Interminable

Bernice

 

Is that him?

No, just a spider crawling up the glass. These things I see from the corner of my eye are so deceiving. My eyes deceive me now as I deceived him all those years ago. Decades? Maybe I need glasses. He wore glasses – I remember that. He had such beautiful eyes, but for looking at, not for looking out. I fact… wasn’t he almost blind last time I saw him? Last year? No… It had to have been more than 10 years ago now. Last time I tried to make him see reason. It’s hard to pin down the dates now. I remember clearly when we were in our thirties, fighting the aliens, fighting side-by-side, fighting each other. But I don’t remember yesterday. Or what I had for breakfast. I remember when he said he understood, that he knew why I’d done the things I’d done. Those evil things that saved our planet.

I remember when he said he could never forgive me, dropped his beautiful eyes and walked away. But I can’t remember how many years I’ve been waiting for him to reconsider, to forgive, to come back to me, to visit me here.

Is that him?

No, it’s my hair. Too long it keeps hanging in my line of vision. Long strands like long legs walking past. I need a hair-cut. Didn’t the orderly give me one yesterday? Perhaps it was last month. The mind forgets.

But the body remembers. It remembers blows, and caresses. It cringes when someone raises a hand, expecting to be struck; behind a wall, against a phone booth, in a car, by a fire. It yearns towards a casual brush, even the cold uncaring touch of a carer, as it remembers, when I forget, when people were kind. When they cared. When he cared. When he laughed and teased, eyes sparkling. When his hands curved and cupped, and stubble burned.

My body remembers every touch. But it’s taboo to touch an old man. I don’t believe I’ve been hugged in… I don’t remember. Probably more years than I had lived when we first met.

I need to be touched again. Yet I can’t stand it. I snap at the young people who clean and care for me. Crotchety. Bad tempered old man. Cripple. I’m not really lonely, just lonely for him. It’s only Mulder’s touch I want. I don’t know how many hours of every day I think of him. All of them? Nothing else to do. Nothing better anyway. That’s the best part of senility: I can think of Mulder, forget what I was thinking and think of him all over again. The same wonderful thoughts and hopes and memories. I wonder if he thinks of me? Is his mind still as sharp, as clever as it once was? Or does he chase after the old days down rabbit warrens of forgetfulness?

Does he remember me? Has he forgiven me yet? I’ve been sitting here waiting for so long.

Is he alive? Is he already dead and I’ll never know? Never see him again? If he has, how could I ever find out? I used to slip in and out of countries, or languages, strong and sure and smart. Now I can’t even slip out of this room. They don’t hold me prisoner, my body does. It’s too hard to use a walker one handed, so I stopped bothering to walk last year. No… that was more than five years ago, I’m sure. Why bother walking when I only want to walk with him again?

Is that him?

No, just my own reflection. My own wrinkled body twitching and making moving patterns on the glass. At least I can still see out of this window; watch for him to arrive, even if the view never changes, the people never move. I can pull the flesh on my cheeks right away from the bone. Saggy baggy. It’s fun, amusing, wrinkled old elephant skin reflected back at me. I used to be so firm. I had high cheekbones, I think, and I’m sure he told me I had beautiful eyes. I remember his eyes, his beautiful eyes, as he dropped them and looked away, ashamed of his inability to forgive me.

I couldn’t say anything then, my voice failed me, but he would have known, wouldn’t he? He’d have known that I would wait for his forgiveness, for him to come back. Wait through his marriage, his children, his grand children. Did he ever get married? What happened to that little red headed woman? What was her name? I would have waited through his causes and all the things more important. I know I let him know where I would be. Have I moved since then? I would have told him, kept him updated even though he ignores all of my attempts at contact. I stopped hiding a long time ago.

He could find me, if he wanted. He can find me. He will. I’m sure of it. It’s the only reason I haven’t stopped living yet. That, and telling my alien war stories, and showing the young folks my medals. The President herself gave them to me. Haven’t seen those in a long time. I think they are still in this room somewhere, but I don’t care if they have been lost or stolen. I don’t want to stop my vigil to look for them, just in case. The President called me a hero, and yet he doesn’t forgive me. Maybe he is dead. No, if that were true then the past twenty years have been wasted, and I’ve never been that stupid. Twenty years? Fifty years?

If I’d had children, I’d have grandchildren now. To come and visit, to hug the old man and complain I ‘smell funny’. But I wanted to be free for when he forgives me, for when he comes back.

I don’t remember how these rambling thoughts started, so now I can go back to the beginning and remember them all over again.

His eyes were so beautiful…

Is that him?

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