If I Lose It All
Runnin’, runnin’, runnin’
Ain’t runnin from myself no more
Together we’ll face it all
If I love myself , I lose it all
“Runnin (Lose It All), Naughty Boy
The house stood silent in front of the roar of the ocean, angry waves that raised their heads higher and higher, until they looked and appeared frightening and terrifying, before crashing down against the rocks and slipping away as if they were shameful snakes that knew when it was time to retreat. It had been an ongoing battle, the one between the ocean and the strong stone walls that protected that small town where only few people would want to live in; year after year, decade after decade, time stretched to eternity because no one could ever say exactly who had started that battle: had it been the ocean, a furious conqueror that wanted to eat the most amount of shore possible, or had it been that impenetrable stronghold that had been built by gods and goodness when even human beings hadn’t been alive?
Sometimes, looking out through the window and witnessing that wild showcase of the forces of the nature, he had thought that everyone had misinterpreted it because it couldn’t be just a primitive battle to see who was the strongest and winner of all: the waves, dark blue that led to believe that only darkness was waiting whoever and whatever would fall within them, weren’t courageous soldiers wielding their weapons and trying to win over an enemy they didn’t even know why they were fighting against; instead, they were just desperate lovers, broken souls that had lost everything, including that precious and most important treasure that would make and complete them, and they were just trying to get it back; so desperate, they were, because they could fight only a small amount of time, only when the sky would turn grey and would open its arms and welcome their cries of pain and heartache. Ocean and shore weren’t enemies, weren’t fighters tired of a battle that would never end: they were part of the same soul, part of something that could be complete only for those brief seconds when they were touching, silently confessing their agony and quick, so quick and desperate to promise to always come back.
To always be there.
The house was a small and silent witness of that tragedy, though it told another dramatic story that still hadn’t found an author able to put an end on it. That day it matched the gloomy atmosphere of nature, lying in the darkness and only lightened up when thunder would struck, as if it was a sneaky viewer that wanted to be sure that someone was indeed living inside that solitary pile of woods and tiles. And someone was inside, a pale figure that wandered around the rooms as if he was waiting for something to happen.
Silent and invisible tears streamed down, a few inch of skin that barely covered bones and couldn’t mask the sadness painted inside his eyes, pools that once upon a time had held one of the most bright shade of blue but that now could only show their knowledge about grey and shadows, dull and lifeless expression that seemed so strange when linked to that man. He was restless, never stopping but always coming in and out the rooms as if he was trying to find something. Or, better said, as if he was trying to run away from something.
The ocean’s voice, that calling, the whispering that wanted to attract him closer and closer until he could be part of that pantomime, that tragedy of waves and sands that wanted to be together. It was a trick, now he knew. Those waves, those voices, were songs of sirens that needed something, longed for someone’s misery so that they could lash out their own pain: a heart for a heart, a death for another death and so the circle could continue mercilessly in eternity. The man, that ghostly figure walking through memories of a happier life, was trying not to listen to them, not to accept that gift that would put an end on his misery: because sirens didn’t need another voice, didn’t even care if, once upon a time, the man’s voice had soothed and melted sorrows and pains. Or, maybe, that was the very reason why those mystical and sly creatures wanted to make him fall into their traps, stealing away a voice that they could never own and that could always put theirs in the background.
Was that a worse scenario instead of the reality he was already living?
Perhaps he should follow them. Perhaps he should open the window and follow that calling until he was submerged by the ocean, changed into a frail leaf that would be lead to infinity and then disappear, so that no one would suffer or be hurt again by its poison. Would it really happen? Could he really disappear like that, only by letting himself be taken away in that war or tragedy between ocean and sand? Between what was possible, a brief meeting once in a while, and what was impossible, as it was for those souls that wanted to melt into each other forever?
It was tempting. So dangerously tempting.
He had almost done it, one day. He had started to walk, his head and mind prisoners of those doubts and fears that never, never, had seemed to have left him alone, and he had suddenly found himself with the waves up to his knees. For a moment he had been tempted to continue, to go on walking until the water had completely submerged him and he would be at the mercy of the stream; it didn’t matter what would and could happen, it didn’t matter who he was leaving behind because it would had been better, wouldn’t be? No more worries, no more shameful performances and laughter behind their backs; no more hoping or believing, nothing that could be destroyed in just one second just like that wave that, roaring and becoming stronger and bigger, was so ready to crush him as if it was a lonely boat that someone had forgotten.
