The Age of Melancholy

There’s a darkness over you. A veil of smoke and soot, not quite thick enough to blind you but pervasive enough to remind you why it’s there. This veil exists with purpose; the marker of the absence of love.

Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

It once lived here, you thought. You felt it inside you whenever you said his name, whenever you spoke to him or saw his face. God, there will never be enough words in the English language to truly explain how deeply you loved him. Your heart cracks open when you think of him, the way he glanced at you when you did simple things like complain about dysfunctional street lights or when you brushed your teeth and swayed your body to whatever song oozed out of the speaker he owned. “What?” you would eventually ask, your mouth frothing with toothpaste and your right brow only slightly cocked. “Nothing. You’re just so beautiful”. Love lived here.

You hate science fiction. It bores you, the outlandish futurism and ridiculous concepts being so far fetched that it becomes silly. But you think of time travel and all those films about stopping time that annoyed you so much. There are frames, you think, split seconds in time you ache to relive. The first time you held hands and gazed at the stars, drunk on cheap wine and the delicious delirium of forever. There are many things you would exchange to feel that slow release of pure happiness again, and the stark reality of that improbability paralyzes you. What on this great grand earth could ever be better than that? You fall ill.

It’s probably just the grief, you reckon.

The veil never disappears. It thins from time to time, when you’ve had enough Bacardi and the music is so loud that your half-filled glass quivers on the table and you’re unable to hear the shitfaced high schooler yell “excuse me!” as she stumbles her way to the bathroom at that club you love to go to. You gaze at nothing, wondering how long the veil will be dwindled this time round and unintentionally make eye contact with a lively man across the room. You squeal when he acknowledges your absent stare and he gestures for you to dance with him. You want to cry. The veil thickens. You go home and remember that time he pulled you in and said he loved you in his sleep. It was 2am in a city you had never been to and the rhinos over the fence ran wildly and chewed loudly.

The dreams are the hardest part. Dreams so vivid you jolt up in bed and erupt into an unstoppable flow of tears that exhaust you into a dreamless coma. You ask yourself how long it takes to get over it, desperate for the veil to disappear into nothingness so that the part of your heart that died may finally resurrect. But there are no formulas, no tricks or self-help books that could bring it back. You never truly get over it.

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Plamedi Ngalula

Plamedi Ngalula

A twenty one year old first-generation immigrant navigating adulthood, drinking wine and trying to look good while doing both.