He – or the idea of him – was forgotten, most of the time; more forgotten, more elusive, less yearned for though not any less desired. She had resigned herself to the fact that all she had was air… All she could trust, could even deign to hold and be held by, was air. They had no connection save for what skin she had left bare to its invisible, imagined touch, to be perceived when the temperature changed or when it sought to struggle with her hair. It was as insubstantially present as he had ever been.
At least the air was different here. She hardly noticed it most of the time. Back there, she would breathe in the early morning breeze, pregnant with dew, and let the dampness smother the insides of her ribcage just as some rampant oneirism would smother the insides of her skull. She had breathed that air with him, with him inside it. This air… it was quieter inside her now.
But sometimes, in the midst of this new stage of aloneness that she had approached, arrived at, come to terms with, she would be betrayed. She would leave her hand hanging by her side in some semblance of being held; she would let the air find its way into the void and form some apparition that she could believe to be true, even though she knew that the air filled the void and was the void in the same breath in which she had just exhaled his name. It was the only one that would listen to all the times that she couldn’t catch herself before she said it out loud – a whisper that might as well have been a scream – as if a name was anything more than a fractured symbol of a symbol of an unattainable.
Air was nothing, was memory.
[A short creative writing piece done for my English class. Each person had to write something based on a picture that another classmate chose for you. My picture was a very unfortunate and homoerotic image of a naked pre-teen boy sitting on the beach on a sunny day staring at some kind of book in his lap. Clearly I was forced to take this very metaphorically, so I built on ideas that I had for prose pieces that I had never completed.
The following is an explanation:
‘I linked the image to Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, in which Humbert Humbert explains his ill-fated childhood love affair with Annabel Leigh that failed to be consummated on the beach. I imagined the boy in the picture to be H.H., transporting himself into his memories as he writes his memoirs. The book struck me as an ode to desire, memory, and loneliness, qualities that are also present in the image in the form of, respectively, the latent sexuality present in a naked pre-pubescent boy, the act of writing in a diary, and how the boy appears to be the only person on the beach. Therefore, I have written a few short paragraphs as a meditation on those three concepts.
“When I try to analyze my own cravings, motives, actions and so forth, I surrender to a sort of retrospective imagination which feeds the analytic faculty with boundless alternatives and which causes each visualized route to fork and re-fork without end in the maddeningly complex prospect of my past.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita‘]