We are folding laundry, this man and I, our hands moving in tandem along the cotton sheets and shirts. Someone somewhere is losing their mother but here, it's so quiet, every crease in the fabric tells a story. This man and I, we take what will unravel anyway and fold it neatly, creating space. There is so much room in a life; there should be more of us in here. My voice, which is inches away but never here, are you content where you are? Are you you where you are? Something must come of this.
In one corner of the room we both share, a pot of tea steams gently. In cooking, we call this brewing. In human, we call this memory. We're in our forties now, and I placed the tea leaves in the pot just a few minutes ago, pushing my glasses to my forehead to avoid disappearing, my fingers smelling of soil from when we tended to the garden earlier. He pours a cup and passes it to me and from where I'm sitting, it looks like kindness is spilling out of him. When we tend to the garden together, I always end up believing in god. We’re in our forties now, and I remember planting that first seed with the man at my side, the sun kissing our foreheads as we toiled the soil. How could we know, with a garden full of lavenders, that it's love, not flowers, that blossoms eternally? He hands me a sprig of lavender, and from where I was standing, it looked like tenderness was swelling within him, as if breathing.
The day we left everything behind, the city was still smouldering. Otherwise a perfect morning, experimentally blue, white lilies gasped in the lawns of the army barracks, like little lies. The birds were pecking on the broken baguettes scattered from the bombed foreign bakery. Our breaths misplacing the weather, signalling an uncalled migration, missiles soundtracking the pillaging. On the road, the man, I mean you, burned the last guitar to keep my hands warm because I had the hands of someone you used to know. Someone I used to be. We had been walking for months, our sentences touched the world with no endings because the edge of the world had disappeared into the horizon. The iron in the city we left was still within us, rusting my back, oxidising your lungs. If you must know anything, know that we were trying to not fail at the only task at hand: to live once. If you must know anything, know who I was before this, but please, don’t tell me.
The tea is steeped, our laundry is folded, and as we sit in silence, the room is filled with music or rather the sound of rain outside, undoing our tracks and creating a space for the future. We hear a train everyday, taking people to new beginnings. But to live like a missile, to arrive with such intention, to be born going only one way, toward everything alive, to step into the reality unrequested and find a place where desires find an end? Which aspect of war strategy do we credit for this knowledge? It’s warm in this room, and I know history will repeat itself comically early this time. I know brewing tea and folding laundry may not prevent it. I know, too, as I look into your eyes and see the lines etched with time, that it's love. That unlike a river, I am not running away from what I am made of. I take your hand and kiss it gently, the way one kisses a grenade before chucking it into the shadows. Don’t worry, you say, smiling with warmth that reaches your eyes. Don’t worry. And I believe you. I shouldn’t, but I do.
About the Creator
A wannabe storyteller from London. Sometimes words spill out of me and the only way to mop the spillage is to write them down.
"If you arrive here, remember, it wasn't you - it was me, in my longing, who found you."
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!