Gone

I look across the bed into your eyes, indigo depths. Your face shines in moonglow from the unshuttered window, black hair highlighted with blue platinum. You whisper something to me, but I cannot make it out. You motion me closer. I come, and you whisper again, but still it is only a whisper to my ears. I edge closer, touch your glowing nose with mine. You whisper again, and I think I can make it out - you are repeating your own name, over and over. You kiss my nose and then seek out my waiting lips, and we embrace...

But I still hear the whispering. I am alone. I open my eyes and stare into the blue moonglow depths of a plaster wall. I turn and look out the window at the blue-white moon. A pine tree outside sways and whispers your name, sending it to me on the wind. I get up and pull the drapes closed. The whispers stop. Back in bed, I dream of a tiger and a rooster until morning.

You left me three weeks ago. We hadn't fought; you felt it was time to move on. I wanted to marry you, but you said no. I didn't understand - I still don't. You came home from work, no "hello" kiss. I cooked dinner, but you didn't eat. I cleared the table, washed the dishes. You wanted to talk. We talked. You moved out. I want to remain a friend, but you never told me where you were going. I gave you my best work, as a "going away" present, to try and change your mind, to show you I still loved you. You handed it back, told me to save it - "It'll be worth something someday." My art, you always liked my art. Tried to get me to sell pieces to a gallery, but they weren't interested. You wouldn't take any at all - "Please, something to remember me by." "I'll never forget you." Everything you had fit into your car. A last kiss and you were gone. I went inside and cried until I fell asleep at the kitchen table. I waited for a call, a letter, a visit. After a week, I called your work - you had quit. Your parents were dead; I knew of no friends. After two weeks, I gave up on ever hearing from you again. I still miss you, but I know you're gone.

We met over a year ago, at the coast. Both just getting away for the weekend. Both, it turned out, from the same town. You were reading under a parasol, something old. I was beachcombing. Hadn't found much, until then. A flash of blue stopped me at the water's edge, and I fished a rounded azure stone from the sand. Then I saw you. The stone was the same color as your eyes, I discovered as I sat down next to your beach towel. "I think this would go better with your eyes than with mine," I said, and you turned, and smiled. You asked if I had ever read...whatever it was that you were reading. I hadn't. We talked until the afternoon, then went swimming in the cold ocean. You were a better swimmer, faster, but I could hold my breath longer, bringing treasures up from the ocean floor. No pearls, but I happened upon an old, rusted latchkey which we decided to keep. Back on shore, we talked until we were dry, then until the sun set on the ocean, turning the water a bright firey red. The wind started, and it got cold - the day was at an end. I asked if I could call you - you gave me your number, and asked for mine as well. I drove home with the window down and the radio up. I fell asleep in my bed thinking about you, wondering when I should call.

We lived at opposite ends of the city, you in an apartment, I in a house. I worked with computers, you worked with clients - a lawyer, I didn't mind. It didn't take long to fall in love with each other. After music and coffee at The House, you invited me back to your place. We made love, I stayed the night. A month later, I invited you to move in - it was a long drive across town every day to see each other. So you did. You didn't have much, coming from a small apartment. You wanted a puppy, so we went to the Humane Society, where you found the cutest mutt I've ever seen. He's still here. I think he misses you. He'll grow out of it.

The next two-and-a-half years were a blur. Everything clicked. You got a promotion, I got put on a big project. My art still wasn't selling, but you encouraged me to work on it, and I did. You didn't have any hobbies, just liked watching me work. During the summers, we'd have picnics at the park. The dog loved to chase balls, you loved to sit in the grass and lose yourself in the blue of the sky. I loved the smell of the trees and the grass. Winters were made of snowmen..."snowpeople", you always corrected me...and fireplaces and hot chocolate. Wrapped up in a blanket by the fire, we'd read the humor section of the local paper every evening together. The best ones you taped to the refrigerator, so you wouldn't forget them. Autumn held long walks for we three, in the local and not-so-local neighborhoods. The clash of the bright sun and cold weather made fall the most special season for us. Impossible to explain, but you felt it, too. The rain depressed me, but you could always cheer me up. Spring was cheery, but shallow. Everyone knows spring is supposed to be blithe, it just is. But where's the beauty or specialness of that? I always liked autumn better, where we had to make it sunny and bright by and for ourselves - screw the rest of the world.

It was during the third year that I first brought up marriage. But you dismissed the idea, said you weren't ready for the commitment of being married. So I dropped it, until I did ask you to marry me. Big dinner, cooked by yours truly. Gold and diamond ring, designed uniquely for you by a jewler friend of mine. You said no. No explanation, just no. I was crushed, but you managed to cheer me up anyway. I never brought it up again.

During those last 2 months, we were the same as we'd ever been. Until you came home from work, 3 weeks ago. The feeling I felt, and still feel, is indescribable. It will fade, at least I hope so. Meantime, I'm getting on with my life. The project was finished, I got promoted because of it. I've sent pictures of my art to a gallery in a larger city than here, but haven't heard back yet. I spend my evenings listening to NPR and playing with the dog. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I read to the dog, but she isn't a very good listener. I'll be okay, don't worry. Just take care of yourself.

Tyler Jones, January 29, 1993