You once told me “the best way to beat death is to die…” That way, you added, there’s really nothing that it can do. It was one of those sunny Sundays, remember? When we could never think of anything to do because of the stifling heat and the only thing that could quench our thirst was gin and tonic? So, we raided your housemate’s not-so-secret bar, left R50 in place of the half bottle of Bombay Sapphire and sat in the kitchen doorway watching your dog sleeping under a tree. You had no ice.
We spoke about everything that day, almost as though we knew it would be the last time you and I would be together like that. Looking back, I wonder why we didn’t do that often – but then again, what is “often”? – and I figured that we would have got so tired of each other and probably end up fighting about something frivilous, like how you had no ice.
But, there was something in your voice when you said that, though. You provoked some apprehension and I think you saw my eyes trying their best not to react and yet they did. So, you placed your hand on my exposed thigh, kissed me and whispered “don’t worry, babe” before getting up to fix us both another drink. I watched you bend over to take my glass and smiled at me. You put both our glasses on the kitchen table and carefully measured out the gin and I said something about the heat or ice – I’m not sure – and without thinking, you walked to the fridge, opened the door and then pulled that how-could-I-forget-that-we-don’t-have-ice-and-now-I’ve walked-here-for-nothing-so- I-might-as-well-take-a-grape face. Your turned to me and asked me if I needed anything else.
I said “you” and instead of coming over to me as I’d hoped, you closed the fridge and said “well, if you need me, you’ll know where to find me” with that voice I love so much. I smiled and bit my bottom lip but you didn’t see because you had already disappeared into the house. I got up, walked over to the kitchen table – where the glasses were – took a sip then followed you in.
Only days later, when I was reading Thérèse Desqueyroux did I realise you were referring to John Donne.
Were you suicidal?
And it’s not like there’s a suicide check-list, is there?
So, 20 months after that day, I’m on my way to work listening to this new band I recently discovered and in comes a call from your sister. I was taken aback considering the last time we spoke over the phone was before what we jokingly dubbed as the un-holy union was formed, when we were still close friends. I tried for some friendly conversation but something was amiss.
“I fear he’s dead. He’s gone and killed himself.”
“An overdose of sorts. Don’t know why – well, it’s not like we’ll ever know and the note doesn’t help either. Just a poem.”
“Sonnet 72. Sorry, love.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Oh well, we’re all sorry.”
The strange is that when I finally arrived at work, I checked all three of my email accounts hoping to find something from you – you had finally sent a picture of the tattoo you got two weeks earlier. It was those words you had uttered that day. Is this your way of saying good-bye? I’m glad we chose email, the social networks would have killed us.
The stranger thing is that I clicked on “reply to sender” and started typing this email recounting that day. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to find a connection, maybe there isn’t.
You’re not going to get this so maybe I’ll stick this on my tumblr page and pass it off as creative non-fiction (ha ha) or maybe read it at your funeral.
I guess I miss you already.