{Prose}: Afterglow

Fingertips against cheekbones. The result: a bruise or a caress. Her flinch is noticeable but only if you know to look for it. A stained glass heart shatters, and it could make a mosaic. A human heartbreak could create lace of invisible scars. The door slams, and she trembles like a leaf before its tumble to the ground. It’s the aftermath you expected but did not deserve. She tried to warn you a beauty like hers is a fragile kind. The words fell on empty ears. She may as well have been speaking into a conch. Tell her she’s beautiful. Hold her close like a glass angel. Whisper you love her just the way she is.

Will she ever learn your love has no bounds, that bruises can fade? The scars are just as fabled as the laugh lines. This is all history, and you’re determined to turn the page.

“I’m scared.” She said in a whisper, clinging to you in the dead of the night. You try to stroke her hair, but she shudders like she were left out in the cold. Keep watch for progress. Hope things will be different. An entire year has passed, and she still wears these scars like white flags announcing her surrender.

Her eyes go wide like saucers. “Do you remember,” you begin to ask, but before the words are gutted from your mouth, you see the tears beginning to trail down her cheeks, “what love really feels like?”

“Patching holes in the wall his fist made. The cracked dessert plates that only needed a washing. Love is the red of blood, the violet of bruises hidden from everyone. Love is whispering and pleading, the tears no one saw.”

“You experienced love before him.”

Memory is a distortion. We exaggerate and undermine, even destroy events in our minds. The stretch and pull makes memory as pliable as saltwater taffy.

“I used to wear a hibiscus bloom in my hair. He said the color made him sick to his stomach. I think it was my happiness that made him sick.” She never speaks his name. Not in all the time you two have been dating does she say his name. It creates a myth out of a man. A legendary villain worth noting, yet not worth naming.

One morning you notice the tissue paper petals fallen from  a hibiscus bloom on the hardwood. You hear her humming her favorite song in the bathroom. When you go to snake an arm around her waist, her skin feels soft, inviting. In the past, you felt your presence an intrusion. The hibiscus in her brown curls casts a rosy glow on her cheeks, and her eyes sparkle as though they were cut from diamonds. It feels as though your insides are bubbling over, filled with champagne.

This is what love really feels like.

Even though her heart is in repair, the pieces still form a mosaic of beauty. Though the pieces are bright and glittering, they are still broken. They still have jagged edges. Yet you’re beginning to see the beauty of each individual piece.

Repair this broken heart. Mend these wounds. Do not despair. There is beauty in the afterglow.

-L.G.

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