pink nails and a shovel
2:25 am. I always wake up at such an ungodly time. My arms, hands, and fingers scramble for the bedside table, touching anything and trying to feel the switch.
2:26 am. The lamp’s light sears my eyes. I cover them with a pillow. I adjust the pillow only when I am sure my eyes can take the brightness. I take the glass of water sitting beside the lamp, sip, then drink half of the contents. My throat is dry but my eyes aren’t.
Yesterday, at 2:17 am, I was still wide awake as you slept steadfastly. I stroked your chest, and dribbled my fingers on your clavicle. I touched your neck, and smelled it. There was the faint scent of shaving cream and cologne. Already, there was a roughness to your jaw. The hair had already started growing back.
I looked at your chest, the light wave of hair which crawled from your pubic area and spread out across your thorax. They were softly nestled on your fragile, semi-freckled skin; your round, crimson nipples flat in the ungodly hour. I tend to touch them with ease, nibble them when erect, sometimes pinch and even flick my fingers on these two dark circles which adorned your broad chest. But alas, you were asleep. So I settled for fine tracing.
It’s 2:30 am, and I am drunk on the memories, drunk from the warm whiskey I sipped as I bathed in the moonlight, and hoped to speed my sleepiness. I look around me and take in the heat of the pitch dark, early morn.
At 2:37 am yesterday, you woke up, roused from your sleep by my warm whispers to your ears. You kept your eyes closed, trying to adjust to the tempered brightness of the lamp I had just switched on. Your nose crumpled as you kept your eyes tightly glued. But soon it opened, and emerged was your soul.
There’s a picture frame, with a black and white photograph of us in it, on the polished top of the oak drawer across the bed. It’s 2:43 am, and I am looking at it like it is a picture of saint, or of Mary, or Jesus, or Buddha. I am contemplating about how you looked so well the day before, how even under your crisp navy blue and white striped polo, I could see your nipples erect, almost protruding as if pinched, almost piercing your favorite top. But I could not see your eyes. Literally, I could, but it was no longer a window to any soul. Overnight, it had become difficult to decipher. In nakedness, the azure swirled into a black hole that sent shivers down my spine.
Five minutes to three, I could taste the salt on my lips. I reach for the drawer on the bedside table, rummage through receipts, books, bus tickets and pens, looking for my emergency pack of Marlboro Black. You threw away all my smokes. I stopped because I wanted to live, and breathe only you. But I kept a nicotine stash somewhere. Looking back at why I hid it, I wonder maybe because I knew we were doomed, and that it was only a matter of a time. Yes, that is what we are. That is what we were. A time bomb.
3:14 am and I smell like tar. I find myself easing back to sleepiness. My momentary anguish is subsiding. I clutch my pack of cigarettes, then put it on the floor. I am too sleepy to open drawers and hide things. I look at our picture one last time, and strain to remember how that image immortalized, is now a memory finalized. You left me so swiftly. I did not know what to do.
Maybe you liked her because she came fast. Or because she always knew how to dress well. And all I had were plaid and pants. She always had a little black dress, and her fine pearls.
She is something else. Your heart stopped beating for me just for her.