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What can you do in five-hundred-and-eighty-seven days? Sophia Grisaille has the answer, but in a darker, more imaginative and more heart-breaking way than anyone would imagine.


Submitted:Oct 14, 2011    Reads: 551    Comments: 34    Likes: 13   


Hello! :) So, I was listening to "Sophia" by Nerina Pallot, and the song inspired me so much that I had to sit down to write this. I spent a half hour on this, so I hope it's not too shoddy. Also, I thoroughly recommend that you listen to "Sophia", its one hell of a song to listen to. Thanks for reading, and I hope you like it.

~ Love, Noelle

~*~*~*~*~

alt

There are some things people do not talk about, do not choose to see. You can see their inquisitive faces, prying eyes brimming with curiosity. What's going on; they want to know; why are you still here? You can almost hear their thoughts; hear the echoes of their thoughts in the waves and in the wind.

People are getting tired of me, I know. It's obvious. Their faces, every time I come out on the balcony. Their hushed whispers, every time I float by in my white sundress. In spring and summer, I wear that white sundress. Kyle always says I looked nice in it.

In autumn, and when the weather gets a little chilly, I slip on a small lavender cardigan. It smells of lavender flowers, and if I reach into my right cardigan pocket with my icy-cold fingers, I can feel two dried flowers, old and crinkly, just like pieces of scrap paper.

In winter, it gets way too cold for me to stay out. So I retreat back to the room facing the sea, and pull on that big winter coat. And sometimes, I press my nose against the collar and inhale deeply. Breathe in, breathe out. I can smell him - that musty, old smell of lemon aftershave. It gets fainter by the day, and I can feel him slipping away from me.

It's Monday today. At least, I think it is, because that's what it says when I turn on the television and flip to the news channel. The house smells of freshly-brewed coffee, cornflakes, milk, bananas and raspberries. Kyle loves raspberries. I don't, not quite, but it's an acquired taste.

It's Monday today. The radio plays in the kitchen, and 'Rainy Days & Mondays' by The Carpenters come on. I turn it off. It's not a rainy day today, and Mondays never ever get me down.

I'm waltzing around the house, in my light-blue bathrobe; my honey-coloured hair piled up in a messy bun - just the way Kyle likes it.

You look beautiful today, honey, he says from the living room. He's watching the news channel, the volume turned down low so that he wouldn't disturb me much.

"How would you know," I reply, teasingly, from the kitchen, "You haven't seen me yet since you got up. And I've been in the kitchen since seven."

Oh, I know you are, he insists. I can almost hear that smile of his in his voice. I married you, didn't I?

"Now really?" I say; my smile now a wide grin. I come out of the kitchen, a pot of coffee in one hand, a tray of food in the other. "So if I were ugly, you wouldn't have married me at all?"

I know this conversation by heart. We have it every morning. I set the table, my back carefully facing him, and count.

One…two…three…

Nonsense; Kyle murmurs, slipping his arms around my waist, and pressing his lips against the back of my neck. His lips are like ice.

I would have married you all the same, he says, because you're beautiful in and out. And even if you weren't beautiful out, you'd still be beautiful in, and that's all that matters.

I feel my insides grow warm and tingly, just like the first time we met in college, just like every other time I laid my eyes on him. I close my eyes, and inhale his fresh lemon aftershave, a smell that is purely Kyle. It seems strong and overwhelming, and I know that he's not going anywhere.

"Come, sit," I say, moving away from his embrace and planting myself next to the coffee pot. "Let's eat."

Kyle lays his rough hand on my head. Not today, love, he says, I've got to get to sea early.

"Alright then, have fun." I respond, and turn to face the TV.

He takes a scone from the table, and a handful of raspberries. I hear him moving behind me - pulling on sailors' cap and adjusting his shirt neatly in front of the mirror. His movements are swift, smooth; like sinister shadows slithering in the dark.

Finally, he is done, and I know he is, because he swoops down and presses a cool kiss to my cheek. "I'm off then. Wait for me, Sophia."

My insides melt all over again. I simply adore the way he says my name, the way he calls me so-fy-ia instead of so-fea, the way other people do. I turn around to say good-bye and to blow a kiss at him, but when the apartment door's already swinging shut.

He's gone.

I sigh and shake my head fondly. Kyle is always rushing off to work, always eager to be the best sailor and earn more money to make me happy.

He says that someday, he'll buy that old, dilapidated lighthouse on the cliff a couple of miles from here. And the two of us, and our kids, will rebuild that lighthouse and make it good as new. And Kyle, he'll be the captain of the ship, and I'll be there to guide him home every night.

I spend the rest of the morning cleaning the house and playing my piano. I'm just in the middle of 'The Swan', when the doorbell rings. I go to the door and open it.

It's my mother.

"Hey, Mom," I greet, and hug her tightly.

"Sophia." She says, softly. I find her voice odd. Mom is never soft-spoken. She has always been a hard, tough nut to crack. I'm her only daughter, but she treats me like a business client sometimes. "I brought Sheppard's pie today."

"That's great, Mom."

I guide her to the coffee table. She opens up her box of food and I go into the kitchen to get some plates.

"How are you doing today, Sophia?" She calls, from the living room.

