A woman with uncombed silver hair has sat down with me to wait for the bus. She has a grocery bag filled with overripe bananas and bruised apples. Her hands are aged with arthritis. The way her spine hunches over, curved like a lemon wedge, it pains me to realize that you and I will not grow old like that together.
“On sale,” she coughs into her fist.
“Fruit?” I ask.
“Well that. But it’s the quiet, picked-over things that have God’s ear.”
She turns away to cough harder into a damp Kleenex, and the sound reminds me of the officers who knocked on our front door hours after you walked away for good that time. They found your body bent in unnatural angles as it floated down the same river we taught our dog to swim in. Bloated, lifeless paramedics drove to store you in a hospital freezer before the graveyard. And as I signed purple ink on your death certificate, I accepted that when life can’t possibly taste any more sour, I strike up the best conversations with myself.
The bus pulls up. I follow the woman with the fruit past the third black step and swipe my card against the metal scanner. An automated buzz sound snaps back again. “Declined,” the driver says.
“I just put money on it yesterday.” The other passengers keep their heads down.
“Lady, decline, is declined, is decline. You got cash?” The driver asks me.
“No.” He ushers me out.
“There’s a bus that picks up this route after 5pm with no charge. Just wait at this stop. Ok Lady?” Glass doors on hinges electronically slide shut before I can answer his question. The old woman with the fruit doesn’t wave, but watches me from the back of the bus as it drives off. Remember when we laughed at stuff like this as if the world only had space for us? I miss being loved like that.
Cars turn on their headlights now as I wait. Cold bites into the pores of my skin. Today the dentist worked on those cavities you told me would grow until I gave up sugar and stress. The taste of tooth dust against my tongue is metallic, like orange juice after mint gum. When the Dentist ran the drill bit with that unbearable sound you know I always clinch my fists to, he moved the L.E.D light closer into my mouth and said, “Just found one more.” That must have been what your anxiety was like?
When I tried to salvage a commitment that your old self would return with another brand of anti-depressants, you told me patience was just a more palpable version of faith. But why didn’t I confess then that it hurt; it hurt to live your truths.
Even last week, at a salad bar, other customers watched me touch the dry skin on my face you always told me to moisturize more. It peeled off, but I can’t wash off the way people stared at me. It was in the illusion of their judgment that I met you for the first time. Those noises inside the cracks of your mind no doctor could fit into with pills to cure, did you stop telling me about the noises because comfort doesn’t mean you’ve learned to live without disappointment, it means you’ve learned to live with it?
Do you remember the yellow trumpet bush we forgot to water? It has grown up the chain link fence now with paper-bag colored buds. I can’t make myself trim it. While we planted that bush you said to me: Adeline, Adeline what if I’m on the borderline of a breakdown? The kind where men hang from trees by shoelaces with eyes blown out the color of space.
As I tell you this, it’s almost 5pm. The old woman with the fruit must be home, but even she feels like a ghost too now. Maybe if I had offered everything you needed but couldn’t ask for, or laid hands on the places I knew were silently hurting, because all that devoured you I refused to really see for fear it would come for me. Now, all I really see is your face in our dried-up memories. I struggle with them because I feel you left with all the bad ones. Couldn’t I stop grieving for the you that laughed in all the wrong places during movies, and the you that re-used tea bags twice in hot water, to watch that you were grieving the loss of that same person, too? Ask me if I adore you and this time I will not lie; please, just put your smell back on our pillow.
Can You Feel This, Inspirational Writing for Borderline Personality Disorder and Depression. Like and Share Can You Feel This on Facebook.