On October 5th, my beautiful girlfriend was laced in white, tangled in the blue of my sheets, as I switched off my lamp for the night. Chest pressed to chest on a queen sized mattress, her eyelids fluttered and then fell one final effortless time. Anxiously, I moved her over, urging her to rest on my side of the bed. Sweetly, subtly, I kissed her blush smeared cheek.
I tiptoed calmly, silently, to the crescent moonlight that glittered in my bedroom window. I was terrified of waking her. I clicked my royal blue lighter as I opened the screen door to the apartment I shared with my mom and my older sister.
Stepping outside onto the sidewalk I inhaled our killer. It burned what she said. She always called the puffs of my cigarettes “our killer.” I didn’t understand what she meant. A cigarette isn’t a gun, it isn’t a rope.
Following a few more puffs I glanced through the window into the only bedroom, on the only floor. I watched her bare shoulders shake. Her chest would rise and every other time her chest fell I inhaled once more.
Taking in the nicotine I also took in the autumn. It was freezing outside, but I had no motivation to go back to my bedroom. I had no desire to go grab my jacket. I might as well let the smell of smoke fade a little more while I was out there.
Finishing up my cigarette I walked into my bedroom. I walked so quietly. I grabbed a white throw blanket from the floor and placed it over her because she was still trembling. Looking back on that night I should have been even more quiet because when she woke up, she kissed me as she always did when she was startled. She frowned at the bold taste of my mouth. She looked at me with those piercing crystal blue eyes, but she didn't say anything. I’ve never seen a girl with eyes as bright as hers before, and I’ve never heard silence as painful in my ear.
She took two sleeping pills before bed so within seconds she fell back to sleep, head again pressed on my chest. I brushed her auburn wavy hair with my fingers for at least a half hour, kissing her constantly, holding her as tightly as I could to keep her sleeping. Another half hour passed and I needed another smoke. I was on the verge of losing my beautiful girlfriend and my anxiety was craving more nicotine for comfort. I set her on my side of the bed again. She has no idea what this is like. Then again, I had no idea what she was like.
Her cheek was ice cold that night, matching the rest of her body. I put my cheek close to hers while she slept. I needed that smoke so badly though. I played with a cigarette between my fingers. I let it rest on my lip a couple of times, and then I really couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up my red lighter from my side table and then proceeded to move her back to my side of the bed.
I grabbed a blue hoodie when I headed out the second time. The air felt a dozen degrees cooler. My cigarette was a candle that wouldn’t light. The wind howled fiercely. I cupped my hand to cover the breeze.
I sucked at being quiet, “how am I going to make it up this time.” I barely mumbled those words before I flicked the cigarette butt across the lawn I’ve been meaning to mow. I stopped bothering with ashtrays. I stopped bothering with yard work.
I opened the front screen door and went into the kitchen. She was a freshman in college at the time and she redesigned our small kitchen as her own real life interior design project. It was beautiful. I don't understand design terms, and I don't remember the last time I was in that home. I remember it was blue, soft blue. I hated the hardwood flooring, it was too cold on my feet in the morning and even sometimes into the late afternoon. On the window sill hung a row of her favorite mugs. She drank coffee with cream and sugar every morning and two tea bags of sleepytime tea every night after she slipped on her black and white pajamas. I don't remember what the mugs looked like, but I remember all her little routines. Like the way she had to take a bath every night, she couldn't sleep without a warm one. She was obsessed with falling asleep. Falling asleep fast.
She would take naps that lasted four hours and then she couldn't sleep at night. If she woke up in the middle of the night she would grab a handful of almonds and chew and crunch so loudly it would wake me up. She woke me up practically every single night she was over.
I grabbed her favorite mug at the time. I poured a cup of warm water and heated it for a minute and a half in the microwave. I sipped the hot water twice and then I dropped in a chamomile tea bag. I clipped a piece of mint from my mom's plant on the granite counter and stirred that into her tea.
I walked back into my bedroom and the second I walked in she turned over and looked right at me. Her eyes lit up at the mug in my hand, her favorite mug. She sat up and sat cross legged in my bed, the mug wrapped in her fingertips. I remember talking for a while that night. She told me about the latest poem she was writing, I have no memory of what it was about. I only remember the way her blue eyes lit up and her messy hair. I remember her body barely covered and I remember the way she got annoyed when I would kiss her when she was in the middle of a sentence.
After a final sip of tea her eyes were droopy again.
“Babe, I really need to get some sleep, I have church in the morning.” It sounded like she was whining to me.
She was right though, it was four AM, and she needed to get some sleep. And it was a few hours since my last cigarette. Our late night talks distracted me once in awhile. I kissed her goodnight and bound her to rest in the comforter, on her side of the bed. Why was she always so cold, it wasn't even chilly in the bedroom? Not cold at all compared to the outside, but I didn't mention that to her.
I stuck my body outside the front door, and it was too cold to be outside. I watched the first flakes of the season fall that early morning. It was freezing so I smoked my cigarette in the mirror by the front door. I watched myself smoke it. My dark brown hair in tangles and my blue eyes half asleep. It wasn't normal for a cigarette to burn to the touch. I brushed my hair down to make it a little neater as I smoked the last cigarette in the pack.
I was really into my cigarette when I heard the tv on in my bedroom. I couldn't tell what she was watching in there. I didn't finish my cigarette. I threw it in one of my sisters ashtrays. When I walked into my bedroom she was sitting straight up. Her favorite show was playing, “Ghost Whisperer.” She didn't even notice me at first because she was watching so intently. Nothing could've taken her from the moment she was having. I watched her as she watched the screen. The episode ended a few seconds later and she clicked off the tv. I guess she did notice me there because then she looked right at me. Painfully. She doesn't even know pain. Painfully, she stared at me. Why so painfully?
“Babe, I'm holding out.” She was quoting the show.
“What do yo--”
“I'm holding out for everything.”
I had no clue what she meant. To this day I haven't watched that episode. It inspired the worst night of my life. If not for that one stupid episode there’s a chance she wouldn’t have left for good that night.
“I'm holding out for everything,” she repeated and gave me the biggest smile I've ever seen, across her pretty face. There was a clarity in her eyes I haven't seen or maybe never noticed. She grabbed her things and left my house.
I laid down in my bed, opened a fresh pack, and lit a cigarette.