02 – The Rest is Silence

Grissom returns home from his time with Heather Kessler to the frustrating realization of how very little everything has changed and how impotent he is at the moment to do anything about it.

Part of the Metamorphosis series. Follows “Stasis.” Post episode 905, “Leave Out All the Rest,” circa November 2008.

******

I wonder as I step into the almost sepulchral silence when exactly coming home stopped feeling like a homecoming.

It wasn’t the first time after the day you left, or the next, or the one after that. It just was one day. One day that I opened the door to more than just the physical emptiness.

The clang of keys against the table and the bang of the door seeming to slam shut behind me are the only signs that I have managed to move at all. Hank tugs me forward into the dimness, the single lamp by the door providing the only light. He is impatient to begin what I imagine we both know to be the fruitless search for any sign of you here. I let him.

I don’t bother to hang up my coat, knowing all to well that it won’t be all that long before I have to take it up again. I simply shrug it off and drape it over the banister as I descend in the near darkness into the kitchen.

After Warrick and then you gone, I find myself strangely more and more and less and less all at once. More and more, I don’t have the words, and less and less, is there anything I can do.

I just don’t know anymore.

Know what to say or think or do or feel.

No one else it seems knows either.

So I am left wondering if it is better, an improvement, if the paralyzing numbness has given way to aching emptiness.

I have lived on my own for much of my fifty-two odd years, and yet, I cannot remember feeling as utterly alone as I do now.

When you were here, the sometimes topsy-turvy havoc you wrecked upon the carefully constructed compartments that made up my life brought more bemusement than consternation. But the days of you gone having turned into weeks, more than seven weeks now, I find the chaos that your leaving left to be overwhelming.

I flick on the kitchen lamp, relieved in some ways that it does not much illuminate the vacant space and proceed to replace the water in Hank’s dish.

It seems that all I can do these days is go through the motions.

And everyday is a long day.

Yet, the long shifts, extra shifts, they don’t seem to make the time pass any easier. For the work provides no comfort, no real respite or distraction anymore.

I find I am starting to prefer the solitary seclusion of my office to the science; paperwork to people. Paperwork is blissfully indifferent to how you are doing. It asks no questions that you can’t provide an easy answer to; never questions your responses or lack there of.

Not making a decision was making a decision.

I can still hear the recrimination in your voices, yours and Heather’s both. In hers, too, is that of dread warnings come too late and in yours, I’m not sure I want to know what.

You act as if I really had a choice.

Do you honestly believe that if I had a choice, a real choice, I would have chosen this? Do you think, really think, that this is what I wanted for my life? For you? For us?

I wanted —

So many things I guess.

But most of all, I just wanted for things to go back the way they were. Life seemed so much simpler then, an innocent time, one that seems more like a dream now than anything, a dream that I have woken up from into a world I really don’t know anymore or understand.

And what can I really do now with you thousands of miles and half a world away?

What was I supposed to do?

How can you make a choice when you don’t realize that you have to choose?

Maybe I should have said yes.

Maybe I should have just gone.

Maybe….

But all the maybes in the world cannot change the fact that I am here and you are there and there is nothing I can do right now.

Nothing.

I suddenly find myself now living in a world of no choices.

Or one where it seems those I choose prove to be the wrong ones.

I never knew I was to get only that one moment. That, that moment, that choice was all I was going to get. My last chance. I certainly never thought of that as my last chance. I mean I know I have probably already had more chances than I deserved or have ever realized. But it didn’t even occur to me that day that in that one moment, was everything.

Right now all I can think of is too late.

That is what you said once, that by the time I figured it out, it really could be too late. Somehow I wasn’t too late then, but now…

It just can’t be too late.

Hank lumbers in, looking what has become his usual dejected self. He doesn’t even bother to take a half-hearted sniff of the food I put into his dish. He simply slumps down by my feet.

I’ve heard of pets starting to look like their owners, or perhaps, it was the other way around, but pets picking up their owner’s habits, their moods, their melancholy, I don’t remember ever quite coming across that fact in any of my reading. But maybe Patricia Alwick was right, that on some level they do resonate with what their owners are feeling.