He had almost done it. He had almost let it happen. The wind, the freezing wind, had slapped him hard on the face, leaving a sting that tasted of salty waters and a reality that froze him more than the temperature of the water. It had hit him right in the centre, blocking his breath and everything that was around him: what the hell was he doing? Disappearing, letting that wave drag him into nothing, couldn’t and wouldn’t be the answer to all of his problems and miseries. But that had been the thought that had made him stop, just standing there and taking notice of where he was and what was about to do. Because, almost suddenly after, another thought had breathed and shook him, an invisible wind that had managed to become much more powerful and stronger than the one that was brushing the crest of the waves as if they were its favorites puppies; and it had been that thought that had managed to make him turn around and leave the ocean behind his back, without a doubt or a falter in his choice.
That thought had been an image of the one person that would end up more hurt than anyone else if he had kept going on, if he had kept walking and let the waves drowning him as if he was their precious and loved sand. In an instant, like a flash that announce the thunder and the storm, blonde hair had appeared in front of him, those soft hair that his fingers had always loved to caress and play, especially when they were so long that they would always end up hiding those blue eyes, always shining and so bright because finally life was smiling back at him. A wave, an iced cold wave, crashed against his chest and its splashes destroyed that happy face, replacing it with features distorted by anger and hurt after hearing the news. No, not just hearing and receiving that news but feeling the moment when his heart would stop beating, his lungs being so full of water that they couldn’t work anymore; sensing that agonizing millisecond when their souls would break apart, because one of the had died and disappeared, and knowing that there was nothing that could protect him from that pain and hurt. Knowing that he would keep living with only half of his soul, heart and being and that absence that would be the hardest and heaviest weight that he would never be able to scroll off.
And that had been the reason why he had came back. Shivering and trembling, fully aware of the rain coming down heavier and heavier while the ocean still tried to take him back, he kept walking until he was standing on the beach. Until he noticed that tears streaming down on his face, falling down and disappearing between the wet sand and the white of waves that were saying goodbye to their lovers. Only in that moment he had realized how low he had fallen, how much he had been so desperate to find a solution that would have made everyone happy. And thankfully his inner walls had stood strong, as if he had subconsciously tried to protect his companion by not letting him near those emotions, those horrible and depressing thoughts that had almost drove him to the point of no return. He had checked it more than once, retreating into that part of his soul, that middle ground where two spirits had shifted, mixed and melt until there was just an infinite garden, a canvas where colors traced and drew their emotions together allowing both of them to know what the other was feeling: everything was still normal, the beating sound became a soft touch of new air to breath, albeit a little bit colder from the flashes of worry that came from the other side. No matter how much scarred his soul was, he couldn’t help but sending a spark of reassurance, although he did know that it wasn’t going to be enough. But it was all he could do and he left hanging in the air those words that got carried through their spirit, questions about where he was and what had happened. It was all he could do, as he tried to strengthen his walls so nothing could leak out, so he could go back to the house and try to pick up a thread that would help him find himself once again.
He had been wrong, hadn’t he?
Because that house wasn’t only the silent witness of plans and therapies that had failed, it wasn’t just a fortress where he had hidden himself when everything had gone wrong and he didn’t want the world to see him so broken and so lost. Long before that disease, that venom had slipped inside his veins and had started to lay down bombs ready to go off so suddenly and without a warning, that house had been a collection of happy memories, a safe haven when he had been able to reveal his secret and they had learned how to be a couple. How to be together, side by side everyday; how to love each other, when one of them hadn’t had someone who had taught him that special and so important lesson of life.
