I was no knight in shinning armor
The first time she came to my apartment it was raining. Great icy buckets of water were being dropped from the sky and the melody they made on the window glass somehow made sleep easier. It was a not a happy day and no one, not even those who adored the rain could mistake the sadness that seemed to grab hold of every solitary rain drop. It made hearts heavy, though not my own. I was immune to such emotions as sorrow and anger and joy and not even the saddest of storms could affect me.
The buzzer woke me up and my first thought (after 'shut that damn thing up') was 'who the hell wants to be let into my apartment in the middle of the fucking night'. I can become rather nasty when I don't receive my regular 8 hours of sleep every night, or when I'm interrupted during said activity.
Somehow I managed to get my body out of bed and to the little intercom without knocking anything over or causing a great amount of harm to myself in the darkness. I punched the little button, demanding for the identity of the person who so rudely interrupted my sleep.
I recognized her voice immediately and let her up without a second thought. How could I leave her standing in the rain, this woman I knew so well. I even knew why she was here, at my apartment while the rain thundered outside, flooding the world like it could wash away every happy thought in a wave of sorrow.
Somehow I was not tired any longer and I waited by the door for the knock that I knew would come. I did not have to wait long and I answered on only the second knock. She stood there, her clothes stuck to her skin and her hair dripping water on the floor. She had the appearance of a drowned kitten.
"Can I come in?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
I soon learned the lines and content of this conversation very well. It was a script we used often. She showed up at my apartment many times in the future and the words spoke when she was in my door way and I was leaning against the frame, the words were always the same. We never changed or altered the script, it was a sacred thing we kept to.
Perhaps that was why it was such a destructive thing.
She did not speak much that night but she did not need to. I knew about her and I knew about him. I knew about the both of them together.
Knowing and changing are two entirely different monsters, like putting a lizard next to a dragon. I was no knight in shinning armor and could not face the dragon, weather I wanted to or not, and I certainly had no desire to face the dragon. Not even for her. Self preservation, I was human.
I made hot chocolate for her and she sat on my couch in silence. I watched the water roll off her nose a drop to her stomach or lap (or once in her mug of coco). I watched her eyes, as empty and sorrow filled as the rain still drumming on the window. I watched her hands shaking slightly and I knew it wasn't from the cold.
She fell asleep on my couch, the mug of coco long abandoned and left on the coffee table, the contents slowly chilling. Her arms were wrapped around her stomach and her legs were bent. I lifted her from off the couch and even with the weight of the water still clinging to her hair and clothes she was light in my arms as I carried her to my bedroom. I tucked her under the covers and went back to the living room.
I couch was damp where she had sat. I did not care. I sat on the other end of the couch. I stared off into the darkness, the nothingness, pretending (and even wishing) that everything was alright with the world, that everything was normal.
The rain continued to pound on the window, unrelentess and so very sad.
Eventually sleep did come, taking me as unwilling as I was. When I woke up the next morning the sun was streaming through the window, throwing strange patterns on the floor from the shadows of raindrops still clinging to the window. When I woke, she was gone and my bed was empty, cold and dry. There was no note, nothing at all to indicate that her appearing at my apartment last night was anything other then a particularly vivid dream.
Then I saw the cup of partially drunken coco on my coffee table.
She had left without saying anything to me, without leaving a note. She and left nothing of her presence except a half-filled mug of coco and sadness clinging to the walls like rain.
It was like a one night stand without the sex.
I washed the cup of coco out, showered, changed and went to work, like any other day. The sun was shining but the streets and sidewalks were filled with rain. The water collected in puddles that were unavoidable.
The puddles were there when I walked home and they looked no smaller then that morning. The sun could not dry those puddles and I never questioned why.
For a while it was as if things had returned to normal, the norm that had not existed on that night of rain and coco. For a while it seemed as though that night truly could have been a dream, existing only in my mind.
