Monday, October 8, 2012


4:20. Your absence holds me when you’re gone. And I always thought I’d somehow learned to be on my own. I look around my apartment, all 20 square meters of it and remember how your presence, the light of your smile, and the sound your laughter filled every corner of it. It is dark. I am immobile. My cigarette burns to the tip as your absence holds me into paralysis. I cannot move. I cannot breathe.

4:47. I decide to focus on menial tasks to snap me out of this comatose. I sweep the floor, use scotch tape to lift the small strands of hair that collect in the corners, and mop twice for good measure. I feed the fish (yes, I know they’ve eaten but they seemed hungry) and do the dishes. There aren’t a lot. Just a fork, a butter knife, a ceramic plate, and two glasses – two. I stop dead in my tracks.

4:57. One of these glasses was yours. I hold it up against the light and see where your lips touched the edge of the glass. I press my lips against the mark you left. The soap suds collect on my shaky goatee. I close my eyes, count to five and imagine you were here.

5:03. The hamper is overflowing with dirty clothes. I empty it out on the cold tiles and sort the whites from the coloreds, my cotton tees from the delicates. I assign a special pile for your clothes- the black A&F golf shirt, a checkered pair of shorts, the tattered yellow tee you love so much, your trademark khakhi pants. I sort the clothes for too long and notice that I had failed to segregate them right. There were only two piles: your clothes and mine. I crawl towards your pile and hold them close to my chest. Though a meager bunch, they still smelled of you. If I imagine things right, you know, like if I really put my mind to it, maybe these clothes would turn into you. Time blurs away and I am stuck here on the floor still holding you in my arms.

9:06. I awake in a pile of dirty clothes. I realize what a mess I’ve made of my house and of myself. I wipe dust and salt off my face and stuff all the laundry in garbage bags. I seal the top nicely and phone the laundry mistress to pick them up. I grab my keys and hope the city’s droning sounds would block you away.

9:17. I am alone in a restaurant. I chose the one that reminded me least of you. I needed a break. This wasn’t like me. I wasn’t the type to entertain clingy thoughts that prod and gnaw at your brain like a little freak. I make a mental note to chew slowly, to spend as much time here as I can. The food arrives and I devour it like a monster.

9:23. Belch. Cigarette. Check.

9:30. I decide to take a walk. I map a route in my head of all the usual places: quite streets, dark corners, a park bench to clear my mind. With these reminders of who I was before I met you, I find a little bit of solace. A man asks me for a light and strikes up a conversation. I answer politely and talking is as interesting as watching paint dry. I turn around to face him and he is gone. I light another cigarette and check the time. A tanod comes up to me and says I can’t smoke here. I stub my cigarette on an old molave and walk home.

9:56. I am back in my prison cell and it reminds me less of you. I plant my iPod on its dock and let Shuffle do its thing. I mix a fresh batch of iced tea and obsessively scrub empty corners of the fridge. I whip out the Domex and mop the floor again. The water splishing and sploshing calms my nerves and I feel unjudged in the confines of my own home. Afterwards, I shower and feel the city slipping into the drain. I walk to the sink to brush but once again, I am stopped dead in my tracks. Our toothbrushes are making out.

10:07. I needed to know you were here. That I wasn’t just imagining your presence, the light of your smile, or the sound of your laughter. I grab your things and walk back to the living area. I rip the garbage bag open and take your clothes out. I sit on the floor and surround myself with your things. I place your perfume in front of me, your special soap and loofah on my right, your toothbrush in a glass behind me, your contact lens case on my right. I make a path of your shirts. I make a spiral of your things, maybe a treasure map with me in the center. Perhaps you will find me here when you follow the trail of your belongings.

10:15. I am on the floor together with all the things you left behind. My iPod shuffles in a new song and though the verses don’t make sense to me, by the time the singer gets to the chorus I am convinced she is at my window singing the story of my life. It’s the perfect soundtrack for when I’m paralyzed and I have nothing but your absence to hold me because you’re gone.

And then I wonder who I am
Without the warm touch of your hand.
As I sit and watch the snow falling down,
I don’t miss you at all.

♫: Norah Jones | Don’t Miss You At All (2004)

11:59. My phone lights up, stirring me from my slumber. Three messages and two missed calls. He’s been wondering where I was. I’m fine. I’m sorry. I fell asleep.

12:03. What have you been up to? he asks. Nothing, I lie as I pick his things up from off the floor. Maybe tomorrow won’t be as twisted as today.