He had been wrong, coming here and only let the negative and dark memories take so much importance and attention while he was trying to understand who he was even without his voice. He had been wrong and so now, still wet from the rain and that unusual bath in the ocean, he had wandered around the rooms and relive something much happier and full of colors. He would stand still against the doors while images would come alive: pictures of a couple following each other screaming in a fight that had ended up in a tangle of blankets and a promise of never letting each other go; the kitchen brought back to life a fragment of a night where the table had been completely full of pages and information, plans and schedules that they had believed it could be the perfect plan to fight and end that battle once for all. Tears pricked his eyes and he let them fall down without putting up much defenses: he still could feel the amount of love still lingering in the rooms, he still could sense how much he had felt safe and supported during those nights, arms that had never failed to wrap around his frail frame while anxiety and panic shook him as if they were a storm and he was only a broken boat, hanging on and trying to follow the light of his lighthouse. A lighthouse that had never been able to hide what was concealed inside its belly, because that was how being a soul mate worked. That was how being an empathy meant, being a conductor and a mirror of emotions and feelings that didn’t belong them and that stirred his natural instinct to sweep them away, brush as if they were only a bunch of grey clouds that weren’t big enough to cause a storm that would shake the lighthouse’s core.
His core. His corner stone. His mirror that shouldn’t be dirtied by the black of being useless; it couldn’t wear the lines of words and screams of injustice, that unfairness that had fallen upon his partner’s head and that couldn’t be traded with promises or pleas; it couldn’t, especially, be darkened and scratched by the claws of those monsters that were guiltiness and shame, as if it was partly his fault that his partner was going through such a hard time. He had tried so many times to fight those monsters but they were getting stronger while he was getting weaker, slowed down by another and much bigger fight against his own soul.
When it happened, when the last thunder had struck and had left him without a voice, he knew he had to go away. From everyone, from everything. From him, especially because he knew that, this time, he wouldn’t be able to be his soldier and defender, the fighter that would cut down the rotten branches and let him believe that the sun was going to shine again. That time, this time, he was the one that needed that reassurance but the mere thought of letting him know about it had been the one thing that most had driven him away.
He didn’t want to be weak. He didn’t want to lower his head and ask, even if only through that special link they shared, to be held, comforted and took care of. He wanted to be himself but no one had left him a manual to go back to be the strongest.
How could he go back to that person? How could he go back and be that hero that everyone had always counted on? How could he protect another soul if his had been ripped in shreds and he didn’t even know how to start to put them back together?
He was the sand in that moment. He was fragments and tears, bones and flash that were waiting for the ocean to come and take him, washing through what had been left of his soul and praying that it would only take away those parts that didn’t belong to him. That devil, that poison that had set base within his brain and had taken his voice prisoner without asking or requesting a ransom.
How could he get himself free?
And those were the moments when the ocean would call him, sing to him as if he was a lonely sailor in search of something that he didn’t quite understand yet; those were the seconds when his faith would falter, a step that wasn’t quite sure which was the right path to take: leave it all behind? Leave behind all those words that he could hear, all those murmurings and whispering said behind his back that tell about a trust that was slowly ruining the image of the group, not only his. That was, in fact, the price he had to pay for that mysterious gift that he had been given so many years before, right when he had to decide if he wanted to live or not: it didn’t matter how high or strong his defenses were, it didn’t matter how much energy he shared with his partner so he could block out the noises, the voices and the emotions of those who surrounded him. That gift, now a curse, was one of the many reasons why he stood there, in front of the window with one hand wrapped around the handle and trembling, not quite sure if he wanted to follow that voice or going back home. That gift of being able to sense things that no one else could see, that gift of being able to feel other people’s pain and troubles to try to soothe them, had turned out to be the sharpest and most painful arrow. He hadn’t had any defenses, his walls already shaking for the energy to keep his own emotions far away from that link that made them so complete and so perfect for each other. He couldn’t let his partner, his other half, know about how much darkness was filling his soul and, even worse, he couldn’t let him know what was being said. What he could sense from all those people who had followed them through thick and thin, through blood and problems that had seemed unsolvable: he couldn’t let him feel the sorry, the pity, the worry and the pain; the sadness mixed with despair, agony for what was happening and how he was handling it; the shame and the hate. Especially the last one. It had been the last one that had drove him there as soon as he had realized that he couldn’t even talk anymore.
His voice was simply gone.
