A story about a funeral in the dead of the summer.
With the relapse of summer on its idyllic deathbed, I once again draw nothing with the close. It is the same feeling that follows me with every untimely visit to living mortuaries in the outskirts of city, bordered by red district lights and the wick of laden candles. Where concrete becomes an overture to a short-lived piece that we drag on and on.
The kind of “nothing” that comes close to impossible to describe — a loss of words when I need it least. The nothing that comes when I see her stranger, a mix of chemicals and formaldehyde; the solitude of empty condolences that we give and take. Nothing that consumes me, makes me wonder if the finality of everything is meant to be drawn out with the passing of returned soda bottles alongside a cross. Nothing that sinks into a mind, a room half-empty and half wishing to take her place. She must be loved.
Though the colors across the street beg: The noise of men and women of feigned sobriety in collapsing stretcher beds across the city funeral parlor differ. They’ve seen love in a million makeshift forms. I have seen four — maybe five, and it scares me to think how death is a waiting game; a matter of readiness since youth, and perhaps that is why we’ve come to fear it so much. I ache at the thought of the little girl in a gray ruffled dress, sipping and unknowing of the fire to take a tender heart that should have been let go long ago. A boy running across the pews (a woman stands there unmoving, she prays and prays and prays but she left us all, just like God) and peeking at the casket time and time again, unable to process the finality of death. Her heir is in need of empathy but I have nothing to give.
To one, the closest definition of nothing may be to close your eyes. Clench them and feel your soul protrude with the loss of what let you rule the world. But of course, like pedantic scientists and naming misnomers; it’s just black.
Clutch, softly. Again a familiar night where you cradle your mess and pray to fall asleep, counting down the time for the sleeping pills to kick in and wishing your life away. (I want nothing but to disappear I want to be a whisper.) True nothingness is the back of your head, the words that came to me with the draw of the first casket, movie where everyone was silent but I was wincing to let something out — unsure of what — but nothing did. Nothing is unfathomable; nothing is every single time I envision myself as a victor in the story, the unsung hero in the overture, a rabid god stringing the world — and what comes, how close it is to what my heart had envisioned. Nothing is the rattle of my mother’s heart, disavowed text messages of sorry and driving directions when we were lost in the middle of the bad side of 10:36 in the evening. Nothing is the widow of my future, a consecration too honest.
I’ve forgotten the feeling of car windows smothering me in blurs in temporary. Its lost eminence with wind coursing through, smoke piling up mountains and boulders. One day I realized nothing is the cage that I had built for myself; the familiarity of flickering screens and good night wishes to command lines.
I’ve forgotten the feeling of fearing what I love, and that is how I know that I am living.
If I were to be an accident on porcelain, a darling figure of misanthropy for all the placid placid apathy to be one with — let me reign on the throes of my own self-fulfillment. Summer has served its purpose, a bow away from mimicking the way words fall. I want to be a hero without feeling the drum of the casket, or the lull of humming fire in the hands of a girl who does not know how to spell death. Starve the artist and let humanity know that you will only feel love when you have lost all of love to give — this world, I despise, and to bury myself in — I ought to not. If I were to rise again and redo the burial of the familial stranger, I would ask her if she would delight in the celebration of her death from a mix of weepers and liars.
Her celebration is the epitome of nothingness. Not a single wish or heartbeat is shared in the stride of black and blues. Her finality is marked by testimonials and hymns from strangers, of empty words and false conviction. Loaded promises totaling to insults. Craft of her hands and the brood of her heart is never mentioned, it is a silent afterthought in the boxes left behind but never a central means of her bid — we are never really scared of the disappearance of a creator; bless the loss of a rival soul.
Her frame is 200 pesos on the backrow of the aisle, an unflattering photo chosen from the middle of a Facebook feed. I know not of the stranger with her preached tarpaulin stretching over the concrete holes, or misfired calculations of her age. I wonder when she first really thought about death, if her count of admirers and givers of affection and remembrance were right. I think about how everyone seems to think about their own funeral, the amount of visitors or the closing brim of the home, the raucous merge of mourn to bring God back. I think about how the pews are filled with prayers to false gods and statues rather than talks to her. I think about how she first visited another stranger and braced in their chemicals and fatality and wondered why we draw out man for so long when to love is to understand, and to understand is to not beseech them to days of loss. I think about sleeping in the same house as the casket of a man who had changed the world. I think about how her happiness is not reflected with the game of an attendee count, a book milled with signatures to hide in settling dust and sorrow. I wonder if she loved enough, heard enough, traveled enough, I wonder what was running right on her mind the moments before the rapture of her being, I wonder what it looks like to just still in motion and then become a flatline.
I think about how we are all deemed to create, to leave behind manifestations of who we were — of statuettes and reasons why mirror images are also a making of man. I wonder how different we would be thinking if we recited her sad, thirteen-year-old poetry, and if the man in white and gold watches would still laugh at the plight of little girls wrought of society and stigma when it holds true at the dead of months past sixty-six. I think about the karaoke machine in the dead of night across a sullen road. Something trivially stupid and insignificant, a Christmas bonus buy in the heat of a July. If they die too — we could carve their songs and 0093 as a memoir. In fact, maybe their screens are to a memento mori, or a vow of penance in shackled caverns that they’ve strung.
My departure is marked with the can knocking over and rolling across the bible bumps of the floor. I am unremembered, and so is she. We do not drive back straight away; the reaper of violence and unwarranted words is a quiet believer in myth and never himself. My imagination often delves into gutting and dissecting him, a lesson in microscopy to hear the words I know he never wants to say. Things like you were right, I am filled with regret, and that I am still an irresolute maniac poised of a childhood that was robbed of me — a fair trade by robbing you of yours too. In the silence across the sea, he is the weakest one out of all of us; we delight in his breakdown.