Goodness, she's even asking how I'm doing. This is strange, really strange. Mom is never this caring.

"Good," I answer, carefully. I walk out of the kitchen, and place the plates, forks and spoons on the table. "Very good."

"What have you been doing all day?"

"Oh, the usual." I smile slightly, and sit down. "Sweeping and dusting the house, doing the laundry, playing the piano."

"I see," She says, and starts ladling out the Sheppard's pie onto my plate.

"Oh, go easy on the pie, Mom," I say. "I had too much breakfast, and I'm still a little full."

"Oh? And why is that?"

The worry in her voice stops me. I glance up from the food, and look into her clear blue eyes. There are furrow lines etched in her forehead, and silvery wisps in her hair. She's been worrying too much.

"Because Kyle left for sea early this morning."

Mom flinches. An almost invisible movement, but I catch it anyway. Her pupils dilate, and she looks away from me, staring out towards the balcony instead.

"Mom?"

She sets her spoon down, and stands, her arms crossed tightly against her chest.

"Mom!"

She completely ignores me. Worried, I reach out to touch her, but she moves away from me.

"Mom." I say, and go to her, "What's going on?"

She turns to stare at me, and I almost keel over at the sight of the haunted look in her eyes. "Sophia, I…" She trails off.

"What?" I ask, persistently, grabbing gently at her arm. "What is it? You can tell me anything, Mom. I can handle it."

She stares at me. "Sophia. I have told you five-hundred-and-eighty-seven times before, and I'm telling you once again."

I nod. "Yes? What is it?"

"Kyle's dead. He's been dead five-hundred-and-eighty-seven days ago. You've been waiting for him for five-hundred-and-eighty-seven days. You've been pretending he's alive for five-hundred-and-eighty-seven days. It's time to stop, Sophia. Stop waiting, and stop pretending. Kyle's dead."

Kyle. Dead. Me. Waiting. Me. Pretending. Five-hundred-and-eighty-seven days. Kyle. Dead. Dead. Dead. The words keep spinning around my head, like a merry-go-round. Dead. Dead. Dead.

I feel the world around me start to collapse. The piano, the coffee pot, the bathrobe, the television, the leftover plate of raspberries all turn to dust. Gone. Gone. Gone. There's nothing left, but me and this apartment filled with dust. The dust of five-hundred-and-eighty-seven days ago.

I sink down to my knees. "He's dead?" I whisper to myself. "Really, truly dead?"

My mother's arms encircle me. "Really, truly, Sophia."

My mother leaves several minutes later, after I show no sign of getting up. And when she's gone, in the midst of the silence and dust in my apartment, I start to cry. And cry. And cry.

Cry as all the memories start rushing back to me in an instant. All the memories of that last day, where he left and I didn't say goodbye. All the memories of the way the coffee smelt when freshly brewed, the way the clock on the wall chimed a tune when it was seven in the morning, the way the news broadcaster greeted a cheerful "Hello!" that day.

When I'm done crying, and I've dried my tears, something comes to mind. I remember how no one ever found him. He was lost at sea somewhere. He still is.

Wait for me, Sophia.

How could I have been so stupid? Kyle has told me to wait. He's going to come, and I'm sure of it. With that new-found hope in my heart, I stand and walk out to the balcony. I'm waiting for Kyle.

There are some things people do not talk about, do not choose to see. One of them is me.

I see the same people; see their inquisitive faces, prying eyes brimming with curiosity. What's going on; they want to know; why are you still here? You can almost hear their thoughts; hear the echoes of their thoughts in the waves and in the wind.

What's going on? Why am you still here, Sophia?

"I'm waiting for Kyle," I answer the waves and the wind. "I'm waiting for Kyle till he gets home."

That's my girl, Sophia. I hear him say. That's my girl. I knew you'd always wait for me.

I smile. He's somewhere out there, somewhere lost in the massive waves, stormy seas and massive ocean. And until he comes home, I'm not leaving.

"Better not make me wait for too long, Kyle." I murmur, blowing my hair out of my eyes and scanning the horizon for him.

I'll be back soon, and you won't even know I'm gone. It's been five-hundred-and-eighty-seven days…but who's counting?

"I am."

And so it goes, on and on, me and Kyle, talking to each other across oceans and seas.

When it gets dark at night, I turn on the night lamp in my bedroom and go to sleep. I'm slipping in between the rifts of consciousness and slumber, when Kyle comes in.

He's home.

He leans over, and presses his cool lips against my cheek. Sweet dreams, beautiful.

"I knew you'd be back." I murmur, without opening my eyes and finally allow myself to drift off to sleep.

Tomorrow, everything will go back to normal.

Tomorrow, I will wake up at seven to make breakfast, and we'll have cereal, bananas, coffee and raspberries.

Tomorrow, I'll wear my light-blue bathrobe and tie my hair up in a messy bun.

Tomorrow, we'll tease each other with our usual lovely banters - me in the kitchen, him in the living room.

Tomorrow, he'll say I look beautiful. I'll accuse him of marrying me only because I'm beautiful, but he'll say that's nonsense.

Tomorrow, he'll call me beautiful in, and say that that's all that matters.





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