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Michelle MedhatJune, 15 2015

I waited for this moment, longed for revelation, just a glimpse of enlightenment; answers to questions that plagued my brain with ceaseless persistence. But holding the truth in my fragile hands, I struggle to feel. Expectation had ruled me. I’d wake up, hoping. Slowly, weeks mutated to months, and then to years; my heart drained, I bled out, and what remained, a mere husk incapable of emotion.

It was just a normal evening; our usual walk home. You collected me from the station and we walked together. Like a thousand days before. A young mum with a double push chair thrust forward, swallowing up available pavement. You made a comment about ‘them getting younger all the time’, and I laughed side-stepping dog excrement and pressed on in front at a faster pace. I talked loudly about something, someone. I can’t recollect. Time has clouded clarity.

I carried on, further ahead, still talking. Cars flashed by. I noticed the new Merc we’d spoken about. I turned, my words half-forming about taking that test drive. I’ve spent a lifetime revolving in that turn. My head jammed with what to cook for dinner; what I needed to do to finish that report; which film to see on Saturday; even whether to call Mum and Dad and risk the usual tirade of ‘why hadn’t I called sooner’.

A revolution packed with such inconsequential trivialities that cast cruelly a shadow across my mind, preventing me from being aware, or at the very least informed of my surroundings.

For had I been alert, I would have noticed, seen something, heard your cries, although none were audible, at least I could have tried to interpret your whispers in the cold autumn wind.

Looking back the way I’d come, the scene spread before me and confounded my feeble mind. Striding away, her back to me was the yummy mummy, coming toward me were two young boys and behind them an elderly lady walking her Scotty dog. Blinking bemused, I assumed you’d slipped into my blind spot, as you’d done countless times before.

A full three hundred and sixty viewpoint provided no further insight. Of course I called your name. A smile in my voice degenerating rapidly to a tear. I retraced my steps, still shouting your name. Panic now sounding. People turned, stared at me, some thought I was mad, I could see it in their eyes. Others moved forward wanting to help. I ran into each shop en route, screaming; searching.

The pressure of your name sank down upon me, drowning me, although my throat was desert dry. I couldn’t breathe, the suffocating confusion robbed me of balance. Dizzy nausea flooded; I swallowed, and swung round and round. Faces encircling merged to a blur, fused into the foreground and snatched away my sanity.

I couldn’t discern, I couldn’t see, my eyes searching only for you.

But you weren’t there…

The letter, a lead weight, fell from my hands. Inside its folds, an encapsulation of sudden understanding. Knowledge awaited, arriving far too late. And yet I still know nothing.

Why then, at that moment? Without discussion. You must have known the result. Must have realised what it would do to me. What were you thinking?

But that’s it. You weren’t thinking. About anything. The letter claimed a total breakdown. Make that two. My life broke down. On that street, amongst a mass of strangers, life ceased. Implosion doesn’t really describe it. Though apparently, it was sufficient for the doctors who had to fill in the fractured fissures. The broken pulsing pathways, firing neurons that led nowhere. A bizarre jangling jumble of scenes devoid of meaning. That was my life when you left.

By the time your name was lodged as missing you’d found sanctuary in France. I can read their names, the letter outlined their help. Those people made you well. Put you back together again. Almost. One piece was mislaid. You were incomplete; a jigsaw unfinished. Why didn’t you put the piece back? And put back my peace.

Looking at your hand, the ring we carved in that side street jeweller, you must’ve wondered. Or did they remove that pale gold band along with the madness that enshrouded your mind. So you would never know. Free, no longer laden with that slight slip of something so small, but so heavy, that if it remained overloaded your life.

Immersed in manic depression, they said, you had an ‘irrepressible need to find yourself’, but in finding yourself, you lost me. Was the journey worth such extraction? Did you feel the loss, or was I just a fleeting commercial in your mind, something you’d seen, some place, somewhere, but meant nothing.

Reading through the remnants of the rest of your life, I learned you’d saved so many; using your medical prowess in war torn places. I’d seen them briefly on the news. And I never knew. Working under a pseudonym, you gave your humanity to others. They called you a hero. Said you helped to build lives.

They said a bomb blast took you, no pain, no agony, no suffering. No justice.

I stare at the letter, an autumn leaf, curling slightly, its life extinguished the moment it broke away. Dead from the inside out, an imitation of my life.

One question, dear David: “How could you build a life, when you destroyed mine?” My words, caught floating, bring no response, except a faint whisper in that cold autumn wind. But I had stopped listening.

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