Mind Over Matter

Standard

I admit, I feel as if I am only deluding myself to think that you would ever read this. After all, you have disappeared without a word nor a trace. Your existence itself remains a mere possibility, and yet I hold onto it like a drowning man would onto his last breath. 

I have lost count of how many times I came home late, feeling empty, foolish, and above all, lonely. There are days that I cannot help but wait longer than usual at our usual haunts – Camarin and the Ayala Triangle Gardens – or chasing recklessly after a stranger that somehow had your hair or build or eyes. I have lost count of how, on those nights, I will myself to give up, but I somehow never manage to. I cling to the odds. 

I sometimes wonder if this is all a cruel joke you’ve set up, in revenge for all of those times I had expressed my disbelief in what you so dearly believed in. I can’t imagine you to be that heartless, but even so, if you could hear all the thoughts that flit into my head at night, you would be smug. You would joke that I had finally gotten the point of that morbid thought experiment, because this time, you were the cat in Schrödinger’s box. Both dead and alive until I could see you, observe you, and create my own reality.

You would say that you told me so, and that you were hurt that it took your disappearance for me to believe in it.

Parallel universes. Possibilities set in motion at every turn. Another me, another you, another us with another ending. Reality and uncertainty. Schrödinger’s cat. 

String theory.

A year ago, I was in the middle of my senior year in college. It was an unnaturally humid day in October. I was sweating profusely as I stood there on the sidewalk, stranded and irritated.

I was heading to school that morning, and because I had overslept and still insisted on a full breakfast, I was caught in the dreaded rush hour of EDSA. Something in me depended on plans and schedules and how things were supposed to be; standards that I set for myself, standards I very rarely fail. I hated it when I did, and I hated it then: I expected myself to be a punctual student before anything else. 

The traffic was frustrating. Overloaded buses crawled, and the noise – angry, continuous honks and spat-out curses – seemed to get louder by the second. My head was throbbing by the time I managed to get on a bus, and I think I let out a little moan of relief as I was encased in the quiet sound of conversation and the cold air-conditioning. I slumped onto the first empty seat I saw.

I didn’t take much notice of you beside me. I dozed on and off for the rest of the ride, counting on the laughter of the passengers at some slapstick comedy the driver had put on the television overhead so I wouldn’t sleep through my stop.

I jumped to my feet when I mercifully woke up in time. The bus slowed as I was about to step in the queue of standing passengers that were about to get off, but your hand held me back. 

I remember being caught off-guard when I turned sharply to look at you. I didn’t think it was possible that I didn’t see you there, but I had been sleeping, after all. Your long, curly hair framed your face. You were as tall as I was, dressed in a plain, long-sleeved blouse, faded jeans, and worn rubber shoes.  There was something with your features – thick eyebrows, round cheeks, that delicate point of your chin… You have always scoffed at me when I called you beautiful, but maybe now I have the right word: striking. 

You held out your hand, which had something brown in between them. I tried to make my eyes focus on what you were handing over instead of staring dumbstruck at your face.

“Your wallet,” you told me, gazing at me warily. You spoke swiftly, as if you couldn’t get the words out of your mouth fast enough. “It fell from your pocket.” 

“Thanks,” I mumbled as I took it, and gestured for you to queue first. You pushed past me as the bus doors opened with a hiss. I took a quick look inside of my wallet, having no idea if you had pickpocketed me in my sleep and felt guilty of it or if it actually fell. 

My IDs, cash and cards were all intact. I felt embarrassed I had doubted you as I stuffed it back into my pocket as deep as it could go. 

I looked around for you when I stepped out of the bus, squinting in the sunlight. I wished to express my gratitude properly – and to know your name while I was at it – but you were already out of sight. 

You can imagine my surprise and excitement when I saw you in campus a week later. My classes had ended, and I was strolling through the grounds when I caught a glimpse of your profile. Your face was still fresh in my mind, though you looked slightly different: your hair was braided down your back, stray curls at your brow, wearing a dark purple shirt over the same jeans and shoes, heading for the gates. I ran after you, slowing down to a walk as I neared.

You must have felt my presence – you turned to give me a glance, the same wary expression crossing your face, instead of a flash of recognition that I had hoped for. You turned your back on me and didn’t stop walking. 

I fell into a step with you. “I’m the guy from the bus,” I told you as I tried to keep pace with your long strides. “It’s great that you’re here – I could treat you to something, since I didn’t get to thank you properly back then.” 

