The woman went to her room and cried that day. She cried and cried until she could cry no more. Her tears– fat, lifeless drops of salty water rolled down her cheeks as she silently basked in the glory of her sorrows. I stared at her, wanting to caress her, to wipe away her tears, to tell her everything was going to be okay, but perhaps that would make it worse– only further deepening her pains into unforgettable scars. The woman blew into her handkerchief, looked up, her tears long-dried up on her cheeks, and stared straight into my soul. Her eyes did not move from my pale, sunken face and it made me slightly uncomfortable, maybe even useless that I couldn’t do anything to ease her pains. I walked away from her, looking back one last time– her gaze hadn’t shifted. She was staring at me as if I was still standing at my original position– in the threshold of her doorway. Her tan, freckled face reflected only years of grief and her eyes, that had once held only trust and sympathy, now became a part of the oblivion of nothingness. They were hollow. They could almost be mistaken as the eyes of one who had given up living, but one who had no choice but to live and survive. Her hair, once long and thick, a factor in her beauty as a young woman, was now lifeless as well– salt and pepper colored strands of dead protein that would never be the same again.
She clenched her hands together, palms soft and fingers slender despite her age– the only unchanged part about her. She would use them to caress the little girl and to spill her tears when they did come usually when she held the little girl tightly with her tender hands. The woman finally looked away, focusing and directing all her attention on her hands instead. She looked hopeless, her head down, silent until she finally got up from the bed, once again looked into the distance, breathed a deep sigh, and slowly walked back into the kitchen.
I could not see her like this. It killed me to see her strength suddenly dampened. I wanted to embrace her, to smile at her, to tell her things would be different, but I too, like her, was helpless. The poor woman could not confide in me, nor I in her.
The somber mood was murdered by the presence of the dictator. He sat on the old, decrepit sofa, watching television, stone-faced and dozing off at almost every commercial break due to a lack of sleep. While work kept him up most days, the woman, too, couldn’t remember the last time she had slept at all. Had it been a week? Maybe even two? The sleepless nights had become a hopeless, mundane routine and once in a while when I would step into her room to check up on her, I noticed the woman staring off into a distance, silent, without tears, just like I had seen her do that afternoon.