She said those lyrics were going to kill me.
I said they’re just lyrics, imagining. Release.
She said, “I don’t like them. They’re not you.”
I set my phone on the nightstand, tossed off the covers, swung my feet to the floor. I gazed out the window into the night and considered hugging a moonbeam, clambering up to the moon.
She mumbled no drinking.
Back at the computer, my ears ringing louder than usual. They always ring, but not so loud. Had “Like Suicide” cranked too high on the headphones while I added it to the widget in my side bar. I’ve walked the dogs since, but they’re still squealing, my ears.
I sat down to write because it came to me on the walk, the answer to my question about why I can’t let this music go. It’s been 25 days since he died and I can’t stop listening to these songs. Twenty-five days rediscovering his first band, readdicting myself to two tracks from the second album; listening to them over and over on the drive to work and again driving home. Hearing them in my head when I can’t listen, humming dark melodies while I eat dinner with the kids and my wife says stop humming.
I sat down to write, but can’t.
I can’t drink either ~ I quit.
Not drinking is not hard. Not writing is. These are things that go together, one flowing from the other.
I was going to write about the answer to my question, but the moment is gone, that moment on the walk.
So is the answer.
I click on YouTube and watch “The Day I Tried To Live,” having never seen it. It’s almost a horror movie, with real horror at 1:45, my god. I click away and find another where he’s singing to his kids. They’re toddlers onstage with him, and it makes me smile but it’s so sad and I click away.
I open a blank document and rest my fingers on the keys.
I switch off the screen, killing the empty white box with no words.
I have second thoughts about taking the pills but I already took them.
I slide into bed. She twists under the sheets, curls a leg over mine, hand on my chest. “You’re heart is beating so fast.” I clasp her hand, move it away, thinking I should roll over, bury this grenade before it blows but I can’t move, or don’t want to. I’m getting to the good part, body beginning to float, veins pulsing like freeway traffic, smeared trails of light at night.
Her breathing relaxes, slows, a hint of the beginning of a snore that only ever hints. She leaves me behind, but I’m already gone. I rise, floating, reach the ceiling, roll over to watch myself get out of bed to join myself in the sky.
I pass through the roof because like me it is only molecules with empty space between and nothing to get tangled up in. I smile, I float, I stir, send ripples through the air to the street below where an old man is walking. He looks up wondering who tapped him on the shoulder, who’s calling. It is I, up in the sky, in love with you the human below and the one in my bed and the dead man, and all of us share the same matter and between the matter of our flesh and bone and the materials of my home there is no border, we are fluid, we feel it.
Coming down is like landing hard on your back in hell. So high the fall itself nearly kills you, the emptiness when you hit bottom unbearable. So small and alone, and the things that brought you joy flicker out, and in the dark all the little fires you ever ran to for warmth — words, music, people, loves — they are burnt out coals, and you’re more empty than when you started. Than you ever knew or thought you could be.
I’ve crashed through the bed to the floor below. I open my eyes and look up through the bed at me lying in it. I’m shivering up there, my wife cupping my face and mouthing a scream. I hear no sound but the ringing in my ears as she screams my name, I’m watching her lips call my name and she shakes me and I feel it but can’t move, can’t speak. I’m watching her shake me and scream and I’m alone and far below and want to cry for her but can’t.
I reach through the bed to grab my shoulders, pull myself into the body, squirm into it. I raise it onto its elbows, look out its eyes at her. She pauses, gasps, reaches for us, suffocates me with her arms and begins to cry again, and she is so far away.
Back in bed, lying together and apart, the soul sucked out of me, the horror of being alone in the dark in her arms.
Nothing seems to kill me / no matter how hard I try
Nothing is closing my eyes
And nothing seems to break me
No matter how hard I fall
Nothing can break me at all
Not one for giving up though not invincible I know
~ lyrics from “Blow Up the Outside World” by Chris Cornell
I think the answer may be that while I’m still listening, we’re both still alive.