She Lived

Jul 12, 2013 by

Blade-Runner-2-RachaelIt’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?

It was hard to kill that question in my mind. After we ran, it lingered like a bad taste from a drink at your favorite bar that usually sold pretty damn good drinks. It’s the middle of the night and I should be sleeping. The flickering light from a huge grid ad spills into the window–some ridiculous commercial with an alien touting about how puny humans will enjoy coke. I’ve seen it a million times from the window and I hate it already. But I watch it anyway, because it’s better than remembering what Gaff said, over and over and over again.
I didn’t want to keep remembering.
I wanted to gather Rachael up right then and there; bruise my mouth against hers desperately to remind myself she’s alive. I’m alive. We’re alive together. I wanted to feel her skin. I wanted to take my fingertips along her hip and tap out words I’d never say: living isn’t pretty, but it’s real.
It was easier than thinking about how much time we had left. Scratch that; how much time she had left.
I’ve done a lot of things in my life that have put me so close to death I could smell it.
None of them frightened me more than the concept of time and how much Rachael had left. It brought me to cold-sweats, my mind fluttered through images of sorrow faster than leafing through ancient books. I kept seeing her stilli and cold and kept seeing myself old and broken. Every second brought her closer to the end, every night my stomach clenched as if bracing for a punch that would never happen and never end.
The commercial had stopped playing and had moved on to another–but I turned my head to glance to the pillow beside me and find her dark eyes open and studying me, my profile in the dim light. For a long while I didn’t have anything to say really but helplessly stare back. She searched me, my face like it was the last message in a bottle someone lost on an island could send–and then she smiled. Just the corners of her mouth really, but it held so much. So much life.

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At night, I’d always doubt. Alone in my hotel room surrounded by empty bottles and empty memories, I’d hear what Gaff said: It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does? Did she live? Did I let her live? Would she have been better without me?
But then I remember that night–that night when I caught her staring before she smiled.
Everything about that smile told me different. Rachael had lived more of a life in her short time than I ever would.
She lived, I thought back to an invisible Gaff. She lived, and that’s good enough for me.
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Heart Click

Jul 6, 2013 by

She can hear the clicking. Maybe it’s not a clicking but more of a hum of the escalator behind her. She’s staring at the text but not really seeing it. Not yet. A little girl and a little boy with their father squeal and laugh at something as they pass her by in a blur. A woman on her phone comments about the price of coffee. A man holds the hand of his boyfriend and complains about the cold. She can hear their footsteps hitting the tile, hitting the escalator. Hitting the pavement. A car honks distantly from above and she thinks that if she could just hold her breath a little longer she might hear the sound pigeons make when they are all startled to take off at once.
The screen is the eye of Mordor but she doesn’t have a ring and Sam’s given up on Frodo and she can’t breathe. She can’t.
Back from doctors, it read. Then, It’s cancer. –Mom.
She always signed her texts. It didn’t matter how many times she’d patiently sit her down with the phone and show her that each one came with her name at the very top, see? There was no need to sign it. She knew who they were from.
A little bar beneath the words urged her to type text here. A cursor blinked.
The world idly kept on turning but she’s still. She’s so still. Everything is still.
Cancer.
The word is the taste of ashtrays in her mouth and in her mind.
She can hear the clicking. Maybe it’s not a clicking but more of the wail of a little girl alone in the subway with her mother in her heart.
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