I sat there, staring deep into her hazel eyes. Looking for the answers to life but only finding my own reflection. She blinked and her lips parted, revealing her straight, white teeth. Her crimson lips, defined against her smooth pale skin. An empty table stood between us. A dim, gray room surrounded us. It was just her and I, in this surreal landscape. I didn’t know how I got there, I didn’t know why I was there; I just was. With her eyes intertwined with mine, she began knocking on the table. First three knocks followed by silence. Then four more knocks on the table, this time harder and faster. Her teeth, peeking through the thin space in-between her lips, her eyes staring softly into mine. This time she banged harshly onto the table and I jolted awake.
I quickly leaned towards my nightstand and grabbed my journal. I found a blank page and scribble I saw her again, she has hazel eyes… This was the third time I have dreamt of her. Every time her face gaining more and more detail. I sat up and buried my face into my hands, letting deep breaths escape my lips. My senses weren’t fulling back when a loud tapping came from the door. I got to my feet and stretched letting out a pained groan. I walked to the door and looked through the peephole. I was greeted by a short, bald man in a stained t-shirt. My landlord.
“What do you want?” I asked
“What do you think? It’s the 19th. Rents due.” He spoke, peeking his eye through the peephole. I let out a sigh and thought out my words carefully. I had been fired recently and my last paycheck was just enough to survive for a few short weeks on a steady diet of bread and alcohol.
“I don’t have the rent, work messed up my pay. Give me a week or two.” I pressed my forehead against the door waiting for a response.
“You’re always late, I’m not surprised. I’ll be back in two weeks then.” Silence followed as he stepped away from the door. I went back to the couch wondering what to do the day. I looked at the mess that surrounded me. The floor littered with take-out boxes, the kitchen full sink filled with greasy plates, my matters worn with use. I enjoyed sleep, the only peace I felt was when asleep. So I slept a lot. My stomach broke the silence with a growl. I stood and walked over to the fridge. Its shelves empty except for old peanut butter. I guess I can’t sleep in today I thought.
I put on the cleanest shirt I could find and a grey winter coat. I made my way down the flight of stairs, taking cautious steps as I walked past my landlord’s door, and out into the cold air. The middle of December somewhere in Queens, New York, the perfect setting for winter depression to set in.
Walking down the street my mind was fixed on those hazel eyes. Eyes that I have not seen on another human before, something both comforting and otherworldly about them. The way they looked at me. Stepping through a pile of dirty wet snow, my mind wandered to what I was going to do for the next two weeks, I was never good with stress, and the looming thoughts of getting rent paid or being homeless were beginning to take their toll. “A beer will help,” I muttered, the only thing that could keep your heart warm during the winter.
I stepped into the packed corner store and made my way down the aisles. Just the essentials: bread, peanut butter, eggs, beer. Walking back out I decided to take a scenic route through the park, maybe a nature walk could calm my nerves. The park was fairly empty. I took my time to examine my surroundings, the dirt snow on the ground, the trees reaching out over the patch, the couple sitting on the bench. I stopped and stared for much longer than I should have. I bit my tongue and looked down at my feet as I walked past them.
I got home, put the groceries away, made myself a sandwich, and cracked open a beer. I pushed some dirt and take-out boxes from the couch onto the floor and laid down taking a bite of the sandwich, then a sip or my drink. My mind drifted back to the park, landed on the couple sitting on the bench, and contemplated quietly. They smiled with genuine happiness and affection I thought. He was holding her hands in his, shielding them from the bitter cold. He smiled, looking into her soft eyes. A chuckle escaped her and she playfully pushed his gaze away from her.
“Don’t stare,” She said lovingly.
“I can’t help it” he said. He dug his cold face into the warm space between the bend of her neck and shoulder, resting it there. “You’re so beautiful.”
She was beautiful I thought, my vision returning to the popcorn ceiling in my cold apartment. They were happy, I wonder how old or how new they’re love for one another is. I wonder of the countless, intimate they must have had. I wonder if he writes her sweet and loving poems and I wonder if she lies there, staring at every detail of his face as he reads his feelings to her. I wonder of how fragile, private, deep, that whole moment must be. I sat up quickly and drank the rest of the beer washing down the knot in my throat and letting the heaviness in my heart fade. I felt sober still, so I drank another beer and laid in my bed hugging my knees to my chest. I fell asleep dreaming of poetry and love.
