Photo by Keith Ayuman
He poured tea to his cup. On his wrist, a bracelet with a cross.
He looked out the window. On his wrist, scars.
Sunlight beamed through the windows of the hospital — the first sign
of spring after a long winter. Two cups and a kettle of tea held on to their warmth a little longer. Two suitcases were carefully placed below the glass table. One poured another cup as he finished his fill while the other sipped. It was a rare moment between friends.
“It’s been four months since you’ve arrived here.”
“It’s been four days since you’ve quit.”
“How’s it been?”
He placed the cup on the glass table and followed the gaze of the other out the window. Their eyes were weary, but there was something enthralling in white melting into green.
“You never told me why you did it.”
“The higher we are, the smaller we look to those below.”
“How can you live through that without a story about it?”
“Fortunate are the forgetful, for they get over their stupidity, and their mistakes too.”
There came a soft tinkle, and two empty cups were on the table. He sighed. He poured the last of the kettle into the two cups. He picked up his cup and gestured to the other, who smiled and held his cup in turn.
“Of all the crazies here, why me though?”
“We meet people, strangers, who fascinate us at first sight, even
before we begin talking.”
“You give your hand too quickly to those you encounter.”
“You don’t always have to doubt. Friendship is a leap of faith.”
“A walk through the corridors of this place shows that faith doesn’t amount to anything. God is dead.”
“But to befriend you, or love you, means to see you as how God wanted you to be.”
He placed his cup on the table, the scars on his wrist reflecting on the glass window. He looked outside again: The snow has melted. “There is not enough friendship or goodness or love in this world, and you choose to give them to someone you can’t even prove to exist.”
He shook his head and smiled, the bracelet on his wrist glowing a subdued gold. He followed his friend’s gaze: The flowers were beginning to bloom. “You exist. Everyone, everything else exists. My faith has helped me see what exists in us instead of us.”
“In us are ugly depths despite how beautiful we look in the surface.”
“Ugly depths are inevitable for those who have hearts.”
“May I tell you something?”
“A lot of unhappiness comes from things left unsaid.”
He put his cup back on the table as the warmth of spring touched him.
He looked at his friend and said, “The thought of doing it was a great consolation, but I think now, it doesn’t matter why I did it. Not anymore.”
He returned his friend’s gaze and said, “What matters is that you got help.”
“Was I ever a cloud to your sun, though?”
“Frankly, sometimes. The sun remained though, and even in the night
or in the rain, I know it’s there.”
“And I want to believe that the edges of the cloud are starting to glow.”
“I can see that.”
“Thank you.” He fell silent for a while. “Have you ever judged me like the others did?”
“To judge man is too easy. To understand him is difficult. I did my part. I learned to understand.”
“Friendship and love have to be learned.”
“Indeed. To love is to suffer. Otherwise, it won’t be there. Anything wrong with that?”
“None at all.” He looked at his scars for the last time in this hospital. He gently caressed them with the fingers of his other hand. “To live is to suffer. We have to find meaning in the suffering to press on.”
He shifted his feet, lightly kicking one of the suitcases with a soft thud. He held the cross of his bracelet. “Don’t you think it’s time we press on?”
“I think it is.” He paused and continued, “When I got the news last week, I felt fear instead of the happiness I expected, but I’ll do well I guess. I think I know why I should press on now. Life is bearable when we know our reasons.”
“That’s good. How do you feel right now though?”
“Taking a new step is truly frightening.” He stood up and reached out to his friend, his bracelet and his cross shining brightly. “It’s a leap of faith.”
He accepted his friends hand, his scars more vivid in the sunlight, and he rose and chuckled. “I still won’t follow yours. I have my own way. Heck, there’s no right way, but I hope we remain friends. Great friends.”
“To go wrong in your own way is better that to go right in mine. We can’t and shouldn’t force things. Of course, we will remain great friends.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll help you with this.”
They embraced. He picked up one suitcase, and his friend the other. The sleeves of their sweaters rolled down, hiding the scars and the bracelet.
They headed outside.