Understand Me

by Eunice Adubea Owusu Amoah

Was he dead? 

Or was he alive?

His skin felt warm and flushed all over.

Was he dying?

Or was he still in love?

Something warm and sticky was in his hand.

Blood.

His? Hers?

A face appeared before him.

Someone screaming his name.

Or maybe just screaming.

Screeches of fear. Or pain. Or surprise. 

Was it her?

Was she beside him?

Screaming for him to stay alive? 

Or screaming at him to just die?

He didn’t deserve to die, he thought.

She was the one who broke him.

He thought of the day they met.

“Boo,” she whispered. 

He quickly spun around to face her. 

His chin brushed against her short, wet, spiky hair.

He looked down at her and she looked up at him.

Two complete strangers who had fatefully met in a cemetery on a rainy night.

There was an ambulance.

His thoughts begged for the siren to be shut.

He was trying to remember. 

What had she been wearing?

Had she smiled?

No. 

She’d laughed though. Yes she’d-

The siren. The stupid siren. Too fucking loud.

She’d laughed. He’d stared at her in that beautiful moment, unable to pull himself from her allure…. 

 

“I can make you smile.” “Hi.” “Do you have an umbrella?” “Smile.” “Could you hear me crying?” “it was nice to meet y”-

THAT FUCKING SIREN!

HE WAS DYING!

Did they not understand?

He simply wanted to live one last time in this moment of death.

The ambulance got closer. He closed his eyes. 

When he opened his eyes again, they were lifting him up in a gurney. He could faintly hear her talking with the paramedic.

“Are you his guardian?” the paramedic hastily asked.

“No,” she stuttered out. “I don’t know him. I think it was a hit and run.”

“I don’t know him.”

He closed his eyes.

“I don’t know him.”

Behind his eyelids, he saw her smiling face through the car headlights.

“I don’t know him.”

He released his last breath.

At least he’d made her smile one last time.

I watched the ambulance drive away until it disappeared around a curb. He was dead. I’d killed him. Tears streamed from my eyes as I dropped onto the sidewalk. He was dead. I was a murderer.  But you have to understand. You have to understand. You have to understand me.

A woman sat on the wet earth before a grave one rainy night. The rain that poured from the sky mixed with the tears that rolled down her cheeks. The sobs she pulled from her gut could barely be heard in the air.  She had lost a lover and she was in pain. She catches sight of a man not too far away from her. Once their eyes meet, the man turns away from her. Had he been watching her? She wondered. She stood up, wiped away her tears, and approached him.

“Boo,” she whispers from behind him.

He quickly spins around to face her. 

His chin brushes against her short wet spiky hair and she jerks backwards in surprise. She hadn’t been standing so close to him. Had he moved forward? She wondered.

The man looks down at her and she looks up at him. He smiles. “Hi.”

  She smiles as well. A huge one that stretched her whole face and pushed her cheeks against her red eyes. A forced smile. “Could you hear me crying?” she asks. The man shakes his head. She looks away then. The forced smile gone. “Do you have an umbrella?” she asks. He shakes his head again. She had tried. A pathetic attempt but nonetheless, she had tried to just continue living life as though her heart still beat. She was glad the man didn’t have an umbrella. The way the rain droplets battered against her skin helped her face the reality that she was alive and her love was gone. The woman turns around to walk away but the man grabs onto her wrist. She looks back at him, alarmed. “Smile,” he says.

“What?”

“Smile,” he repeats.

Confused and scared, she gives a small smile. 

The man cringes and reaches his hand out to her face. The woman jumps away from him but is prevented from going far with her wrist in his hand. He takes a step towards her, pushing himself into her personal space. “You didn’t smile. I saw you laughing before. It was beautiful. I’m only asking you to smile. For me.” He squeezes her wrist tightly and she releases a sound of pain. He smiles. “I can make you smile.”

Aware of the danger she was in, the woman knees the man in the genitals. As he bends over in pain, she snatches her wrist out of his grasp and runs off.

“It was nice to meet you.” He said to himself through gritted teeth. “Don’t worry, I’ll find you again. I think we were meant to be.”

Five years filled with his stalking and obsession. Five years of his numerous attempts to make her “smile.” Living with constant fear would be enough to break anyone.  He had liked to see her in pain because to him, her pain was happiness and her happiness was pain. But now, it was finally over.