I just want to say thank-you to everyone that has stuck by the Meringues through the hiatus. Hopefully now we can continue as usual.
Sitting on the bathroom floor with the cool tiles against my face I felt another rush of nausea as I quickly pushed myself up and back toward the toilet. Losing sum of my stomach for the second time that day there was not a thing in the world that I’d rather do at that moment than crawl onto the couch where I glimpsed Sanguinello on as I got ready for work. All day I had been fighting this feeling that I just couldn't shake. Like a shadow it had been crawling all over me creeping and crawling through my intestines to my stomach as it latched on closer and tighter on to me. It took all my strength just to pick myself up from the floor rather than just to lie down and let it consume me while I thought about trying to fall into arms that only seemed to want to push me away lately. And that only made me want to be there even so much more. I made a mental note to call his aunt on one of my breaks with a slight twinge of guilt. I didn't want to bother her on her honeymoon since she had finally found and married a man that adored her. But I couldn't keep living like this; Sanguinello couldn't keep living like this. It was time to buck up and admit that he needed help that I couldn't give him. He was beyond my fixing and I was beginning to feel incredibly naive for thinking that I could even do that in the first place. I just needed everything to stay and then when she got back everything would get better. He might hate me for doing it but I could deal with that. I could deal with him being temporarily angry with me if it would just make things better.
There was something in the wind that evening that made me shiver even though it was still a warm and balmy night as I wrapped my arms around myself to warm up a little. A feeling that I didn’t quite know exactly what it was came over me and lingered throughout the evening. Trying to shake it off I threw myself in to my work at the gallery but all my efforts were for nothing. My phone battery died on the way to work so there went calling Sanguinello on my break. I often used that time as a means to check up on him on the pretense that I would be either telling him when I was going to be leaving to come home or what he wanted me to pick up for dinner on my way home. My boss was nice enough to let me charge it in her office so I left it there until I got a chance to call him. But I never made it to my break that night and I never did retrieve my phone.
As soon as I saw the two policemen speaking to my boss I knew what the feeling was that I had been having all night that lingered over like a dark cloud. It was dread and uncertainty. I tried to think of a reason why they would be there but couldn't come up with one that had to do with anything good. There was still a small chance that they weren't here for me but in the back of my mind I couldn't shake the feeling that they were. Anytime the police come to your job you know that it’s because something bad has happened. As the three of them caught my eye I turned to walk away in a meager attempt to avoid what was coming next. Clutching my empty tray close to my chest I barely breathed while my heart skipped more than a beat as I heard my name being called quietly by my boss as he discreetly motioned for me to come over. Looking back it was stupid to think that I could just walk away from it. As if it all could just easily avoided by doing something as little as changing the path that my feet would treded upon. Turning back around I tried to plaster a fake smile on my face as I faced two officers who wanted to speak to me outside about something. I felt the chill of icy fingers run down my spine before they settled back around my stomach to turn it into knots.
I don’t even remember what phone number I gave them when they asked me if I would like to call someone to pick me up. A numbing coldness enveloped me as I sat waiting a prisoner in my own thoughts. The whole building could have caught fire but I was so very far away though I was very rooted to the chair that I sat in.
“Starry? What’s wrong? What’s happened?” My cousin Shadow Sea voice came slowly and quietly as the mention of my name being spoken by him pushed aside all the thoughts that were clouding my mind. ”I got here quickly as possible. What happened? An officer called my house and told me that I had to come down here to pick you up.”
Looking up at him I saw Shadow more unkempt than I had ever seen him before. Lost was his neatly slicked back hair, the always perfectly put together outfit completely with a tie and a freshly smooth saved face that always had a timid hint of aftershave. Replacing all of that was a shaggy uncombed hair, grisliness and wrinkled clothes that consisted of sweatpants and a tee shirt both of which had seen better and cleaner days. All the details were practically jumping off of him as I noticed each and every one of them instead of giving him an answer as I allowed for the cop to take the lead in explaining, the burden lifted temporarily off my figuratively busted and broken shoulders. It was just easier looking at each and every one of those little red flags as I tried to analyze them than admitting what had happened tonight while I was at work. So I focused in on them and pondered it out while the world kept on going. I don’t think I had ever known the day that I had seen him without a crisply starched and ironed buttoned up collared shirt with a matching tie. This all hinted towards something that I should have known but at that moment my mind ran blank.
Looking at him on the car ride to my parents I remembered a day long ago that he had called practically everyone in our family just to tell them that he had found the one, the one that he was going to spend the rest of his life with. It was so unusual and unlike him but there he was declaring his love for Rowan to just about anyone that would listen. We were all so naive to think that we had it all and that it would last forever. But what did we know we were all young and in love. We did have it all, just not the common sense to ever think that it would end. That it would one day be over in ways that we would have never dreamed of. Now in these distant years down the long road they had broken up barely even a month ago, I remembered. It all seemed so silly, in fact right now everything seemed silly and rather pointless.
I never did go back to our apartment. That night Shadow Sea took me back to my parents’ house. We drove for what seemed like hours but was only a 45 minute ride in silence and there I stayed. Even as the funeral approached I remained not wanting for a moment to go back there. And To me it was a place that now housed my broken life.
