another unsent letter

Dear H.,

This is a new day. And finally, it has arrived. But… my head is still spinning with memories.

There are so many things I will always remember about our trip. So many moments will live with me forever. The shopping… the eating… the laughs… and getting lost in L. Remember how we were all gasping with anxiety because we were almost out of gas and we couldn’t find a gas station? The whole city was closed for the night, and here we were driving around on our last droplets of gas, not knowing where the hell we were or where the next gas station was. But… we were lost together. We felt invincible. We were unafraid. 

But one of the most bizarre moments that I know I won’t ever forget happened in the aftermath. You called me, yesterday, flustered and anguished, and said, “I completely forgot S. was sitting in the back seat, Nevine. What the hell was I thinking when I said that?” And I had to ask myself, What the hell were you thinking by not thinking? But what we say can never be unsaid. And, try as you did to reverse your words, or beautify them, or fix the situation, it was beyond repair. And I was left with my foot in my mouth, listening as you beat the bruise to a pulp, not knowing what to say… or do. 

In the absurdness of the moment, I wanted to burst out laughing. That is how peculiar it was. But then, something softened inside me. At the very last moment… something. You know that cliché about pouring salt over someone’s wounds? That’s what we would’ve been doing had I laughed after you said what you said. And I would’ve been consumed by guilt. And your presence, rather than being the consolation it was supposed to be, would’ve been a pain in my soul. 

Do you not yet understand what happened? And I almost contributed to the slap you delivered. Because, you know, nobody wants to be forgotten… ever. Imagine being forgotten when your face is stamped in someone’s rearview mirror. And they’re looking right at you… right through you… as though you’re not there. And they’re saying something that makes you feel like you want to disappear and never be found. Can you imagine that? Can you feel that loss of Self?

But I’m not altogether free of guilt, either. Because the first thought that came to my mind was, I’m so glad this happened on our way back. Had it happened on our way there, our entire day would’ve been ruined. So, really, I was thinking about myself. What mattered most to me was that our day not be touched by the merest inkling of darkness, by the smallest hint of imbalance. And so, I was more angry with you for fouling it up at the very end than I was for what you had done. Although, now that I think about it, had I been the one sitting in the back seat, with my face in your rearview mirror, listening to you make that insidious remark, so oblivious to my presence, I think I would’ve died inside. Died… one million times.

I just want to say… I hate that the ride back was so silent after what happened. I hate that my very last memories of that day are so branded with darkness. I hate that we all hugged and kissed one another goodbye in the small hours of a new day as if nothing had happened, when we all knew that something precious had cracked. I hate all of this… but I can’t change it. And if I was able to change it, now, after the fact, for what it’s worth… I don’t think I would. 

I sit in solitude.
I sit in silence.

This is a silence that can never be filled with voice.