“…had escaped the torments of memory with the aromatic fumes of gold cyanide.” I had read the entire sentence twice over and battled with the mélange of senses incorporated to realize that the melancholic, specter-grey evening was not the time for Marquez. Not that there’s a mood to argue with everywhere when one’s reading, but in the dimly lit, sequestered cubicle and an empty office, I felt both loneliness and a sense of weariness rebel against my usually composed self. I had never had the esteemed reputation of being a workaholic but one might be aware that procrastination can unleash the worst of days in a mundane life. So, there I was, preparing a preposterous presentation in that sophisticated but conspicuously desolated office, big deal with an aching neck and fingers dancing on the keyboard.
Okay I admit I did beat around the bush a lot. And its not the weather, the work I adroitly avoid as a rule or the overshadowing darkness of memories. Its her essentially. Echoed by the walls of the office, the otherwise ligneous paper files or the mocking plastic flowers. Even the window- the tense, becalming aura of freedom it incited. Like her…always free of what worries troubled the rest. Even in her absence, the hollow seemed to fulfilled by a sense of being omnipresent. It was difficult to accept she was not there. A smile, a whisper, even a casual note could bear witness to an avarical reality. Just an unceremonious disappearance on a night like this…no letter, no calls and certainly no trace. People moved on, like they always do. Its astounding what little time it takes for fantasies to grasp and cease life by a random thought with all remorse and consternation we can conjure.
Was it on a night like this…?
Jeez that led somewhere for sure. I promised myself not to think of her again, or what that forgotten night meant for that matter. Like I glanced at the sticky-note on my table and promised each random moment only to shatter it the next. And there was that insipid disillusionment stemming from the thought. That urge to give up every now and then. Only that gentle touch, a momentary escape from solitude…
I glanced at her still unoccupied table, a few columns away, kept so by mutual agreement for five long years. Those notes with the tangled scribbles hung precariously, the pictures from San Diego and a few other almost ritualistic paraphernalia. And certainly, the rose I brought along once a week. Shriveled and frail now, almost black yet miraculously intact.
A war of black roses, that’s what she always said.
Work was out of question I knew, so I shut the laptop sitting idly for a while now. The colossal entrenched darkness now loomed everywhere like it had throughout my life. The comforting city lights seemed to have a sense of extraneous judgement in perceiving what was. But at some point, you do get above the dull frivolities of the world.
With adept fingers I packed my bag and got up to go. I was not in a mood to drive, so I debated whether I should opt for a cab instead. Then it struck me…the sound of muffled footsteps.
Suddenly I noticed something else. Felt it rather.
There emerged almost out of thin air the faint fragrance of lavender. Comforting as it was, taking over every inch of the sprawling room, the scent seemed to singe my senses rendering them somnolent. My hands seemed lifeless as the obfuscating aura seemed to percolate every inch of the being, trying to garb and gnaw at me. I broke into a cold sweat as a sense of enchantment came over me. Not terror. Not fear I daresay but a sense of recognition that washed over me.
It was her…she was here.
The human brain as you might be aware, often requires considerable time to register what has happened in a matter of moments. Realization was yet to sink in, when I felt a fleeting touch on my hands, cold as ice. Accompanying it were relentless whispers and a raspy breathing all over as if intent to appear and hide again. My hands trembled, and the room suddenly appeared to be caught in a blizzard, as a cold wind seemed to sweep over and fling papers into the void upsetting what harmony the darkness had preserved so far.
The elusiveness was enough to incite sheer terror. But more than that, all of this was just like what had happened that fateful night. The tenth of May, five years ago yet the scars were fresh. No, no that can’t be…
I might not have been in my perfect senses, but that apparition I saw before me was no dream. Neither was it the fanciful imagination of a troubled mind. She stood there laced in the night, beckoning me to follow her. Like, like it used to be.
I do not know what came over me, but as a charmed pet my feet seemed to take me into the mysterious, sepulchral room. An empty loft, but the grandiloquent balcony, it was here…
“No”, I shouted, trying to instill obedience in my hands and cover my face.
But the starry sky, those rusted railings seemed to be a veritable Pandora’s box of memories coming true. All ugliness, mistrust there was in the world seemed more precious than where those invisible chains of torment were leading me to. Deep in a mine of memories that I had carefully shielded so far from the prying eyes of the world.
It was as if I was watching a movie unfold…the drunken brawl at the office, the heated argument and heartless accusations, and then I… I pushed…but
“No please”, I yielded, a meek tone seeking forgiveness.
All love, all attachment seemed to bind me to the years of turmoil. Every day, every night, spent trapped in the nightmarish, horrifying existence- the cloistered zone blanche were no light dared enter.
I extricated myself from the endless loop and leant against the half-broken railings. No more could I live a moment in this broken, devastated world, where there shall be no promise of life or redemption but a wreckage…walking wandering in the rusted avenues of torment.
There was no sense of acrophobia, nor fear of death- for it was only death that I had lived long with. Always and ever. As I, for the last time saw the munificence of the pristine stars, that seemed to stand in mute testimony…my heart fled back to those days…the sunshine, those eyes, the hair fluttering in the breeze, those hands stretching out a rose…black and beautiful.
A war of black roses it shall be.