CW: mention of grief
The way he tilted his head back when he laughed. It was a barking laugh too, not delicate in the slightest. When he was cold, he’d always tuck his hands into his hoodie sleeves, cuddled away from the biting air. If I shivered, he’d take a hand out, grab mine and tuck it into his pockets, saying that we could be cold together, no he doesn’t mind. I’d knock at his door and his face would light up, as if this were a huge surprise and suddenly the best day ever, even though he already knew I was coming over. He’d barrel into me like a snowstorm, nearly knocking me over with the force of his hug, laughter springing between us. We wouldn’t even do anything crazy or outlandish, just sit on the sofa and watch crappy TV together with our hands clasped together, creating a small flame of heat between our palms. It was always some kind of nature documentary; he’d sit there and oo and ah, as different animals cropped up on the screen, as if they were in the room right there with us. Honestly, his reactions were a show in themselves, I’d watch them more than the TV sometimes. There would be a constant back and forth of who would be making the next cup of tea, and a regular berating of how sweet I take my own. He’d grin at me as he’d reach into the back of the cupboard and pull out my favourite brand of biscuits, claiming that he had saved them just for me.
These memories, if you can call them that, always feel hazy, like a faded photograph you find tucked in the back of an old forgotten book. Half the time, I can’t even figure out if they really happened or if they were simply made up in my head, golden moments idealised and created through years of bittersweet nostalgia. I can’t remember the details of his face, the feeling of his arms around me; all I have is the warmth of our hands clasped together. The thing is, I’m not even sure if I remember him as he truly was anymore. He’s become a collage of all of those people that have floated in and out of my life, a messy tangle of soft happiness and deep, grounding loss. Pieces of ‘him’ are pieces of others that I’ve simply drawn together in my musings, in a desperate attempt to hang onto just some iteration of his character. This person, this memory, is anyone and everyone that I’ve lost to time; a kaleidoscope of a being.
It’s been years, but it’s always in times like these, in the middle of the night when there’s nothing to do but think, that he returns to me; stepping into my mind like a speck of dust passing over the light of a projector, bringing all those emotions back with him. There for a fleeting few minutes before sleep takes me and he disappears again, not to be thought of until the next quiet moment when he’ll return, a daze of a warm breeze, cupped hands and soft laughter.
Image courtesy of Ben White
Love this piece!