Today, the 3rd of September, 2011, I wake up unable to breathe. The alarm goes off, and I register the birds singing outside my window, the greyness that is 6 am, and the fact that my heart hammers in my chest.
It takes me a moment to remember. For panic to claw at my throat. I reach for the Ventolin on the bedside table. Each heave is painful, but not as painful as the lump of sorrow in my chest. It’s a selfish thought but you should be here with me. Not somewhere uptown, preparing to marry Her.
I cannot tell which is worse; the knowledge that you will be lost to me forever or the fact that despite my best efforts, I am awake and lucid.
I tried, but I couldn’t do it. The tablets rest in a glass beside a bottle of Johnny Walker. Another of my many failures, I can’t even end my life.
I drag myself off the bed, wash my face in the sink, dress in jeans and a tee-shirt. The gold and purple card you sent is on the television, and I run a finger over the embossed lettering of your name. I can’t help it. It should be my name there, linked with a heart to yours. If I had been less a fool, maybe it would’ve.
Did you invite me to your wedding to torture me with thoughts of what I have lost? It is not like you to be cruel. I know I promised I would never refuse you anything, but this. This I cannot do. I’m sorry but I cannot look upon you, dashing as ever, smiling into the eyes of a woman who is not me. And you know this. You must’ve.
The silence in the flat grates. Usually, I welcome it but not today. I don’t want to be here by myself with my thoughts. I don’t lock the door behind me as I set off. There is nothing worth stealing. A flock of pigeons scatter as I cross the TBS Race Course. Does She know how you adore pigeons?
I wish you were here with me. Scratch that, I wish I had one hour, half an hour with you before you sign yourself over to this woman. I would tell you all the things I couldn’t say before because I was too proud or too busy or too stupid or too zonked to say them. Like I love the way each strand on your head stands straight up like Fido’s. Like you have the perfect smile. And it reminds me of light-bulbs, the way it lights up your face. Do you know? Do you know that your eyes crinkle when you smile till all I can see are dark lines where your eyelashes should be?
I would tell you I’ve been sober and clean for six months now. See, your faith in me wasn’t misplaced. I haven’t had a drink, I haven’t had a hit and I won’t have another till I die.
I would ask you if you remembered that night in ’98. First year at Lag. When we attended the rave party and ended up sharing one deck chair on the balcony, tracing out constellations in the sky and arguing about Agassi because we were so damned bored. The first time we kissed. The night I acknowledged that I was truly, deeply, irrevocably in love with you. I think I always loved you. Love at first sight doesn’t exist, but somewhere in me has always existed this need. To. Love. You.
I would tell you that I consider it the greatest irony that the one thing I loved the most about you was the one thing that eventually drove us apart. Your simple faith. In God and the Christ and Heaven and Hell, and all of those things that I could never bring myself to accept. But I loved that you did, it made you so…uncomplicated.
I’m sorry for the things I said the last time we saw. I’m sorry for the things I didn’t say. Would it have made it easier if I’d cried, do you think? I’m so sorry. So very sorry. I will never get the chance to tell you this. I won’t get to kiss you one last time, or lose myself in your eyes, or watch your smile, all ten thousand watts of it, beam out of you.
I am standing before the Marina. The salt breeze tickles my nose and all I can think of is how easy it would be to walk off the levee and let the Atlantic claim me..