Maybe he isn’t the only one who is disappointed to find that I am the one picking him up again every day. Maybe I am not just imagining that when Robin yells Hank, home! over her shoulder, his footfalls seem to almost tear across the tile until he turns the corner and sees me there and then his tread begins to slow and he continues on his head hung low.

An involuntary sigh escapes my lips, I pull off my glasses, pinch the bridge of my nose and close my eyes, hoping it will somehow release the pressure and provide some semblance of relief. 

It doesn’t.

But this can’t go on. It can’t.

So I kneel down next to him and rub him behind the ears and tell him he has to eat something. That this doesn’t even merit from him a lift of the head, really doesn’t surprise me. After all, I haven’t managed to tempt him to eat much even when I bring out his favorite treats.

You aren’t the only one who misses her you know, I say. Come on. I tug a little on his collar to no avail.

Please, I try, although I am not sure why, and then the truth comes out a little harsher than I intend, Not eating isn’t going to bring her back.

I am not sure if there is anything that could bring you back.

And I am suddenly struck by the hypocrisy of my trying to get Hank to eat or do much of anything, as I don’t really seem to be eating, or sleeping or doing or being anything myself.

Okay, I concede and then attempt an It’s okay. It’s going to be okay in reassurance. Which of us I am really trying to reassure, I am not sure.

I don’t think either of us believe it anyway.

*******

An involuntary shiver slinks down my spine as I begin however reluctantly to peel away the clothes I have been wearing for I don’t know how many hours now.

The shaking doesn’t surprise me; I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel even more chilled than usual. This time though it seems the cold has taken up residence in my bones. I turn the water as hot and hard as it will go before tugging the curtain closed.

Despite the steam that quickly begins to fill the room, I find I am stilled and staring at myself in the mirror. The glimpse of what I know to be my own features, and yet can’t be, gives me pause. The reflection there frowns, as I do, but although there are hairline cracks about the eyes and mouth, it seems more like a pale still mask than an actual face. The eyes that meet mine, I do not recognize at all.

I swiftly shake my head, wanting to dislodge that image and hurriedly step into the spray, hoping beyond hope perhaps to wash away what remains of the days.

How long I just stood there safely cocooned within the wash of white noise as the shower’s steady patter and pummel beat down upon me, I don’t know. Nothing it seems really gets past the almost anesthetized nothingness, not even the passage of time. But at some point, I realize that I have been standing here far too long, and even here, there are still routine motions that must be made.

When I go to reach for the soap, I accidentally knock another bottle onto the floor and the flush and rush of floral in the humid air tells me it was that last bottle of yours, the one of your shampoo that I never could quite get myself to remove.

As I hurriedly bend down to scoop the remains back into the bottle, I cannot help but breathe in deep that sweet lavender scent of you, and a momentary warmth seems to spread over me, along with the sudden flash of your smile and the hint of the whisper of your laugh. And I want nothing more at this moment than to lie in your arms and feel everything else slip away, to loose myself completely in you and never be found again.

How I find myself yearning for that, for the consummation of all my hopes and dreams.

But to be whole and no longer empty, I know, too, that is too much to hope for.

Then reality returns, crashing over me and I find that I can barely breathe, let alone think. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I can’t feel.

As I let the water wash the rest of your shampoo away, I realize that somehow, I do not know how or when or why, my life has become a series of losses. And what makes it worse is that not even for a moment, had I really treasured what I’ve lost.

I rest my head against the wall and close my eyes.

But it can’t be over, not for me. For while I cannot quite put a name to all the overwhelming emotions whirling around inside of me, relief is certainly not a feeling I am feeling right now. So if you are supposed to feel relieved when it’s over, then it can’t be over.

Maybe you feel relieved. I don’t. The last time I felt any relief at all was in that first moment of your message. In just seeing that you were okay, in hearing your voice. And in that instant, I felt the first flicker of warmth and life and breath return, only to have it extinguished by your next words.

Of all the things for you to remember –

The words I most want to forget.

Oh, god, Sara, if I could take back those words, all the words spoken in anger, take back all the times I’ve frustrated you, all the hurt and pain I’ve caused you, and turn them into words and acts and demonstrations of love I would.