There was a pause, long enough for an awkward silence to settle in. 

“You don’t have to. I just picked your wallet up.” Your voice was impassive, as was your expression. You stared straight ahead, refusing to look at me. 

“Oh, I know. I just – I want to, I mean… It seems like the least I could do. I was drowsy enough that day for me not to notice that it was gone.” I fumbled over my words, in a hurry to reassure you. Your face betrayed nothing, calm and set – except for a hint of nervousness in the way you frowned. You opened your mouth to speak.

“Please,” I cut in, shooting you a hopeful smile.

Your eyes flickered to me, then you sighed. “Can I pick the place?”

“Sure,” I agreed, relieved. We were silent for a few paces. I watched you as you swept your braid over your shoulder and started playing with its tail, ignoring me. “What’s your name? I haven’t seen you around here before.” 

You shrugged. “It’s a big school. You go first.” 

“Gabriel.” 

“Maya.” We neared the gates, the guards giving our IDs a cursory glance before we stepped out of the school. “This way,” you murmured, touching my elbow gently to stir me to my right.

I followed you, my lips still mouthing your name. Maya. I felt giddy, somehow, just knowing it. I threw caution to the wind and asked another question, thinking that it was best to not let the silences grow at this point. “What course are you in?” 

“Something boring.” You sounded dismissive, but you turned to me and gave me a slight smile – a genuine one with a touch of warmth, the stoic set of your face disappearing then and there. I couldn’t help but smile back. “You?” 

“Something boring,” I replied, and you snorted.

We ended up in a place called Camarin. Upon entering, you made a beeline for the cashier, who had waved and smiled at you. I looked at the two of you talking animatedly, feeling out of place. I decided to stay where I stood by the door, gazing at the wooden panels, the polished floor, the abstract paintings placed on the walls. Soft music played. Only a few people were inside – and even fewer of them were actually eating, just sipping their drinks from tall glasses and typing away on laptops. 

“Cozy,” I commented when you approached me, two menus already in hand.

“I’ll pass that along. I have a part-time job here,” you informed me, a bit out of breath. You pointed to a corner at the back, tugging me towards you as we crossed the restaurant. “Let’s sit over there. We’re lucky it isn’t so busy today…” 

“Do you have work to do?” I asked as I sat, pulling my backpack off my shoulder. 

“No. My shift starts later.” You sat across me, then flipped both menus open. I took the one you offered before you spoke again. “You don’t have to pay, by the way. Employees get meals on the house. I stretched the privilege to include you.”

I scowled. “I’m here to treat you.” 

“No, you’re not. Besides, I don’t like other people spending money on me,” you answered, aloof, eyes still on the menu.

I raised my eyebrows, opened my mouth to argue that that wasn’t the point, then closed it just as quickly. I didn’t push the subject further. I was at an advantage – I could ask you to eat with me as a treat again, since this hardly counted as one. I swallowed my chagrin when the thought crossed my mind that you only agreed to this because I was being persistent; to get me out of the way. It landed me there with you, after all, and I wanted to know more about you still.

After a few minutes, we settled on sharing a large plate of seafood pasta and a bowl of calamares. As we waited, I tried to think of things I could say to fill in the growing silence, but you beat me to it.

“What’s this boring thing you’re studying?” you asked, leaning back in your chair.

“Economics,” I replied promptly. “You?”

“That isn’t boring,” you scoffed. “That’s actually pretty damn useful. Unlike my major, Philosophy.” 

 “I can’t contradict you on that one.” 

You nodded, your lips quirking up, your face transforming into something softer, more animated, as your guard faded away. “I like to tell people this is my on-the-job training. Forever a waitress with that kind of course…” 

“Why choose it, then?” 

“Oh, I don’t find it boring at all,” you admitted, looking away. The rest of the words tumbled out fast. “I just know that it can be, for some. It matters – the questions it raises about humanity, our existence, the universe. Practicality can only get so far…” You trailed off. You looked back at me, then at your lap, as if you were ashamed that you had even opened your mouth. 

I could only suppress a smile. Something about our whole encounter endeared me to you then – your wariness, the way you were reserved, the refreshing candor you possessed when you came out of your shell and spoke. 

“At least it’s something you really wanted to study,” I offered. 

