BN Prose: Silence by Wole TalabiPosted on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 at 9:10 AM
By Wole Talabi
Silence is how you respond when she tells you, her usually lilting voice that always reminds you of the seaside at dawn now trembling with pain, that her boyfriend is cheating on her. Silence. Because the truth in that moment is too ugly to put on display and because it’s not a complete truth. Yes, some part of you is glad that it is over, that you now have a chance to finally make her see just how much you want to be with her. And yet, for now, you are just friends – liars and friends, denying the spark that has existed between you since you first met, since your first kiss, since you first looked into each other’s eyes and got hopelessly lost, two years ago and two continents away. Eventually, you remember how much she said she loved him and how badly she must be hurting in this moment and because you love her, you finally gather enough sheaves of empathy to say “I’m so sorry, B” and mean it. She is racked by another wave of sobs and you respond with another awkward…
That is what follows after you tell her you love her, sitting in the brown wood and gunmetal embrace of the Oriental hotel lounge. Its Christmas and enthusiastic lights are blinking all around you like fireflies filtered through a rainbow. Your heart is beating wildly in your chest and the edges of your vision are becoming blurry. She is staring at your face intently – perhaps looking for some visual confirmation of what you just said or perhaps just because she cannot bear not to look at you in this moment. This moment you have chosen to cross a bridge you both knew existed but did not dare set foot upon for reasons none of you can or ever will be able to accurately articulate. But now, in this seemingly infinite moment, everything is changing, initiated, as was all creation, by four simple words. Something slithers slowly down your spine sending a sudden, subdued shiver surging through you. You wonder if she notices the onset of your tremulousness. The silence is starting to burn your ears. You want to say something, follow up your declaration of love with the perfect words to convince her of its validity but you can barely breathe. It feels like you have been inflated with liquid lightning. Then, just when you cannot endure it any more, she opens her mouth and finally breaks that horrible, excruciating…
There have been four months of it for your sanity’s sake. Not because she said ‘No’. That would have been easy to deal with in comparison. But because she said ‘I don’t know’ which was probably the truth but as anyone who has ever lied to someone they love before knows, sometimes the truth hurts more than any lie ever could. After you told her you loved her, she said she loved you too and you felt a million shackles fall from your heart, cluttering to the floor in great big coils, clanging and clashing and making your soul sigh with relief. And then you asked her if she wanted to be with you and that was when she said ‘I don’t know’ and you died a little death. You’d asked for an explanation and you got one but it didn’t make sense to you because you loved her and she loved you and you both knew and so nothing else but your dream of love could have possibly made sense in that moment. Not really. So you gave her three weeks to make up her mind; three weeks of hardly eating and barely breathing and constantly waiting for her to say yes. But when the time came and she still said she didn’t know, that she was dealing with her own personal issues and needed time to work her way through, you did what you thought you had to do. You let your love burn and turn into anger and because you couldn’t stand to see her with your soul still on fire, you cut her off, for your sanity’s sake. You built sturdy walls out of deleted numbers, tears, ignored emails, unreplied text messages, copious amounts of alcohol and avoided friends between the both of you. But it is the nature of walls to eventually fall and your wall has all come crumbling down now that she is standing in front of you, her hair wet and matted to her skin from the rain, her overexposed chest heaving rhythmically, her make-up running along the edges of her face in localized ochre rivulets. You say ‘hi’ and she says ‘I’ve missed you’ and then you take her in your arms and press her to your skin desperately, wondering how you ever shut her out and let her go, feverishly telling her so and once all your walls are rubble around your feet, there is an extended…
It has become comfortable. As she lies in your arms, her head snug in the crook between your neck and your shoulder. Silent and comfortable, you realize with the clarity of a sunrise that this is how you now spend most of your time together – holding each other in silence. The explanations have been made: she needed time to be sure it wasn’t a rebound; that she wouldn’t use you to work through a recently failed relationship, you couldn’t bear to be around her or hear her name without having her to hold and cherish and love in all the ways one human being could love another. The mechanics of the separation were unfortunate but the time apart and the silence were needed. She is sure, you are whole. All is well. You realize now with an overwhelming, ineffable certainty that in that moment, under the vaguely eldritch fluorescent glow of the solitary light bulb in her apartment and a million more moments like it, you are both home, with nothing to say and everything to be.
Photo Credit: chistell.com