The silence was deafening, but the earth trembled beneath my feet. Where were these words coming from: these heart-breaking words of goodbye that seemed so foreign to me? Words, I thought, that would only make sense to a heart of stone. Their power over me was appalling. Never had anything taken me so off-guard and at such vulnerability.
My voice had disappeared altogether, choked back by the hateful serpent that had unleashed its strength upon the weakening organ in my chest. It squeezed and tightened until I thought for sure that it would break and spill all of it’s bloody emotion in front of him. Then would he see? Would the whole world see?
But, alas, no such terror occurred. I remained silent and stock still, consumed by a trance of confusion. Here, I thought, I might stand forever, long after he has departed, and contemplate the simple mysteries and true phenomena of the word ‘goodbye”.
A simple word, really; a compound of the words ‘good’ and ‘bye’, which really have no business being combined. For what is good about having to leave those you love, those you admire and care for? What is ‘good’ about never seeing someone again? Or for that matter, what is the meaning of goodbye? In it’s context, does it mean “see you soon” or “I’ll never see you again.” Does its usage entail forever or just for a short while. Surely it is an implication of departure, but so much more power and meaning lies behind that horrendous word.
All this I pondered as he stood before me, silent as the cold fireplace. The fireplace that has died out and the warm snapping and crackling of hot wood has long since ceased. It is the darkest part of night, when one wakes up from their pleasant dreams and finds themselves cold and blinded by the sudden obscurity. Even a lone ember left in the black ash can renew some of the past flame and cast away the haunting fear.
Searching his eyes, I found no such spark of hope, but instead a hint of sadness and regret, mostly regret. Regret for what? For leaving me behind so suddenly, even though we knew this day would come? For ever loving me in the first place? What was there to regret, aside from saying “goodbye.”
I backed away from the darkness surrounding his person and in so doing, let it envelop me, until I too became emotionless and able to exhibit a false understanding of what was happening.
It’s a mysterious thing, losing someone you love. Sometimes the path is slow and mercifully obvious, Other times, its quick and curiously sudden, as was my case. I had known this day would come, but I had tucked it away deep in the caverns of my mind and had passed it off as one of those forbidden and forgotten truths that never come true. That is, until the day they do and you are staring it straight in the face.
I’ll have to find another ride home, was my next thought. How unordinary it is to think such a practical thought in the midst of such an awkward situation. Yet there it was, completely comfortable among the millions of other impossible questions and metaphoric answers.
“Goodbye,” he whispered for the last time. That word again! The simplicity and complexity of it so entangled that even the world’s greatest mind could not define it. But in the black hole of confusion that I found myself in, of all places, its meaning was clear. Somehow, all the foreign syllables had rearranged themselves into a concept I understood.
‘Goodbye’ meant no more fighting over what music to listen too; what game to play; what movie to watch. ‘Goodbye’ meant no more nights spent cuddling on the couch and jumping apart when my mother walked into the room. ‘Goodbye’ meant no more ridiculously long rides home, taking every back road possible, just to spend every waning second together. ‘Goodbye’ meant no more comforting embraces or Hollywood-worthy moments of romance. ‘Goodbye’ meant that there was no more wood for the fireplace and only cold nights left in an uncertain future.
As he drove away, my emotionless dam opened up and let loose the raging water that fell from my eyes, and the cold wind that he had shielded me from for so long passed through my unprotected heart. ‘Goodbye’ meant that he was gone and I, in my unpreparedness and uncertainty, was left alone.
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