I wanted to know how she saw herself. If she thought about it at all, even. If her self-propped image was a buoyant beacon in the dawn of the morning — or if her heart raced with the tinge of disarray and sacrificial vows at the glimpse of her reflection. Yet she lives in stillness, the most disorienting madness in a silent, glazed rancor of stolen words and lies. If we bury our loved in the shroud of deceit, I would thank the world that I have lived to death long ago.
Nothing is the view count of teenage girls and their lost Livejournal blogs, the pit of their self-hatred and narcissism-induced anxiety — nothing, count zero. Nothing is the feeling of the heart’s drum and pulse with the gaze of summer. Nothing is the future that we hold, or the dreams that we have that extend beyond one-bedroom apartments and lower tax rates. Nothing is one’s future if you choose to become its abyss itself. Nothing is the fear I hold for the future; the word count of a deathly funeral that I would abandon. Nothing is the penned lists of “songs to play when I die”, revision fourteen — just six years after the first one that I filled in minutes in an angry, angsty car ride — I don’t know why none seem to come up, and it haunts. Nothing is the love in the room, the empathy that was exchanged, the substance of passing conversations in a room that has lost its sense long ago.
Nothing is the beat of summer. For the first time, in all my years of life — it has come to past, and stopped and pushed itself away, and I feel nothing. It’s the first time I’ve been so enveloped that it’s coming makes no difference, really. This is the beginning of where I die. The numbing of your veins down to your mind. A loss of soul in the son of man.
(I really enjoy placing our value on the moments we partake in and the memories we create. It’s part of the reason why I am so desperately a mover of actions and events, of passion and reaches.)
I find it ridiculous that we’re to be boiled down to the biological tick of our bodies. My life is more than the clockwork of heart or the colors of blood running down the creases of my own self. She is a strewn figure offed of all when she had died long ago. Nobody cares about the visions, the prayers she had sought and the fear manifesting in her bones that lingered and longed — a girl died long ago with no one to answer her call. She was written off as a phase in the corner of a dark room. Her heart stopped beating the moments the word flowed and then she knew that not one soul would come to listen to her again.
We should write more dates on our tombstones. The day we fell in love, the day we first wanted to die, the day we said we were truly happy (all forty-seven of them), the day we tasted that best meal we ever had, the day we fell in love with the right person, the day we graduated, the day we started our family, the day we watched the sunrise on the edge of the countryside, the day we believed in love again, the day our parents died and the day we realized that your hollowness was because you were relieved and not mournful, the day we really died.
It’s only right.
For two weeks, maybe. Holy Week numbed me into a blur and once again, I felt like a child. Turning up the radio for songs that I’ve deemed to be for nostalgia sessions — the foreign yet utterly familiar hum of disorientation and death. I equate chapels to hospices now. The burned remnants of holy water floating on tap; I laid in bed and became the nothing that everyone had expected of me. For once, the lull in a storm of tire and fight calmed me down and once more, church bells became the only familiar form of salvation in a life of toxicity.
God doesn’t wait for those with certification and tucked wooden pendants. Would she have asked for this send-off?
I want to relive her in things brighter than low-quality tarpaulins and dusted pamphlets. I want to feel her work the way she intended for it to; a stranger letting go of all her breakdowns infused in art and soul. Soar through the corners of her bed and find all the blood-soaked cloth she had left behind; partake in every piece of art that made her heart beat, that made he heart quake, that made her break, that made her dissolve herself into particles and granules dissected in words and art and loathsome autobiographies. A dawn back to the age of 2008 and Blogspot and journals and understanding what’s inside of her head in locked-up packets of notebooks and eschewed pills in a stockpile she labelled for 1995. I want to feel her failures, the crushing dissent between B-marked red ink and the way she was deciding to fuck her way to the top instead. Oh or the way July was the pavement to her doom, the sulk of her backbones against the earth and the bedframe and the porcelain and how she wanted everything to end and how she would have seen her kids write their death notes on their iPhones and the lost pads dissolved in fight and cigarette lights.
Is it possible to fall in love with words you have never seen? Is it possible to bring up empathy in the dark with the lost? Is it possible for me to get inside the heads of everyone she had loved — tell them to rip apart the empty words and to get in touch with everything she had loved again?
Play the film and feel the roll, the unwound tape that her fingers poised together over and over and over and over and over and breathe in the air of her lonely box. Read her words and read them and anger her by taking apart everything she had wanted you to say and saying them too late. Revel in everything she had loved and all the songs that she gave to you that you said you’d listen to but never really did, or the endless links of purple fading into blue when you got tired of her endless enthusiasm for videos and photos of the stars. Maybe she just wanted you to understand her; buried behind empty text messages and spaces before periods were the answers to everything she had pictured you saying.
Is it not the death of a firefly who returns the light that you give? Has she ever been alone in the kiss of June, the midnight caress of twilight dancing across waters and playing with widows and history? Have you ever picked apart the leaflets of her library, the highlights in ugly blackout poems in fantasy books that make little sense? You say you knew her 2AM self but you do not know the courage it took to stand in the sunlight of a world that you no longer believed in at the 3PM cutthroat burn, seeping into your skin, digging into your veins, corrosive settling on your eyes, cementing your footsteps into the drains.
Kaleidoscope eyes are her nothing. Synesthesia darling of words and breakdowns. I close my eyes and see you in ways that they don’t.
Tell them that sometimes we know strangers better than liars who never read them in all of a life.