She Happened to Me

 

Red and yellow lights blurred into one another… And then another, and then another. I sat waiting, impatiently, in a corner booth by the window. The raindrops beating against the glass framework were my greatest distraction from rather painfully tearing a hang-skin from my fingertip, or continuing to look like a psychopath as I ripped the remaining half of my napkin into tiny little pieces. I watched as they trickled down and slowly washed away a pile of bird shit.

I hated the rain. I hated it with nearly everything I had in me. But this rain was not like other rains. Reflections from stop lights and street lamps shot through the little wet beads, illuminated them. They were no longer stupid little raindrops that brought on feelings of gloom and despair… they were something else, something containing beauty.

She told me her class might run over. It was only 12 very small minutes I had to wait, but it felt much longer. The day was cold and damp. I could feel the frigid air radiate from the murky outside world. It covered me the same way frost painted car windows and telephone booths in December. Sending frequent chills up my spine; I felt my brain would soon freeze over.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee comforted me, gently. Just enough to ease my mind as I sat there alone in that café. Not that my anxiety would settle when she arrived. This was our first time meeting, so I knew my nervousness would send me through the roof. After 11 minutes, overwhelming angst nearly set fire to my ass and had me running for the door. I tried to remain still, but knowing she’d be there soon didn’t make it any easier.

I wiped my clammy hands on my jeans and became consumed with worry about whether or not my shirt matched my pants. “Why in the hell would I wear blue on blue?” I asked myself. “You fucking idiot, did you get dressed in the dark this morning?” This gnawing thought kept me seated for that very final moment before she arrived, and I was very happy that she had. I felt as though everyone was staring at me because I was sitting alone. No one was staring, but I felt that they were.

She approached the wooden ramp leading to the café entrance, bringing down her umbrella as she reached for the knob. She closed the door behind her and looked around the room until she found me. I watched as she walked toward me that evening- admiring every step she took as she walked into my life.

I wanted to sculpt that very image of her into my icy brain, so that maybe when I grew old and memories would begin to evaporate into thin air like smoke from a lit cigarette, this one could or would remain forever.

When she reached the table, she traced the shiny edge of it with her thumb as she sat. I wanted to paint an entire portrait just of her thumb. I could do just that with any part of her, really.

And so she sat. And so it began. We talked and talked for hours in that café. About life, about love, about pain, about all things. I know now that I could never forget that day, not even if I tried.

Twenty-seven incredible years later, a brutal cancer took her away from me. I remember watching as she was lowered into the ground. I felt as though the life was being sucked out of me, and that I, too, would soon be buried beneath the earth with her. But knowing her body rest in that casket, that her body would only be a few short feet away from me… Well, it was the only thing that helped me hold onto any form of sanity.

Even then, it took six months to return to her body. As I knelt above her grave, I could still feel her there. She had been waiting for me, to remind me of one very true thing- she was the greatest occurrence my life had ever known. I kissed the ground above her and I sat. I rested there in her embrace for hours, picking at a hang-skin on my fingertip, ripping blades of grass from the ground and tying them together. I could have weaved an entire grass blanket. I could have weaved twenty-seven of them, really.

“Love, it took so long for me to find the strength to come here. Now, I don’t want to leave.” I cried, knowing what would happen when I did. “I don’t want you to leave.”

Then it started to rain. It rained, and it rained, and it fucking rained.

Eventually, fighting my own resistance, I went home. Sopping wet, I painted a dreadful memoir of where she now lays, rotting.

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