The funeral passed by in a motion filled blur as people that hadn't really been in my life came in only to exit as quickly as they came. Sure everyone was full of ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘If there is anything I can do’ but at the end of the day they were home comfortable in their own houses while I was nursing the pain of loving the love of my life. My mother tried to be helpful in mentioning something I already knew but I wasn't like my great, great grandfather the famed artist. Sanguinello never visited me in my s dreams like his wife supposedly haunted his. Practically every artist knew of their tragic story though I’m not sure that I believed in all of that anyway. But there wasn't one piece of me that wouldn't give everything that I could to get Sanguinello to visit mine. No instead my dreams were filled with the night of his death when I had to go identify him. Every night I would have to relive it. So I tried my hardest not to sleep but it would never work and I’d find myself going through the motions of that night again.
Quietly after we walked outside and away from the gala they informed me that I was needed to help identify a body. Thoughts swirled around in my head as I sought to figure out why they would need my help rather than anyone else’s. But it became all too clear as the mortician opened the cooler, pulled the body tray out and with a clean flick of his wrist briskly whisked away the blanket displaying the berry that was underneath it. It looked as if he was peacefully sleeping; his hair was disheveled as usual but had that look that it would get from deeply snuggle into all the blankets pulling them over his head to cocoon himself away as he slept. But I knew he wasn't sleeping even though that was all I wanted to believe from the moment I saw him. By now bruises and other painful wounds had crept up on his body forming dark patches all along his broken body. Even though they had laid him so nicely on the table it was hard not to see just how broken his body was. There was no coming back.
Words from a literature class came back to me easily as if waiting for a moment to spring upon me, finally finding it this one. I could practically hear my teacher’s voice the same as the day they were spoken, tired as if she was counting down till the bell rung too.Go, get thee hence, for I will not away. What's here? a cup, closed in my true love's hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end. O churl! Drunk all, and left no friendly drop. To help me after? I will kiss thy lips; Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, To make me die with a restorative. I had scoffed at them as our teacher asked us what they meant. I remembered thinking that Julep had been some really stupid girl to go and kill herself after finding him the man that she was risking everything for dead. Never did I understand how someone could be moved that way. But only now did I begin to understand how she felt. The sense of loss that she knew as she saw the man that she loved lifeless body never to stir again, never to smile or look upon her with his heart in his eyes so vulnerable but oh so determined. Those words haunted me as I confirmed that, that indeed was my husband. Echoing in my mind making it think things that on any normal given day I would have slapped the sugar out of myself for even entertaining such thoughts. Though here I was and there he was, separated now forever, severed from each other any connection that we once had was now gone because he was gone. And right then and there I would have done almost anything to be with him. But it just seemed all so surreal and like a bad dream. This couldn't be happening at any moment I could wake up and everything would be ok.
“It will be ok. Everything will be ok.” My mind was hard at work relentlessly refusing to accept what had actually happened. It shot to think of wild and crazy ideas of how he could still be alive and that everyone else was mistaken. That at any given moment he was going to open his eyes. And I was assuring him that everything would be fine because in my mind everything was going to be. In my mind there couldn't be a world without him. It was just too foreign of an idea for me to even comprehend. That is until I had to leave. Then it was all I knew, all that was real. He was gone. Sanguinello is gone. The words sank further into my mind as I forgot where I was or that there was even anyone around me
“NO STOP He needs me! STOP! Don’t make me leave! I can’t go! HE NEEDS ME! I CAN’T LEAVE HIM! Get off! Get the fudge off of me! Sanguinello!” And then it would end with me being pulled away. The arm wrapped around my waist in what felt like an weighted iron grip pulling at me as I was being taken away. The quietly irritating noise of their voices attempting to calm and soothe me felt like it was physically pressing down on me, smothering my ability to even breathe. But no I had to be louder. I had to do something I couldn't let myself go but I was already gone, so far gone. I was lost in hysteria as I withered and twisted as hard as I could to get away from them but it was of no use. “I… he… no, no no! I can’t… Not without him… Please no…Sanguinello no… I would have…I would have gone with you…”
So to say that I wanted to see him was an understatement. I wanted him to save me from these dreams but how could he when I couldn't even save him from himself. I blamed myself for what had happened and I guess it was guilt that would swallow me up every night because I had nothing else besides it. I failed him, it was plain and simple as that. Of course his aunt would say otherwise when I finally admitted this to her. It sometimes felt like she was the only one that understood and cared as much as I did about him. In truth she also blamed herself but she confided me that this was not the first time he had tried to kill himself. I soon found out when he said that he told me everything that, that wasn't exactly the truth. When in fact he had long string of attempts since he was barely a teenager. There had been small incidents where is seemed like he was testing the boundaries of life, the ones that could be passed off as an accident. Then there were the more serious ones were he almost succeeded and ones that you couldn't deny what he just tried to do. His last was after his parent's gave up custody of him. My first day of school when I first saw him and assumption that he was writing someone a letter was correct just not the kind I had even wanted to think that he would be capable of writing.
But in a moment everything changed when he looked up as he tried to think of a word that was on the tip of his tongue. We saw each other for the first time. After he fell he went straight to his aunt’s house and gave her the book that contained the letter and all of those thoughts that he had written down. He told her that he had seen a girl with blue hair that even without speaking a word made him wanted to go through the dance once again of trying to get better. Someone that could love him with all his faults. But I never did get that chance to. Because eventually those faults like a poison began to eat away at him, replacing everything with the paranoia of me leaving him because of them if I ever found out everything. And then after that had become cemented into Sanguinello's mind it was like he was living on borrowed time. As hard as it was I had to accept I couldn't have seen this coming and that meant I couldn't have prevented it when I was under the assumption that he had never gotten it that badly.
But when I began to accept what had happened I moved out of the stage of denial and straight into anger. I don't think there ever was a time that I had felt so much anger towards one berry as I did a month later.