Mille regrets de vous abandonner
et d’être éloigné de votre visage amoureux.
J’ai si grand deuil et peine douloureuse
qu’on me verra vite mourir.

– Josquin des Prez

He’s still awake at 2 AM. It didn’t matter when he decided to sleep another night to see another day, not when his mother died last month. When he was young his mother would call for him to go to bed, now he can only hear her in his head.

He didn’t bother cleaning the dishes that night because he still has hope, hope that he would never wake from his sleep. Though of course, there is no point in hoping, he thinks, because having hope is no different than fooling yourself.

He tears open a denture cleanser tablet and pops it in the water. He pulls up a chair and watches the bubbles effervesce. It’s as if the tablet knows what to do; of course it does. It isn’t condemned with a mind like his so that he can doubt every decision he makes.

Five minutes, he thinks, five minutes can go by quickly enough. But his mind dotes on the funeral he refused to attend that afternoon. He was thinking about it this morning, as he was yesterday night, the night before, and the ones before that. He even dressed himself in full mourning attire, only to undress soon thereafter. He just couldn’t bear seeing her again.

He thought he would feel guilty if he showed up. After all, it was her husband who passed away. He didn’t need be another pitiful Florentino Azaria.

Fifty years ago, he thought his desires were hopeless. As much as he wanted to ask her to witness the setting of the summer sun, it was clouded by his infinite fear. Because to ask her would be to ask her. Now, he knew that to not ask her would be to not ask her.

He would avoid sunsets because it made him cry, not only for its awesome beauty but for the melancholy it would stir up. Now the crimson sky is stained with his blood. The lake water laps and licks his wounds, covered with the blood-soaked cotton clouds.

He could have said something there and then, but something prevented him. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter anymore. He tunes his radio to the classical station, waiting for the music to carry him into the depths of the night.

Elgar is playing. He immediately recognized it was Sospiri, a piece whose ephemeral effect is lost on him because he has heard it too many times. How tragic must it be, he thinks, for a piece of music to lose its emotional effect. As it reached its climax, he soaks his pillow with tears, not for the beauty of the music, but for how not even music could represent his pain.

Under his fading breath he murmurs, “You had your chance but blew it.” And with that, he huffs his final wisp of air.



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