[November Breaks] NOW | 22 | Noah

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FRIDAY 11TH JANUARY 2019

You look at me, into me, searching. You’re right about this being part of what ties us together, but your response takes me by surprise. You still do that so well. “No.”

“What do you mean, no?”

“I mean, you tell me one of your secrets. Own some shit, Noah.” Weed makes you belligerent, more so than usual.

“Well, when you put it like that.” I imagine you falling and thinking of me, how if you’d landed at a slightly different angle or if that had finally been one more impact than your brain could withstand, I would have been the last thing you thought about. “When Byron called me, when you were in the hospital or on your way there, I was at the empty house.”

“That isn’t a secret. It just hadn’t come up. I didn’t ask where you were and it wasn’t important enough for you to tell me.”

“I’m not finished. The secret is, it’s not the only time I’ve been there. On my own, I mean. It’s where I go when I say I’m going for a walk along the beach and I’m not lying because technically I am going for a walk along the beach. That’s how I get there.” That could be enough and maybe it should be, but I need you to look at me like that again. There’s a physical sensation that goes along with it. Electricity.

“And?”

“And I walk exactly the same path from the sea up to the driveway, following my own footsteps every single time.” I tread grey sand to gravel, carried along on a drift of familiarity.

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

You light another joint and blow a stream of smoke past me. “Bullshit, Noah. Total bullshit. Of course you know.”

“Fine. It’s bullshit. It’s the feeling that someone died there. I know people die in lots of places, but there’s something about that one.”

You lie back, blowing smoke into the space above you where my truth hangs. Then you reach back for the ashtray and set it on your chest. “The unresolvedness of it?”

“Maybe. Or how it lingers more in some places than others.” I turn my back to you again and your arm drops next to me and snakes across my body.

You breathe another lungful of smoke into the air and shift around to hand the ashtray and joint to me. “It’s your language and you can hear places speaking it.”

I almost laugh. “That is the most you possible explanation.”

“I know. Don’t talk to me if you don’t want a me explanation.”

I do, though. I always do. “You sound tired.”

“I am tired.”

“Sleep if you want to. I’ll wake you for food later.”

You stretch and roll over to face the back of the couch, curling in on yourself. “Talk to me. Tell me what you dreamed about last night.”

I pick up myself, the ashtray and the joint and carry us all to the far end of the couch, next to your feet that still twitch slightly because you can never be completely still. I’m not accustomed to seeing you in a state of quiet vulnerability. It’s too distant from your motion and challenge, your confrontational wit and wild sparks of impatience. Part of me wants to stop you from going too deep into it, too far away. Part of me wants to keep you here, even though I told you to sleep. “I’m going to smoke this first.”

Your breathing slows. The wind whips the rain in sharp handfuls against the window. Beyond, the sea rolls and crashes against a stolen afternoon. I finish the joint, crush it out, and set the ashtray on the table beside me. And I tell you.

“I dreamed about the tide coming in, rising too high, right up to the house. It wasn’t dark, but it wasn’t daylight either. The light switches didn’t work and the doors wouldn’t stay locked. Outside, there was water everywhere. Huge waves, swelling and covering everything. All that water, but it felt like home and I walked right into it.”

You stir slightly and mumble, semi-conscious, “Where was I?”

“You were already there.”

“Sounds like me.” You shift again, nestling deeper into the couch.

“There was more, afterwards.”

“Mmm?”

“It felt connected, but also not. You weren’t there anymore. I don’t know where you went. I didn’t know in the dream either, but I was on my own and I was bleeding from everywhere all at once, bleeding out. It was happening too fast, and I knew I was going to die, but I couldn’t do anything about it.”

You lift your head, eyes flicking open. A flare of interest. “Did you?”

“What?”

“Die. In the dream. Did you actually die?”

I don’t want to say it out loud, but you asked and I can’t not answer. “Yeah.”

“What did it feel like?”

“Cold. Inevitable. Empty.”

You nod and close your eyes again. “Did it hurt?”

“Not physically, but it felt final. I don’t think I knew I was dreaming.” I can’t look at you and talk about this at the same time. “I didn’t want it to happen. I didn’t want to be alone when it happened.”

Reaching for my hand, your voice slides down the last seconds to sleep. “You won’t be.”

“I know.”

Your fingers loosen, and your breathing deepens, and I’ve lost you. Not forever. Not even for long. And it was at my suggestion. The rain falls in rivers now, heavy and dark, and no-one is bleeding or alone.