0029 – I wrote to you too late

A block of flats, Oslo 2018

There was a time when I was there. There was a time when I was a child and everything moved around me. I remember the sun on my face as I lay in the grass with you, a soft breeze blowing above us. In Malaysia there is always at least some trace of a cloud in the sky given how humid it is. When we were there, there were no clouds, just a pale unending blue. I felt that it was happiest I could feel. It was true at the time.

There was a time when I was looking over the old city with you. The rain came down gently yet persistently. The air was thick in darkness and water. I couldn’t read you and maybe you couldn’t read me but you were there all the same. We almost got hit by a tram earlier, it just came out of the darkness but we stepped to the side. We saw a group of drunk men wander across the cobblestones, their arms interlinked and all we could see were their legs that made them look like a single black octopus. I never saw you again.

There was a time when we sat by the water and looked at small waves that the river made. Some ducks moved past us and we laughed at them. The words flowed between us for hours. We were shielded from the light by the trees bending over us as if they bent for this moment instead for their whole lives. We talked and talked and that conversation still rings in my head. We waited out the sun and joined the rest. I was thirteen.

There was a time when you sat on the beams below the pier. Your legs were dangling and drops of water dripped off them. I climbed down and joined you. We sat for a while and looked at the aurora borealis dance on the still water below us. It was cold but the stillness allowed the warmth of our bodies to be held around us. I remember it been green that night, those pillars in the sky. It was easy then, wasn’t it? It was February, I think. I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday. I could have stayed there forever or for as long as the light took care of us.

There was a time when we took the same old road and made the same old jokes. The twilight was nice and the orange glow turned the autumn mud amber. A badger scurried away. I think itw as a badger. The road changed, didn’t it? More gravel. I guess the kommune put some money to good use. We took the long way round and visited the little stream. The same walk but they grew further apart. I see the lines on your face. Have we aged the same?

There was a time when we met under the bridge. There was still light when we met. We hugged and spoke about your father. He had cancer. You were just with him but made time to meet me. It was a Tuesday, I think. You told me some time ago about the absinthe and we found it. There was music and there was a warm darkness. I was lost and at the same time I felt completely at ease. Nothing mattered and everything did.

There was a time when we took the dog out for a walk. The ball stinks because of the spit but we had that plastic throwing thing. We played that night for a few hours against the backdrop of the mall. We had a place in the world but was it really ours? We had some time together but I didn’t realise it would be our last. You are still with me but we are not the same. The small moments that we do share now sustain me until we meet again. You protected me, do you remember that? You knew judo and I only knew how to annoy people.

There was a time when we sat by the sea and you told me about your fears. Who were we back then? It was easy. It was easy to hear your voice. It was easy to see things with you and talk about them and imagine each other imagining them. The sand moved beneath our feet and the water teased us rhythmically. You said you were tired. Maybe you were sick. We walked back to the city and we found some cigarettes. You needed tabacco for your joints, you said. I remember smoking one with you many months before. It was raining and we looked down below your balcony at the flat where you said some police officers lived. A dog barked in the street.

There was a time when we walked by the trees. I saw your hand tremble when you spoke of the diagnosis. Everything became clearer yet also more painful. We looked at people swimming and laughing. We spoke for hours that day. You bought me an orange juice, you got coffee. It was an easy Saturday. That was a Saturday that sits deeply in my mind. We walked home the usual way. The sun followed us back and we split by the cherry tree, the one you like.

Now I am here with my candles and the winter. Maybe I wrote to you too late but maybe right on time. At least now I am writing and maybe you’ll find this one day. Maybe you’ll think of me and the summer breeze, the small lights in the old city, the bench where we saw the ducks, the circular road and the orange dirt, the rosemary in the absinthe, the glow of the TV as we brought the dog back home, the stubbing out of the cigarette on the pavement and the hug as we said goodbye by the cherry tree. Maybe it was right.

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