She was so full of life. Her hands were stretched apart as if she was about to takeoff, as if she was a plane, a plane that you know would never crash no matter what kind of storm came against it. Her smile was magnificent, buoyant; more of a laugh paused at the middle, at the stage of laughter where it is impossible to just abruptly stop, than a smile. Her bare feet pressed against the sharp, brown sand of a beach, making its imprint, the sand, slightly swallowing her toenails. Her dark skin, so consistent, so beautiful, her haunting eyes, brown, like no other you have ever seen, its sheen, a well of hope.
He sat on a plastic chair and rested his arms on a squeaky plastic table, one leg shorter than the remaining three, in front of him. His left hand held the photograph of her – the one where she was so full of life. The room was almost completely dark except that there was a candle stick on top of an empty can of skimmed milk which sat on the table, its wax gushing away wastefully, forming moulds of white semi-solid rocks. He was holding in tears, trying to be a man, he was trying to convince himself that he did not love her enough to cry over her – he did.
They had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party and they had both been unlucky (or lucky) enough to show up at the exact time fixed for the party, meaning they were the first to get to the venue, not even the celebrant had shown up. They sat down opposite each other and stole glances, since he was shy, or introverted, as he would rather be referred; he prayed that she would break the ice. She did. She was not like him; she was neither shy nor introverted. The first thing she said however was unintelligible, jargon. At that point, the only thing he could think to say was, ‘yes. You are right.’
She smiled, ‘what?’
‘What did you say?’ He asked.
‘I was in my head.’
‘Oh okay. How does your head feel this evening?’ He asked.
She smiled and shook her head.
‘My name is Abdul. Hi.’ He said and stretched his palm.
‘Hello. I am Mirabel.’ She took his hand. Her palms were small and soft but still had a way of completely clutching his.
They did not stay for the party; they went to have lunch and from there took a long walk, taking in each other’s company and wondering how they had never met even though they had so much in common. He fell in love with her company first, then her.
The candlestick was dying away, the wax was still gushing out wastefully without a care, could it not see that he needed help? That he was broken? Breaking?
He found out that she was doing drugs one night, they had dinner planned and she did not show up, it was very unlike her. He started getting worried after, at his fifth attempt; she still did not pick up her phone and his call. He went to her place. Her door was locked from the inside, the lights were on and the fan was rolling and there was loud metal music playing in the background. Someone was inside.
He forced the door open, pried it with his shoulder – all the energy he could muster, inside the room, he found her. She was lying down on the green and yellow nylon carpet next to her bed. His first thought was that she fell into a deep sleep, a strange sleep, one where she could not move five centimeters left to her bed. Inching closer to her however, he found that she was not asleep; she was fully awake but stoned. Her eyes were wide open and glassy; there were heavy black bags of sleeplessness and inebriation just underneath them. Her face was heavy, stiff, and unmovable; he had never seen her like that. He was afraid. She smiled a smile that, as far as he was concerned, was more of a call for help. She wanted to stretch her hands towards him but she hardly had enough strength to keep breathing. That night marked the beginning of the end of their relationship.
‘Why drugs?’ He asked her photograph in the company of the dying candlestick. As if the photograph could answer such a question, as if the photograph was not just a useless piece of polaroid paper that exuberated in its immense fakery. She was a great sport when she was clean. She was a lady so full of life; she wanted to, she needed to give some of it out to the world. His eyes were fixed on her face, her smile that was the most contagious he had ever known. Where was this version of Mirabel? He thought to himself. Maybe she only existed in photographs; a mechanism that so easily aided pretence, it was scary. One’s life could be up in smokes but a photograph could capture that one having the time of his life; could there be a bigger hoax? He thought.
They broke up last night; she got knocked up on some crazy syrup and came around to his place. She said that their relationship had been a bad idea from the beginning. That she was a wild child and he was an angel. She used words like ‘eternally incompatible’ and ‘unfortunately unworkable’ to describe their relationship, she went on and on and when she was done, she left without letting him say a single word. She strode away and left a sour taste in his mouth and tears in his eyes.
The candlestick finally died leaving heaps of wax on the milk tin, but that was not all that died, he was sure, a part of him died, too, that part that fell in love with Mirabel.