Here’s looking at you.
The Pact (pt 2)
We’re sitting across a table from each other. The white linen tablecloth is stiff and heavy, and it drapes to the floor. I wonder aloud if it’s disguising the nasty cheap box of a table underneath, and you laugh and tell me to be quiet. People are looking. But I am looking at you. The way your cheeks are flushed; the way your hair keeps falling into your eyes; and the way you are smiling at me right now. I reach for your hand.
In a blink, the tablecloth has become a hospital sheet—still heavy, and now it is shrouding me instead of the table. Do I need hiding? You are holding my hand, but it’s too tight. I want to squeeze back. “It’s okay,” I am saying. “I’m right here.”
You’re not wearing any make-up, and your hair is piled on top of your head. You look beautiful, despite the streaks of tears I can see on your cheeks. Do you remember when your father died? Of course you do. You looked like you do now, and for a time the light in your eyes dimmed so badly that I thought it had gone out for sure. I wiped your face, and I told you “This is my job. I will take your tears away.” And I did. That light slowly came back, until it was burning like a forest fire—almost too bright to look at. I try to move, but I can’t touch your tears. I can’t light the fire in your eyes.
I close my eyes. I cannot be here in this hospital. We are lying on the beach now, watching the sun go down. You are complaining about the sand in your hair, and I am looking at you. The tide comes in and out, but I am looking at you. We have a blanket over us, but it is white and stiff, and it’s weighing me down. It’s pressing down on me so hard that I feel as if I can’t breathe. I want to throw it off, and pull you into my arms and kiss you, but it’s confining me—smothering me.
I am back in the room with you, and the blanket is now my sheet; my shroud. I am angry for a moment. Why have you not lifted this from me?
You are talking to someone. I don’t know what you are saying. I don’t want to be in this room. I fight to return to the restaurant, to the beach, to anywhere but here.
And then you lift the sheet from me. The pressure has gone. I look around for you, but we are in the woods and there are so many people here that I worry I won’t find you. There is music playing—awful rave music, with beeping and whistles. The lights are pulsing like fireworks, in time with the beat. I see a girl, against the tree, and she looks like you. She’s far away, through the crowd, but I know it must be you. I’m dancing now, because this is the night when I find you, and we will laugh together about this place and these people. I dance toward you, and I don’t care if anyone is looking at me. I’m looking at you.