A soft gentle stroke of a finger ran down my nose and onto my lips, coming to a stop at my chin. My eyes slowly opened and I saw her there laying on her side looking at me.
“Good morning” she whispered, her hazel eyes connecting with every detail of my face. There was a white blanket covering both of us and we were laying in a bed that seemed endless, resting our heads of grand white mounds of pillow. Warmth and natural sunlight peeked through the covers, surrounding us in a pleasant golden hue. “Read me that poem again my love” she smiled.
I stared silently, moving my attention from her vivid eyes down to her full lips, back up past her sculpted nose and cheekbones. Her hair was brown with streaks of blond that blended perfectly together and curled at the ends, stopping right before her shoulders.
“I’m waiting my love” she smirked playfully, letting a strand of her fall past her eyes. A warmth filled the back of my head that carried down my spine, I parted my lips and began to speak. I didn’t know what I was saying, I could not hear or understand anything coming out. It was just heat and vibrations. She closed her eyes and grinned as she buried her cheek deeper into the white pillow. Beautiful, the entirety of it I thought.
The scene soon faded into the darkness and without knowing when the dream ended and when I awoke my eyes opened and were greeted by the dull wall of my bedroom. I laid there in silence. Minutes stretched on forever. I turned and grabbed my journal on the nightstand next to me and wrote “she likes poetry.” I placed my journal back and laid in bed letting the knot in my throat fade. I eventually fell asleep.
The next couple of days weren’t easy, a juxtaposition of off the wall anxiety and crippling depression stretched through the week keeping me indoors. As an attempt to feign productivity I would force myself out of bed and into the shower only to find myself back under the covers, cowering from the world. At some point my phone rang, snapping me out of my daze. I didn’t recognize the ringtone at first, it was a noise I haven’t heard in months. Looking over I realized that it was a text message. It read—hey, long time. Let’s meet up at the bar by your house, I’ll buy you a beer. Frank.—Frank, an old friend with a fondness for the drink and other intoxicants. That’s all I really remembered of him. I stared at the bright screen and went from excuse to excuse, trying to deny the invitation. Yet a part of me felt excitement, a feeling believed to be lost forever, it’s been longer than I care to admit since I’ve talked past the casual ‘hellos’ with another person. This could be nice I thought.
It was seven at night when I left my apartment. The streets were bustling with life, my eyes stayed fixed on the sidewalk as I went along. I turned left across the street and right into a block with no foot traffic. I arrived at a small building wedged between a late night sub shop and a salon. I walked through the heavy wooden doors into a dimly lit room. There were only a few people playing pool and two or three others sitting at the bar. One of them turned towards me, it was a man wearing a green jacket with greasy hair cascading out from beneath his trucker hat. Frank.
“Long time since we’ve been here,” I said, looking around the bar and reminiscing.
He grinned and turned to the bartender, tapping his finger on the half empty mug, “two more please.”
“How’ve you been man?” he said, finishing the rest of his drink.
“Alive, barely. You?”
The silence carried and was interrupted by the bartender placing two full mugs in front of us. I wrapped my hand around the mug letting the cold condensation seep into my palm. “Lost my job.”
Frank looked over and nodded gently, “I feel you on that man, and I’ve been going through hell myself. You know my mom passed, I got no job or money to pay rent. I’m going to be homeless soon, I bet.”
“She passed?” I muttered trying to sound sympathetic.
“Heart attack, died in her sleep. I guess that’s the best way to go really, without ever seeing it coming. You never really know when it’s coming.”
I took a sip of my beer, wiping away the foam from my lip with my thumb. “What are you going to do?”
Frank stared straight ahead and shook his head slightly, “I don’t know man, I feel bad. Her pain pills, I took them and been using them to sleep. Not much worth staying up for you get me? Just been sleeping around.”
“I wouldn’t mind sleeping through this month” I whispered to myself.
