Don’t you remember, Mildred? I told you that, one day, I would fly.
It has been so long since I have heard your voice, my dear. I have been counting the moments until we can reunite, until I could feel your warmth against mine. Until I could cradle you in my arms, feel the air moving in and out of your lungs, and hear the rhythmic beating of your heart as you slept, contentedly and without stir.
Out here, I have learned that we are a part of something much grander than ourselves, Mildred. The world that I once knew…everything appears so minuscule, now. So inconsequential. I have spent hours on end gazing at the land that I once called home, marvelling at the scale of it all. The things that I have seen, you could not even fathom, love. When night fell, and I looked down upon our home, I often wondered if you were peering back as well, our hearts and souls intertwined. I’ve felt your ghost with me always, your fingers caressing my cheek, fingers locked in mine forevermore in spite of the seemingly infinite void that separates us. No matter what, my heart has been with you, Mildred.
I told you that, one day, I would fly.
You always used to say that I had my head perpetually in the clouds, that it would do me well to come back down to earth. Grounded, complacent. Tired. It is true. I am tired, my love. So very tired that, some days, I would curse myself for waking. Life had lost all light, all colour, all hope. Of all of the moments in a day, my favourites were always the ones in which I was dreaming. I dreamt of stars and planets, of fairy tale perfect love that withstood the test of ages, of the assurance that, in the end, good would always prevail. But…what if I can no longer see the stars, Mildred? What if all that remains at the end of this empty road is darkness?
It is so very cold out here, Mildred. Colder than the air in the mountains that I once called home. Colder still than your touch as I depart. You told me that you would not see me leave. Said that it would be too painful, that I was running a fool’s mission, that my heart would be full of too much regret and sorrow. Regret is something that I know best, dear. Long ago, when I was only a child, I made a pact with myself, an oath to follow my dreams, to chase true happiness, and all of those foolish, naive notions. Life happened. My wings clipped, I spent my life toiling in the dirt, shambling along with the crowd, eyes blackened, listless, without spirit. I saw it on their faces stricken with grief, an appeal to a higher power, a plea lost among the wails of the damned. For generations, they fell in line, slogged through the refuse that was to be our future, too weak and pigeon-hearted to fight it all. A wandering soul atrophied by apathy and abhorrence of self, there was little I could do to stem the ebb and flow of an abortive destiny.
And so, I left this earth. I left this earth to dwell amongst the heavens, for a time. I left this earth merely a memory beneath my feet to pursue a greater fate among it all. And you, Mildred…an amaranthine love to keep me tethered, an inescapable reflection of you and I. I often wondered if you thought about me as much as I thought of you. My deepest fear, I think, was that you had moved on without me. I wanted so much to believe that my homecoming would be triumphant, rapturous, and clung so dearly to that thought above all else. My original purpose all but forgotten, I could think of nothing else but you, my love. But, I fear…that my time here is not long. My end is nigh, and I gaze into the hereafter with steeled eyes, liberated from all doubt and, yes, regret.
You have always despised me in a certain manner, I think. Blinded by a devotion to the status quo. Terrified of that which you were powerless to alter, you went away within yourself, retreating into a fantasy realm in which the throes of an abominable reality were not insurmountable. We were both deluded, but our delusions were entwined so flawlessly. Sometimes, when even sleep would abandon me, I would gaze longingly into your face, languishing at the abyss between us. Starlight suited you, I thought. I so wished that I could share my experiences with you, make you understand the melancholy that had me firmly in its grasp, but deep inside I knew this was a journey I had to undertake on my own. Still, I loved you, Mildred. I loved you more than love itself. You were, and will always remain, my air.
It is almost time to let you go, my dear. Every moment that we spent together, I sincerely hope that you look back fondly upon, despite our hardships and essential differences. One day, you will come to forget me, and my existence will be lost to oblivion, like those who came before us, and all that follow. I will leave no longing impact, no lasting testament to my being. I shall be mourned by few. Staring into the face of mine own destiny, I am unafraid. From this moment forward, I shall watch over you until the end of days, my love. Whenever you look to the stars, know that I will be looking down upon you as well. Just as I have been every moment since I left.
It is so hot up here, Mildred. Everything is shredding apart before my eyes. For once in my life…I see the light, Mildred. It is so beautiful, so serene. My time is up, love. I am ready.
I told you that, one day, I would fly. Are you watching me now, Mildred? I’ve become a shooting star…