Tick - tick - tick...
© Anne-Katrin Clemens
He's been there her whole life. He's always been the one to turn to when something wasn't right. He would tell her the answer to every possible question and now that he's gone there's no one to turn to.
She stares at her hands and wonders how they got to be so loose, so lonely, so unused. Her mind is making up fairy tales for her heart and as she looks back up at the wine-filled glass, the full dish, the fork and knife, both lovingly placed at the same side of the dish, her fairy tales start to vanish revealing her vulnerable soul to the new reality she had forcibly been placed in.
Once again, her heart breaks into pieces. Once again, she dies a little bit more and once again, the knot in her stomach explodes setting the pain free, letting it rush through all her veins, penetrate her heart and soul making the rivers, she had been holding back, overflow.
Only when the first tear falls down on her hand, does she move, slowly making her way around the table to his seat. No, not his seat - just some seat from now on, she corrects herself. Letting her stiff body slump onto the hard chair makes her momentarily shift the focus of pain. But looking at her own food from this unknown and strange angle brings her back to where she had tried to flee from and cry for the first time in days.
She sees herself opposite to her, talking, laughing, reaching a hand out for him to touch. But it is just her mind playing tricks on her nd realizing that she quickly withdraws her hand before it can touch the too familiar spot on the table.
The spot that seems to be of a brighter colour, where she can almost make out the outline of their intertwined fingers. The essence of his being has been etched into the the wood of that very chair she's now sitting on, the very spot she fears to touch. She can feel it pouring into her every being as her fingertips slowly approach the spot tracing the lines in the wood. Despite her better knowledge her skin touches the imaginary warmth, trembling, fearing, yet not flinching back.
The hand is resting in the same place until the ringing of the telephone penetrates into her mind and makes her jump. Pondering the possibitlity of not answering and having the person, whoever it was, come over to her personally or answering it and replying curtly, pretending to be fine and being left alone for the rest of the week she hesitates a moment before she gets up and lifts the receiver to her ear not making any sound but waiting for the other person to say something.
"Laura? You there?" A high voice calls urgently, pleading her to answer.
"Yes, it's me." Her voice is low as if she doesn's want the other person to hear it.
"Hey, it's Karen here...how are you feeling?" There is worry in Karen's voice, thruthful sympathy.
What is she supposed to answer? Does Karen really want to learn how it feels when she's dying over and over again, when everything she sees, hears, smells, touches and tastes makes her feel the agony she wouldn't even dare imagine? Does she really want to know how it feels when her soul draws the strenght to survive from her slowly failing body, that doesn't possess it either?
"I'm fine...terribly busy though." Her reply is curt as planned.
"You sound stressed." She says matter-of-factly.
"Just came back home." She lies, knowing she hasn't left her home for several weeks unless she had to go and buy food she wouldn't eat.
Karen knows she's lying. She can hear it in her voice, but there's nothing she can do.
"Alright...but promise me I'll see you next week for a cup of coffee or something and we'll chat, will you?" She doesn't want to drink coffee, she doesn't want to chat, she doesn't want to promise and she doesn't want to breathe either. But Karen wants her to do all those things, so she concentrates on her breathing, slowly drawing the air into her lungs and pressing it back out, until it stabilizes.
"Sure." It will be enough. Karen will hang up and go back to her daily routines.
"I'll call you again on monday then?" She knows about the possibility that Laura won't answer her phone on monday so she has to make sure she will.
"Okay." Karen doesn't hang up. She wants to listen to Laura, make sure she won't do anything stupid. But Laura doesn't need anyone listening to her, so she puts the receiver back down and sighs heavily, relieved.
Her food is still on the table untouched but too salty now to eat it, so she throws it away as she has done with almost every meal she has cooked in the last few weeks. Her body is vanishing, becoming thinner and thinner and she can already make out the bones beneath her pale skin. But she doesn't care. A dead soul doesn't need a healthy body.
He would have told her to eat, he would have made her laugh on the phone, look forward to her meeting with Karen. But he won't be at home waiting for her, so it doesn't make much sense going out. She feels her mind betraying her, withhold the thousands of stupid things from her, that had come to her mind when she first learned of his death. She wanted to do those things, and now that she can't remember, she regrets not having done them.
So when she stares at the rotten flowers on the table, the salty, thrown away food and the telephone she registers that monday will come and monday will go and she will still be there. She will still be breathing, her body will still refuse her the nourishment she ought to get and other mondays will come and go. And for the first time in her life she realizes that it doesn's matter what she does with her time. It will still keep running as it would have done with him in her life. And it will keep running long after she's gone. Time doesn't care what's happening. All it cares about is the minutes ticking by.
My entry for the "Bundeswettbewerb Fremdsprachen 2006" in the category "creative writing" - topic: "Die Zeit läuft" ("Times goes by")
comments are highly appreciated. :D R&R
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Anne-Katrin Clemens.
Published on e-Stories.org on 27.05.2008.