Frank smirked and reached into his pocket. “Here, for your insomnia,” he reached over and dropped some pills in my hand. Without looking I put them into my coat pocket and reached towards my beer. I slid the frosty mug towards Frank and he hit the rim with the side of his glass, then we both took a few big gulps.
The night carried on in silence, we both watched the television and sipped away at our beer. It wasn’t awkward, it was calming actually. A sense of companionship that I’m sure we both needed. The night ended around nine and we both parted ways. Feeling drunk and adventurous I decided to cut through the park again.
I found a bench in a dark corner under a tree and laid down. I looked up past the tree branches and at the bright stars above. My mind wandered over to the death of Frank’s mom, how depressing I thought. Was he the one that found her lifeless body? Did he cry? He must have. I would. My empathy got the better of me and a tear rolled down my temple and onto the cold bench. I closed my eyes and tried to clear my mind.
I awoke to figures looking down at me. My vision jumping from one blurred face to another, they had no details, no genders, just human shapes. I jumped from blur to blur until my eyes landed on two detailed, hazel eyes. They stared through me, like I was nothing but a thin fog. Her cheeks were streaked with tears, her cheeks red, her brow cut with wrinkles as she sobbed. She reached her hand out towards me and cried out, “Don’t leave, I beg you.”
“I won’t!” I replied, reaching my hand towards her. I strained but I could not get close to her, soon dark, brown blotches began to take up my vision, it was dirt. She fell to her knees and buried her face into the palms of her hands. I attempted to scream but my jaw just hung open. Darkness crept in, engulfing my surroundings.
I woke to snow hitting my face. Flailing my arms and shaking my head I sat up and wiped the wet snow off. I had fallen asleep. I looked around at the quiet darkness around me, my phone read 12:32AM. “Better get home” I spoke, breaking the looming silence.
The next day I found myself on the couch, dehydrated and with a numbing pain all around my head. I stood and walked to the kitchen, filling a mug with water and sipping carefully. The clock on the wall read 1:21PM. I slept through breakfast, my stomach confirmed that thought with a growl, my head agreed with a throbbing pain. Coffee would fix both problems I thought. I put on my shoes along with my coat. I patted my pockets looking for my keys and felt that pills from last night, I froze, but only for a second. I pulled them out and placed them on the nightstand next to my bed. I found my keys and walked out the door towards a café a couple blocks away.
The day was nothing special, the same as the others leading up to it. I entered the café and made my way into the line. I peeked past the file of heads towards the cashier, a girl no older than 25. Her blond hair was tied in a ponytail, her skin was golden and untouched by age. A silver stud laid on her small nose and a row of straight pearls for teeth peeked through her thin, pink, lips. Her eyes were brown, not hazel. Brown. But they still carried a sense of wonder in them. The sound around me vanished as I stared at her, daydreaming. I pictured myself holding her, my hands running through her silk hair, alongside her thin face, down her slender neck and towards her soft breast. A heat rushed towards my ears and cheeks, my thoughts wandered to us in bed, our warm bodies pressed against one another, A feeling now ancient to me.
“Can I help you?” She spoke with a bewildered smile. I was caught staring, wrong of me.
“A large coffee and two bagels with cream cheese thank you.” I said. My eyes darting to the menu behind her. I paid, grabbed my food, and sat down in the corner with my back against the wall. I uncapped the coffee and lowered my face letting the steam rise and hug my cheeks. The warmth was pleasant, comforting.
I took a sip and looked out the window towards the street. People walking past, some alone, some not. I took another sip of the coffee and let it settle in my mouth. I tasted nothing. I lost my taste some time ago, a result of depression they say. It’s gradual, this illness. It shows itself in the most subtle of ways. For example, I used to take cold showers, I loved them; they woke me up and prepared me for the day ahead. Then, one day I turned on the cold water and jumped back, much too cold I thought. I turned the valve a bit towards the hot side and went on with my shower. The next day I did the same, this time a bit hotter than before. My love towards cold energizing showers diminished and my need for the comforting company of steaming showers rose. It was later that I read that people who take hot showers were, more than not, very lonely. Soon other habits began to change. My nights grew longer and my days shorter. I used to be in bed and asleep by 9PM every night and awake and ready the next morning at 10AM sharp. Now, the nights would stretch and the hour hand would fall past midnight before my body even began to settle. No position was comfortable, and no thought was soothing. There was a night where I caught myself lying in bed, the room dark except for the occasional light of a passing car. There was a tightness in my chest, I did not know when the tightness got there, like a part of me that was always there and only now I was just noticing it. Then with that sudden realization, a lump formed in my throat, making it hard to breath. I blinked and squeezed my eyes and rubbed my cold hands against my pale cheeks hoping to snap out of this nightmare, but it was all too real. Then came the emotions, emotions of regret and sadness, a sense of loathing both towards the world and towards myself. Emotions with no real root to them, just raw emotions. I broke out in sobs as I laid in my dark room, sobs so deep and harsh that I could hardly catch my breath in between. This went on through the night until the sun began to rise. That was the moment, the turning point of my life, the daunting realization that it was real, this sadness was real.
