flashback, the panic, the lack of control. I listened. Then we just stayed there, not saying anything for a few minutes. Finally I said something.
“I was worried as soon as you left. For some reason the only thing I could figure you were going to to was come out here and jump off the balcony.” I admitted. “Not that that would make much sense but…that’s just what I thought. From the way your voice sounded, and from that look in your eyes. You just seemed lost.”
He looked at me incredulously.
“You thought I was going to jump off of a one-story balcony?”

He lit another cigarette, straining against the breeze that laced the humid evening. He was still shaking. Still fighting it. I finally reached out and lightly touched his arm.
He turned and looked at me because maybe he had no where else to turn. I put my arms around his neck. He pulled me in as tightly as he could. We stayed like that, hoping for the calm to set in.
“I was freaking out in there,” he whispered into my hair. “And I-I just hated being out here alone. I needed you out here with me. I thought being outside of the walls would get rid of that claustrophobic panic, but, somehow I still felt trapped.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” I whispered back. ”I would never leave you here like this.”

There wasn’t anything else to be said. I wasn’t trying to be his therapist or his parent or even his girlfriend, looking back, I don’t even know if we could call it friendship. It was one of those times where you would check the ‘other’ box on the survey. I spent that summer with him. With nights like these, and nights completely different. I spent a summer with this beautifully talented person who inspired me in every way. We stayed up all night that summer talking about God and music and and love and pain and drugs and art and the future. It was nothing that would last in any typical sense of the word. But it mattered. I’ve learned that everything matters. Everything adds up. Even fleeting moments on lost summer nights. Maybe you’ll lose the memory, but what you felt - that never leaves.

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charlie3273 said...
Jun. 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

this is so good it deserves a comment that isnt a shameless plug for someone else's writing. i really love it and how dark it is and the idea of telepathy


jbanks replied...
Jun. 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm
Aw thank you :)
pixie222 said...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm
I love it come and read mine
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