by Randeva Simpkins
He hummed the melody to ‘Weird fishes/Arpeggi’ under his breath. Notes and chords always made more sense than lyrics so he left me to decipher the words. “What do you think this song means?”
I recited a verse, “I’d be crazy not to follow/ follow where you lead/ your eyes/ they turn me/ turn me on to phantoms/ I follow to the edge of the earth…” “I don’t know, Dylan. I think it’s a love song or a lost song. I’m not sure yet.”
From his bed I watched him walk over to his drum kit and start to play along to the song. He was a self-taught musician; instead of going to daycare he accompanied his parents to music studios. “Fox,” I called out.” Let’s go to Canelle.” He kept playing, but smiled, exposing all of his crooked teeth, acknowledging my request. I got out of bed and slipped into my dress and combat boots. He stood up and I studied his pale and frail figure—he was far from gorgeous. His flesh hugged his ribs and his height made him hunch over because he had more bones than fat. He placed the drum sticks neatly on the snare and found his shirt.
I told him I took my coffee with two creams and no sugar; instead he came back with chocolate cake and told me chocolate made kisses taste better. I stared at him blankly, got up and ordered the coffee I assumed he was going to bring.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled. His voice was always muffled. My months with him had trained my ears into making his speech audible.
“Don’t say sorry for something you were content with doing.”
“Chocolate is good for kisses and—“
“Coffee is better for my afternoon pick me up.”
I took a bite of the chocolate cake then kissed him. He smiled. I hated chocolate kisses.
“I can’t ever love a girl if she doesn’t have your brown skin.”
“Why aren’t we together?” His smile dropped at my question.
Spring always reminded me of him. He has a sense of direction and I don’t. He’d bring me to parts of the city I thought were desolate only to learn they were now booming with life, cheap pizza, and great people who played music loudly. He’d take pictures of me posing in front of brick walls and I’d capture candid shots of him staring at passing couples. We were a couple then. He loved the way my laugh turned into a cackle and how I’d randomly meow in happiness. He was a sly fox and I was his small cat.
“You know how I feel about you and other guys.” His green eyes pierced through the dark bags that formed underneath them. Those bags only became present when he was upset. I looked into his face. His pores were large and blackheads adorned his nose and cheeks.
“Cat!” he screamed, expecting me to respond.
I looked away and remained silent. I didn’t want to be his cat. “Look at me. I’m talking to you.” His voice lowered, “Cat.” I looked up, his eyes now red.
I picked up my coffee and headed for the door. He ran behind me and grabbed my arm.
“Dylan, you’re hurting me.” He was no longer my fox. “You’re fucking hurting me!” I screamed. My loud voice embarrassed him. He loosened his grip.
“You can’t do this, Cat. You can’t walk away whenever I say something you don’t like.” Tears began to pool into the corners of his eyes.
“Why aren’t we together?”
“You can’t be in love with me and love them at the same time.”
“Why aren’t we together, Dylan?”
“You said you can’t be with anyone that doesn’t have my brown skin. What’s wrong with me?”
His loose hand combed through his jet black hair. “Not now Cat.” He paused. “I can’t be with you now.” I yanked my arm from his grasp and walked out the door.
He suffers from depression and even though he runs the risk of suicide, depression always makes his music better. He constantly says, “You have to suffer from some form of mental illness in order to be great at your craft.”
Photo Credit: Mario Garofano