The door swings open, and I know why she’s here. I know, but I can’t do anything about it.
I want to call as she stumbles across my surface and keeps going. I want to tell her, make it right.
But I can’t.
So I listen. Listen as she catches herself on the bed. Listen to the faint clattering of the CD player as clumsy fingers press it open. Listen to her breath catch with the tiny plastic latch of the lid.
And I feel. Feel the tremors in those around me as she hesitantly lifts the face of the album and, barely pausing to glance at the revealed pages, lets gravity drag the heavy flap back downward, covering the truth. Concealing. I know all too much about concealing.
The thud ripples through me, her knees striking suddenly, desolately, and the rest of her to follow. Hands sliding numbly, unconscious; fingers scraping against my faded varnish as gravity drags her nearer to me, mimicking the helpless falling cover of the picture book.
And I feel the phantom remnants of other fingers; colder, harsher, purposeful hands moving across me with rigidly checked desperation. Tenderness, seeping through my grain despite those hands’ best efforts.
He didn't want to leave.
Her smooth face, warm, but growing ever colder. She surrenders the strength of her will to me as her cheek presses deeper into my shell. The set of her brow, the stubborn lines of her jaw, the willful curve of her lips; all mine, now. And others as well: the brightness of her eyes, the blush spreading along delicate bones, the shy cast of her lashes, the soft remnants of a happy smile; they seep through me, beneath me, to join to things already hidden.
I want to give them back.
He’s not gone, I want to tell her. To soothe her frantic eyes with the truth she cannot see. He loves you still. He couldn’t leave, not really. Not with everything. He couldn’t take his heart.
I know, because I feel it hiding beneath my paneling. Saw it in his twisted features as he gently laid each item into the blackness beneath me. His heart is here, so close, and yet she can’t let herself see it. Can’t feel it resting silently beside her own, where I know it must lie. I guard both their hearts here in the blackness—in the matching strips of paper and the ever-bright photographs and the little round disk, all steeped with love—and she will never know it.
I don’t think she realizes when her torment overflows, lost as she is in the deadness of her thoughts. But I do. I feel it tangibly, in the stinging wetness that suddenly drips and splatters and pools in my tiny imperfections; hopelessness seeps unfathomably from her blank, staring eyes.
Don't give up! I want to shout. I can see awareness leaving her, and it scares me.
I cling to the hope that she has abandoned, and try to let the corporeal memories seep up through my smooth surface. Right here, it's all right here!
She does not stir.