My body still felt wrong. It was like my skin was covered in chalk, making everything distant. Or like half my nerves had died, so I only felt half of what I touched. Or maybe like I was hollow, like I was some empty husk of a woman.
I felt old.
I looked old, too. Between my wrinkled face and my gray hair and my refusal to change out of Candy’s old pajamas.
There was no other descriptor. I was old.
You, on the other hand, B—you were the picture of youth.
A little more… plump than perhaps I had expected. I’d tried to keep you healthy, after all, and you looked… less than. Oh, don’t give me that look. You know it’s true. You’re not the healthiest looking person ever—well, you know what, it’s not the renaissance anymore, now is it? They’re picture of health and beauty does not apply here.
Anyway. You were youthful, at least. And vibrant. That was something that surprised me, to be honest. You had always seemed to be trending more towards rambunctious scamp than anything during childhood, but now, you were bright, you were chipper. You were flirty, interestingly enough. Some kind of romantic awakened in you.
I’ll be honest. I envied it, somewhat. But mostly, it made me sick.
What right did you have to be romantic? To believe in romance? When my soulmate had just…
It’s still hard for me to say it.
But Candy was gone. The love of my life.
It left me in a state of constant agony.
You’ve listened to my entire life story so far, B. So you know that, usually, in this kind of situation, I would run. Find a way to distract myself, to escape, a place where I don’t have to be in denial because I don’t have to think at all.
Usually, that would be Break Down. Before that, it would have been a night club. Before that, it would have been anywhere with people. But Break Down for me, now… I couldn’t go back there. I would not go back there. That would be the equivalent of masochism. Torture.
That was the place where Candy…
So I tried to find other places to escape to.
The spa was not the place for me. I needed somewhere where things were happening. I needed a place to do things, to lose myself in people and music and conversation and teaching. A place to do the things that I loved again (mostly because, when doing the things that I loved, I didn’t think about anything else).
I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, B. I had nothing I wanted to do with my life, really. I wasn’t at the top of my career, sure… but I had accomplished so much in my life. I was a Friend of the World, a Leader of the Pack, a Musical Genius. All I had wanted to do was live out the rest of my life with my wife, loving her and adoring her and living with her. But now?
Everything just felt less. Less important. Less interesting.
Again, B, you were acting as my polar opposite. As my interests began to fade away into mere habits, you were discovering your own interests (which, as it happened, did not include homework… irresponsible child).
If I hadn’t previously seen my mother’s artwork, I would have found it quite impressive. As it was… your romantic pieces, in particular, needed a good bit of work.
Maybe I expressed that to you a bit… too much, perhaps?
It was for the best. Everywhere in the house reminded me of her.
But then again, everywhere in general reminded me of her.
I didn’t know how I could live like this.
The call from Carol was a godsend.
“So, I know you’re club leader, but I just thought… after Candy…”
“Get on with it, Carol.” I didn’t have much patience with anyone anymore.
“I found a new place to meet. If you wanted to get out of the house.”
A new place. I needed that.
It was a bar, technically. But mostly it looked like an observatory.
The bath downstairs was even nicer.
I even got up the nerve to help some people with their violin.
Things were fine.
Or… or maybe not. Or maybe really not.
There are moments, B. Moments when I can convince myself that I don’t miss your mommy. Moments when I can forget that things are different. Moments when I can imagine that Candy is just in the next room, or at work, or taking a nap upstairs.
But those moments are few and far between. And when I do remember? It’s like my blood is on fire, my heart expanding in my chest, my ribs pressing against my skin, trying to poke through. My organs don’t want to stay in body anymore. And honestly? I don’t want to stay in my body anymore either.