The Dinner

Even after all that they have taught us, time is never of essence to people until they have almost run out of it. It is only when you have six months to live that you realize you had to buy a house, have a business, get married, have kids and whatnot. Then, time becomes a commodity that you need to capitalize on. Spend it somewhere where you’ll get the most return, like it’s a business transaction.

I knew it was a little hypocritical of me—sitting here criticizing mankind—when I was no better than anyone else. After all, the thought of going trekking, having kids, owning a business had never occurred to me until I was here in my home, living my last night out.

There was no speculation left: I would die tomorrow. I might not even live to see the sun. That was how our world worked. When people ran out of their time, their use, they died. I had run out of use a year ago, when cancer had struck my body. Two operations and a chemotherapy later, there was nothing that they could do for me. Cold had started staying harder and longer, and fevers had taken over like bacteria spreading on rotten meat.

I could say that I took it in a stride. Even when they told me there was nothing left to work on, I was glad they were stopping the chemo: no more pain, vomiting, losing my hair. I resolved to live like before, try to be as healthy and happy as possible, and love my husband and perhaps castrate him before I died so he could never forget me.

What are you thinking about?” said husband, whose lap was right now my pillow, brushed his hand through my hair.

I am thinking about my resolution of castrating you before I left and whether to follow through on it.” I stared up at him innocently, but he looked terrified.

I’d prefer it if you didn’t.” He choked after sometime, even gulped to exaggerate the effect.

Why? Do you plan on using them after I’m gone?” I widened my eyes.

I’m thirty-three: I have no idea.” He shook his head, smiling.

I’m thirty, and dying.” I shrugged.

He fell silent after that, and I watched his face cloud with fear and uncertainty. We had decided very early on in our case that I would be the strong one: he could do the worrying until I told him otherwise. I had to say he was good at keeping up his end of the bargain.

I had to distract him somehow—I didn’t want my last night on this Earth to be silent and anxious. They were not invited to the party, so they could just go and fuck themselves.

You know what else I am?” I asked my husband, getting up from his lap.

What?”

Hungry. Somebody told me he’d bringing dinner tonight and then forgot.” I narrowed my eyes at him and he laughed, unrepentant.

I thought you’d like to eat something homemade tonight. We could make dinner if you’re up to it.” He smiled, brushing my hair once again, making me realize I wasn’t the only one who felt incomplete without my hair.

We decided on making Chicken and an Indian dish (Paneer, which had been my favorite since I was six), and having chocolate ice cream for dinner. He knew I would pour chocolate sauce on it, so he’s stacked the fridge with a bottle. I did the cooking, despite his efforts to let me only cut the vegetables and dice the chicken. I was a bit tired, yes, but it was nothing I could not handle. I knew it would come: the exhaustion, the pain, the blackness, the blindness. I would deal with it when it did. Right now, I would work fast, and have what I could.

Dinner was readied with smiles on our faces and peaceful silences between the continuous mindless banter. We talked about everything and nothing in particular. At one point, he made me act out our first meeting in the kitchen. (We had met on a train—he made me pretend that the kitchen counter was a table in the train.) I had been obscenely lucky when it came to a love life—everything else, not so much. My husband had more than made up for all the pain that had plagued the early and better part of my life. When I met him, I could not believe that a person like him could ever be capable of loving a person like me. You see, I had never been a believer in the concept of love, having never had a first or even a second-hand experience. He had filled up every gap and hole until I was so love full of love if was oozing out of every part of my body.

Our dinner table was the couch, with reruns of Sherlock on the television. He fed me bits of chicken while I tried to keep up with Sherlock and his annoyingly sharp mind and oodles of God Complex. There were a few kisses and pecks, and for once, life seemed good, too good, in fact, to be real. There was, for once, no shadow lurking in the corner of Death. He was being patient with me for now. He knew I was not ready—not yet—so he’d decided he’d come after, maybe when I was asleep.

The fleeting thought of never sleeping crossed my mind.

 I was lounging with my head in his lap once again when he spoke.

Don’t die.” he said.

I should have known his words were coming. All this time—since the moment we’d found out to this one—he’d fawned over me, and worried and fret. He’d never let me stand on my feet without him next to me, never even let me turn off my phone. Tonight, he’d let me live as we did before. He’d let me cook, and walk around the house on my own. He’d even made me dance with him, and then there was the stint of acting out our meet.

Maybe he’d been thinking the same thing I was.

