Remember how our pictures were gold? They only looked gold because I couldn’t see how the gold can fade and show rust underneath. The sparkle was gone, but I kept clawing at the gold plating anyway. I wondered if my fingertips could paint over rust so the gold could stay.
Our chests were rising and falling into an easy rhythm. I tap my fingers to try to follow that beat again. I close my eyes and it’s almost as if I’m back there with you: my feet wrapped up in your blanket, my head heavy on the pillow. I lie on top of greyish sheets, my silhouette matching yours.
But in my room, the walls are empty. My books line the floors instead. My clothes make their own fort in my bed. Our pictures hide in crooked corners, losing their shine. There is nothing shiny about copper and red, gaping like wounds left to fester.
I want to keep the gold a little longer, sink into reverie just one more time. But time has learnt new tricks. It keeps moving even when I’m not ready to leave. So I leave those photo frames I’ve bought empty. I learn to see beneath gold flecks, and shiny things.
When I hear someone else calling me something new, I feel time stopping, as if to say, “Remember the other colours. They might not shine as brightly. Some things will take longer to catch your eye. But those are the colours that really matter. The gold will peel if it isn’t melted into concrete and set to mould. If you’re not careful, you’ll find only copper underneath.”
Pictures will yellow. The thing that’s making me new isn’t time, it’s just me. I’m finding new ways of moving forward, new steps to take — when it seems like the road has reached the end of this map, I’ll unfold it to find more. And when I’ve reached the end of that, I’ll just flip it over to the underside and explore uncharted territory.
These roads are leading me away from you, leaving glistening footprints in the hallway. I see your fingerprints all over, golden and faint but true. I wipe them over with a damp cloth, rinse and repeat. But the gold just sticks to my skin. My fingertips are stained with gold, except this gold turns into green.
Do you breathe the same? Do you still rise and fall, do you still keep the rhythm? Have you held on tightly to the gold, ground them into dust, let them dissolve into your blood?
I’ve learnt to navigate the currents to dance around Farewell. Let go of the gold encrusted fingers, wash my hands so the specks won’t lie any longer. If there’s only one thing to take with me, I’ll take the map.
Hear the siren song call me a new name, and find an ordinary house in an ordinary valley behind the theatrics. Let the curtain rise, wipe the glitter off my eyes.
I’ve realised I don’t need the gold anymore.