“Oh Adam,” I say as I climb the stairs to the roof of the apartment. “I should have guessed you’re sitting here.” I smile and he offers me his hand for help.
“This world sucks.” he says as he lays back to watch the sky.
The air is tense and i’m already shivering. I know how Adam gets when something horrible happens around the world. He’s always been like this and it will never change. I need to accept it.
He usually mixes the sadness with sweet tinges of sarcasm, which is the particular reason that makes me fall in and out of love with him. I put my head on his chest and listen to his heart beat . The stars above us are unbelievably shiny, and the shivering in my body disappears as his warmth caresses me. The cold wind rustles.
He lights a cigarette and watches as its ashes fade away. He doesn’t smoke it, so I take it from his hand and smoke it instead. I look at him and notice the surprise in his eyes.
“Woah.” he says.
I ignore him.
“Since when Mrs Environmentalist smokes?” he asks.
“Since the world started sucking so bad that the thought of saving it feels like a stupid joke told to children.”
He smiles. A painful smile, “Well all the children are dying so I guess it can’t be told to them either.”
He sits upright and gestures me to do the same. I’m not willing to let go of his warmth any time soon. We look towards the street, we’ve lived here our entire lives. We’ve fallen in love in this place, and we’ve kissed under the huge camphor tree visible at the end of the street plenty of times. All the lights are out, everyone is asleep except for us. The echoes of the busy morning linger to our road. I inhale deeply and he exhales sharply. Then he breaks our silence.
“Imagine all of this in our country. Like imagine if we got married and we had kids and those kids go to school one day and never make it back. Imagine their body parts splintered and bombed.” my body starts shivering again, and he holds me tight. “It’s not just them… The streets. This particular beautiful street, and those amazing buildings, imagine them covered with nothing but blood and guts. I wouldn’t handle it.” he shakes his head, “I wouldn’t handle losing this small stupid world i have and love.” He then looks at me, his hands shaking. I hold both his hands and gently hold tight to it, reassuring him that we’re here right now and nothing is wrong. He shuts his eyes and heaves. His chest rising and falling slowly.
“Don’t say things like that.” I say, barely a whisper.
“It’s already happening out there. I bet you a young couple like us had the exact same conversation thinking that the danger is far far away from their homes and BAM one day the next their country is at war.”
I know he’s right, but I can never admit it.
“I can’t help this world and I can’t be selfish and not give a shit.” he sighs, eyes wandering towards the camphor tree. He loves that tree.
One day, when we were twelve, I ran after him. I chased him till we reached that tree. He had climbed so high and I couldn’t reach him, yet i followed him. I owed it to him. When he couldn’t climb any higher, I managed to get to him, and when i did I found tears in his beautiful big brown eyes, he then told me that he loved this tree.I told him I didn’t care if he smoked that cigarette and his father beat him for it. I told him I understood that he can’t live in a place where everyone is hurting everyone and he isn’t participating. He can’t live with the injustice.
That’s when I knew, I knew he cared too much about this world, and that it would be the reason for his decline. I knew that if he cared a little less, it wouldn’t end up killing him. But I didn’t mind following him myself.
“We can’t do anything about it.” he breaks my trail of thoughts. “But I know it isn’t the answer.” he says, eyes all hopeful, “I keep daydreaming about the day they’ll come here. All the riots i’ll lead. I keep imagining artists making up all sort of songs and writing all sorts of books to try and help us, to try and inspire us.” he becomes silent for a moment, “but nothing will ever work, nothing.”
I can’t respond. He’s shut me up because i’m aware that nothing will make him feel better except to see this world a better place.
So I smile, lean closer to him, and whisper, “I have a suggestion.”
He looks at me knowingly. He knows what i’m about to do next, and he knows he’ll be reconciled.
“Take me to that fantasy world of yours.” He smiles and puts his head between his hands.
“How about we write those books, paint those pictures, sing those songs, talk these speeches, and just end the misery?” I say and he glances at me from behind his hands.
I continue, “How about we change the world, not with our voices but with our silence?” His eyes are smiling now, “How about we build the buildings, start the riots, fight the evil, and end the poverty?”
“Go on.” He says, amused.
This is what he hopes for, his uttermost wish, and i’m making them real.
I used to tell him other fantasies all the time. Usually days like these. Fantasies about running away and never coming back. We’d sit and plan it all for a day or two, but we’d never do it. None of us dared. We cared too much. As the years passed I learned to care too much, it’s like an infection.
Caring (adj.): The work and and practice of looking after those unable to care for themselves.
Caring (n.): Feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.
He pulls a paper from his pocket and unfolds it. The wind skims our bodies as he shows it to me, “I take it with me everywhere.” He says.
I look and notice my handwriting. The paper says,
The colors of the world are changing. They’re mostly red, black, and blue. Red is for passion, black is for lust, and blue is for steadiness. You and I are different; Red is for blood, black is for death, and blue is for sadness. Their meanings are changing. Want to help me spread our knowledge? … oh shit, I always forget to tell you that our own personal colors are green and pink. Don’t suit together, do they? well, you’re green for passion and i’m pink for desire. They will never make sense to the world. HELP ME PLEASE. HELP THEM UNDERSTAND THE TRUE COLORS OF THE WORLD.
“I can’t believe I used colored pens for this.” I laugh, “And are those yellow heart at the end of the page??”
He laughs as well, “yes. Yellow. The color of love.” he exclaims.
“What? No way.” I push him a little and we both laugh. Our laughter echoes the empty, dark, chilled night. He plants a kiss on my lips, soft and sweet, then rests his forehead to mine and says, “Help me, please. Help me make them understand the true colors of the world.” and I nod.
In the memory of Aleppo.