i was in my boxers and nothing else, sitting in front of the glass wall of my apartment that was slightly foggy because of the AC.
i was debating on whether or not i should scratch my armpit, but instead diverted my thoughts to the mug of searing hot Americano sans sucre that was blowing puffs of scented smoke. it was 3 AM… and the twinkling lights of New York was absolutely beautiful. you can almost mistake them for millions of fireflies sewn together by their wings to form a giant tapestry, lain on top of the Big Apple. i cringed. i don’t even like fireflies. but one cannot mistake beauty for what it was.
on the twenty-third floor, everything seemed fine. a deceiving slumber of the city that never sleeps.
on the twenty-third floor, all i know is people are leaving their lights on outside, having a dreamless sleep if they’re lucky.
on the twenty-third floor, i saw just the shadow of New York. the shadow that glitters in the night.
because as a boy, i knew better. as a boy, exactly seven years ago on this day, i was living in the slums, and my mother died. it was 3 AM.
and the lights of New York, they are nothing but the comrades of my one single lightbulb, that was on that day, grappling on every flickers–desperate to be seen by someone on a particular apartment on the twenty-third floor. because then, i didn’t see my flickering lightbulb. all i saw was mom, dying a quiet death. a quiet, painful death.
crouched under her, i saw her eyes, slowly ridding themselves of the life that she could no longer live, and her lips which were sandwiched between her teeth, determined not to let me hear her scream. he on the other hand, was reeking alcohol. mere anger, booze money that wasn’t given, and a second later, she died at the hands of the man that has sworn to love her in sickness and in health, till death do us part.
oh he was with her when she died alright…
it took me a moment for me to realize that i was sweating. even in an air conditioned room, brine pooled at my brows. there was still no sign of the dawn that will surely break, but i already had enough of this. once a year, i convinced myself. just once a year. i ravished my Americano in three angry gulps and shut the blinds.
ducking my head under the comforter, i found that silence has already suffocated me before i had the chance to close my eyes. for seven years ago, when my mother died biting her lips, the lightbulb outside flickered to an end. and all i could see was mother’s fresh blood pooling at my side, and darkness and silence… apart from the single firefly that lazily sat on her dead left ear.
2012(c) Victoria Rahardjo
please do not take without my consent.