Close friend

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I was lying with my eyes closed. Her hands braided my skull. I felt the heat in the middle of my head, and under the eyelids I saw the colors. First, a bright color that distracted slowly as if I was pulling it inwards with a wave. Then white-seledin, which after a long moment passed into pink-purple calm and pleasant tone. I began to breathe to the rhythm of her audible breath. I was safe like never before. Hot tears flowed from my eyes: “I would like you to hold my head when I will give my last breath – promise me.” I heard, “I’ll do what I can.”

We’ve know each other for 35 years. We don’t remember our first meeting because we were certainly just as scared of the circumstances. We went to high school. Behind the Vistula River. Away from home. All the time in school we remember through the fog. Disliked headteacher – an artist who attacked students with all his wrong life decisions. My uncontrollable shaking of the head before answering in English. Having tests together, during she told me all the information needed to pass. Fear of not being allowed to high school leaving exams. I switched to another school a semester before graduation. She didn’t left me after “school life”.

Then her wedding, and shortly after it mine. I remember her swollen legs in the hospital before the birth of her first daughter. And one of my most important performance during my studies, for which she came to Bydgoszcz. Each in the role of wife, then divorcee. The most painful tears poured into the arm of the other. Walking in the woods: barefoot, with her arms stretched up – cause she were afraid of spiders. Staying in the sauna: she pours a bucket of ice on her head, I laugh at her at the right distance trying not to become deaf.

At night, after my mother’s death: “Do you want come to you? It will be better, if you will not drive a car now. Tomorrow morning I will go with you wherever you need and want.”

I remember before every Christmas Eve she found time to come up for a moment with an orange candlestick or gingerbread of her own work, just to hug on the occasion of the holidays. The first signs of menopause – a phone call to her. And a joint trip to Warsaw to the airport. Last hug before leaving the hotel. No words, only smiles through tears.

If I could write what I hear when I’m thinking about her at bedtime:

(definitely) “Oh stop!”

(quieter) “Remember, we are always alone in the end.”

(with a smile) “And do not forget: you need to think positively.”

Thousands of kilometers apart. I see her quickly correcting her own trimmed bangs before “teleconference” on WhatsApp. The tone of the voice says everything about the current emotions, so we put on the headphones. We look at the screen and did not notice how we are changing. For ourselves – we stay the same. In a few days I will hang a bell in my garden. She has the same in her. When the wind blows, the sounds will move far away – to my friend.

I live with the hope that I will feel the warmth of her hand on my head again. Maybe she will come for the holidays, or maybe she will touch my hair only when it will be necessary…
photo: Aneta Paluszkiewicz

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