Awoken by the outside traffic, I rose to find my head rested on the window.
“You okay?” she said.
Standing over me, was her face. Although, I couldn’t see who it was, I was sure it had been Marie. Her features had been obscured by the tiredness of my slumber. Yet blurred, I can somewhat make out what stood before me as my vision began to gradually return. Her long, dark hair hung low, caressing my face. Curved lips resemble what appeared to be a kind smile. Her silhouette stuck out faint ringlets that couldn’t have been mistaken for anyone else. Of course, it was the one I’d grown to love.
“Of course” I said while getting up. Coming closer towards me, Marie reached her hands
to my face. She wiped her thumbs across both my eyes. I felt at ease.
“Why are you crying?” she said while drying away my tears.
“Huh?” I honestly hadn’t noticed. “I think I must’ve slept too good or somethin” I added. “Must’ve. ‘Could tell it was a pretty good nap then,” she said, still wearing her subtle, yet warm smile.
Sleeping close to the window wouldn’t seem like an optimal place for a nap, but for whatever reason I was able to get what felt like a night’s worth there. A big, warm fleece blanket accompanied by a tranquil view of Manhattan, several stories up. I couldn’t help but feel it was an appropriate setting. Oftentimes I’d read there to clear my mind. Especially on days when the sun hung brightly in the sky. I’d see wisps of clouds surfing in the big open blue, not to mention the glares that’d paint the room with rainbows. There was nothing like it. What’s not to love about the sight of that? Taking note she’d been standing there for a bit, I grabbed a hold of her hand, lightly swinging it.
“You should join me Marie, it’s comfortable,” I said while pointing to the opposite end of
where I sat.
“Over there?” she said.
“Yes…at least for a little bit, if you don’t mind of course,” I said.
“I don’t,” she said.
I gave a part of the blanket over to her, enough for it to be shared. Truth be told, I was struggling to part with it. Maybe I’d just gotten too comfortable. Afterall, it held me together and us closely knit during the coldest of days. Despite the blanket showing its age, it never failed to provide warmth from its fabric.
“I’m gonna miss this,” I said.
“What, the blanket?” she said, seemingly peering into my soul. There was sudden difficulty in what words to choose, strickening my train of thought.
“No, just. All of this ya know?” I said while my eyes gazed around the apartment uncertain if she’d gotten my drift.
“A part of me will too, but…,” she said. It was clear Marie had been struck with a sudden hesitance. Though I’d gotten the cue of what it suggested. Ending a sentence with ‘but’ didn’t seem all that welcoming, especially followed by an optimistic sentiment. Couldn’t have meant a good thing either, at least not in my mind.
Before Marie could finish her thought, I interjected “You like?”
“Mhm, it’s peaceful. I can see why you sit here” she said. Truth be told, knowing one of
favorite places of solace could be shared with her in these moments was bittersweet.
“Yeah, it’s nice,” I added.
A breath of reassurance briefly filled the air, though faintly, I could hear the ticking of a clock not too far away from where I sat. Making a conscious attempt to ignore it only grew the sound to be louder with each passing second. Distracting my attention, there were streaks of light that hit me in the face. Some shone on the walls and striked various corners of the room. A bit blinded by the light, I could’ve recognized the refracting of rays from anywhere. It was the many rings Marie wore. Sitting across from her, I’d noticed she was hiding her face within her hands. For a brief moment the sun brought emphasis to the bags underneath to reddened eyes. I guessed she’d done her fair share of shedding tears, but for a different reason perhaps. I couldn’t blame her.
“Are you okay?,” I asked.
“I’d like to think so,” she said, letting out a slight chuckle.
“Well, do you want to talk about it?” I asked.
“Not really, I think it may be best not to,” she suggested. I assumed it was too overwhelming. I understood the need of silence in a time like this; it was necessary.
Knowing it may be awhile till then, if ever, I wanted to make the best out of it. I wasn’t going to force her. Our eyes would occasionally meet halfway, but for no more than a few seconds. Most of the gazes were in favor of the window and our fleeting eye-contact felt as though there was some level of mutual uncertainty. Outside of our brief visual connection she seemed taken back by it all, the life on the other side of the window. Every so often she’d made a few glances over at her wrist. It was as if was waiting for somethi–
“Listen, I called a taxi not too long ago,” she said. “It should be here soon, ‘called it a few minutes ago actually.”
“Oh, I see,” I hesitated.
Not sure how I was supposed to respond to that. Had I not woken up sooner, I imagined the conversation would have never happened and Marie would have simply been gone. All without a trace. I’d chosen to not let it faze me, or at least try to keep myself intact. For I had no intention in ruining this place of what would then become a distant memory. I feared dousing any ounce of a reaction would spoil the moment. I had felt like it wasn’t my place to ask. At least not anymore, with all things considering. I respected her freedom, a birth-given right which belonged to her and so did my own. Sure she had her reasons. Beyond that, I trusted her judgment whole-heartedly. Arguably, she was the best of us; the one more capable in making the tough calls.
“We tried, but it is what it is,” she said as she was looking beyond the glass panes
“I suppose we did, right?” I supposed.
“Though, I wish you the best with everything”
“Likewise, the same goes for you and more” I added. I’d always wished the best in the end, no matter how things had turned out. Otherwise, it’d be as if the seams of our novel were distastefully ripped from the closing pages of our chapter. The air surrounding us had been scented with a fragrance I couldn’t name, but the aroma carried a bittersweet tang to it. Admittingly, one I didn’t want to let go of.
“What’s that smell?” I wondered.
“Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla” she said.
“Of course, sometimes it’s hard to tell with these things,” I said.
“You never got things immediately.”
“I guess that’s true. Either way I like it,” I added. It must’ve been obvious that I was
making an [poor] attempt at trying for further conversation, even if it’s nothing short of mundane.
Before I knew it, a taxi pulled up on the street below. Immediately turning to each other, just knowing. It was time to get up from the window and see her on the way out. She’d gotten up before I did, leaving me solely alone under the fleece. My feet sticking out, I feel a cold chill graze my soles. Shaking it off, I began folding the blanket for one final time.
“This is….yours,” I said while holding out the blanket towards her, eyes pointed toward the floor.
“You can keep it if you’d like,” she said.
“Honestly, I think it may be best if it stayed with you,” I insisted. “I don’t think I am able, it’d just be a poor reminder”
“Then the feeling’s mutual, so I’ll keep it somewhere safe,” she said, grabbing it from me, tucking it under her arm.
“From here on out, please take care of yourself”
“Yeah, same to you” Marie said. “See you later, alligator”
“After awhile, crocodile,” I said.
As she’s making her leave, I watch from a distance. The space between us were the creeks of the floorboard growing faint with each step. The distance; our two-year stretch could be heard treading away, now coming to a close. The door shuts and Marie is nowhere to be seen. Upon hearing the rattling of the door’s inner gears, I notice my vision beginning to blur once more.