I am a man of many deaths.
It is why I sit on this stone in the land of death. Or rather, the land of corpses and caskets. Of harrowing nightmares and buckets of sorrow.
Oh, who am I kidding?
It is the most wonderful place on this planet. It is a place where lucky ones can get some true sleep. It is where I sit now and wait to be carried away, only to be refused.
So I sit. And wait.
It was only ten years ago that I first discovered the beauty of listening. Can you hear it?
It's a song that I long to hear on those nights when my head is a troubled sea spilling into my room. That is quite something to clean up, let me tell you. I must wash those images from my ceiling, the walls, as I topple out of bed and try not to spill my thoughts all over the floor. It is too hard for me to collect them again.
But if you really listen
You can hear her laugh.
Some people laugh like bells. Others, like cows. I am thankful that she is not of the latter, but I never met someone whose laugh could be compared to a bell. A foghorn perhaps, if that is remotely close. A laugh is a laugh, and I'm sure you know what one sounds like, the one with which your best friend is quite generous and that lightens your heart.
But she cries too.
The pleasant must be balanced by the unpleasant, and the silence is impartial. Her despair was beautiful as was her laugh. I did not realize until years later, but when you miss something, everything that you never realized was there becomes so apparent.
The death, the life.
The tears, the unspoken words.
The lament of the despair, shame, loneliness.
And the silence.
All of it.
It was human. It was the desire for something.
Each time someone dies a part of me follows that soul. I don't know who is left, only who left me. I can feel these holes, and I wonder sometimes if others can see them too when they look at me. They see a man too weary of life, too bent with holes to stand straight.
These deaths have become me over the years, so much so that I didn't even know. It was until one day that I really scrutinized the mirror and saw them, so obviously there. A pair of hollow eyes stared back at me, but they were not mine. They were someone else's. I have not seen my eyes in almost thirty years.
But I also saw them in my wrinkles, the quiver of my voice, and the particular hunched stance. I carry my lucky relatives on my shoulder, and the weight is only relieved in this place where the stones lie. They sleep there, laughing, crying. She is there most often, but only to speak in that silence.
I come here at the same hour every day. But the return is never so predictable. Sun, rain, snow. I am sure she stands there with me some days, as her brothers and sisters with my brothers and sisters, listening to my thoughts pour upon their graves like the sea. But to know which days is another idea altogether.
So I tell them anyway.
I tell them about how it used to be, how it was, how I liked how it used to be. It was nice, I'll say. You remember, you loved it too?
Of course she did.
The wind whispers, Of course, I did. Of course.
They come by each day, these forlorn types. Never more than sloping mouth corners, stuffed full of self-pity. They stand and mope that they are alone, that someone else did not deserve to die. That they did not deserve to be alone. Their thoughts mumble around blindly, one-word questions and short murmured apologies.
They talk and think plenty, but they never listen. I know they cannot hear the laugh because they don't laugh along.
Yes, of course I remember that. I liked that too.
And I know that they cannot hear the crying, because their mouths are drooping with self-pity. No soothing words, no caring smiles.
Why did you have to die so young? some ask, but their whispers trample the silence where the children's laughter can be heard. I have never seen so many people cry alone.
Then there are the frequenters, the ones that can never go more than a week without a visit. Eye contact is well beyond most of them. They stand, framed in that beautiful silence, but turn a deaf ear to it with stone faces and glazed eyes. Cracks tear at their empty souls.
Sometimes I close my eyes and see them. It had been easier years ago when only one or two stood in front of me and laughed or cried, but now I am lost in a crowd. They are still or moving slowly, ghosts with only a name and a body. I have forgotten their faces, their eyes. I have not seen her eyes in thirty years.
Sometimes I wonder if they have forgotten my face and my name. If they too have forgotten my eyes.
Have you seen my eyes? I ask them. But the silence is complete, immaculate. Disappointing.
Who are you? I imagine one of them asking.
Me? I respond in mock surprise. You do not remember me?
I gesture with open arms to this most beautiful place and smile sadly at the apparition.
I am a man of many deaths.