Maybe he’d hung onto the thought that letting me be normal would make everything so. Maybe he’d been thinking that all the talking and dancing would somehow turn the wheels of time. He’d been hoping to be back where we were almost a year ago: happy, safe, disease free.

Now, having me in his arms had made everything very excruciatingly real for him. He’d realized that no amount of illusion would steer us away from reality. I was going to die tomorrow, and he knew it very well. No amount of fawning or worrying or fretting could change that.

I don’t want to.” I replied quietly.

Maybe this isn’t real. May—” he started to say.

It is.” I replied, a little too curtly, I think, “It is real. There’s no denying that.”

I hope we could—deny it, I mean.” he said, a little too gravely for his own good.

Both of us stared at the TV for sometime after that. Maybe we were trying to make sense of our own lives in the mayhem that was ensuing on the television.

I don’t know what I am going to do without you.” He said.

Funnily enough, that was my exact train of thoughts.

I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.” I looked deep into his eyes, “It’s all so . . . indefinite.”

He frowned at my choice of words, “Indefinite?”

You know what you’ll do after this, after tomorrow. You’ll go to sleep, wake up, plan a funeral, take tuna from people, the go back to life. You’ve done this before—living, I mean. I . . . don’t know what the afterlife is like, you know.”

He pondered over my words disdainfully for some time. I took in his hauntingly beautiful face while he did. I always thought about how it would be like if I could never see him again. Now, it was not a possibility. Now, it was a certainty.

Don’t think so little of me,” he whispered to me hurtful, “Don’t think I can just go on like this. I am terrified right now. You’re not going to be here tomorrow, and I have no idea what I’ll do . . . how I’ll go on.”

My heart rolled over in its soon to be grave and cried tears of blood. My husband was a rational, strong, brave man. He always had a purpose, a reason for doing things. Now, he looked as out of character as could be possible for him. His gray eyes seemed lost, his face blank like a ship that had veered out of course during a tempest.

I don’t think little of you. I love you.” I took hold of his hand. For a moment, I thought I could not bring it to be strong enough. “But I’m going to die, love. That’s the truth. We can’t stop that. I just . . . I don’t mean that I want you to forget me by saying that. I just . . . I am just giving you an incentive. I won’t be here. You have to care for yourself.”

He pulled me into his arms, “My incentive is leaving with you.”

Sometimes, you never feel the hollow inside you—that empty space where your heart once was. You walk with it day and night like a zombie. You eat and drink and never feel it go in. All the things in life are just duties, mere roles to play so that you can survive, keep your body enough to work. But there is no emotion, no reason, no drive inside you. You are dead inside, like a plant that had been infested with a parasite, or a house plagued with termites.

Other times, you can just feel the hollow being punched out. You can feel every centimeter, every inch of your heart being separated from your chest. You can feel your body getting holed and bruised and being torn apart from end to end. And the pain is nothing like you would ever see or feel. It is worse than the pain you feel if your finger were cut lengthwise inch by excruciating inch. At one point, you just beg for mercy. You just beg for the finger to be cut off altogether.

The pain I felt then was a thousand times worse than if I were and torn apart slowly and deliberately. It had all just become so real. I was dying, and I was leaving him. There were going to be no more late night escapades, late sunday morning, hot tub baths, romantic dinners, beautiful countryside tours or even worrying myself out over his job as a Federal Agent. I was going to be nowhere, and he was going to be alone, all alone.

For the first—and probably the last time—I was scared.

I . . . I don’t want to go.” I stammered the words with my weak heart pounding in my chest with all the strength it had, “I don’t want to die.”

No more was said after that. All that we had to say had already been said, and whatever was left seemed unimportant next to the huge pile of talks that we had to talk. I wanted to ask him every question in the world, give him every answer to anything he might ask of me. Six years of marriage and I wanted to know him truly once again, inside and out.

We sat in each other arms after that, counting down the seconds and the questions.

Tell me one song you would want me to hear tonight.” I asked him.

He thought for a while, and then answered, “It’s sappy, but ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston.”

One color you would want me to wear?”

White.” he smiled at me. White was his favorite color on me. He said he liked the way my skin glowed in the hue. I appeased him tonight by putting on my favorite white cardigan.

One thing you could ask for?”

A cure.” he said immediately, “Or maybe time, more of it.”

A few seconds later, the irony of his answer hit me as the dizziness took over. My eyes started drooping, and something told me this would be the last time they would close.