The next time my buzzer rang so late at night (or early in the morning if you want to get technical about it) it was not raining. It was not raining the third time either or the forth. These first four visits occurred over a space of 2 months, from mid August to mid October. It was always the same She sat on my couch. I made her coco and we sat in silence. She fell asleep and I carried her to my bed. It was a well developed routine that was never altered.
She was gone in the morning with no note, no indication that she had ever been there except for the half-filled mug of coco she always left.
The fifth time, at the beginning of November, I cleaned the mug of coco right after I placed her almost weightless form in my bed. Perhaps I thought that by altering the routine of things I could alter the outcome.
The sun was hidden by a curtain of clouds when I woke that morning, and she was
I never touched the mug of coco after that, not until the next morning and I was certain of her absence. I needed to assure myself that this... thing that was happening, this regular occurrence of silence and non-speaking and hot coco was real. Whatever the word 'real' meant.
I saw her elsewhere, like I had before that night of the rain and the coco, but she was different. She was different in the world then she was in my apartment where there was nothing but the silence and the darkness and me to see her. She was different in the world, she smiled and laughed and seemed as normal as any other human being, but I knew better. I knew because I had seen her when she was nothing, when she was a shadow, trying desperately to hang on and continue existing. I saw her continue to lose this fight.
The buzzer woke me up during a night in January when a snow storm howled outside, the wind beating against the glass much like the rain that night so long ago.
Her cheeks were red from cold and she was shivering badly. She was crying. Tears streamed down her cheeks and made her eyes as red as her cheeks. She was not one to cry. She was a strong woman who suffered in silence, who cried when no one was looking and felt pain only in the empty darkness.
Of course, that was why she was here.
I gave her hot coco and despite her shaking hands, none was spilled. Then she looked at me and broke the code of silence that had been set so carefully in place.
She was changing the script. It frightened me.
"I love him."
"I hate him... but I love him."
"I think I'm going crazy. I can't possibly... I think I'm just going crazy."
"I do love him. I really do."
"Do you think I'm crazy?"
Yes. You're crazy for coming here, for thinking I can fix you and your problems. You're crazy for not leaving him. You're crazy for loving him and for not running away. You're living in your own little hell and you can carry on like nothing is happening, like the smiles are real, like everything is real. Everything but the hell you see when you go home. Like heaven is the truth and hell doesn't exist just because you can ignore it. You are completely irrevocably insane.
"Of course not."
I knew that she came here because there was sadness here and pain here and she could only suffer here. I knew she needed to feel safe and I knew despite the pain, she felt safe here. I couldn't take that from her. I could take none of it from her. I cared for her, and with caring, as with anything in this god forsaken world, came certain sacrifices
I wanted her here. I wanted to think that perhaps I had her for a few hours. Perhaps she wasn't completely lost and she did exist here with me, if only for a few hours, a few moments. That she suffered here and this was real and true and maybe what happened out there didn't matter quite so much.
We didn't speek any more that night. She did not finish her hot coco. She fell asleep on the couch and I carried her to my bed.
The next morning she was gone like she had never been there. The bed was cold and there was no note or any indication at all that she had ever existed in my apartment for even a moment let alone an entire night.
It still hurt. It would always hurt.
I saw her outside my apartment, but she didn't see me. She could not see me outside the silence and the sorrow. I was invisible and I did not care. I did not care because for a few hours she was there and I had her and I was not invisible. I had her for a few hours of silence and sadness and hot coco and that was enough.
It would have to be enough because that was all there was.
Winter turned to spring and spring turned to summer and the leaves colored and fell from the tree as summer faded into autumn. The one year anniversary of that first night of rain and sorrow came and went with nothing for it to be remembered by. She came and went with the seasons, always appearing in the darkness and leaving before the dawn. She was there with the pain she always brought and I gave her hot coco and silence. We reverted back to our original script and showed no indication of committing another sin by straying from that script.
It hurt every time I woke and found her gone. I expected it but it hurt all the same. I washed out her mug of half finished coco and placed it on the shelf awaiting its next use. It was a morning routine I was used to and knew well. I no longer needed to check my room to see if she was there. I knew the sheets would be cold and untouched, like no one had ever been there.
