Constellations on Freckled Faces
The room was polished by little green stars kissing every inch of the ceiling. They patched every inch of the walls and created a verdant silhouette within every inanimate obscurity that billowed with the sounds of the thundering night. Rain trickled down the covered windowsill, and when he turned his head to face the next stroke of light, his optics followed over hers. She was staring at him, through him, the lightning disrupting the flow of a thousand malachites kissing such soft, freckled skin. At that moment, the only thing that wasn’t as captivating were the dark circles underneath her worn eyes. Those same optics he’d longed to see for what felt like centuries to a mortal frame, hollow, and folded.
“It’s cold,” she whispered, under the crack of clouds uniting, far off in the distance. The tune of his bated breath kept his posture still, slowed, by an everlasting dance between their longing optics.
“I know,” he croaked, soft, insignificant to her words much like the patter of rain to the outside storm. In the corner of his eye, the closet door wavered as if being touched by an unknown force, only for the culprit to be spotted, sleuthing it’s way from the floor to the side of the bed she lay on. Adjacent to him, her ivory fingertips fiddled with the long black fur of her feline companion, another jade shadow.
“And?” She retorted, no smile, yet the tease of her pursing lips left him wondering just she wanted him to do about it.
“And so, I will be cold, here, with you,” he answered, matter-of-factly. The cat she grazed her hands against mewled and stretched out, curling its tail alongside her and thusly disappearing in the burrow of her rib cage.
“Is that what you want?” She asked again, breaking the silence in ways no thunder could compare. The crash and shake of his own fragile ribs could not comprehend the intensity of the moment, every cut-out shape of these beryl stars sent his mind whirring in malcontent. Something somber loomed above the two, watching, waiting, in the twilight.
“Yes,” a lackluster, yet passionate response left her speechless, but not without the smile so familiarly adorned to her freckled cheeks. Red, curly hair, that the man brushed against a thousand times, splayed around such a vibrant smile. Molded by wrinkles and seafoam. They reminded him of vines sewn into decayed buildings, lost to time; of oceans and their undertow, vast, and rebellious, yet calm and content. Her features were so familiar, yet, so vacant in his un-resting mind. Sand, forest trees, laughter, water; blue, red, and countless shades of green. Her neck was darker than he could recall, splotchy, in tones of bruises he did not recognize, but understood, so clearly.
“Where did you go?” he braved, questions dispensing from his chest like hot air held under shallow water. The very question made her lips catch in the same air they shared. His tangled, ivy baron, and her umbra, melancholic-colosseum, caught in a reoccurring ballet that had music attuning her every aching soiree.
“I was cold, even before this.” Her honesty made him ill. Ailing as the walls that encased them in memory's long passed, but in this foggy nightfall, he knew her words to be painfully veracious.
“Are you... warm now?” he persevered, seeking answers long left behind.
“I.." she trailed off, another whip of illumination by the storm creating a space in which the folly within her words could rest. Gently, she rose up from where she lay, so near and yet so far away from his embrace.
“I could touch her,” he thought, he should have touched her, but in this ethereal moment, he knew he could not. Instead, he tried to rise alongside her, speak, their time was slowly coming to a bitter end and he could taste the bitterness on his tongue. Breathless still, he felt the tears in his eyes fall forward. Stains beneath his olive cheek flowed like a river with no earthly end. Finally, she rose, fully standing. Her bruised neck faltered as she swallowed, a revolting pop sounded, masked by the storm that followed only seconds after.
“You cannot follow me, here, Etan.” Another wave crashed over him by the gallons, filling up in his mortal lungs. His shallow desire became unfathomable like the trenches, unyielding like the sea, and empty like the dying reef. “Our time is up.. again.”
“I’ve wanted to be with you for so long,” Etan clamored, not begging, nor yearning to stay but to admit one thing he hadn’t since he last saw her. His voice cracked like crushed pavement.
“You’ve slept through your alarms again,” she chastised, waning his broken ribs inside and out. “You cannot be here with me.”
“I’m cold,” Etan spoke again, through gritted teeth. Mustering all the energy he contained, he rose from his position and clasped her wrist. It was icy, opaque, nothing like the skin he once touched. He knew it belonged to her, all the same despite the momentary shock. The baron’s eyes softened, then closed. Red hair bounced as she declined his plea. Half-lidded oculars now watched him, Etan’s grey hues glimmering in a reflection of the emerald den.
“Please, don’t go.. I’m not ready to say goodbye, yet..” he whispered, to which her other hand reached over and cupped his damp cheek.
“Take better care of yourself.”
Crusted, his blinders rolled open, wide, as endless tears fell past Etan’s cheeks. In his hand was her picture, the very last one they took together. On the back it signed 2014, “We made it!” and the background of the portrait was a beach they found on their final road trip together while he and the woman from his dreams stood with bright smiles on their faces. It had been almost six years since that trip. He admired it past dark strands of unkempt hair, the tears, and the sound of the air conditioner and passing city life. Every passing car, every chatty face, kept Etan’s swollen heart beating. His therapist recommended a singular loft apartment in the sky, while his psychiatrist recommended he remains in the public eye. He did his best to appease both but ignored their dual request that he finds a pet, or rather, something to return home to. The apartment was empty, always had been since those fateful nights, in that starry-eyed palace.
It had been two years since Etan buried their cat.
Four years, since he buried his beloved.
Never a day passed, that his dreams, did not haunt him of their final night together.
Etan clasped his calloused fingers over his phone, which vibrated relentlessly. His alarm. It was time to start over, again, for today. Just for today. Like every other day. A recycled beginning he could never turn the page, to simply end. Etan stood from his loveseat, stiff from where he lies oftentimes and readied himself for the long, ordinary, day.