You shook your head. “Not really. I wanted to study physics.” You took in my surprised reaction and grinned. “My father and I had a professor for a neighbor. She took care of me most of the time. There was nothing to do at her house but read, though.” You crinkled your nose. “She taught Physics and had a truckload of textbooks about it, which she eventually let me have. I decided at the last minute to go with Philosophy, which was the next best thing. Incidentally, I also learned about it through her…”

“It’s still useful, you know,” I told you. “Law, religion, social work…” 

You shrugged. “Well, we’ll see.” 

Our food came, and we were silent as I we ate. This time, I made no effort to fill it in. It was almost comfortable; the way it wrapped around us, and I liked how you looked at ease after a few minutes had passed. When we were done, you stood and offered to walk me to the doors. 

We stopped right outside the entrance. I turned to you. 

“That doesn’t really count as a treat,” I said. “So…”

You sighed. “Like I said, you do not have to. I dislike people feeling obligated to do something for me.” 

“I don’t feel obligated. A treat is to compensate for all the things you could have bought had you took my wallet.” You shook your head, chuckling reluctantly. I fished my phone out of my pocket, and offered it to you. “Could you give me your number? To plan that future treat?”

You looked amused, still shaking your head in admonishment, but you took my phone from me and typed it in.

“Thank you,” I told you, smiling as you gave me my phone back.

“You’re stubborn. Has anybody told you?” Without waiting for an answer, you turned towards the doors again, giving me a soft smile. “I have to go, Gabriel. Ingat.” 

I watched you enter and look back to wave at me. I waved back. It was only when you’ve completely disappeared that I went on my way, replaying the few smiles you’ve given me, my heart thudding against my chest. Was it then that I had fallen in love? I do not know. You quickly became a constant in my life after; so much that it was essential as much as it was natural to know you and admire you and care for you. It was only natural for my love to come after. 

That day I spent with you turned out to be the first of many. With your number in my phone, I called you almost every night. You would be quiet, reserved, monosyllabic in your replies, but then you would thaw out and we would talk until streaks of daylight broke through the dark skies. Sometimes I would break off mid-sentence only to hear you breathing deeply, fast asleep. Sometimes I myself would wake up with the phone pressed against my ear, with a message from you telling me to have a good sleep. 

We would meet everyday after school, walking around campus. The good thing about studying in a school set in the heart of Makati was that we never run out of places to eat – we both felt as if we were indulging too much in the privileges of free food at Camarin, though we still frequented it. There were times in which we just sat on the grass in Ayala Triangle, talking until you had to go to work.

I came to know more about you, even though you seemed nervous of me doing so. You would always be on your guard no matter how much time we spent together, but I was glad that as the days passed, it took less time for you to drop it around me. Every piece of information I learned seemed like a privilege: how you had next to no friends but preferred it that way, how you liked your coffee black, how you liked living on your own. Talking to you always felt like I was unravelling a mystery, and with every discovery, I became even more hooked. Sometimes, however, you would tell me you talked too much about yourself, and demand some information of your own. And I would talk about my chaotic extended family, how isolated I felt even in their presence, the one girl that I had loved before, the classes I took, how it all – unlike you – really bored me to death. 

“What would you have studied, then?” you had  asked me.

“Art. My family didn’t think it was practical. Neither did I.” 

You nodded slowly, looking up at the skies. A breeze picked up, and you closed your eyes, your hair loose from your braids, tangling in the wind.

“What about that girl you loved?” you probed. “Tell me about her.” 

With a lump in my throat, I did. I began with the fact that it has been months since Maria had left, and you opened your eyes to give me a dry look, but you didn’t say anything. I told you about how the air seemed charged with energy whenever she was around, how she talked and laughed endlessly, how easygoing and happy she made me. I told you that it was with her that I learned about love and loss. She had to go to the United States with her family; resume college there, while I remained here, and though we were sure we could love each other no matter the distance, there was no guarantee that it could last. She tried to convince me that it would, but I didn’t believe her.

“You do not love just because there is a guarantee it will last. You love despite the chance that it couldn’t,” you scolded me, frowning. “It could have lasted.” 

I shrugged. I didn’t tell you about how I had spent the nights after wide awake thinking of the chance that it could have, the torture that I felt, and that until now, I was sure that I was slowly going insane without her by my side. It wasn’t just the fact that I had let her go, that I had lost her; I also lost the happiness of the far future, of us married and madly in love.

“She sounds like she is the opposite of me, though – loud and easygoing,” you commented, your voice off-hand. 

