You told me you’ll come back, eventually. You said the waters will get calmer and we’ll sail through. I loved you. I’ll wait, I said. While you were gone, I spent time walking around, tracing the streets meticulously, like you used to trace the lines on my hand.
Eventually, I got tired of walking by myself. I started building a home in your memory. It was all over the place, at first, but it took shape slowly, quite like how I fell for you. I knew you’ll always have a place to yourself in my heart.
I spent afternoons lazing around in the hall of our flaws and all our mistakes. In winters, the warmth of the memory of holding you was enough, really. I could last a thousand winters remembering the smile on your face. It was the warmest thing I knew. Perhaps, that is why I went out of my way to make sure I saw as much of it as possible. I loved you more for myself than you.
Maybe, that was the start of where we went wrong. Or maybe, we were never right at all. I never thought of it that way until, like all good things that overstay their welcome, the house got old. The years took their toll but the house stood, albeit the plaster on the walls started to crack; the paint, once bright and beautiful was now dull and melancholic.I lived in a nightmare of my own making, clinging to days I could barely remember myself, but I was living, and that was enough.
Then, one day, you showed up at my door. Everything lit up, as it should have. The house became how it used to be. I made you coffee and we sat, talking. We talked about how life had fared, about everything.
Finally, I asked if you remembered the promise. You said it had been a passing thought at best. I smiled and said I understood.
When you left, the illusion broke. The floorboards creaked until they gave in. The walls fell on each other. The house collapsed. It took its time, but the memory died too.
I took my time, but I left, eventually. Now, I live in a place of my own. The light is astonishing, really. The other day, I passed the ruins of all I ever felt for you. I stopped for a bit, staring. A boy walked around, too. He asked me, “do you know who lives there?”
“A ghost,” I said.