photo credits here
“There is nothing else to say.”
He sighs, shuffling the papers in his lap. I know I’m making his job harder for him but I don’t care. I didn’t call him in to intrude.
I rub my temples. My heart pounds unrelentingly, sending a rush of blood to my head.
“It’s already been a week. You need to snap out of it.”
I don’t acknowledge him. Instead, I smooth my hands over one of her hand-stitched throw pillows, my fingers running through the silky plumage embroidered onto it.
The pointed end of a feather digs into my finger, sharp as a needle. I imagine it is actually a needle, one that she used to keep for her hand-sewing, prodding me to say what he wants to hear. I want to yank it out and stitch together another story to fit the tapestry of reality I constructed for myself. I do it every day, just to get through the empty hours.
I would say she’d just got back from the airport, just in time for dinner. Her caramel-coloured coat is draped over the back of her usual seat at the table. The pepper shaker has been carelessly emptied by her. She was always cooking up excuses to get chocolates at the convenience store.
I don’t need to say anything. Proof of her presence is everywhere.
“Let’s try this again. If you say she’s still here, where is she?”
His demand for an answer infuriates me.
“She’s gone out to…” A lump forms in my throat and my words falter.
I pick up the needle again.
Find the eye.
“She went out to the store.”
Pull the thread through.
“She’ll be back soon,“
Tie the knot.
“Just in time for dinner.”
His piercing stare is stern but pitying. My eyes flicker up to catch the almost imperceptible twitch of an eyelid.
“You heard the news. They announced it a week ago. No survivors.”
It never occurred to me that words could have the power to change everything. That a single statement could scramble my thoughts and unmake my beautiful web of lies. Suddenly, the coat looks too casually slung, the pepper shaker seems intentionally knocked over.
Everything looks fake, like a set-up in a movie scene. My mouth goes dry.
The bits and pieces are fading fast from my mind. Her smile, her touch, her laugh. Memories of her flash through my head. My grand tapestry is falling apart. I grasp at the unwinding threads like they are her lifeline, as though I can pull her back from the burning wreckage of the plane crash, back into my arms.
Alive and well. Safe and sound.
I think I’m getting another migraine.
“Stop, stop, stop! What do you want from me?” I scream wildly. I snatch up the pillow, arm poised to send it flying across the room.
A small pinprick of pain sparks through my finger. I look down. A spot of blood wells up from where the feather’s point has pushed into my skin. It turns into a trickle and runs a steady trail down my palm, dripping onto the pillow.
The bloom of red on her pristine handicraft is jarring. I scrub uselessly at the ruined quills until something inside of me cracks.
“Fine! You want the truth? She’s gone, alright? She’s dead.”
The words ring out, loud and clear. So loud that I can’t hear his response over its returning echo in my head.
And it is in that moment, that I become undone.
She was really gone… gone forever.
Truth had unravelled all the lies I’ve spun for myself. I’ve got to give up this charade at some point.