I always woke up in the middle of the night.
It wasn’t because of a bad dream. Nightmares never woke me up and I’d never had insomnia. After working like a dog all day, my eyes drifted shut well before 10. It was her; visions of her haunted me.
I always held her hand in my dreams, I always saw her smile at me, I always stared at her beautiful face. Her soft lips twitching, her beautiful eyes opening the gates through to her heart. I always wanted to wrap my hands around her waist and bring her closer to me, feel her breathing heavily on my chest, have my hands tightening around her as she shakes with indomitable desire, put her lips onto mine…
If anyone asked me what the strongest feeling in the world is, I would say it’s emptiness.
As soon as I woke up, as soon as I realised that was just a dream, as soon as I found myself drowning in the cold silent darkness all around me, emptiness took me over. I remembered I don’t have her anymore. I remembered the person who used to sleep with her hands wrapped around me is now sleeping with her head on someone else’s chest.
I cried, breaking the silence around me into pieces. Like shattered glass spread all over the floor. I saw pieces of me here and there, pale, meaningless, waiting for the end of their existence.
I turned on the lights. Every piece of furniture in the room mocked me: the discoloured walls, the barely hanging curtain… all declaring thirst for the presence of someone who was and remained everything to me.
The idea of breathing in the same city as hers intoxicated me. Speaking the same language as hers made me feel like ripping my tongue out. Whenever someone mentioned her name, sheer hatred took me over. I trembled with anger, blinded by the emotion until emptiness took me over again. Self-criticism made my existence so insignificant that even ending it seemed like giving it more attention that it deserved.
So I left.
My life’s work suddenly seemed ridiculous. I’d spent my life in politics. A frustrated idealist awaiting the inevitable apocalypse of his beloved country, a country with a ticking time bomb indicating that a civil war was crawling nearer and nearer as every second passed by. I functioned in a society as unstable as a drunken man walking on a tightrope, pathetically waited for someone to put a bullet in its head. Now patriotism seemed like devotion to real estate. The war that I have been fighting for decades and the causes that I dedicated my life to seemed no more important than a couple of kids betting a dollar on who could eat more fries. I felt like someone robbed me, took my dignity away, took my drive away, took her away.
I’d asked her why she left. I’d asked myself why she left. I’d wanted her as a fellow comrade, I’d wanted her by my side at everything I did. I thought she wanted the same thing too. I saw her dedication, her enthusiasm, heard her whisper about work even when we were in the throes of passion: We would do it together. She kissed on my ear as I had my lips on her breast, exploring every inch of her skin.
I saw her eyes light up every time we had a conversation about politics. She was never directly involved, but she wanted to be, and she would listen to my hopes and dreams about the future as she laid her head on my arms, looking up with eyes full of optimism.
“Bullshit,” I murmured while I climbed up the stairs, with the keys of my new apartment in my hands. Like the false hope I gave to young people sacrificing their careers for politics, like the fake dreams I inspired them to pursue, like the blindness that took over me when I thought working for the country somehow had any meaning.
“Thank you,” I said once on a rainy evening as drops of water ornamented the windows. I saw her give an exhausted smile, tired from explaining why we would never work, not a word of which I could understand or hear. I was seeing her for the last time: absorbed in memorising every details of her face, from the small mole just above her upper lips to her unbearably beautiful eyelashes. I’d never stared at her face with this much concentration, I never loved her with this much devotion.
I open the window and it’s snowing outside. I let the breeze come inside and the cold bites me. Reminding me of her biting on my neck when we used to make love. I laugh. Even when I am thousands of kilometres away from her, even when probably no one in a hundred-kilometre radius speaks her language, even when we are in completely different time zones, she is as vibrant to me as she ever was.
I laugh at myself to the point of crying, my wailing echoes in the emptiness all around me.
I slept with a lot of girls since she left. From society elites to roadside sex workers, I tried to release my anger while fucking them mercilessly on my bed, the same bed on which I made tender love to her. None of these encounters felt like sex. None of the women felt like her. Their touch made me feel impure, their kisses tasted bitter, their intimacy made me want to punish them for trying to take her position.
But it was me who was giving it away.
I get up slowly to the window as the breeze starts blowing even stronger. A town where I know no one, a bed on which I’ve never slept. A country I didn’t know even existed, a language I can barely speak. I take a look at my fake ID. Touch my recently reconstructed face. Slowly close the window to see the reflection of someone I’ve never before in a mirror before.
I go to bed only to wake up in the middle of the night, only to find the emptiness devouring me, only to feel the terrible pain rip through my heart. There’s no release. Suicide feels like too big a reward that I don’t deserve.