Fire Away

July 14, 2010
By , Louisville, KY
It’s different,
just sitting here.

My carpet isn’t soft anymore; it’s far too rough against my fragile skin,
the fabric sticks in my toenails, shedding like an old cat.
The luminous green paint on my walls has faded to a dull chewed-gum color,
and I can even taste the sickness and soreness that comes with it.
Though I think I prefer it that way, the dullness.
The bright would hurt my stinging eyes.

I see my board, the soft wood hanging on my wall, full of pushpin holes, each still sinking their tooth into the torn edges of paper.
A million pictures sat on that board, under each surface a memory swam,
swirling softly, as if still caught in the moment.
My board is different, too.
Empty.
My life was played out in those pictures, but not without them,
who am I?

It’s colder in my room,
colder even as I wrap myself in my angel white comforter,
embracing it closely to my body, trying to regain the warmth I used to have, caressing it
as if an angel would sigh with my touch and bless me with a bit of heat.


My mother says it’s because I don’t open my curtains anymore,
because I’m not letting the sun in to warm me.
But I just can’t stand the bright light,
that’s all.

My father says it’s because I’m not sleeping anymore,
because I just sit alone in my room, listening to myself breathe.
But I just can’t stand the nightmares,
that’s all.

My doctor says it’s because I’m in shock,
because I’m not accepting reality.
But I’m just waiting out this fake life until my old life comes back,
that’s all.

The real reason I’m cold is because you aren’t here.
You aren’t here to put your hand in mine, or your lips on my skin.
You aren’t here anymore, else you’d hold me tight
until all the cold went away.

We would go to the summer bonfires,
the air would be lukewarm and humid, smelling of sweet smoke and tasting
a bit like happiness and fireworks.
It was surreal sitting with you near the fire, I felt out of my head,
laughing at the stories and jokes, smiling until my cheeks ached.
When I listened to my laugh, it would always sound far away, muffled by the barrier I’d placed between us and the rest of the world.
I’d hear you clear as a bell.

The fire was too bright for my eyes; it would sear my sight until I could only see the warm colors,
and I’d be alarmed, because for a second,
I couldn’t see your face.

So we walked, letting my eyes rest,
but my body missed the warmth of the fire,
So one day, you gave me your jacket.
It hung heavily on my shoulders, already broken in to fit your shape.
I loved it.

I don’t have that jacket anymore,
When you left, I thought you’d like to have it.
I couldn’t face you, not without crying.
I couldn’t even face your family.
So, I drove my car to your house,
careful to look at the road.

I slipped the jacket into your mailbox,
and I stood there for a few minutes, almost wishing,
until I heard a door creak open.
“Honey?” Your mother called me honey.
I got into my car and drove before I could see her face.

I remember when you called me,
a cough tainting your lullaby voice,
a sore throat scratching me through the phone.
It was nothing, you told me.
I believed you.

I shake pretty often; sometimes it’s difficult to stand up.
I curl myself into a ball, putting my hands on my face or under my arms.
I couldn’t bring myself to move because after a while, I’d feel warm,
and it’s almost too hard to be comfortable because when I’d have to release my limbs,
I'd feel those two seconds where the cold would sting
and chase away the heat I’d worked so hard to build.

I can’t let myself be warm, I shouldn’t.
I should be cold for the rest of my life because whenever I think of you,
I think blue.

Blue for cold, because it was the worst winter we'd ever had.
Blue for your lips, which chapped in the harsh winter
Blue for your skin, that leaked color like a burning candle
Blue for pneumonia, because that’s not nothing.
Blue for the jacket you gave me, because it was the only one you owned.
Blue for the winter that tore you to pieces.

Blue for tears, because I just couldn’t help it.





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