“I can’t see you anymore Shiva” she said. “We’ve got to cut our losses and move on.”
She got into the car and left. She didn’t look back.
“So,” her friends asked, “are you ok?”
She was silent. And then a slow grin spread over her face. “Come on man. Let’s go get some ice cream.”
Outside, the trees sped by in slow-motion, awash with the orange glow of a sleeping city. She wondered if it was true what they said. Was she really devoid of emotion? She tried to feel. Nothing. Except numbness, like a cloud over any shred of emotion buried deep inside. She remembered the words an ex-lover had once spoken.
‘You, darling, are cold. And you don’t need me, like you don’t need anyone. You always have, and always will, take care of your own self.”
What store she had set by self-reliance. And now she wondered, as she sat silent in the backseat.... was it worth it?
She was always the protected one, the sheltered one. She spent her childhood passed on from kid-gloved hand to hand in the great symphony of life, afloat on the kindness of strangers. Scared, and shy, she remembered a time when she laid open her trusting heart to anyone who would have it. There was after all, no reason not to.
But pain has a way of hardening – or withering – even the most delicate petals. And as she slowly comprehended the human spirit’s resilience to bounce back – and bounced back, faster than she could ever imagine herself capable – she wondered now, if in the process she hadn’t lost a more human part of herself.
She thought of the dances. The kisses. The long talks into the early hours of dawn. The comfort and the freedom she hadn’t felt in years. The smell of him, when she buried her face in the crook of his shoulder. She thought of them all, as coldly as one flipping through the pages of a photo album in a stranger’s living room. She tried to cry. And failed.
She had spoken to Shiva once about numbness. Was it an emotion, she asked, or merely a state of shock. An emotion, he replied, as valid and as true as tastelessness is the taste of water. Sitting in the car, dry-eyed and meticulously adjusting her hair she wondered: am I emotional now? Or numb? Or is this what it means to be cold?
Flecks of water started to fall on the car. She watched as it barrelled into drops, and drops into sleets, till it rained down like the floodgates of heaven had opened to make up for the drought in her. When was the last time she cried? She couldn’t remember.
“Stop the car”, she said.
“Stop the car.”
She spoke with the clipped tone of someone not to be argued with. The voice she saved for the ones she called her minions. The car rolled to a halt by the side of the road. The water spilled into the gutters in rivers of dark liquid. She got out of the car, paying no heed to her friends' protests. She stood by the side of the road, as solid as a rock bearing the onslaught of rain.
At last she thought, her face raised to the sky. At long last...
And she began to cry with the borrowed tears of the night.
To See and Be
5 weeks ago