I’m sleepy, love.” I sighed tiredly, exhausted by the constant battle between the pain and life, hopelessness and hopefulness.

He moved from the couch to the bed, because that was where I wanted it to end—in a safe, warm place with his arms around me. He also let our dog, Oreo, in.

He settled me in like he did always after a bad day, or even on a good one. He covered me up warm and cozily, and then got in next to me, engulfing me in his arms almost immediately. Oreo climbed up on the bed and settled in next to my knee.

I hugged him tighter than I ever had, and prayed to the Gods to give him strength.

Go to sleep, love. I’ll be right here with you.” He whispered, and I believed him.

Are you afraid?” I asked him, looking into his glassy gray irises.

Terrified.” He said, and I was glad he wasn’t lying to me on my deathbed.

But we’ll get through this, right?”

We always do.” he smiled at me, and it was brighter and more beautiful a smile than any angels’ I had ever seen.

What do you want me to say to God?” I asked him when I finally felt the sleep overpower me.

Tell him to send you back.” He pulled me closer, and suddenly, the cold started to set in, even after his warmth.

Do you love me?”

Always, love, always. I’ll love you till the sky splits into two and the seas all dry up.”

I smiled at his choice of words, “You always did have a way with words.”

I know, love.” he laughed softly, and I was pretty sure that even the God and all his angels could never have such a melody cascading from their lips.

Do you love me?” he asked me before my eyes were about to close.

Till the sky splits into two and the seas dry up.” I resonated his words, “I love you till then and even beyond that.”

The vision blurred, the blood boiled and cooled. My lips felt blue and my limbs felt cold. I forced them open for a last time, for I was desperate to hear him. I might have clutched onto him even tighter, but I could not tell. I think he felt it.

Till then and even beyond that.” He replied, crushing me to him and never leaving my eyes, “I love you. I love you.”

as I closed my eyes for a last time to walk into the deepest slumber, I thought of his words to me.

They weren’t mere characters and letters: they were a promise. 

Even after all that they have taught us, time is never of essence to people until they have almost run out of it. It is only when you have six months to live that you realize you had to buy a house, have a business, get married, have kids and whatnot. Then, time becomes a commodity that you need to capitalize on. Spend it somewhere where you’ll get the most return, like it’s a business transaction.

I knew it was a little hypocritical of me—sitting here criticizing mankind—when I was no better than anyone else. After all, the thought of going trekking, having kids, owning a business had never occured to me until I was here in my home, living my last night out.

There was no speculation left: I would die tomorrow. I might not even live to see the sun. That was how our world worked. When people ran out of their time, their use, they died. I had run out of use a year ago, when cancer had struck my body. Two operations and a chemotherapy later, there was nothing that they could do for me. Cold had started staying harder and longer, and fevers had taken over like bacteria spreading on rotten meat.

I could say that I took it in a stride. Even when they told me there was nothing left to work on, I was glad they were stopping the chemo: no more pain, vomiting, losing my hair. I resolved to live like before, try to be as healthy and happy as possible, and love my husband and prehaps castrate him before I died so he could never forget me.

What are you thinking about?” said husband, whose lap was right now my pillow, brushed his hand through my hair.

I am thinking about my resolution of castrating you before I left and whether to follow through on it.” I stared up at him innocently, but he looked terrified.

I’d prefer it if you didn’t.” He choked after sometime, even gulped to exaggerate the effect.

Why? Do you plan on using them after I’m gone?” I widened my eyes.

I’m thirty three: I have no idea.” He shook his head, smiling.

I’m thirty, and dying.” I shrugged.

He fell silent after that, and I watched his face cloud with fear and uncertainty. We had decided very early on in our case that I would be the strong one: he could do the worrying until I told him otherwise. I had to say he was good at keeping up his end of the bargain.

I had to distract him somehow—I didn’t want my last night on this Earth to be silent and anxious. They were not invited to the party, so they could just go and fuck themselves.

You know what else I am?” I asked my husband, getting up from his lap.

What?”

Hungry. Somebody told me he’d bringing dinner tonight and then forgot.” I narrowed my eyes at him and he laughed unrepententedly.

I thought you’d like to eat something homemade tonight. We could make dinner if you’re up to it.” He smiled, brushing my hair once again, making me realize I wasn’t the only one who felt incomplete without my hair.