I opened my mouth to agree, but then I glanced at you. Taking in your expression – I had learned to read through your supposed indifference – I felt as if the world had tilted upside down. Your eyes were downcast; your long eyelashes casting shadows upon your cheeks, looking oddly vulnerable with your hands clasped around your knees. All the moments we had spent together came rushing back at me: the times that we sat here in silence, comfortable with each other’s presence; the one time that you had rushed to hug me in the grounds, and I catching you despite my confusion, and you told me that you had the highest score in your exams. I thought about the way you would look at me when I would move a stray curl out of your eyes, and how we would smile at one another, unsure yet sincere. There had always been a ghost of doubt on what I felt for you, but then and there, everything seemed to fall into place.

I managed to free your hand from your own grip, interlocking your fingers with my own. You were tense, your back suddenly upright, face stoic and looking straight ahead. It is you that I love now, I wanted to say, but the words were stuck in my throat. I squeezed your hand, trusting the message to be carried across somehow. When you relaxed and your head leaned against my shoulder, I let out a breath I didn’t even know that I was holding back.

After a few moments, you spoke. “I believe you’re a great artist somewhere,” you said softly, “and that you are happy with her as well.” 

I chuckled. “I don’t think I even know how to paint anymore. I abandoned it years ago. As for Maria…” I trailed off. “It’s impossible.”

“You still can, in another universe,” you replied. “And Maria is possible there, too.” You looked up at me then, smiling at my expression of bewilderment. 

It was only a few weeks later that I understood what you meant. You invited me over to your apartment, a clean, tiny space you managed to get for yourself last year. The living room functioned as a kitchen and dining room all at once, branching off to a single bathroom and a bedroom. Beside the couch were two full bookshelves, and a tottering pile of books that could no longer fit beneath them. 

We sat on the carpet instead of the couch, eating the chicken adobo you had prepared. I observed the room in between bites. You took good care of it, as I remember, and you seemed comfortable enough to call it a home. You had told me how much you liked to live alone, but I couldn’t shake off how empty it felt. I told you this, and you only shrugged. 

“You just aren’t used to it,” you told me, reaching for my empty plate. “You’ve lived with too many relatives if I recall.” 

I admit that was a part of it – it was a foreign idea to think of anyone my age living on their own, and it was stranger to think of that anyone as a girl. I didn’t dare say that out loud, however.

“And you are?” I challenged instead. “That makes the whole set-up lonelier.” 

You sighed, then explained in a tone that you would take to appease a child. “I prefer it. I can do things in my own time. My father allowed me to do so since I am closer to school, and I’m already over eighteen.” You shot me a look as if to say, as you are so clearly forgetting. “He knows I can take care of myself. We visit each other every now and then.” 

You insisted that you can do the dishes on your own, leaving me on the rugged carpet. I listened to the steady sound of water, staring blankly at your bookshelves. When you were finished, you curled up on the couch, watching me study your collection. Three different Bibles were next to numerous volumes of Physics books on the top shelf. There were novels, too, most of them in paperbacks, their bindings cracked and worn, and a set of encyclopedias and almanacs. 

I looked up at you. You were still sitting and watching me, your head propped up on one hand. The yellow curtains behind us, combined with the light of the late afternoon sun, casted a golden glow on the room – and onto you. With your curls cascading down your chest, your serene expression, the light behind you seemingly a halo from where I sat… 

You didn’t look real – you looked like an angel, impossibly beautiful. 

It was in a daze that I pulled myself up and sat next to you as close as I possibly could. I reached out to tuck a stray curl away in your ear. Your eyes met mine, wide and radiant. 

“What are you thinking?” you murmured.

“That you are very beautiful, and you have an interesting collection.” I jerked my head to the top shelf.

“I don’t know about that first observation,” you chuckled, shaking your head. Your eyes flitted to the bookshelf. “I found that a Bible and a Physics textbook aren’t that different when you are looking for consolation. So they’re there.” 

I furrowed my brows. “Consolation in?” 

“Life,” you replied vaguely. There was a long pause in which you looked away, and I let myself stay silent, reaching for your hand. I played with your fingers for a few minutes, before you spoke. 

“My father was a widow,” you told me. I nodded, trying not to seem too surprised. “We had next to no family in Laguna, so like I told you before, I was usually babysat by my neighbor in the apartment we lived in. Her name was Vera. 

She was a professor in college, and she became a mother figure. I was around eleven years old, and my mother had died only two years ago. I found love and comfort with her. She was gentle and patient, but I guess those traits come naturally when you’re a teacher. She let me have Sophie’s World – a novel about philosophy – when I was twelve, and the rest of her Physics books when I was thirteen. She always found me poring over them again and again, even if I couldn’t understand much at the time, and she was enthusiastic about it. Told me I was growing up to be an intelligent girl.” 

