“No, no please. Shush, babe. You’ll be alright.”
But you weren’t going to be alright. You were bleeding out fast, me patting my hands off of your broken skin. Should I have kept in the blood, or held you closer to me? I suppose it didn’t really matter, looking back. I held your face between my hands, urging you to stay quiet. Insisting that I would stay with you for as long as you needed. That’s what I always promised, and that night under the bridge, that is what I did.
“Don’t waste your energy, love.” I just held your face between my palms, as I watched your eyes flicker, looking at the light coming for you, strong and fast.
Did you know that when children are young they are swung in a parent's arms, because if the mind cannot focus, it’ll eventually drift away?
That’s what happened to you that night. I held your broken bones and scattered heart and let the night fall onto you.
I think I cried. I mean, I must have, but all I remember was your face in the golden glow of street lamps above. Your hair was grown out at that stage, and I wrapped my fingers through the golden silk. I always loved your hair. That, and your eyes. They were a darker hazel that night underneath all the glistening tears, as they waved the world away. I loved many other things too.
I loved your thin hands that you feared would one day wither, and turn into the same paper claws that your mother had hidden away under heavy hospital cardigans. You started hiding yours too, but you never got old enough for your skin to wilt.
I loved the way your body rested. While you were all edges and ribcages, parts of you were still soft, although you always tried hide that away under long skirts. That sort of thing never mattered to me though. I always loved resting my hand on your knee when we drove, and although you usually tried to hold my hand instead of it resting on the bits of you that weren't invisible to bone, sometimes you’d get lost in a song you really loved and you’d forget that you were trying so hard to keep me away. That was my favourite you.
I loved your lips. Not only with them pressed against mine, but early in the morning when the sun was creeping over the rose bush clouds that coated the horizon, and secrets would spill from them and tumble under the bedsheets. Their hairpin curl that could mimic each breath of a ballerina’s ribbon. But you always tried to hide your smile when I made you laugh. You were sometimes nervous about what I might have been thinking about you - not realising I was completely in love with each part of you, both flaws and perfections. I always thought you were being silly, and I’d sometimes kiss you to prove the point. Sometimes your red lipstick tinted my lips, and sometimes when I saw that crimson shadow just at the corner of my mouth and I knew you were traveling away from me so we wouldn’t be together for a few days, I wouldn’t wipe it off immediately. I’d worry that it was our red string of fate, and if I washed it away you’d wash away too.
I know that’s stupid, but now I wish that I told you all that.
Your lips pulled me close that night under the bridge where you had fell to your death, and you asked me, “Was I good?”
I cried harder. I don’t remember the tears, just the air leaving my chest as though I could give it all away to you.
I held your boney fingers, and tried to pick up your fragmented legs, but we were both too weak to call for help. I watched your red lips mumbling, smeared with lipstick and traces of blood, as they tried to form some final last words.
Sometimes I wonder if there are multiverses, like you always insisted. I wonder if there’s another version of that night where I could hear what you said. There would be one where you accused me for your actions, but I believe that we were closer to the one where you told me that you loved me, and always would. A world where you’d tell me that everything wasn’t about to collapse around me - one trip to the funeral by each trip to the bar. Maybe in a world where you sang our song. On long car rides you would play Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. We would roleplay the words, and if I listen closely I can still hear your tongue curl around the words,
“Do you remember that day you fell outta my window?”
“I sure do, you came jumping out after me.”
“Well, you fell on the concrete, nearly broke your ass, and you were bleeding all over the place, and I rushed you out to the hospital, you remember that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, there's something I never told you about that night.”
“What didn't you tell me?”
“Well, while you were sitting in the backseat smoking a cigarette you thought was gonna be your last, I was falling deep, deeply in love with you, and I never told you 'til just now.”
And then you’d scream “love” like your life depended on it. Maybe it did, but it took me a while to realise that. I guess it doesn’t matter though. It certainly didn’t matter on open desert roads when you let me squeeze your hand and tell you I loved you and you’d stick your head out the window. I really loved that. I understand that you mightn’t remember all the details I do, but that definitely never mattered.
I guess there’s also a multiverse where you didn’t jump off that bridge, and instead I helped you into bed that night and we woke up, your hangover so bad we decided to spend our day under the high sun, with our eyes and fingers interlocked like rosebush vines stretching from our mind. Maybe I told you about our drive that day long ago, and I told told you all those great things you didn’t even see in yourself after hours of crying about the tiniest little details. Maybe in that world I could answer your question with my eyes clear and my heart set on you, rather than being ripped out of my chest. It’s a cliché, but I really think you took my heart with you to the Other Side. Wherever that may be.
“I love you. I love you, God, I love you so much.” Was what I really said that night, your life seeming to slipping away every time I opened my mouth.
“But… But was I good?”
Honestly, I think you died right there, your shallow breathing having slipped away from me. But I answered your question anyway.
“I love you,” I said “And you were amazing.”