It’s true what they say: you can’t miss what you don’t have.
That’s why I didn’t understand it at first. All the hype about your soulmate, and what a big deal it was to find them.
Everyone said it changed everything. But what did I know? All I’d known my whole life was a monochromatic landscape. I didn’t know what I was missing… until I met her. Until the day we bumped shoulders at the little coffee shop on Main Street and she blew my world wide open.
The morning had started like any other. Three snoozes of the alarm clock. A top 40 song blaring from the speakers that I detested on principle (but still sang all the words to). A shower that lasted 10 minutes too long. And my usual white dress shirt with black slacks because, that was literally all I had in my closet. I didn’t bother with a tie, though some people felt it made a difference in the workplace. I didn’t see how. It was just another splash of black or grey, nothing special or outstanding. I doubt anyone would notice it, unless I opted to wear it cut in half.
Of course, there hadn’t been time for breakfast, what with my shower karaoke. But at least there was coffee on the way. I walked Main Street amidst a sea of unspecific faces, distracted by the brisk air against my face (and the nagging tune still stuck inside my head). It was colder than I expected. My shoes brushed against soggy, damp leaves. I hadn’t noticed that they’d started to fall.
It made sense. It was September after all. But so many of the trees were still full. Weird. Sometimes it felt like the seasons just happened. Without much buildup or notice. Just another thing to wake up and notice one day.
The bell above the shop door jingled as I stepped inside. The scent enveloped me and for a second, it was like I was back in bed, under the warm covers instead of at the back of a line that seemed to include the entire town. I breathed deep. That heady rush of brewing coffee created a pleasant calm inside me.
I looked around. There were a lot of faces I recognized. I was here more than I was home most days. They had put out a new shelf display of bagged beans and French presses. And I couldn’t be sure but it looked like they’d added new throw pillows to the couch by the window. They looked about the same size as the old ones, maybe a little more robust? Did the last ones have tassels? Or had it just been a fabric border? It was hard to tell from where I stood. It was all just dark grey sofa with varying shades of grey pillows. Facing out at the grey trees and the pale grey sky.
I shrugged. I would test them soon enough. If nothing else, they looked comfortable enough to nap on.
The person in front of me moved and I turned back sharply to take my place in line. But I’d been fingering my keys in my pocket and the sudden move sent them flying to the concrete floor.
That’s when it happened.
I bent to pick them up, and as I stood, a shoulder hit against mine. All I registered at first was the heat of the coffee through my shirt. A muffled swear spoken under someone’s breath. Then, the feeling of crashing. Like millions of pieces of glass were shattering and coming at me all at once and with such intensity I had to close my eyes to keep the world from spinning.
“I’m so sorry,” she exhaled, and her voice drew me back from the strange and sudden freefall. Except, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at when I opened my eyes.
She stared at me and we both stood silent and motionless as we took in what was happening.
The world was awash in color. So bright, so vibrant, it actually hurt my eyes.
I had had no words to describe it then, but I do now, so many years later. The first thing I saw in this changed world were her eyes. Rich and brown and endless. Like wet soil, like ground coffee.
The sky that day had been blindingly blue, clear and devoid of clouds. It had only registered as pale grey. But the purity of that crisp September sky is one I haven’t forgotten. The trees were red and orange and golden, the leaves on the ground like paint splatters across the cement.
It was magic, the way the world lit up. The way it came to vivid life, a breathtaking kaleidoscope of color. She brought it all with her the moment we touched.
And today, she took it all away.
I knew it was coming. The sicker she got, the more the colors around me faded, watercolors that would soon be pale reflections of what they were. But I wasn’t expecting the grief when it washed away. When all that was left was the earth scrubbed clean, black and white and grey. Every trace of her gone, swirled down the drain, leaving me with a ghost of what life was, a memory. Fading.