We decided on making Chicken and an Indian dish (Paneer, which had been my favorite since I was six), and having chocolate ice cream for dinner. He knew I would pour chocolate sauce on it, so he’s stacked the fridge with a bottle. I did the cooking, despite his efforts to let me only cut the vegetables and dice the chicken. I was a bit tired, yes, but it was nothing I could not handle. I knew it would come: the exhaustion, the pain, the blackness, the blindness. I would deal with it when it did. Right now, I would work fast, and have what I could.

Dinner was readied with smiles on our faces and peaceful silences between the continuous mindless banter. We talked about everything and nothing in particular. At one point, he made me act out our first meeting in the kitchen. (We had met on a train—he made me pretend that the kitchen counter was a table in the train.) I had been obscenely lucky when it came to a love life—everything else, not so much. My husband had more than made up for all the pain that had plagued the early and better part of my life. When I met him, I could not believe that a person like him could ever be capable of loving a person like me. You see, I had never been a believer in the concept of love, having never had a first or even a second hand experience. He had filled up every gap and hole until I was so love full of love if was oozing out of every part of my body.

Our dinner table was the couch, with reruns of Sherlock on the television. He fed me bits of chicken while I tried to keep up with Sherlock and his annoyingly sharp mind and oodles of God Complex. There were a few kisses and pecks, and for once, life seemed good, too good, in fact, to be real. There was, for once, no shadow lurking in the corner of Death. He was being patient with me for now. He knew I was not ready—not yet—so he’d decided he’d come after, maybe when I was asleep.

The fleeting thought of never sleeping crossed my mind.

I was lounging with my head in his lap once again when he spoke.

Don’t die.” he said.

I should have known his words were coming. All this time—since the moment we’d found out to this one—he’d fawned over me, and worried and fret. He’d never let me stand on my feet without him next to me, never even let me turn off my phone. Tonight, he’d let me live as we did before. He’d let me cook, and walk around the house on my own. He’d even made me dance with him, and then there was the stint of acting out our meet.

Maybe he’d been thinking the same thing I was.

Maybe he’d hung onto the thought that letting me be normal would make everything so. Maybe he’d been thinking that all the talking and dancing would somehow turn the wheels of time. He’d been hoping to be back where we were almost a year ago: happy, safe, disease free.

Now, having me in his arms had made everything very excruciatingly real for him. He’d realized that no amount of illusion would steer us away from reality. I was going to die tomorrow, and he knew it very well. No amount of fawning or worrying or fretting could change that.

I don’t want to.” I replied quietly.

Maybe this isn’t real. May—” he started to say.

It is.” I replied, a little too curtly, I think, “It is real. There’s no denying that.”

I hope we could—deny it, I mean.” he said, a little too gravely for his own good.

Both of us stared at the TV for sometime after that. Maybe we were trying to make sense of our own lives in the mayhem that was ensuing on the television.

I don’t know what I am going to do without you.” He said.

Funnily enough, that was my exact train of thoughts.

I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.” I looked deep into his eyes, “It’s all so . . . indefinite.”

He frowned at my choice of words, “Indefinite?”

You know what you’ll do after this, after tomorrow. You’ll go to sleep, wake up, plan a funeral, take tuna from people, the go back to life. You’ve done this before—living, I mean. I . . . don’t know what the afterlife is like, you know.”

He pondered over my words disdainfully for some time. I took in his hauntingly beautiful face while he did. I always thought about how it would be like if I could never see him again. Now, it was not a possibilty. Now, it was a certainty.

Don’t think so little of me,” he whispered to me hurtfully, “Don’t think I can just go on like this. I am terrified right now. You’re not going to be here tomorrow, and I have no idea what I’ll do . . . how I’ll go on.”

My heart rolled over in its imminent grave and cried tears of blood. My husband was a rational, strong, brave man. He always had a purpose, a reason for doing things. Now, he looked as out of character as could be possible for him. His gray eyes seemed lost, his face blank like a ship that had veered out of course during a tempest.

I don’t think little of you. I love you.” I took hold of his hand. For a moment, I thought I could not bring it to be strong enough. “But I’m going to die, love. That’s the truth. We can’t stop that. I just . . . I don’t mean that I want you to forget me by saying that. I just . . . I am just giving you an incentive. I won’t be here. You have to care for yourself.”

He pulled me into his arms, “My incentive is leaving with you.”

Sometimes, you never feel the hollow inside you—that empty space where your heart once was. You walk with it day and night like a zombie. You eat and drink and never feel it go in. All the things in life are just duties, mere roles to play so that you can survive, keep your body enough to function. But there is no emotion, no reason, no drive inside you. You are dead inside, like a plant that had been infested with a parasite, or a house plagued with termites.