I still checked. I couldn't help it, just like a child cannot help put hope for a miracle even when he knows it's not possible. That's what I hoped for.
I should have known better. In this world of flesh and blood and sorrows and pain, action matters and miracles do not exist. Hope is pointless unless one acts and thoughts mean nothing if nothing is changed. I was no knight in shinning armor. I could not slay the dragon and I could not bring about change. I was left in wasted miracles and hopes because actions eluded me.
I learned slowly, that though I was nameless, faceless out there, immune to all forms of human emotion from anger to sorrow to joy, the nights of silence and darkness and coco were different. Those nights were different because I could feel and I could hurt and I was capable of all the emotions that escaped me before. I slowly learned that my walls were crumbling, eroding, and soon I would be left in the world, along and bare, with all the emotions that were best not to feel.
I lived with the pain she brought about and it was killing me. And that was the thing that scared me the most, that I was living, living, not just going through the motions. Slowly, and surly, with her continuing appearances and mugs of half finished coco, I was dieing. I would continue to die until I was nothing but a shadow, like the shadow she was when she came to my apartment seeking the pain she could express only to the empty darkness. I was living and dieing all at once I wasn't just going through meaningless motions. I could feel, I could hurt. I could live and die all at once and I was.
She continued to come and I continued making her cups of coco. I continued to die and nothing stopped. She lived in the pain and darkness and died in the false and pretend joy in between. I died in the pain and the sorrow and lived, lived, just barely, in the dwindling moments of happiness in between. She was killing me and I let her.
Then, in the second spring we went through, when I realized that this truly could happen, that she would kill me like that, I put a stop to it. She appeared at my apartment like she had so many times before and I stuck to the script and so did she. I made her coco and she sat on the couch and it was I who broke the code of silence and altered the routine.
"This is the last time."
"You can't come back."
"Do you hate me?"
"Do you hate me?"
Yes. I hate you. I hate you for loving him. I hate you for staying with him for so long after everything, after hell. I hate you for pretending to be happy, for putting on your mask of normalcy but coming here to suffer. I hate you for living here and for killing me. I hate you for expecting me to kill your monsters when I can't even face my own. I hate you for the sorrow and sadness and all the pain you bring. I hate you for not loving me and I hate you for leaving with nothing except a half finished cup of coco.
"Of course I don't"
"I wouldn't lie to you."
"The last time?"
"The last time."
She finished her coco that night. For the first time, she finished all of it. The silence stretched on and she fell asleep. I thought about leaving her there on the couch, watching her, waiting until she woke up, watching her leave.
I picked her up and carried her to my bed.
Thought is pointless.
In the morning she was gone with no note, no indication of any kind that she had been there that it had been real. Like a midnight stand without the sex and it hurt worse then any other time before.
I missed her.
The pain didn't go away.
It lessened though, slowly. The second anniversary of that night of rain and coco passed with nothing to remember it by, just like the first. Fallen leaves were buried by snow and snow melted to reveal new grass and budding flowers. Flowers withered and gave way to a hot summer. The third anniversary passed and only the weather remembered.
Leaves fell in autumn, Snow in winter, rain in spring and dust on the dry summer days.
I still saw her, like I knew I would, and I was still invisible to her. She wore her mask of false happiness and I wondered why no one else could see the emptiness in her eyes. Perhaps it was something only I could see, even when she didn't look at me.
She never looked at me.
She was my best friend, but that was just a farce, a facade. I went with her to social dinners and events when he could not go and she held my hand and we danced. She never looked at me. It was like she was dancing with a man she could not seeing, speaking to no one and introducing a ghost to people she did not care about anyway. Her eyes were empty and her heart was cold and I could feel the sadness in her voice.
It broke my heart that I was living and now she was dieing, withering like a flower in winter.
I didn't stop it. I didn't save her. I was no knight in shinning armor and I was selfish. I valued my life and the normalcy it had obtained. I found myself able to look at this woman without flinching. I could look at her and just pass her by. Using her death for my own life. Like she had done to me. It broke my heart, but I could do it.