So he had ran before his partner could know. Before the world could know. So he had ran, hoping to find some kind of comfort in a sanctuary that had held only beautiful and happily memories. He just wanted that life back, nothing more. He just wanted those lazy Sunday mornings spent in bed, whispering about plans that didn’t involve travelling the world but building a family that was only theirs. And, as if magic could still work in strange and weird ways because for hours and hours he had only been tortured by the bad ones, those memories finally started to shape up again on the glass of the window: he could see them, two ghosts that ran all around the living room, throwing cushions to each other before falling in a tangle where you couldn’t notice where one started and one ended; he could see them in the kitchen, in the middle of experiments and cooking lessons that always ended up with going out to their favorite place or ordering in. Even if they were memories, even if those scenes weren’t happening in front of his eyes, he still could sense the amount of love and support that his partner had never ceased to make him feel: he could still see the bright colors of that emotion, that warmth that had always been a blanket for all those moments when the cold and the despair had been too hard to fight; that stretched hand, that lighthouse that had always brought him back when he had gone too far, too lost in the sea of souls that needed and asked for his help.
Why had he run away from that corner stone? Why had he preferred hiding inside his nightmares instead than seeking that light? It was still hard, for him, to open himself to someone else; it was still hard, for him, to let go of that strong hold on the reins that held up his walls and defenses, even and especially from his soul mate. He had always told himself that he was doing it for him, because he wasn’t like him and he didn’t have any power to defend himself for the waves and force of emotions that would hit him.
But maybe that had always been part of the truth.
Something caught his attention, between the grey of the sky and the dark blue of the ocean. No, not something. Someone. Someone whose blonde hair were being ruffled by the wind, someone who wasn’t minding that the rain had started to pour down again and was just standing there, under a black street light and looking towards the house. Someone who had followed him, having sensed that something had gone wrong but without knowing what or why.
Someone who loved him and just wanted to help him.
For the first time in hours he let that special link open, as if it was a gate that could be opened only for someone special: beams of worry started to run through that invisible road that had been inaccessible until that moment; flashes of guiltiness because he should have known that something wasn’t right and didn’t realize how bad the situation was; waves and waves of love, warm love that took the form of soldiers and started to fight off those unpleasant and sharp arrows that had been set up to defend his soul; helplessness and feelings of being useless, two emotions that always appeared so small, like little gnomes but were, in reality, the most powerful into making him surrender.
And, in that moment, he understood the truth about the ocean and the sand. They weren’t enemies but they weren’t also two lovers that could never be together: it was totally the opposite and the truth had always been in front of his eyes, in front of everyone’s eyes: ocean and sand were proof that nothing can tear or break a bond so strong, something that had managed to pass through the lines of time and had never diminished or decreased. Ocean and sand were two lovers, two partners and companions that faced everything together, from those stormy days when the sky wanted so badly to break and bring pain to those sunny ones where they could just brush and caress each other, lying together in a dimension that no one could ever see or enter.
Ocean and sand weren’t and would never be alone.
And he wasn’t alone. Most of all, he didn’t have to face all of that alone. Not anymore. What was the point of having a soul mate, someone who he could share literally everything, if he kept holding back? For what? For fear?
“Let me in. Please. Let me in.”
The voice wasn’t carried by the wind and neither by a cell phone that hadn’t even rung. The voice was carried by that soul that was so intertwined with his, so melted together that they were one, suffering when one part of it was hurt and soaking in the sun when they were finally free of pains and troubles.
He could not ignore it. Not just because it was his voice, not just because that voice always had this magical power to hit him straight into his core, destroying every defenses he had left and attracted him to do whatever he was being asked to. He could not ignore that plea, that prayer of a pilgrim that just wanted to do something, even if it would mean to only hug him silently.
He could not ignore it and he didn’t it. Without stopping to take a jacket or an umbrella, he finally opened the window and started walking down to the dock, more likely running to that voice that was calling him.
To save him.
He stopped walking and started to run but, this time, he was going in the right direction. He was running towards the only place where he could find all the fragments and pieces of his old self because they had always been inside the hands of his partner. Of his soul mate.
Time stopped when they were finally face to face. Few steps divided them and, yet, it felt like they were about to cross a line they could never go back from it. And he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to go back to that ghost, to that person that had almost lost himself in the ocean just because he didn’t want to make people suffer anymore. He was the one suffering, he was the one believing that it would have been better if he disappear but, looking now at the man that had managed to take down the first and hardest walls, he realized that he had been fooling himself. They had both suffering, for different and same reasons too: just because he was the one facing the trouble in front line, it didn’t mean that the other was caring for something else: he was actually suffering because he wanted to step in, offer a hand or pick him up and, instead, he was being blocked and stopped.
