SPOTLIGHT: We Fade With Time by Mileva Anastasiadou

We Fade With Time

The morning bells marked his arrival, although it could have been the doorbell that woke me up. He stormed in crying, holding his hand like he’d broken a bone. It’s vanishing, he said, my hand is vanishing, but I could see his hand was right there. His kitten had passed, his hand he used to pet it with was slowly disappearing, as if the kitten took it along with her, but it was there, I saw it, I reassured him, and he cried, he sobbed, like he was sure I lied. He looked at me, then rolled his eyes, as if I couldn’t understand, as if it happens all the time and all but me knew how it goes, you only see the shadow, he said.

The evening bells sang his departure, although it could have been the phone, wildly ringing, breaking a blissful silent spell. He walked out of bed, picked up the phone, he fell down on the floor, as if his feet couldn’t hold him, my legs are vanishing, he whispered and I could barely hear him, but what he meant was his mother had died. He stayed in bed for days, I’ll never walk again, he said again and again, until he walked again, until his shadow legs took over, he claimed, those shadow legs that took him away once he could stand up and walk, he moved into the past, back when the world was his, he felt better in the past, he claimed, the past is a safe place to be, he thought, back when nothing was missing and he was whole.

The night bells tolled for my sorrow, although it could have been his footsteps, his heavy footsteps drilling holes through the floor. When he said he’d leave, my heart shrank, got smaller and smaller, until it became a dot, until it vanished into thin air. He didn’t leave at once, he’d wait for me to breathe again, for my shadow heart to take over. He was patient enough to show me the way into the past, kind enough to teach me all about how we fade with time, but he meant with love, to show me that life is love is loss is life and that we fade with time, but our shadows remain, until they evaporate, until they dissolve into nothingness, into smoke, into long forgotten memories inside other people’s minds. I now live in the past with him, I watch him every day, as he gets dressed, goes to work, then comes home and we eat and make love, like he’s still here, now that I’ve become part of his shadow and he’s turned into the shadow in my heart.

And we promise each other that in our next life, when those cosmic bells ring again, we won’t choose human, we’ll come back as mythical creatures, impervious to human geometry laws, to shape-shifting shadows, we’ll live forever and we’ll watch people watch movies about falling angels, about angels wanting to be human, to feel love and we’ll laugh, we’ll laugh hard, we’ll laugh loud and if asked why, we’ll say love is a wild place to be but so is the past, we’ll say love is cool, but have you tried living wholeheartedly in the past?
It hurts too, it hurts like hell, it hurts almost as much as love.

My Husband Bought a River

But now he is drowning.
He bought that river for me. He wanted to feel my pain, to know me better, he claims, but he’s on the verge of falling apart, because he can’t handle water, not like I do. He used to be calm, composed. I was the wreck up until now and he’d do his best to keep us together, he was the glue that kept the edifice standing. Collapse is the new normal and the glue can’t do much now, now that the ship we’ve been sailing on is falling to pieces. In fact, he wished to show me how good he can be, an expert at everything, he wanted it all.

But now he has nothing.
Husband holds on to me, like I’m his anchor, an anchor buried deep in the waters that drown him. He’s not familiar with waters that run deep, he’s dead frightened, shouting and yelling, but I can’t hear him, I’ve been drowning for long, I’m used to drowning, to endings, to danger. He’s been hopeful for long, afloat, but he can’t buy safety, he can’t swim now, now that the river is his to handle. He’s been the optimist, the joyful, the happy one.

But now he is desperate.
Remember the angst, the panic attacks, impending doom knocking at the door, for no apparent reason. Now there is a reason, I tell him. Now fear is justified. Justified fear is less frightening, it lessens anxiety, makes sense, soothes the pain, blessed are those who can breathe underwater, who walk proudly in chaos and all is back to normal, my kind of normal, now that the earth does not feel like home, now that we’re both drowning and life is beautifully terrifying.

He Used to Be Gold

But now, he’s hungry.
Husband walks in, his teeth shining bright, a big smile on his face, like he’s just entered heaven, he throws his jacket on the floor, takes off his shoes, yelling, honey, I’m home, like in the movies, but we’re not in a movie, it’s not like he missed me, only he’s hungry, he wants dinner served. I ask him to sweep off his feet, but he doesn’t, he doesn’t listen, he never does, he wants to sweep his hunger on me instead, sitting on the couch, turning on the TV, then looking me in the eye, still smiling, as if asking, what takes you so long? Once, he was gold.

But now, he’s starving.
He doesn’t know yet, but last night, I gave birth to myself. That was a hard night, a painful labor. I’m raising me now and that’s already too much of a burden. It’s hard to raise yourself, or anybody. The baby me has swept me off my feet, like husband did when we first met, exhilaration invades my mind, my heart, my soul, the alchemist awakened, turning pain into gold, then gold into new life, the alchemist that once turned him into gold, the alchemist I thought he had killed, and I don’t need him now, undone is all this damage that got me older, or pregnant, I’m no longer the old wrinkled me, holding the new me in my arms, I am now renewed, polished, bright and shiny, like I was when we first met. Then, he was gold.

But now, he’s hungry.
He makes a gesture, doesn’t even talk, claiming he’s ready, ready to be served, but I’m too busy, I say. I’m now a full time parent. I have to take care of the newborn. He frowns, his white teeth don’t shine now, the halo above his head fades, reverse alchemy is harder, but I excel at it, I turned gold into carbon, into life, for life is better than gold, you’re so full of yourself, he says, still hungry, but so full of himself he never noticed I’d been pregnant, and despite his intentions, I take that as a compliment; I’m twice what I used to be, now that I hold me in my arms, now that, once more, I see gold and turn it back into the life I lost.


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