My mind returned to the coffee shop, I looked at my coffee and took a sip. It was cold now. I grabbed the bag of bagels and walked out catching one last glimpse of the cashier, she looked up and waved goodbye.
I got home, stripped to my boxers and laid in bed. A heat rising in the pit of my stomach made me uncomfortable, it worked its way up to my chest. My mind, trying to ignore it, jumped from thought to thought until landing on the girl at the café. Her soft lips. A lump grew in my throat. I got up and grabbed a beer from the fridge and say on the edge of my bed, sipping at the cold drink. My hand were cold and numb, my feet leading up to my thighs were frigid, my bones felt like ice. All I could truly feel was the tightness in my stomach and chest and the fist sized lump in my throat. I gulped some beer to keep myself settled. An image of her mystical hazel eyes shot across my mind, a numbing pain shot across my torso. I chugged half the beer now. I was freezing all over except for the heat in my chest area, my eyes were darting around the room looking for any sort of solace, and eventually they landed on my nightstand. On it, my journal and the pills. I grabbed the journal and wrote on a blank page, “My only comfort are her hazel eyes.” I placed the journal down and picked up a single, solid white pill. “This will help” I murmured, placing the pill on my tongue and letting it sit before washing it down with the rest of the beer. Some time passed, I do not remember the line between wake and sleep.
My eyes opened to the sight and feel of her bare body pressed against mine. She leaned in and kissed my forehead sensually, her hazel eyes locking with mine. She grabbed my hand and moved it to her rose cheeks. She smiled as I ran my thumb down her chin, along her fragile neck, across her snow white skin, down to her fervent breast. She buried her face into my neck and I felt her warm breath on my skin. She inched closer and I ran my hand through her soft hair, down her back caressing every inch and dip. Ecstasy bouncing across my skin, bringing my hairs to stand on end. My hand ran along her lower back past her bottom and onto her lets. Silk, I thought.
“I love you.” She spoke.
“I love you.” I returned. Squeezing her thigh.
“I love you.” Whispering now, letting the words linger in the air. A tear forming at the corner of her eye.
“I love you.” I whimpered back, letting the word be carried by as much truth and emotion as I could ever give behind a single phrase. I closed my eyes and let her warmth crash over me. I muttered something else incoherent and slowly opened my eyes. I was greeted by the numbing grey of my bedroom wall. A tear rolled down and splashed onto my sweat soaked covers.
I didn’t leave my apartment for the next three days. Either I ate, or laid in bed. There was no sleep. There was no movement. Eventually I ran out of food. Not a single drop of beer either. I considered starving, but my hunger pains forced me to get up and go out for food.
I changed and stepped out the door. The cold wind bit into my skin, making me flinch: I’d forgotten how cold it was outside. I got to the store and bought beer, bread, and peanut butter. On my way back home I cut through the park, it had become routine at this point. I walked through the curving trail, staring up at the dead trees, down to the filthy snow, and around at the few people scattered around the area.
A child sat in the light snow, grabbing handfuls and packing them into a tight ball. His mother say a couple feet away with a book in her lap, staring at the little boy with an affectionate gaze that only mothers are capable of. A man crouched by a large tree with bread in his hand, motioning towards a squirrel that stood at the trunk of the tree. The squirrel only stared.
