I remember her. I remember having to are to keep up, even in those first few minutes passing under this arch to a little slice of heaven. Those cottage walls kept the world at bay for a week and let us fall into each other easily and naturally. Even our arguments, such as they were are laughable. As all of ours are, or would be if they could be seen from more of a distance. A decade from now we'd laugh, if we could even remember them, except all fairy tales have a plot. You don't get to happily ever after without killing the big bad wolf, or pushing the witch into the oven. There's always that moment when all looks lost, just before the sun shines through a crack in the curtains and the vampire is turned to ashes.
I kept waiting for that moment. Hell I kept trying to manufacture that moment. But it never came. All the life was sucked out of us and there's nothing left but a husk, blowing madly in the wind.
Still there are the ghosts. In the chill of January in the emptiness of Churchyard Cottage there will be two ghosts, blissful but wondering where their bodies went. Of course it will be empty because who else would be crazy enough to rent the place in the depths of winter? The dishes will pile up, your clothes will be strewn across the floor. There will be another wine stain on the rug, which is all that will be amiss when the landlord next opens the door, the ghosts having vanished for another year.
People will hear laughter coming from the circle at night, the words "me, me me" sweetly melodic dancing on the surface of the wind whipping through the stones, and the headlights will catch two cloaked figures clinging to each other on the ring stone, that vanishes into shadows as their beams strike full on.
Full on is how we were born, right here on Flickr. From that first email to that last kiss in January, we were fully on. We found we could leap flatfooted from ledge to higher ledge and if one of us stumbled, the other yanked them up. We got so incredibly high we had to fall I guess. It wasn't a mountain we were climbing but a house of cards and it's come tumbling down.
It's probably not fair to take it out on a social media platform, I mean Flickr is a fairly benign presence. It's what we do with it. We turned it into a vehicle to fall in love, lose each other and then find each other once more. I used it as a medium to reach you when you shut all other doors. There's a lot of magic here, and it hurts to see it go.
But it has to. As you said, it's a visual diary and where my mind is going now isn't a happy place. Along with the sweetness is the sour taste of faded love, of broken vows and bitter disappointment. I never imagined that the woman passing under this arch could find anything too hard. You pulled me half way across a continent, over mountains and across the ocean to your arms. You rearranged your world to find a place in the corner for me to perch, and a spot beside you to lay.
And now you look down the path and see a chasm, a river below filled with venomous snakes and a bridge collapsing into the void, with us on opposite sides. I look down at the same path and see the yellow brick road. You see insurmountable differences and I see two sides of the same person. You look at me and see the howling beast while I look in the mirror and it's only me staring back.
"Float" you say.
"I can't," I reply. "I'm drowning."
You can't throw a lifeline. You're too busy. You can't think about it now. You have so many reasons why we can't, and none why we can, and you say wait all the while disappearing into a speck on the horizon. You hope I can hang on but hang on to what exactly? A shadow of the eternal love we pledged to each other. A wisp of incense smoke? The flickr of the flame in your fireplace? Your scent on a piece of fabric? An empty bottle now weathered and faded where it sits where you left it in a spot you called home? To your lighter, still safe in the truck, waiting for the next time you climb in? To a dream that took all the color from my life here and transplanted it 4,000 miles away where I finally found a home, only to have the rug pulled out from under me and a 4,000 mile drop back into a place that's once again, nothing but a husk? Because any memories I had of this place are erased by the memory of you here for a week, a week that transformed how I saw this world, that shone brilliantly for a short time and then faded back to eternal grey.
And so here at the end you want me to keep Flickr, so you can still have your memories at least. But you see, I can't. I'm not content to be a memory in this world. I didn't turn the world upside down to be a memory. I was your husband and it's hard to go from that to a memory without a bit of pain seeping in through the cracks. In trust you pushed me to let go of all my defenses, to open myself fully and go right up to the edge of losing control. You drew first, and last blood.
I open my eyes to see I'm bound to a pyre and you're standing there, torch in hand and you can't even be bothered to give it a toss. You just let it fall and turn your back and I burn, like you said you wanted long ago. Every nerve ending is ablaze and the stench of my own burning flesh invades my senses. And I know once the fire goes out I'll still be here, charred but alive.
I'll never believe that this is what you wanted, or intended. And I know it's not what you want to see. The truth is harder than the monster you made me out to be in your mind so you could break away. The truth is I was just a guy who loved you and believed you and walked blindly into a beautiful new world that you created for us. A world that didn't live up to your expectations and so split your mind in two.
So yeah, I can keep Flickr so you can keep your memories, and I'll leave this here as the last post, so you never forget how the story ended. Or you can let it go, like I have to let you go. And let our memories be just that, memories. Not a public record of the love that we've lost.