Single-Handedly

She Will Be Silent

As I look back, I try — vainly — to understand what went wrong; where I made my mistake. Surely it could not have been the attentions I gave her. Something so pure could never be so base. She would dote on me as much as I on her. We were the perfect pair — inseparable. No, she was not driven away. Not by that, anyhow.

My method. Could it have been my way of speech? But before this, she showed not a sign. On the contrary, it seemed to delight her. A turn of phrase could put a smile like sun breaking through the clouds on her pretty elfin face. Ah! To see that sparkle in her eye! I want no greater joy. But even such simple pleasures are snatched from me. Life has lost its savor.

But when, when did it change? Did that sparkle go out of her eye? I thought it was there. No! I knew it was there. But perhaps that is why I never noticed its departure. I knew it was there, so did I stop looking for it? That merry, tinkling laugh. Had the freedom gone from it? I don’t know. I didn’t look. I didn’t listen.

Oh, what ever did I do? If I could only know, I would make it right. Why did she leave me? I have gone through it all so many times, and I cannot fathom why. Was there another? No. She keeps no company now that she is not with me. Did I offend her in any way?

“No,” she says.

“Was it something I said?”

Still, “No.”

“What, then? What? What did I do?” But she is silent. Impassive as the winter.

Impassive, hardened, even. But cold? No, not cold. She could never find it in herself. That heart, however encased and covered — protected? — has never known, nor could ever know winter. There, the springtime always reigned supreme. I have no doubt she will display that alluring vitality again, but I pray it will not be soon. My heart is breaking, nay, shattered already. To look on her as she was when she was mine would kill me, I know.

Oh, why, I know not, nor shall ever know. Now I ask, “When?” When will this ghost stop haunting me? When will I live again? Will I ever? I believe not. I feel not. But I know I will. I have never been so far down that I could not look up and see the stars.

But I will not look up. Not just yet. This grief, this pain is too exquisite for me to bear losing. If I cannot have her, then at least my heart is perforated in her likeness. Even as my lifeblood drips from such a portrait engraved on my soul, I will not staunch the flow. If it kill me, there are less noble deaths to be had.

She was my definition. I described myself in terms of my love. I knew myself, and measured myself by her love for me. I am still using that measure. I measured taller than Everest, rich as Croesus, and happy as a lark. Now I am the smallest flea in the world, brooding in its most inaccessible hole, over its largest grief.

When I look up, I shall see stars, but they will not be mine. I may wish on one, but it will be someone else’s wish. When I look up, out the narrow sky-slit of my abyss, there will be a shadow. She will be silhouetted against my sky, before my star. Her memory will blot my happiness. And I will ask, “Why?” But she will be silent.

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