*******

I change into fresh clothes. There is little reason to even attempt to sleep, so I don’t even try, but I do sink onto the edge of the mattress on my side of the bed in hopes of perhaps catching my breath.

Hank appears at my feet, peering up expectantly at me or so I think at first, but then I follow his gaze to find him staring at the phone on the bedside table.

You know, he really is better than caller id, as he whines in protest when it rings, as if he knows when the voice on the other line will not be yours.

I tug the cable from the wall and wrap it around the machine. There is no reason to keep it by the bed when there is no chance that I might fall asleep and accidentally miss your call.

But that call never came, and there was nothing. Not a word. A letter. A post card. Email. Nothing but silence, for days and weeks.

What was I supposed to do? You were just gone. You vanished. Although I suppose I should have known where you had gone, realized that you had told me. I guess you just said some things I didn’t want to hear that day and didn’t.

So what was I supposed to do during those long days, but wait and wonder and worry?

You tell me not to worry about you. How can I not worry about you? Wonder about you? Care about you?

You might as well ask me to just stop loving you.

How do you do that I wonder? Stop loving someone you have loved for so long?

Although I am not sure what love is anymore. I’m not sure I want to know.

For while I am still holding on, trying to hold on to our love, our hope, our future, it all seems to be slipping through my fingers. For all the love in the world cannot save those we love, nor keep them here and close.

But if I am being honest, really and truly honest, Sara, I am worried.

About you.

About me.

About us.

*******

I click on your message to open it and resist the temptation to play it once again, no matter how much the words hurt in the end, just so I can hear your voice and see your face and watch you smile. Instead, I click Reply and swiftly type your name, then hit return twice and then —

Nothing.

The cursor blinks expectantly.

It isn’t that I don’t have any words. The problem is I have too many, and none of them it seems, the right ones.

Why is it so hard to translate the words of the heart to the words of the page?

Part of me wants to write that Hank hasn’t been eating or sleeping. That none of the things he used to enjoy seem to interest him anymore. That he seems depressed and confused and lost without you here. That he misses you and wants you to come back. That he just can’t understand why you aren’t coming back.

I want to tell you I am not okay. That I cannot seem to sleep. I just lay there in the bed we used to share, fighting sleep, fighting the weariness until I am sure that it won’t come. But if and when it does, it brings with it only bad dreams now. Sometimes, they seem to come even when I am awake — the nightmares, or maybe they are just flashes of memories I so much want to forget returning to my mind when I least expect or am prepared for them.

So sleep it seems is as vain a hope as peace now.

I want to tell you that I miss you. I need you.

That I haven’t been able to breathe, let alone think, since you’ve left.

That I can’t seem to do this anymore, this living without you like this. That the truth is, the hardest thing in my life right now is not the ache of Warrick dead and gone, not the mad rush of work that never seems to end, not the plaguing insistency of a phone that never seems to stop ringing.

No, the hardest thing is being without you.

I want to tell you that I want to make a choice, a decision. I do. I want to be able to let go of the last of the things holding me back.

I want to write just a little longer. I want you. I want to be with you. I want to come.

But I don’t even know how or when that message would get to you.

I want to write Is it too late?

Those words of yours are the ones I can never forget: By the time you figure it out…

I want to write all this, to tell you everything, but I cannot. Not because there aren’t words. 

All I have it seems are words to haunt me now.

I cannot, because I know I cannot take away from you that happiness you so richly deserve.

Sara, how I wanted so much for you to be happy. How I want that for you. And part of me is, I can think of no other word so this will have to do, happy that you have found it.

But I guess that when I was wanting that happiness, wishing that for you, I should have specified that I wanted you to be happy with me, here with me, that I could have been the one to give you that.

I suppose the saying is true, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

So I stare at the blank message field, watch the cursor blink like some twisted metronome.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

It counts the moments, leaving in its wake only a field of blinding white unsullied by the black of type.

My eyes no longer seem to want to focus.

The phone rings. Hank whines by my feet. I close my eyes and ignore the second ring.

And the third.

I pick it up on the fourth and mechanically bark, Grissom into the phone and listen for a moment.

Then I click the reply window closed as I say, I’m on my way.

*******

Series Continued in Guilt or Grief

 

*******

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