I turned down a bend in the path and saw an empty bench by the exit. The same bench where I saw the couple, the girl and her poet lover. I walked over to the bench and sat. I wonder what happened to them. I contemplated all the beautiful things that could’ve become of them. Maybe they went to dinner one night on a very special occasion, a birthday or an anniversary. They drank wine and ate delicious food and laughed and cherished the extravagance of it all. They held hands over the table and gazed softly into each other, letting their love seep into them. The meal ended with a slice of German chocolate cake, her favorite. How did he know? He knew everything about her. With fork in hand she looked down and on the plate, written in chocolate, were the words “marry me?” The man knelt down on one knee and pulled out a black suede box, with a diamond ring fit for royalty, fit for his queen. They made love that night, stripping down in the cold apartment they shared. Letting their bodies warm the space, ending the night in each other’s arms.
I shivered as a gust of wind blew across my body. My eyes glazed over, staring at the dead snow-covered grass. A squirrel entered my vision and jumped around the snow, digging for food. I went into my bag and pulled out a slice of bread. I tore a corner off and waved it towards the squirrel. It stood on its hind legs and peered at my direction, its black eyes staring through me. I stared back, straight faced. I threw the bread onto the ground and it leapt forward, picking it up and gnawing at the crust. Another gust of wind blew past and the squirrel ran towards a tree with bread hanging from its mouth. I buttoned up my coat and stood up. “Time to go” I sighed.
I returned home, repeated my routine of stripping down and making myself a sandwich along with opening a beer. I sat in bed and took a bite out of the soft bread and gulped down the cold drink. I starred at the floor and felt the food sliding down into my stomach. I took a sip of the beer and let it sit in my mouth. It turned warm before I swallowed. I craved company I thought. Nothing else in my life warrants such an intense longing like the touch of another person does. I dug the sandwich into my mouth tearing a piece off and letting it sit. I pressed the bread against the roof of my mouth, feeling its softness. Her hazel eyes took up my thoughts. Her skin, like running your fingers across still water. Her voice, the kind that penetrates your heart. I could almost smell her, I wanted to smell her. I wanted to taste her. I wanted to cherish every pore of her soul, to fade into her.
I swallowed the food and drank some more beer. I looked over at the table where the journal and the pills sat. I grabbed the journal and went to the last page. I scribbles “my true love.” Put it down and picked up the remaining pills, about five of them. I put them in my mouth and left them there, letting my saliva soak them, then washed it down with the last of my beer. I grabbed another from the fridge and chugged it. An uncomfortable sensation rose in my stomach but dispersed once I burped. I grabbed another beer and drank half of it. I laid in bed and closed my eyes. I waited. I got up and used the bathroom. I drank the rest of the beer and laid down again. I waited some more.
I found myself holding onto a pair of familiar hands. Small and fragile as they laid in mine. I moved my thumb across her knuckles and slowly down every finger. I opened my hand, connecting the tips of her fingers with mine. Our palms met and our fingers interlocked. I held onto her left hand with mine and with my right I moved to her collarbone, running my fingers along the indent. I gently grasped the back of her neck and ran my thumb in circles through her hair. My eyes drifted from her ears up to her eyes. Her hazel eyes. They wrinkled in the corners as she grinned. I got my index finger and ran it methodically across her eyebrows, feeling the hair against my skin. My index glided down in between her eyes and along the bridge of her nose, I needed to feel every inch of her. My finger dove off the tip of her nose and landed in the red sea of her lips. Touching and feeling the softness of them, Dragging her bottom lip down slightly as I moved down to her chin then to her neck.
“Don’t leave” She whispered, slightly pouting.
I stared into her eyes, seeing the hazel universe that existed in them. “Never” I whispered. I closed my eyes and leaned in, feeling her warm lips against mine. It felt like I walked off a cliff. I had the sensation of falling, but there was no air, no sound, and no fear. My body collapsed into itself and I felt nothing but energy, a bright light filled my senses: sight, touch, smell, taste. Her voice echoed all around me, “My love, stay with me forever” she said.
The sound of my heart beating echoed around me, it was a soft rhythmic beat. A pressure built in me and I pushed out a word, “forever.”
The sound stopped. The pain stopped. The sadness stopped. I was with her, forever.