The door was ajar and light was seeping in from outside. Love’s shadow was no longer in sight and my vision was getting blurry. I lay there naked, cradling myself amidst the pool of tears that was starting to form around me.
“Cry. Go on. There’s nothing wrong with it. That’s where you’re good at anyway,” Pain said as she came in and lay beside me.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“Blah blah blah, he wasn’t even good for you. He was a deadweight that threatened to drown you, you’re better off without him. He’s toxic and you deserve better,” Bitterness muttered to my right. He was silenced by Sadness who sat beside me and shared the tears that were uncontrollably cascading down my cheeks.
The door flew open as Anger stormed his way inside, “Get up! Stop crying! Who does he think he is?!” He shoved Pain and Sadness aside and held me up by the arm. “I’ll hold him while you punch and kick him. Yell at him! Curse at him! Kick him on the balls and show him who’s boss!”
“That’s enough,” a calm voice cut through Anger’s rampage. There was silence as Indifference entered the room. He walked towards me and wiped my tears away. “You need time alone. Everyone get out,” he commanded and they quietly made their way outside.
“Leave the door open,” I whispered and closed my eyes. The room became quiet and still; there was nothing– I was nothing as I sat there with my head between my knees and crippled by the nothingness that was becoming of my existence.
“I figured you needed some company,” I heard a voice say. I looked up and saw Pain make her way to me. She was clad in thick battle armor with a scar running down her left cheek. She sat beside me and I flinched at the contact of skin and cold steel. “Sorry,” she muttered. We were silent, neither one of us saying anything, only our synchronized breathing gave noise to the void that surrounded us.
“Why are you dressed like that?” I asked.
“Like you’re off to war.”
She gave a faint laugh. “I come in many forms, this is just one of them.”
She sighed. “Love, is a great big war. And wars are fought by warriors like me– like us.”
“I don’t think I understand.”
“I come in many forms to different people but that doesn’t mean one man’s pain is greater than the other. For soldiers like me, the greatest pain does not come from dying in the battlefield– it comes much earlier than that; when we have to leave the ones we love. Wounds from battles are physical pain we can tolerate but the pain that comes from leaving, that pain is the most unbearable one– the one that wounds and scars you from the inside.”
We talked. That was all we did. We talked about the past lives she has lived; about the forms she took and about the people, like me, she has met. We talked about the time she was most bearable to the ones that was the most excruciating. We talked as Time became unforgiving and let hundreds of suns and moons pass over us. We talked until her armor fell to the floor one by one, until she was wrapped in nothing but a silk robe. We talked until I got to know Pain. And we talked until I got tired of her.
“I don’t want you here anymore,” I told her one day. Her reaction wasn’t the one I pictured in my head. When I told her to leave, she simply nodded her head, gathered her belongings and left. As simple as that. And when she left, a shadow loomed over the door and quietly came in. I didn’t notice him until he sighed deeply.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
“It’s me,” he answered. It was Indifference. “Don’t worry, I won’t bother you like Pain did,” he said and leaned on the wall, head hung low and arms folded in front of him.
That was all he did; he didn’t talk, he didn’t move, he didn’t do anything as Time let a hundred suns and moons pass over us. And that was what I also did; I didn’t talk, I didn’t move, I didn’t do anything. And surprisingly, I liked it. Our silent ritual enveloped me in a haze I couldn’t quite explain. In that darkness, I have become one with nothingness and in my crippled sense of feeling nothing, I have become a paradox by feeling everything.
“I have a question,” I said out of nowhere.
“No questions. No talking,” he replied without moving.
“If you say one more word I’m leaving.”
“Can I just–”
“That’s it.” And as simple as that, he left. He left with no goodbyes, no hugs, no nothing. He left with my arms wide open for him, arms outstretched in sorrowful wanting. He left with the door wide open, his back becoming a silhouette, his shadow slowly swallowed by the darkness. He left, just like how Love left. And there I was again, sitting bare naked on the floor and as quickly as he left, Sadness came rushing in just in time for my tears to flood the whole room.
And that was all we did. We cried as Time let the suns and moons witness the pathetic state we were both in. We cradled each other, day and night. Seldom, Anger would come in and wreak havoc which would drive Sadness away. She’d come back not long enough and fight with Anger. This went on and on.
“I’m tired,” I told both of them one day. They were in the middle of their argument, each holding the other’s hair, when I burst it out.
“What do you mean?” asked Sadness.
