Do we truly know what it means to be our own person? Or are we all yearning for something that only seems to exist in sitcoms and movie screens?
I walked away from everything that I knew, everything that I was comfortable with, because I couldn’t answer the questions that were tearing my heart apart. As melodramatic as that may seem, I will always been the first one to admit that emotional torment is real, providing proof with the gut-wrenching sounds that punctuated the physical side effects that left me hunched over toilets and garbage cans; my body struggling to bring up the poison that physically never entered. A part of me is running, from feelings, from friends, and the other part is searching for a home that I sometimes believe only exists in my dreams. I’ve had the chance for the grand love. I had the chance of comfortable nights around bonfires as friends, and friends of friends, and people, who’ve suddenly become family, laugh and cry with each other as the smoke from semi-dried wood curls its way into a blue-black midnight sky. My skin goose bumps with the memory of fingertips that trail over sweat-soaked skin and the back of my eyelids are permanently burned with the images of white lights and fire-works that were pulled from a deeper part of me that no biology class could ever dream of defining.
These moments of living are truncated by long moments of silence, of breathing; film running uncensored through my mind as I watch the world’s show from the wings, mouthing out the prompts that I have just written, in hopes someone hears the movement of my breath. I don’t know what I am living for, I just know that my heart keeps beating autonomously, leaving me out of its daily decisions. Fear comes alive with every shortened beat, the muscle pausing its’ drumming spitefully, as my lungs push air forcefully, unwilling to be overruled. I fled…I ran, I pushed my foot down upon the pedal and reveled in the sound of dirt and stone spraying behind me, even though the windshield wipers failed to clear the water in my vision. I refused to meet confused eyes of goodbye; hands shaking on the wheel as I sobbed on the side of the paved roads. The scream tearing through my throat left blood on my lips, smearing across the page I tore out to leave behind. I will never make it home tonight.
The new technology told me that I was leading the way onto a new life, while a slide show revealed smiling eyes of those I knew a moment ago. I thought it would be safest to slip away in the early morning light, the world still sleeping with a slight shift in bodies, knowing a change was occurring. I left you asleep in my bed, and slipped into my car we packed the night before without a glance back. I left the picture on the nightstand, my fear coming alive that one day I would return to retrieve it; I’m afraid of the hope that you would still be sleeping in my bed, but I knew that I almost had it all, and I know I left it behind, at 5am, on a road from here, in place where I wasn’t meant to be, but is pulled back by the siren’s cry, does it get better than that night? I had it, at 7pm in the blue laughter in your eyes, in the songs of a sacred circle meant to be broken; we were all kids I once knew. I knew, you, I knew the gray. I knew the ghost of all that was to become when we lived the moment enthusiastically.
I left it behind with you. I’m just the prompt, and with the stage I must move, even though I wish you fought for me to stay. I drowned in it all, walking from you to the house and back. I drowned in the cup in my hand, willing my heart to remain steady for a moment, so I could remember the taste of your tears when they fell from my fingertips. I believed in you, as you hung from the ceiling, I pushed the chair for you because I understood the first step was too big to be taken alone. I watched as you swayed, and I knew you found the way. So each year we repeated, with scars ticking off the moments. It was the nicest thing, to sway amongst each other as feet kicked before stilling, and you smiled. We smiled, and left the apartment, hand in hand, until the day I left you sleeping, and I sighed from the warmth I felt when I pressed into your side. Isn’t it that the way it is? A grand love for a life that could be led unchallenged; we had it all, with fingertips that brushed over white and black keys that gave us the steps. One, two, three, one, two, three…but we both knew what would happen on the four.
So I left at 5, and knowing better doesn’t mean knowing enough, for I knew neither would provide a justifiable excuse as to why I locked the door. It’s a choice, in the end. The backs of heads only a reminder that I was the first to look behind; but it is so quiet here and I hoped you would remind me of why I’m standing in the middle of the stage of this empty theater. Why the words that I struggle to find do little to ease a mind in search of a definable explanation. I left it all, and mixed backwards glances with forward, until it all became a blur at the bottom of my shot glass. So I cut my hair, and changed my name, and you all laughed and cried when I showed up, for a moment, to bring in the New Year that left with me in the middle of the night. I walked familiar streets, under a familiar glow, hoping the silence in which I left would soften the blow of another lacking goodbye from a familiar place that echoes the laughter of friends, of friends, of people who became family, and lovers that once felt like a closer stop to home. Did you hear the cry? I woke up in a place I didn’t know to eyes that I did, and I couldn’t stop shaking from the cold, isn’t there supposed to be more?
I’m just mad my 15-year-old self didn’t finish the job when she had the chance, or maybe it was circumstance, I just couldn’t justify murder with a suicide. But I’m not coming back, the feelings too much to give away, or ask for, I had the grand love, with the grand life, and in 70 years I will look back and shake my head. I know because she told me, that I wasn’t cut for this life the way we cut diamonds for a 30 second wife. We put too much emphasis on it all, with little realization that 25 years has already passed and I’m still standing here, in an empty theater, because I refuse to unlock the doors. I hear you pounding, I wish you would go back to sleep. But I am the prompt, I am the circumstance. We might not make it home, it hurts every day, but I no longer have a hand to hold, or a reason to behold the smiles that gave me a summer of blue-black midnights and curling smoke. I have no place amongst the fingertips that lead to the hands, of the arms, of the woman, that held me like she did when we were 16, and we hoped the future would reflect the dreams we had those nights. I left her tonight; I’m not making it home, because it only exists in my dreams and in the pavement that I’m resting on, wishing the wipers took the water from my vision.
And I love you, I love you like never before, and this why I am not around anymore. My smell familiar, my taste is similar, but we all know that my eyes changed when I had to ask for change from strangers with a cup and a choice. I could always go back…I could. the lock on my side of the door and simply twist would release the latch and you would all be here with me, racing the floor to get seats and wait…for the words of the prompts and circumstance to explain why I left the familiar place, with familiar sounds and familiar smells, and dear god I miss the pizza like you wouldn’t believe. You sit, and wait, to hear why I’m being kept alive until I’m killed. A twist, but I look out the window and I know, it is not time for this show to begin, I’m still running. I’m still running…it hurts too much stay when the lights are on, and the curtains pulled away. I’m just a kid without her jacket, and a white blank page, standing in the middle of a darkened stage, knowing that the cold is never supposed to feel like home.
I’m not coming home tonight. I’m still running.