The Apparition

And I awake with her in my arms and the bed is soft and enveloping and the room is dark and cluttered and neither of us have any place to be so we let the hours slip by unheeded. Absentminded conversations spin in circles as I hold her and the light flitters in and around the curtains with the rising sun. She stretches out and slips her lips into mine, but I flinch and jerk back as if I had been slapped. No, no, no, I remember this and I fear it. But she just smiles and kisses me again and the pain floods through my body, oozing through every pore.

Oh, it was so easy. It was so easy before. I had forgotten, and it was so easy. But now I’m trapped. I can see myself in her eyes. I look terrified and grotesque, and I tell her so, but she just laughs and kisses me again. As if that will make it better? Oh, it was so easy. I can feel the beads of sweat dripping down my back on their journeys to the damp bed sheets below. I can hear the thud of my heart as it sma-smashes, sma-smashes against its cage and struggles to break free. I can feel – I can feel the shivers that dance up and down my spine. Oh, it was so easy before.

I plodded forward mindlessly and let myself drown in the muck. Down, down, down into the dark cell and far, far, far away from her brilliance. And I was happy there. And if I wasn’t, well, I didn’t care because the darkness was absolute and all-encompassing and it was the Only, just the Only. And for a time, for a long time, my eyes adjusted to the darkness just as they had once settled under the light of her fire. And I let the sunspots bloom and spin and dance and fade because they were the only variation in the sea of bottomless black.

But her eyes shine shine and her nose nuzzles against mine and I melt inside her embrace. We spin and dance and laugh through shared memories and all of my long dormant hopes come rushing back, explosively bursting from my mouth like a geyser from the wall of a dam. But she just smiles softly and kisses me again and shakes her head and rubs my back.

There’s a stillness in the room when I awake, like a funeral home waiting for its mourners to arrive. But whether it’s a minute or a day or a year, the room will remain barren and empty. The light gleams around the curtains, but any modicum of warmth left with the apparition from my past. I pull the blankets closer and force my mind to drift to work and friends and movies and music and everything and nothing and anything and anything. And I try to remember how easy it was to forget. And I try to forget and slid further into the muck. But it isn’t so easy, is it?

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