Madison Moats is a sophomore at SCAD studying to receive her B.F.A. in Graphic Design with a minor in Film and Television. She believes storytelling is a vital part of the creative process and has always enjoyed writing poetry and fiction in order to add greater meaning to her work. In addition, Madison is a visual artist and a musician, and is always searching for the next art form to experiment with.
Everything You Never Said
In memory of Leonard Cohen
And when she feels the first drop of rain standing on the balcony of the expensive hotel room, he is inside, lighting another cigarette and dancing to the old punk music he turned on as soon as they sat their bags down. It is all clean and new. Grey monotones and dimly lit coffee tables, all unfamiliar. She watches him through the doorway and he suddenly looks different to her.
“Do you remember the first time we ever got dinner together?” She looks down at the bright lights of the street below.
“You could barely call it that, what time was it, one? That was the first exhibit I directed alone. I was surprised you even showed up.”
“I can’t remember where we ate afterwards.” She is twirling her necklace charm between her middle and ring fingers.
“Neither can I.” He is at the mirror brushing through his freshly cut hair. She told him that she liked the length it was beforehand. She was afraid that if he cut it, she would not quite recognize his features the same way. This is when she begins forgetting.
The dress she wears is from Paris, the shoes from Rome, the bracelet from Athens. In two years, they had seen 20 cities, 21 museums, and two other people. She had followed him to every gallery opening, and he never stopped thanking her by wrapping up his money in pink bags, complete with tissue paper and curled ribbon. It is all beginning to run together, the start indistinguishable from the middle, hints of the end filling the holes in their memories. This Seattle rainstorm opening up looks just like the San Francisco rainstorm they saw last week.
She feels another drop hit her collarbone as he walks out to the balcony with her. She takes the cigarette from him and begins smoking it herself, sending a swirl of it towards him as he reaches for her other hand. “What else can’t you remember?”
“You know when we first met, you didn’t smoke. I can’t remember when you started.” The rain is picking up so much that it puts out the end, but she does not bother lighting it again.
“Neither can I. Can you remember the first time you said you loved me?”
“Can you remember the last time you said it?”
She moves towards the doorway to get back inside. “Dawn, come on.”
She tries to say that she wants to get away from the rain, but she cannot quite get the words out. The rain does not bother her. It had not bothered her for a while now. “Can you remember a time when it wasn’t like this?”
The city beneath them begins to rumble with the sounds of travellers and wanderers, neon lights mixing into the haze of the rain. She catches the flash of an open sign in a bar below and walks back out to the glass barrier and leans beside him. She pushes the few dripping strands of his hair back from his forehead and presses her lips against the outer corner of his eye. She takes notice of the way he purses his lips when she does this, the way his eyes move down towards the street. He takes notice of the way she smells, like an antique store, or cobblestone streets. He remembers that he left a ring in the top drawer of the dresser in their apartment.
“Noah?” She wants him to look her in the eye again. “Is this the end?”
“I know you’re not happy.”
“It’s not about that.” She still does not quite know what it is about.
He looks small to her in his drenched tee shirt. She remembers when she bought it for him, tracing back through the tangled lines of their trips to pinpoint the time and place. She knows it was not like this then. She remembers all that she learned from the love, and she still does not have her answer.
He mutters, and stops. He feels like he has taken her name in vain, tries to make his way back inside. But the doorway stops him; he is stuck with the arch above his head, staring at her as if it is the first time.
“I think it’s the only way.”
“How do you know?”
She didn’t feel the rain anymore.
“Come with me to Chicago next week.”
“I’m going home. I’ll get my stuff, maybe I can stay with Alex. At least until you get back.”
He remembers the ring again. “Just one more city.”
“I have to go home.”
And when she says this, he knows he will remember this moment later on. He will remember the way the drops of mascara made laugh lines on her cheeks, the way the fluorescent lights made her look new. He will remember everything he did not feel, and he will remember knowing the answer to every question before he could ask her.
“Why won’t you stay?”
“I just can’t.”
She forces herself back into the room, and he hesitates before following her. But when they finally cross through the doorway, everything is covered in wet beads, a shine over every surface of furniture. Each step leaves a depression in the spongy carpet, and drops leak down from the ceiling above. The bed sheets are stretched down at the sides with the extra weight, and the magazines on the table lay in a pulp, puddles around the edges. The drops clothe the two of them in everything they never said, in all of the resentment and the hopes and the evaporated future, but they do not notice. It is all luminescent, a cathartic hallelujah in a Sunday morning sermon, the moment after a firework dissipates.
And when they reach out to what is ahead, they feel everything dissolve at once. A vast emptiness in the space between them. It is all drenched.
“I can’t remember when it all stopped.”
“Neither can I.”