“Am I crying?” Her voice was soft, and I couldn’t stand it to look in her eyes. She stared straight through me, it felt like, chilled my bones to the marrow. How could she ask something like that? So calmly. So devoid of any real feeling. How was I to take it? If I went with the cold inflection of her tone, she was being sarcastic and cruel. Am I crying, like saying, none of this matters to me. All of it is silly and trivial.
“Is it raining?” That same tone and cold stare. Did this mean that the world around her didn’t matter as much to her as she mattered to herself? Was she telling me that she was a selfish person, devoid of empathy for her fellow humans? If I took the phrase before, Am I crying, and mixed it with this phrase, Is it raining, it was like she was telling me that the universe revolved around her and her whims. Her desires. That no heart beat in her chest in the metaphorical way that we’ve painted it.
It was her gaze that I couldn’t get over. That gaze and the softness of her voice didn’t match, however much the icy inflection might have. How could a voice like that belong to any soulless shrew? How could that light symphony emanate from such a cold shell?
There was a brief moment where I thought that she might have focused on me. That she might have acknowledged me as a part of the populace of her existence. I couldn’t be absolutely sure, the moment was so fleeting. But I would give anything for it to be true. I would sell my soul to ensure that she had one brief awareness of something other than herself. Just to see. Just so she could know that she wasn’t the only thing in the world.
“Am I crying?” That soft voice again, that sightless stare. “My face is wet, am I crying?”
Why would she be crying? Why would it be raining? Why would any of this matter here, now, when more important things were going on? Why would she focus on that instead of me? Why did she have to look beyond me, as if I weren’t even there?
“Am I crying?” and another instance, brief as the flutter of a humming bird’s wings.
I could no longer ignore these questions that seemed to be haunting her despite the severity of everything else. She seemed determined to know. So focused was she on this one small thing that it occurred to me that I couldn’t possibly let it just pass by. She wanted to know, she should know.
“No, darling.” I told her, looking down at her face, cradled in my lap. “No, you’re not crying.” But I was. There was no rain upon her except those drops of my own tears that fell on her pale cheek. No moisture but what I put out and the blood that coated the side of her skull that was no longer there. Red and thick, I didn’t know how she could mistake it for tears. Droplets slid across the bridge of her nose and onto the knee of my jeans, where that missing half was hidden away from sight.