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Of Gifts and Fire Escapes

Published: 25 June 2019


You must think that I am crazy. You must have wondered, at least once, where I am getting all these images and words when we haven't even spoken for five comulative minutes. And you might be wondering what it would be like for me when you finally move— as was my plan these last few days, if only things felt right.

Losing sight of you changes nothing. Just as that song sung by a gargoyle said, I have only to close my eyes and there you will be. It makes no difference whether you are really here or really there. We haven't spoken. In these past eleven months, I can count with my fingers the number of times our eyes met. But you are all that I see even as I am writing this.

If things went right for me, I would have gone. You would no longer hear of that giant crying in the fire escape, being assured by everybody who is anybody that everything will be alright. You would no longer see that shadow passing through the other door, from the holes in the walls, smelling of custard, elcaire and red Marlboros. You would no longer hear the muted strumming of a black guitar and, maybe, a whispered song.

But I carry you with me. To another fire escape. Through another set of doors. In another room of programmers who would rather not hear any voice, be it mine or someone else's. But you will have been comfortable. That last gift that I wanted to give you. And I will have been the same. Desolate. Feeling what I'm feeling. Thinking what I'm thinking.

I do not know what your opinion of me is, only that you have one. And it's sad that you have formed them based on conversations with people who don't even know me. What gave you the impression that he would know how my mind works when all we ever did together was play songs in his team's aquarium and rehearse Edwin McCain's I'll Be? If you had any questions, why didn't you just ask me? I had always just been there, looking for any decent conversation what will come my way.

Did I confuse you? Did I scare you? What could he or anyone else have said that would have reassured you, cleared things up for you, made you understand where I was coming from? Nobody knew me then. Nobody knows me now. Not the handful of co-workers that I seem to be spending so much time with. Not even the employee relations specialists who are only too quick to say “move on“ instead of “hang in there”.

At the end of the day, I go home alone with just you in my thoughts: how could she have felt about me when we almost ran into each other by the water dispenser; what does she think about that long, black shirt; was it even difficult for her to get those lavenders under my desk; did she, even once, wear the silver bracelet; how would she feel about me tomorrow? And I sleep. And in the morning, I wonder how you would be when I see you again.

You never asked me. And I suppose you never will given that things are going your way. Away from those glass walls that made you visible. Away from that counter where I used to hope that I would see you. Away from that bench at the corridor where I used to make my own noises, where I wrote for you that song about being the light that shines on Friday nights.

While these words may be empty to you, they will be all that I have. And I will keep them for a long time— longer than you can imagine. Because they are more than just ideas. You were never just an idea.