Somber

The house is still. A shell of our former home. The cat sits in your old office. She rolls over, rubbing her face on the carpet indentations of our old bed.

She meows from room to room. The echoes of emptiness meow back.

I know I can’t leave. I know there is immeasurable sadness left. There was melancholy that rotted our foundation. Love that bled, mixed, formed and shattered the drywall.

My brother asks why I want to spend more nights here.

It wasn’t always like this.

Witch doctors in Vietnam are superstitious about homes. They walk the grounds, float from room to room. Touch the walls, string crystals from window frames and dried herbs on door frames. They tell you about the residual energy and continued currents.

They would walk this home and tell you there was war here. Our fights would vibrate through their fingertips. The shock, then the stillness. I want to close my eyes in the hallway. Press them to notice what can only be felt with eyes closed and chests open.

The undercurrents of all two hundred nights stuffed with love. Hope. Desire. The thousands of good-mannered wishes whispered on the rooftop. All the dreams we laid to rest underneath a Vegas sky.

This home was ours. I was yours. You were mine.

It would be easier to hate you. To leave. To bury this carcass of a home and scrapped futures. It would be easier to forget. To pretend it was always terrible.

I can still hear our silly laughter chasing the stairs. The trails of clothing littering the laminate. I can still feel my heart jump at all of your little pop-out scares. The tightness of your arms around my skin. I ache for the annoying sound of you playing video games. My body still looks up searching for the tenderness of your lips against my skull, cheek, the tenderness of your lips tracing my tears, erasing my fears.

They are exploding out of my throat now. An overflowing fountain of bittersweetness. There is no bottling, no removing, no running. I am learning that emotions are not items to be thrown around in trash bags or locked into drawers.

They are living entities, entitled to their pounds of flesh and pain. Feeling is a gift. The harbinger of death is followed steadily by one of life. The Norse call this Ragnarök. I call this Fucking Awful.

I am looking to tarot. To religion. To superstition. To history, scripture, story.

We were child lovers harnessing fire to synthesize dynamite.

I sit on the staircase of this hallowed out home, bawling my eyes out in front of two maids and a cat. I am reciting every single inspirational, motivational, twenty-dollar Target slogan I’ve ever seen.

Courage is grace under pressure. Courage is grace under pressure. Courage is grace under pressure. Courage is grace under pressure.

Feeling is better than forgetting. We are still my favorite love story.

The fresh paint smell pollutes the air. I, too, want to shatter these walls. The sound of breaking glass and screeching Vietnamese of my childhood ring my ears. I see us in my childhood home, recreating all of my mother’s and father’s fights. Reenacting the steps of what I had once believed the greatest love I had ever known.

Again, the tears explode out of my chest. There is an aching that punctuates each heartbeat. Heavy reminders that there are parts of me left still living.

Breathe easy. The sobbing becomes choking. The tannins of love dry the air in my throat. The maids are mopping up the floor.

The cat sits at the top of the stairs, a white lamb purring amidst.

I will tell the Witch Doctor these memories are to savor, not to sage.

It seems, my love, the children had created fireworks, and the adults are fingering the debris.

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