I had a routine for when you would leave. It was set in stone. Happened like clockwork.
Usually, I had time to prepare, but sometimes I’d find out after the fact. You should’ve seen my face when they’d tell me you were gone after I’d ask for you. I’d get so mad. You know me. You’ve always said that I’m a quiet child. That I hold my rage silently. Whenever you’d really want to know what was going on, you’d grab me by the shoulders, bend your arthritic knees and lock eyes with me. You said that he was the same, bless his hummingbird heart. His mind worked so quickly that his expression couldn’t keep up. If he could have met me, you said, he’d call me twin more often than granddaughter. I wonder if his face twisted before he’d go off and have to leave you. I wonder if he loved you as much as I do. I wish you were here. I always wished you were here. If anyone else had seen my face, they wouldn’t have a clue. But I know that you’d stop me in my tracks, bend your knees and look straight in. And you would know. You’d know.
You weren’t there and I had to make do. I had no one to look into my eyes. Maybe my eyes were too small for the rest of the family. Too dark. Shadowed and shaded beyond my years. Not worth the trouble. I took my eyes, the ones that did all the talking for me, and I carried them with me to the bathroom, tiled in green. They were heavy, my eyes. You weren’t there to lighten their burden. They had a lot to say.
I used to think my routine was for comfort, but now I’m certain it was born of necessity. If I hadn’t crawled under that bathroom counter, if I didn’t pull my knees to my chest, if I didn’t press my back to the cool wall that never saw daylight, if I didn’t empty all the air in the room with one big gulp and let my eyes empty and my chest heave, I’m certain I’d have drowned in myself before you could even book a flight back.
We’ve moved now. The bathroom is no longer green. Your knees have stopped obeying your commands. I lean over you now to empty my eyes, the eyes that do all the speaking for me. How will I speak when your eyes no longer meet mine? My twin, your hummingbird, is already long-gone. You’re all that’s left. Come back and let me know please. I trust you to let me know. I miss you. I’m waiting.
MiC Columnist Huda Shulaiba can be reached at email@example.com