Your voice wavered a little, but you continued, speaking so quickly your words were starting to blur together. “She died not long after. I still don’t know what sort of sickness she had – she never appeared ill. She just complained about her aching joints and how she was always tired, and I know of times she made trips to the hospital, but she never appeared to have anything life-threatening. It had sent me into a shock to find out, and I couldn’t cry because it… didn’t seem… real. 

When we went to her wake, I refused to see the casket. I had already understood some of what her books said.” You faced me, smiling slightly. “There’s this guy called Schrödinger, a physicist. He’s well-known for his thought experiment, Schrödinger’s cat. Basically, a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source is placed inside a box, along with an internal monitor that would detect any radioactivity. If there is, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison which kills the cat. But you do not know if the cat is either dead or alive unless you actually open the box to observe it. So the cat exists in a state of superposition, both dead and alive… until you open the box. Then, superposition ends. Reality just… collapses, into one possibility or another.” 

I shook my head. “What a morbid guy.” 

You laughed. “True. But there, at Vera’s wake – it was like she was the cat, and her casket was Schrödinger’s box. I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want reality to collapse into one possibility or another. I addressed both possibilities, but I clung to only one: that she was alive.” Your voice had dropped to a whisper. “After that, I got caught up in quantum physics. I got caught up in string theory, the multiverse… How every decision splits our universe to other universes, creating parallel ones that contained all these other possibilities. I was comforted by the idea of Mama alive in another universe, and Vera…” You trailed off, your eyes glazing over, then continued. “It comforted me, but I envied the Maya of those other happy universes. I wanted to jump into them; wanted to die to join them there.” 

I thought of Maria, all of the times that I wondered of what had happened to her, and how I probably would never find out. I thought about loss, the desperate measures it could drive human beings to, how easily you could lose one more thing when you encounter it: yourself.

I understood, but I gripped your hand tightly in fear. You winced. “Maya… You still don’t think that, do you? It’s just a theory -”

You gave an unconvincing shrug, cutting me off. “No. It’s been a very long time, after all.” You looked down at our linked hands. “And I don’t think it’s just a theory,” you murmured. “I didn’t study Physics because of that – I doubt I’d be very objective about it, and I wanted to study Physics with Vera… around.” 

Not alive, I thought. Nor dead. Nothing concrete. Just around and not around. It was uncomfortable to see the conviction in your eyes. 

“There is another theory,” you started again, “that consciousness comes prior to the material universe… That it isn’t even a product of the brain… That when we die, our consciousness remains alive.” You gestured to your bookshelf. “Souls go on to heaven. I like to think that the consciousness goes on to different universes…” 

I was shaking my head, but you put a hand against my cheek, forcing me to meet your gaze. “Would you believe me if I said that I remember your face from a different time – a different life?”

“Maya…” 

“Because I have,” you told me, your voice growing stronger. “I think that in all of the universes that exist, there is a certain framework in which they are all similar – I think I am meant to meet you, and love you…” 

I pulled your hand from my cheek, and said the only response that mattered at that moment, “I love you, too.”

You reached out for me then, and I held you close in my arms. And though I wanted to savor the feeling of your body against mine; the way our breaths were in sync; the way the moment seemed so perfect I wanted to stretch it out for days, I was still anxious.

Would it even matter to you if we broke up? Or would you refuse to acknowledge it? Would you spend hours thinking of another Gabriel? Would he negate the love you claimed to have for me, if by the end, you would not shed a tear, and continue to yearn for, continue to love, that Gabriel from another universe? 

Would you die for him? 

“If this does not work out -” I started, wanting to voice my fears, but you shook your head. 

“It does not matter,” you said, your voice muffled against my chest. “The odds that we even met that day, Gabriel, think. The odds that you even saw me at campus, and that we even became friends, and fell for each other… Things could have worked out very differently. Out of all that could have happened, for us to come out of it like this is a one in a million chance. Love betrays too many people, too many times, for me to trust it… But I cling to the possibility that it will all work out…”

I didn’t know what to say to you, then, because you were mistaken in what I wanted to say. I was in a state of disbelief at how you were so – so desperate, in dealing with loss and how you viewed the world. 

I was worried about how you would take another loss, if it ever came down to it. 

For there are no guarantees.

