hear me out | a short story

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Her keys still fit. The open door waited for her to come back. So she still was the tenant then. Did anything change at all when she had decided that she would never return? Did the flat know that she would make it? That she would survive what she had tried to do? She had been convinced that she’d do it for herself, to go back to where she came from, to herself unbroken, unborn, just hovering in the air unseen but felt. But as soon as she felt that it had been too late, she realised that she had done it to herself, to her body in search of her soul, destroying herself to recreate herself, to fall apart.

She stood there, staring into her flat, with the keys in her hand and she observed how her fingers moved because she wanted them to move. Every single one of them according to her. So her body still belonged to her then. Was it her body that hadn’t let her go? Or her soul that hadn’t given up on her? Her body had followed her into self-destruction, fully aware that it would cease to exist, that it would be emptied of her, that it would only persist in the subjective memories of everyone who would remember her. The body wouldn’t have been a part of the world anymore. She wouldn’t have been.

How could her body still oblige, knowing what it knows, having felt what it felt, so close to the end of everything, having survived the act against it? It was her body, hers. It belonged to her alone for as long as her life lasted.

She closed the door behind her and entered her flat. She stopped and looked at her feet in the sandals she had bought months ago. They had always been ready to go since she had been a little girl, running through wet mud, through grass and sand, jumping into puddles. They were on it, whatever she wanted and she took good care of them. She had shown them her world and they made her feel it from the ground upwards and inwards.

For the first time she could actually feel how much love she had for every part of her body. How connected she was from head to toe, that her body expressed her and everything inside of her. How it contained all the stories and memories and imagination, in the cheeks, the angles of the mouth, the skin around the eyes, everything. How it had changed over the years and how much fun she had with it and in it. She felt like her body stared at her. It didn’t ask why, it knew why. It had felt it too. It had seen the thoughts, the images. She held herself immediately, her arms tightly around her shoulders. I am so sorry.

Her fingers caressed her hair like her mother used to do when she was little. She cried into the creases of her arms, into the familiar scent of her skin. And she whispered across the hairs on her underarms, it’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here.

She walked across the short corridor, hand in hand with herself, past the kitchen that contained all the dishes she had cleaned before she left that day, the fridge that she hadn’t filled on purpose, the outstanding bills stacked on the counter, the books that she hadn’t finished, her low-maintenance plants (with name tags and instructions for whoever would have taken care of them) and the slippers that she had left right in front of the couch.

But she stopped when she saw herself in the mirror.

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2022 | Instagram: croque_melpomene

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