I was human.
I wasn't sure I had a heart anyway. Perhaps what I was feeling was just a phantom pain.
The fourth anniversary of that night of rain and coco came and with it came a dry and empty night with a new moon and stars covered by thick, black clouds. Storm clouds. I fell asleep like it was any other night but somehow I did not question it when the buzzer woke me up. My thoughts in that state of drowsiness were not clouded or corrupted by questions of 'why?' or 'who?' or curse words that somehow made it better. I needed none of that.
The fact is, I had been waiting for it. I didn't hesitate to buzz her into the building and I opened the door when she knocked. I had to keep some shred of normalcy, it was a necessity to preserve what little sanity I had left, what little sanity and life she hadn't taken from me.
"I said that was the last time."
"You shouldn't be here."
"Can I come in?"
"Please let me in."
"That was the last time."
"Do you hate me?"
"Of course not."
"Are you sure?"
I'm sure of nothing.
"Do you want me to leave?"
"You can come in."
I was human.
She came in and sat on my couch, not forgetting the long held routine even thought it had been so long ago since last she was here. I made her coco and she drank it while sitting on my couch, looking into the darkness and the emptiness, suffering because she could only do that here. I looked at her because I could look at nothing else. Time passed and silence reigned.
Then she set her mug down and looked at me and I could see her eyes were not as empty as they had appeared to be when I saw her in the daylight. Her eyes were looking at me and they were seeing me.
The clouds outside rumbled with thunder and friction but the sky remained dark and the clouds held their water.
I looked back at her but said nothing. There was nothing I could do to break the silence. She had to do that.
"I love him."
"I left him."
"I left him. Forever. For good."
She had left him. She had not needed me. I was no knight in shinning armor and I could not slay the dragon. She had not needed me, she had slayed the dragon herself. She had killed her monster with her armor black shadows and her sword that was forged of the pain and sorrow she could never express. She had killed the dragon and she had no need of me.
She still used me. She did not need me but she used me. She expected something of me I could not do. Something she did not need me to do.
The clouds outside rumbled on and a few loosed their hold on the rain. Fat drops of icy cold water struck the ground outside and the window, beating a melody of sorrow on the glass.
"I didn't do anything."
"I couldn't have done it without you."
"Of course you could have."
You did not need a knight in shinning armor and you did not need me.
"No I couldn't."
A knight in armor of black shadows and a sword of sorrow.
"You could have."
I gave you nothing. That was the point.
She didn't leave, but she smiled. I saw the truth and the happiness in that smile. I saw the joy and the absence of the pain and suffering I knew for so long. I wondered why she was here.
She didn't tell me.
She fell asleep on my couch and her half-finished mug of coco was on the table. I carried her to my bed and she didn't stir. She felt the same in my arms, light and simple and easy to lift. She felt like air and rain and she smelled of coco.
They rain continued to fall outside but the clouds quieted. The only sound was the melody the rain drummed on the window.
I left her in the bed and fell asleep on the couch. Like nothing had changed. Like years had not elapsed between our meetings and the pain and darkness was all the same as before. Like things would be different when I woke in the morning.
I woke and thought about staying on the couch. I thought about ignoring my bedroom and cleaning the mug of coco that she had left the night before. I thought about breaking the routine I had fallen into when I open the door and let her inside. I thought about it.
Thoughts are pointless.
I walked to the bedroom and opened the door. Years of rain and coco and one night stands told me what I would find and what I would feel when I opened the door.
I still opened the door.
She lay on my bed, the covers hugging her frame. She was still asleep and breathing gently. I could see her chest rise and fall. She remained asleep, unaware of my presence, breathing the early morning air.
She smelled of rain. She smelled of rain and coco.
I left the room and shut the door. I picked the half-finished mug of coco off the coffee table and cleaned it. Then I placed it back on the shelf.
I left the apartment, closing the door behind me and not bothering to take the key with me. I walked down the stairs to the front of the building.
I walked out the door.
Into the rain.