When I lay the roses next to your bed, I’m grateful for the fact that you aren’t awake to see me.
Your eyes are closed, just like they were when I heard your pulse slow under my clenched hands, your breathing stop. I was glad that at least one of us had found peace, and I was ready to make it two. I’d almost positioned the barrel just right, the taste of gunpowder bitter on my tongue when I heard you coughing. And then I realized you weren’t lying for once, when you’d promised you’d always come back to me.
I visit everyday. The nurses and staff comment on how dedicated a partner I am. And it’s true, there is no deeper bond than yours and mine. I literally, literally, cannot do without you.
You came to me broken and apologetic, and when you leave it’s going to be broken and unapologetic. You shouldn’t have to answer to anyone anymore. There should only be one voice audible to your ears; the rest shall remain silent, as if they’d never begun to speak. And you like it this way: you appreciate the simplicity that is answering to the only person you see, the rest a muddle of faceless projections, interchangeable, ephemeral. But I am the only constant for you, the comfort of watching the sun rise each day is replaced by the knowledge that I am and always will be.
I’ll take care of you. Like no one else ever would. All your ponderings and pleadings are met with qualifications and speculation, but me? I give you solid ground to stand on, a sturdy shoulder on which to lean when you feel your legs give way.
And it’s okay to let yourself go, to fall. We as human beings only have so much strength in us, don’t we? That’s why I’m here. To let you fall. But also to let you rise again. To let you know how far you can drop. And no further.
I draw the line. The boundaries of each day. Once the world was full of opportunity, a new undertaking at every step, under every rock, but all that offered to people like us, broken people whose knees buckle at the very prospect, was overload. There’s too much to comprehend and too little in us to understand. So I draw the lines, two parallel, two perpendicular, I draw the tiny box for you, and I place you within it. You’re safe here, with me, you know?
But this lockbox, it’s not indestructible. The lines are only so thick, and I see you tearing at the sides sometimes. You swear that you can hear noises from the outside, and you wonder if maybe there really is something out there for you.
And perhaps there is. Probable, in fact. Because although broken, you aren’t unsalvageable; you aren’t a terminal case like me. There’s someone out there who would take you all over the world, kiss you in every city; someone who would hold your hand on long walks under the buzz of the city lights; someone who would tell you that you’re beautiful.
I know all of this, which is exactly why I have to swallow the key. If your vision were to clear, and you were to see that all those projections milling about are equally viable options, that I’m the sickest, most fucked up son of a fish in the sea, then for what exactly would I live?
Because I need you as much as you need me. I feel my own legs quiver, shaking under the pressure of existence, and your shoulder, frail and beaten, is better than nothing at all. When I imagine that world of possibilities beyond this box, that unimaginable infinity, it only serves to show me how small I am, how utterly insignificant, and how futile it is to take the next step forward.
So I have you to ground me. When you take my blows, when I see the effect of my punches in bright scarlet, I know that in our little universe, I am not so tiny and powerless. Here, I am God, here I’m not immobilized with the thought of self because I’m beyond the whole game of mortal existence: I’m out of the picture. All I see is you, and all you see is me. Here, we are enough, and here, there are no complications.
You furrow your brow for a second, still in deep sleep. I lean forward and plant a kiss above your right eye, one of my proudest emblems to date. Branded with bits of me, I know you can never leave.
Because I’m the only one who can have you, my obsession, my possession. With me, you’ll always be safe.