Creative Column: ‘Astorgos – to be without love’ (anonymous submission)

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When we are young everything looms over us, saturated with so much colour it bleeds into the backs of sockets. Our parents hold us in the hollow of their chests- making space for our entrance into their lives; we watch their brightly lit faces as they tell us the world is so very large. Everyone is destined to find someone; these words are huddled behind careful hands, clutched softly as if they were baby birds. Hope was a fragile thing to protect, but still people held it like a prayer, like they were looking for answers.

I first met you when you were shaken, you looked like the aftermath of a blown up bomb. Your eyes pooled and dripped water endlessly- it might as well have been blood. Your skin was the slick smoothness of an oil-choked dolphin on the beach, gasping for breath yet still so beautiful as the sun shines wetly on the silvery sheen. You trembled whenever someone came near, as if the telephone pole wires had been woven into the flesh of your arms, a soundless radio station no one could hear. I felt foolish sitting next to your nervous energy, radiating like the tipping point of a storm before it hits. I was your hollow, you curled in the space that I crushed my rib bones to make, my heart beating uncomfortably in it’s shrunken state.

Of course you had to die, before I could ever figure out how to save you; my heart stayed a pathetic organ as the remains of my shattered chest ached, I waited for you to come back.

The second lifetime I’d met you was not unlike the first, your uncanny resemblance to a thunderstorm had persisted. This time your eyes were luminescent, pearls growing tumour-like under decades of unswerving dedication, of hiding behind shelled walls. They were wider, harder but still shining wet as you stared at me: were you also trying to commit the planes and slopes of a face? Your smile was dangerous in its newness, and never faltering as you reached out to touch others, holding their hands like a soul holding on to its body before it leaves. I longed to touch your hands, but alas I can only imagine what they will feel like, I am afraid of breaking the warm porcelain. Your arm still shudders with tremors at my side, but like the foetus tearing the womb that hoards it, you begin to grow into the shards of my bones. My lungs burn but I cannot afford to expand, it will only cause you pain.

Soon the hollow of my ribs digging into your spine becomes too much. Delicately, you faded with the effort of each passing day to return to being human; soon the feeling of skin on skin couldn’t stave your growing loneliness. The picture you formed in your bathtub, blue water against the chokehold of dark seaweed hair, gave your preserved body the complexity and weight of a marble sculpture.

The final time I met you was unfortunate, I did not recognize you in the distance; if I had, I would’ve turned and walked away. I was disorientated by the storm slapping the hole in my chest, cruelly the rain had filled it until it wept salt waterfalls. The edges of my chest tingled numbly in their yellow- purple splendour. Forgive me if my voice was not loud enough. I was, like in every other lifetime with you, lost in the storm. I could not see your eyes, or your skin until in a moment of confusion it glittered, like the scales of an Atlantic fish. Your eyes must have ignited with a fury, burning warm like Prometheus’s’ flame uncontested, but I can no longer tell. You moved past me, your arm knocking into mine softly, the silent shockwave of an earthquake.

You looked back for a moment, and we watched each other. I could feel the pulse of your heart in the air, and then I continued walking in the storm, the lukewarm water stinging my empty ribcage.

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