I broached the subject with you in the months that followed, but it was no easy feat. When I told you that I was worried of what would become of you if we ever separated, you listened, but after hearing the rest… At first you became impassive, then exasperated, and then finally enraged. I kept trying to tell you that your mindset was dangerous, that I think it was why you were so wary of me, and why you had next to no friends at campus, because you lose all the things you have while you chase the ones you can’t. You were hung up on all of the possibilities, of all the things that could have happened, that you were obsessed in making the right decision to make this one the right universe, with no loss and no pain. If the former ever happened, you would dismiss it with the comfort of a single theory. 

“You don’t know what you’re saying!” you spat out at me, in the nth time I had done this. You were shaking with anger. Your face was flushed, with tears in your eyes, and your hair was in a wild frenzy, sticking out in all directions. “You make it seem as if I am a child, a coward – I thought you would understand, but no, it is still a crazy concept to you – it is all that I have left -” you broke off, crumpling to the ground and sobbing. I embraced you, and apologized as you wept in my arms.

You were right, however.

I truly didn’t know.

A couple of weeks later, you disappeared.

There is no other word for it. I was worried when you did not pick up your phone when I called, or when I couldn’t find you anywhere in school. I went to Camarin and waited there, until I finally asked the cashier if he knew where you were. 

But when I uttered your name, he only gave me a blank look – especially when I could not even give your last when he asked me to. “In that case, there is no Maya that works here,” he told me. 

I tried to describe you, but all I got was a confused shrug. 

The next afternoon, I waited in the Ayala Triangle. I gave up only when it was nearing midnight.

I went to your apartment. The landlord wasn’t home when I had asked around, and you didn’t have any neighbors on your floor. The others were clueless as to who you were. When I peeked in your window – the curtains were gone – the apartment was empty of any of your belongings. 

I stood there in blank shock, unable to reconcile myself with the fact that you were gone. It was impossible: you were my Maya, the Philosophy major and almost physicist, a girl I knew everything about – but not her last name, I realized. The incident at Camarin was still fresh in my mind. And I was reeling as I walked away. I did not know your birthday. Or your father’s name, or where in Laguna you actually lived. I never asked if Maya was a nickname, or if you went by something else. I didn’t have it in me to ask around in school about you. I didn’t want to come up empty-handed. 

I didn’t want to think that you weren’t real. 

I didn’t want to think that you lied.

I was sure you’d be at the graduation ceremony the month after, but you weren’t. I told my family you were someone special I would like them to meet that they patiently waited with me even as the last student came out of the gate. I lied, saying that you had probably come out early; that we only missed you. 

I almost believed myself. 

In Hindu philosophy, Maya means illusion.

Sometimes I would remember the abrupt way in which you came and the way you went, and wonder if I have gone mad enough over the years; lonely enough to produce you out of my head – nothing more but a figment of my imagination. An illusion of a girl.

But I can’t believe it. I choose my reality, and it is one wherein you truly existed.

I lie awake most nights, thinking of you, existing in a state of superposition, both dead and alive. I think of all the decisions I’ve made, and how I’d redo every one of them to make this universe we live in right for us. 

I think of how you said you remembered me from a different life.

Could it be possible that you were from another universe making contact with this one? Did you realize that? Did you go back? Or did you chase another Gabriel, one that was more understanding and less persistent, one that made you happier, for you to walk out and just disappear? I sometimes wonder if it was I who made that mistake early on; chasing after another Maya who was more grounded; someone safer to be with compared to the way you were. Am I to blame you, if you are somewhere in another universe with that other Gabriel? Am I to blame myself? Are you with all the people you’ve loved and lost?

I love you, no matter how distant we may be, no matter which universe you exist in right now.

But with each passing minute your face blurs in my mind, and your voice is slowly becoming an echo; the words you spoke in my ears fading away from memory. 

I will forget you, and my love will probably fade. But I can tell you that I have loved you then and I love you now, despite the chance that it wouldn’t last.

I think of us, in another universe, perfect and happy. I think of us living together and building a house. I think of vows made in front of the altar. I would imagine the happiness, the conversations, the kisses we would share.

I am to leave this at your old apartment – tape several typed pages to the door or slide it under, or just leave it in front and let the wind carry it away. 

I have visited only yesterday, and it is still as empty as before. 

I do not know if you would ever read this.

It isn’t likely, but I cling to the odds that you will.

After all, it is all that I have left. 

I believe now, my love. 

Come back to me.

Gabriel.

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