miz·pah /ˈmizpə/ noun
- the deep emotional bond between people, especially those separated by distance or death.
Content warning: this piece references death and suicide
When Jacob attempted to pick up the pen, he got lost. Lost in his thoughts, lost in his doubt, lost in his grief, lost in his desire. The pen may have been mightier than the sword, but it was nothing to heartbreak. This writing, what did it mean to him – NOTHING – if he couldn't bring his best friend back?
He sat back in his chair, willing the screams to stay down because his studio apartment didn't have soundproofing, and he didn't want the neighbors to call the cops on him.
The last thing he wanted to do was drown inside himself. That was where he seemed to live these days: inside, underwater, gasping for air and pages and threads of ideas that could tug him above the surface.
But he could only see her face. The problem was that there was only her face.
Her eyes: pools of blue ink, tear stained smudges that made everything illegible.
Her nose: the light breath of air in and out like the pen clicking. Click down, click up, click down, click up.
Her mouth. Her lips. The words she knew how to speak that he didn't even know how to interpret, how to make sense of.
With his eyes closed, he recalled a scene he only knew through his scattered imaginings.
Her calling him.
Him not picking up.
Her voicemail, trembling, for help.
Him missing it.
Her goodbye that no one could hear, no one could read, written into the abyss.
He opened the book too late, just in time to tear out a page and let it crumple to the floor, with his heart, shattering.
Glass people in glass houses. Opaque glass, because he missed it. He saw nothing while his nose was in a book and now he couldn't even write her name onto a page.
Fuck it. He grabbed a pillow from behind him on the bed and screamed into it. He screamed words into existence through the tearstained pillow of a page. That was all he could do. He couldn't be a writer, couldn't go back to happier days. He'd have to settle for this half-life, this world apart from others, adrift, a novel half read and discarded, because that's what he'd done to her. Otherwise she'd still be here. He knew it.
It had to be his fault.
Agitated knocking against the wall from his neighbor. He smoothed back the pillow, placed it back neatly against the headboard of his unmade bed, and turned back to his desk.
He picked up his pen from the floor – ballpoint, blue ink – and made the decision then and there that he'd write whatever next came to his mind, because it would be spoken directly to her.
And so, he wrote-
Monica We miss you I miss you I'm sorry I didn't see you were hurting I'm sorry I didn't know how to help you, know to help you at all Because you were the shining light for me And it's dark now But that must have been how it was for you for a long time A long time And it's hard knowing that It's really really hard You had so much to give And I hope you know out there that you are going to continue giving so much Because you matter to all of us And we want to do right by you I want to do right by you You once told me you lived in between the candlelight In between moments when the lighter ignited a wick Into a flame I hope you can hear me out there Telling you that you were wrong I'm pretty sure that there's a taboo against telling someone who's dead that they were wrong But you were Because you weren't the in-between You were the flame You are the flame You dance in my memories You light up all our smiles You've burned into me That's enough for all of us To hope that we each burn into each other As you did to us And are always a part of us Monica We miss you, we love you I miss you, I love you Thank you
Silence from the gathered crowd. A tender silence, taking in the song he sang, the message he delivered like a sermon, as truth.
It was the oddest eulogy, the pastor later said to their colleague.
Why, the colleague replied, only half listening.
Well, the pastor said, I swear, it was as if a wisp of smoke came out of his mouth when he finished reading the eulogy.
A wisp of smoke, the pastor's colleague repeated, now listening intently. How odd.
Indeed, said the pastor. Indeed.
The next week, Jacob got a call from his agent, who heard about the eulogy from another agent, who heard it from a friend, who heard it from a sister, who heard it from Monica's great aunt, who had been at the funeral.
You're holding out on me, the agent said. I think we could get this published in an anthology, the agent nudged.
No, Jacob replied. No, I can't. This was for Monica.
Jacob paused, a lightbulb blinking back to life in his mind.
But you know what? I might be able to write something else.
Finally, the agent cried out.