“You want me to knock some sense into you?” bellowed Anger.
“It means I’m done crying and being mad at the world,” I sighed.
They looked at each other in amazement.
“It means that I’m done. I don’t want you here anymore,” I whispered. Sadness nodded her head and wiped a tear from her cheek as she went out, followed by Anger who was cursing and throwing her fist in the air.
The room became still and quiet again, light from outside seeped in from the half open door.
“What now?” I said to myself.
“Now you wait,” a voice outside said. Light came pouring in as the door opened fully. It hurt my eyes and amidst my squinting, I saw the silhouette of two figures coming inside.
“Wait for what?” I asked.
“For whatever it is the universe has in store for you,” answered Acceptance.
“But the universe hates me. I was not built for waiting. It’s a miracle you’re here,” I pointed towards Patience. He laughed and shook his head. “You’re a funny one aren’t you?”
“Anyway, we have to go. We can’t stay,” Acceptance said as she planted a kiss on my forehead.
“Why can’t you stay? Even for a while?” I asked.
“Because we aren’t like the others. We are not here to stay and help you with our presence– we help you through our absence,” Patience answered as he held my shoulder.
“What do you mean?”
“It means that we are something that you have to give yourself. Something only you can learn. We are not teachers, we can’t teach you patience and acceptance but rather, we can only show you what we are like. It is up to you if you want to create within yourself the patience and acceptance for things beyond your control,” she said.
“Do you understand now?” he asked.
“It’s a little confusing but I think I do. Thank you,” I smiled at them as they walked towards the door.
I went back to my place at the center of the room and noticed that what once I thought was an endless void of darkness around me wasn’t as abysmal as I thought it was. My self-made prison wasn’t as dark as it was before; it felt lighter and better – I felt lighter and better.
I waited for more visitors; suns and moons came and went but no one came, the door became as empty as I was before, a door with no silhouettes or shadows to fill the threshold.
“Patience,” I whispered sarcastically, “Yeah right.” I rolled my eyes and sat on the floor. My head started to drift away when I began to hear footsteps outside. I felt a surged of unexplainable emotion course through my body until I realized those footsteps sounded familiar. I’ve always thought about the moment that was about to happen many times but I never really imagined it would come true. But there I was, moments away from seeing him again. The footsteps stopped as a silhouette stood by the door.
“Hello,” I whispered.
“Hi,” Love replied. I thought the familiarity of his voice, of his warmth, his touch, his skin, his everything was going to bring Pain back. But it didn’t.
“How are you? You look well. As always,” I almost choked as I said this but managed to keep my composure.
“I’m doing good. And you look magnificent as well,” he answered. “May I come in?” he asked. This was it. This was the moment I have always imagined ever since he left– the moment he will come walking back through the same door he walked away from. I slowly stood up, hands sweating, labored breathing, knees shaking as I struggled to keep a steady composure.
We just stared at each other, deep breaths, piercing eyes, enveloped in silence.
“So, may I come in?” he repeated.
I closed my eyes and smiled at him. I took a deep breath and said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea now.”
“Oh, I see,” he sounded defeated. “Is someone else in there with you?” he asked.
“No, it’s just me.”
“I see,” he whispered. “In that case, I’ll be going now.”
“No, wait!” I suddenly said and immediately regretted it. When he left, I was left with words going down my throat, words I wanted him to hear, words that were choking the life out of me. But now, having him right in front of me, having been through the ordeal that he made me go through, there was nothing left of what I want to let him hear. There was nothing left of him inside me. There was nothing left.
“What is it?” he asked and I smiled.
I took a deep breath and said, “I wish you well. Goodbye,” I said. He smiled and walked away. He was about to close the door behind him when I said, “Don’t. Leave it open, please.” He did and once again, his back became nothing but a silhouette until it became a shadow swallowed by the darkness beyond but this familiar scene didn’t bring back any familiar feeling.
I sat back on the floor and expected the tears to come but it didn’t, expected Sadness or Anger or anyone for that matter to come running through the door but no one did. It was just me now. Me, an empty room and a wide open door. The room was silent and still once again, with my head between my knees. I dozed off.
I was awoken by the sound of quiet footsteps. It grew quieter as it grew nearer until it completely stopped. I felt someone looming over me and when I looked up, I saw a hand outstretched towards me. I took it and he helped me get up.
“Let’s try again, shall we?” Hope said with a smile on his face. He didn’t let go as he led me outside.