by Malini Mohana
Blue. It’s a lovely colour on you. I can feel it in your heartbeat, stringy in the wind around you. Changing molecules, colliding with the air. I sat to watch you donning blue, like that dress you wore when I first saw you. You’d changed so much since, your pulse beating softly in the dip of your neck. I’d like to still remember you as you were then, the hair bouncing at your chin as you turned to say hello.
I’ve seen the colour leave your face before, draining into the aquiline of that dress. The time you failed your bar exam. The time you thought you had crashed your car into that child. The time your mother died; your disbelief sinking into the floor beneath me, taking with you your warmth and your voice. You turned blue. You walked away and for a long time I didn’t see you, even though you woke up next to me every morning.
I remember that you came back to me, slowly and staggeringly, like an injured deer. You never spoke much; you found your way around the world in whatever map you had saved in your mind. You found me sometimes, when you discovered your way, when the map allowed.
I guess it’s safe to say I waited. For the calls, for our voices brimming with smiles and bad jokes flowering into laughter, into sex. They all disappeared, and then I waited for the angry calls. I answered them anyway. Those disappeared too. Still, I waited. For the days when I could hear the concrete in your voice; the echo of an empty street at the end of a dark neighbourhood, where the rain froze in the cracks of the sidewalk and the fog froze in walls around us.
I could hear the mist escaping from your mouth as you plead with me and I succumbed to you. I can no longer remember how many times you called. It all became one moment; frozen water in cracks along the pavements spelling out things that had made my smile brittle. That had pushed apart the centre of the floor and widened the space between our voices.
Still I waited. My heart bled black into my arteries when I saw your name on my phone, so I walked forward even though I couldn’t reach you for all the ice. I knew then, that you would wear blue one day. That perhaps you would never change out of it. That day, those days, day after day, you put your hand in mine and you took what I had offered, and I saw how you looked at me — the way your smile slid into your throat and spun gold in your voice. I suppose that’s all it to give you all I had.
I still remember the pulse in your neck when you walked away from me that day, those days, day after day. It was shallow and I could almost hear it, thudding into the ground around you, cracking the ice between us and begging me to call you back. I can’t remember how hard I tried, only how hard you fell. You had lost so much weight that I worried you would slip into the crevices beneath our surface.
I realised then I couldn’t stop you. I realised then that I’d leave you and that I would see you wearing blue again. A part of me hoped you would.
Now I sit here, watching you turning blue. It’s a lovely colour on you. My toes tingle at the way your hands curled in. I can see your veins now, the curve of your neck, the slant of your arm, the dents in your inner elbow, where your fire escaped. The tiny holes, like warm beauty spots. You gave me a few of those too. The ones we shared; the ones we used to imbue eternity and music, to stumble into your house where your mother no longer lived. The ones that made the world glow like embers, your face lit by fire as I pulled back your hair and kissed you. Those tiny holes, where you first injected life into me. And then out of me. The ones you had chosen over me, imploding in your arm like silent singularity. I lived in there, with you, in those little holes. I tried to cover yours up with bandaids and words and the softness of inky nights. You never liked it, so you left.
Still I stayed, waiting for your calls. Putting your hand in mine and giving you what you begged me. I guess I picked out the colour blue for you, from the moment I met you. I helped you put it on. Perhaps I could have taken it off, but I didn’t want the world to see you naked. Now. I sit here. Watching you, turning blue. It was always a beautiful colour on you. I sit here watching you in blue, as they close the lid on you.