Other times, you can just feel the hollow being punched out. You can feel every centimeter, every inch of your heart being seperated from your chest. You can feel your body getting holed and bruised and being torn apart from end to end. And the pain is nothing like you would ever see or feel. It is worse than the pain you feel if your finger were cut lengthwise inch by excruciating inch. At one point, you just beg for mercy. You just beg for the finger to be cut off altogether.

The pain I felt then was a thousand times worse than if I were and torn apart slowly and deliberately. It had all just become so real. I was dying, and I was leaving him. There were going to be no more late night escapades, late sunday morning, hot tub baths, romantic dinners, beautiful countryside tours or even worrying myself out over his job as a Federal Agent. I was going to be nowhere, and he was going to be alone, all alone.

For the first—and probably the last time—I was scared.

I . . . I don’t want to go.” I stammered the words with my weak heart pounding in my chest with all the strength it had, “I don’t want to die.”

No more was said after that. All that we had to say had already been said, and whatever was left seemed unimportant next to the huge pile of talks that we had to talk. I wanted to ask him every question in the world, give him every answer to anything he might ask of me. Six years of marriage and I wanted to know him truly once again, inside and out.

We sat in each other arms after that, counting down the seconds and the questions.

Tell me one song you would want me to hear tonight.” I asked him.

He thought for a while, and then answered, “It’s sappy, but ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston.”

One color you would want me to wear?”

White.” he smiled at me. White was his favorite color on me. He said he liked the way my skin glowed in the hue. I appeased him tonight by putting on my favorite white cardigan.

One thing you could ask for?”

A cure.” he said immediately, “Or maybe time, more of it.”

A few seconds later, the irony of his answer hit me as the dizziness took over. My eyes started drooping, and something told me this would be the last time they would close.

I’m sleepy, love.” I sighed tiredly, exhausted by the constant battle between the pain and life, hoplessness and hopefulness.

He moved from the couch to the bed, because that was where I wanted it to end—in a safe, warm place with his arms around me. He also let our dog, Oreo, in.

He settled me in like he did always after a bad day, or even on a good one. He covered me up warm and cozily, and then got in next to me, engulfing me in his arms almost immediately. Oreo climbed up on the bed and settled in next to my knee.

I hugged him tighter than I ever had, and prayed to the Gods to give him strength.

Go to sleep, love. I’ll be right here with you.” He whispered, and I believed him.

Are you afraid?” I asked him, looking into his glassy gray irises.

Terrified.” He said, and I was glad he wasn’t lying to me on my deathbed.

But we’ll get through this, right?”

We always do.” he smiled at me, and it was brighter and more beautiful a smile than any angels’ I had ever seen.

What do you want me to say to God?” I asked him when I finally felt the sleep overpower me.

Tell him to send you back.” He pulled me closer, and suddenly, the cold started to set in, even after his warmth.

Do you love me?”

Always, love, always. I’ll love you till the sky splits into two and the seas all dry up.”

I smiled at his choice of words, “You always did have a way with words.”

I know, love.” he laughed softly, and I was pretty sure that even the God and all his angels could never have such a melody cascading from their lips.

Do you love me?” he asked me before my eyes were about to close.

Till the sky splits into two and the seas dry up.” I resonated his words, “I love you till then and even beyond that.”

The vision blurried, the blood boiled and cooled. My lips felt blue and my limbs felt cold. I forced them open for a last time, for I was desperate to hear him. I might have clutched onto him even tighter, but I could not tell. I think he felt it.

Till then and even beyond that.” He replied, crushing me to him and never leaving my eyes, “I love you. I love you.”

as I closed my eyes for a last time to walk into the deepest slumber, I thought of his words to me.

They weren’t mere characters and letters: they were a promise. 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/daily-prompt-dinner-2/

Advertisements

About chateauwordsville

I am a daydreamer, book/movie/music lover, media student who likes to talk in third person and dream about bizarre scenarios involving dragons, witches and more books.
This entry was posted in Books, Creative, Essay, Literature, Original, Post, Self, Stories, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Dinner

  1. Pingback: My last supper | Life as a country bumpkin...not a city girl

  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Eat, Drink and be Merry | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  3. Pingback: Eat, Drink and be Merry | Danny James

  4. Pingback: Zombie hunting at the end of the Earth | Rob's Surf Report

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s