“Let me in. Brian. - Nick whispered brokenly, closing the distance and wrapping his arms around Brian’s trembling frame. He placed his lips on his forehead, leaving a trail of kisses that ran down the line of his jaw until they came near the angle of his mouth. There Nick stopped, fixing his eyes on Brian’s and feeling a stab in the heart seeing all the hurt, confusion and desperation that finally Brian was letting him see. – I know I’m not like you. I’m not powerful like you but there is a reason why we are like this. There is a reason why I’m your soul mate, why I’m supposed to help you finding your way back when you lose yourself helping all those lost souls. I know you shelter me from a lot of things, thinking that I won’t be strong enough…”
Brian shook his head, interrupting Nick before he could finish his speech. His mouth started to open when he remembered why he had hiding there, why he had run away. The shame, the embarrassment and the hurt appeared fiercely on his face, making Nick feel like the stupidest person ever in the world. Because now he knew. Because now he realized that the unanswered phone calls hadn’t been intentional but there was something wrong, very wrong, going on that he hadn’t known. How could he heal that scar? How could he take away that pain that he knew nothing about?
“Show me. I know you can. Show me.”
It was more than Nick had ever asked Brian to do. It was something that even Brian rarely did, because it meant going into a zone that was so sacred and protected; because it meant travelling down the bottom of his soul and untie all those threads that had always formed a defensive armor around the centre of his power. Doing that, letting Nick enter and meet him inside his soul was a step that Brian didn’t know he was ready to do and not because he didn’t trust Nick. Now he knew that he didn’t trust himself, he was still that scared child that had always been afraid about letting people in and see who he really was.
Comfort, reassurance and love, pure and absolute love, were coming from Nick and so Brian took the most courageous step he would ever do: his hand found Nick’s, their fingers tangled around each other and, with his eyes closed, Brian let everything in the open. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t leave out the most embarrassing images, those sensations that almost drove him under the water and what it meant, everyday, to wake up and know that your prayers hadn’t been answered, know that you were still going to disappoint someone, to be hated and judged for something that no one could ever be able to understand. Brian showed Nick how much he hated feeling like that, feeling so weak because he couldn’t be the hero anymore, because any of his failures meant seeing traces of disappointment inside Nick’s eyes.
Nick hadn’t been ready for that. Probably that was something that no one could and would ever be able to face: there was so much going over and around him, so many fragments of a life that Brian had decided to leave out to protect himself, maybe because he thought that if he didn’t tell anyone about it, they would eventually go away. They didn’t. They stayed there and they ate inches of strength and energy, inches of that spirit that had always made Brian the person, the beautiful and amazing person so many people admired and adored. He had been blind, Nick. He had never fought Brian on things he didn’t know nothing about and, damn, if the man was right when he had screamed, in that infamous discussion, how no one could ever understand what it felt to live with that problem.
But, in that moment, none of that really mattered to Nick. In that moment, Nick was most taken aback by those last images, those last tears of desperation that had almost cost him the person he loved the most. He didn’t know how to do it, he wasn’t able to send him energy and love just like Brian used to do when he was the one being in trouble. Nick wasn’t an empath and the only thing he could do was tighten his arms wrapped around Brian, hoping that he could feel his love. Hoping that he could be washed over with so much trust and faith that all of his troubles would finally disappear.
“I’m here. – Nick whispered over and over again, until his voice got stolen away by the wind and became part of the air, part of those waves that were confessing their love to their lost lovers. – And you’re still here.”
And, for now, that was what all that mattered. For now they would be just a couple in the background, reliving something that they had both been so close to lose forever; for now Nick would just keep holding Brian so tight and so close to him, promising himself to never let that special heart bore so much weight, so much burden, without sharing it with him.
But, for now, Brian was there with him and he was there. Rain pouring down on their bodies as if it wanted to wash away all their pains and heartaches, the ocean singing behind their backs and building a wall between them and the real world.
And that was what all that mattered.