Creaking Floorboard

I get home late. I know that you will still be up, waiting for me. But I just can´t get myself to cross the garden path, unlock the front door and go inside. It´s like the garden gate is a barrier which I can´t cross.

I look up the path and up to the house. There are no lights burning on the first floor except the burglar lamp in the living room, which is time controlled. It will go out again at 1am. And back on at 5am. Back out at 8am, when we got up. Back on at 10 pm. Till 1am. Suddenly, the burglar lamp seems ridiculous. Like this whole situation. We should be able to put this past us, but you refuse to talk.

There are lights burning on the second floor in our bedroom and in the hallway. You kept the light in the hallway on for me. The thoughtful act makes me shiver.

My hand rests on the latch of the garden gate and eventually I open it and hurry through the garden, to the front door. Quietly, I unlock the door and push it open. The night´s damp air pushes past me and into the house. I follow her in.

I can hear you upstairs now. You are walking up and down in the bedroom, probably from the window to the door and back. You are waiting for me; waiting for me to greet me with silence; to welcome me home with silence. You say you can´t get to sleep when I´m not there, but once I´m in the bedroom, you crawl into bed and fall asleep. You want to make sure I´m still on your hook. You don´t need me. We shouldn´t be together anymore, but our fate – call it, whatever you want – binds us together. We are welded together like two iron bars.

While I hear you walking up and down upstairs, I sit down on the second step of the stairs, shoes and coat still on. The light from the hallway upstairs illuminates the upper steps of the staircase, but it´s relatively dark down on the bottom steps. I bury my face in my hands. I don´t want to be here. And neither do you. If we could, we´d say goodbye and walk away in different directions. If only we could. Being with you is a life without joy. You remind me of her and I remind you of her and we are both sad at the same time. And even though she is gone now, we can´t let go of one another. You make me remember she even existed and I´m the same reminder for you. We don´t want to let go. We want to remember, suffer in mournfulness. We need to feel the regrets, the pain, the overwhelming powerlessness. We need to hold on to that feeling. Because after that there´s nothing. After that, there is cold, dark and oblivion.

On your way back from the window to the door, you step on the creaking floorboard. The familiar sound echoes through the house, through me, through my heart. I know that you will stop pacing once I get up and go upstairs and open the bedroom door. But strangely enough, your impatience calms me down.

I lift my head from my hands and look down the dark hallway to the last room to the right. It was all ready for her. We even hung the pictures. Now the door is locked and we buried the key in the garden next to the roses on the right and your herbs on the left.

I get up and quietly walk over to the locked door. I reached out to touch it and I can feel the adamant oak door, its wooden structure, the dents where we carved your name into the surface. I try the door handle, but  it´s securely locked.

‘Jeremy, is that you?’ you call from the stairs.

For a moment I don´t want to answer. I want you to go back into the bedroom, pondering about my whereabouts, walking up and down the room, stepping on the creaking floorboard.

But with a sigh I let go of the handle and turn to the stairs.

‘Yes, it´s me.’

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