The Sensations Of Melancholy
“I may have the same pairs, but I know the difference between each one,” she had said with a bright smile. There were black ripped jeans skittering the light gray carpet. Only she would know if they were clean or dirty. I stood in the doorway to Dani’s room with a box pre-taped. I looked around her bedroom, not knowing where to start.
I smiled at the memory. A feeling of melancholy washed over me. Happy memories like the ones I used to look back on with happiness, but now they are heart-wrenching. I didn’t know if I would hear her voice again; I hoped I would. If she would just wake up, I’d make sure I never stopped listening to her talk again.
I picked up all her jeans and a few stray socks. I threw them into the laundry basket. I grabbed all her oversized t-shirts and threw those in too. I would need to wash all the dirty clothes before packing them. Her brightly covered sneakers cluttered the floor in every corner. I threw a few into the box I had and the rest into the closet with her other shoes.
I stared at the rumpled bed and smiled at the mismatched quilt peeking out from under her black sheets and comforter. It was the only thing she had left of her grandmother. Dani only had the blanket because her grandma wrapped her in it for their drive back home one night. The same night that everything else burned in the fire that destroyed her grandmother’s home.
So much pain followed her. We met when we were three. Instant best friends our parents liked to say. It pains me to think I might lose her, but I couldn’t blame her if she gave up while she was still in her coma. Looking over to the dresser mirror, I glimpsed our life together in dozens of photos. They had been jammed into the gap between the mirror and the black spray-painted antique frame.
Each photo was a memory I remember with ease. None are lost to the passing of time, and I prayed they never would be. I spot the photo from when we were eight and dressed as witches. She’s dressed as the Wicked Witch of the East and I’m a good witch. But not Glinda. I hated the color pink and glitter.
My eyes scanned over to the left and found a picture of us at high school graduation. It’s the most recent one we have that isn’t a selfie. Our blue gowns are unzipped and showed our matching jean shorts and university tees. It had been a surprise for our parents. To tell them what school we had chosen. Graduation day was special to us more than others. Dani’s college acceptance letter that we had been waiting for had been delivered before we left. It had seven changes of address stickers on it. I know because she counted. The wrong state was printed on the envelope and it had gotten lost. The whole drive she laughed that we were worried so long for nothing. Our dream of going away to college together was now a reality. It was the best day of our life.
I dropped the box and sat on the dresser in front of our memories. It is easily one of my favorite spots in her room. It’s wide enough that I can bring both legs up if I wanted. And it gave me a clear view of the entire room. Her forest green blackout curtains are open against her large double-casement windows. The light brightened the entire room despite the dark green wallpaper and forest mural that tried to darken it. Her room is a reflection of her confusing personality. I have never met anyone else who is as grounded as she is, but who dressed hardcore. She’s a metalhead through and through and wouldn’t think twice about getting dirty mudding.
Seeing everything that is hers makes it harder to start packing her things. It was one thing to pack our things and move here for school. That had been emotional and exciting. But packing her things for her parents to put in their garage? It was devastating.
I wasn’t giving up on her. I knew she would wake up. I just didn’t know when. Our landlord J.D. has been kind to give me time in this unit when I can’t afford the rent on my own. I think he hoped she would wake up too so they could have another day to flirt. They had been flirting endlessly since we moved in. I think it was because he had been surrounded by the screaming children of families and elderly tenants since inheriting this place from his dad’s ill-timed heart attack. He never expected to be a landlord at twenty, and Dani didn’t suffer from the flirting.
I wonder lately what it must be like for him. First, his father died of a heart attack no one had seen coming, and then a year and a half later his romantic interest was hit by a drunk driver and slipped into a coma. Just the thought of Dani never waking up made my heart feel hollow. I couldn’t imagine losing two people you cared about in less than two years.
“I feel like if we start packing, she’s going to wake up and yell at us for ruining all her hard work,” J.D. said.
He was leaning against the doorjamb. His arms are crossed, and he was examining every inch of the room.
“I’m not sure which scares me more, that or her not waking up,” he said with a grimace. It was a poor attempt at a joke, but I appreciated the effort more than he’d know.
“I’ll take the yelling for a week straight if it meant hearing her voice one more time,” I admitted.
He nodded in agreement. “Everything else is packed and moved into the studio apartment for you. The movers Dani’s parents hired will be here tomorrow.”
“Thanks for helping with all this,” I said, motioning around the room we are in. “And for giving me the studio.”
“We’re friends, right? Friends stick together, but also, I need to pay bills. Plus, I think Dani would wake up to kill me for even considering kicking you out,” he said with a chuckle.
I smiled because that is something I could see happening. “Glad to know you weren’t pretending to be friends so you could stick it in my bestie.”
I thought J.D. was about to die of embarrassment right in front of me as I laughed like a hyena. He joined in the laughing after a few moments. Our laughter slowed the more we analyzed the room until it went silent again. Both of us lost in our heads.
“You think she’s going to wake up?”
I nodded. “Yes. She has to. There’s no other future that I’ll consider. She’ll wake up. She’s being dramatic. You know her, she has to be extra.”
The corners of his mouth twitched. “Yeah, that makes it easier to pack everything,” he said, pushing off the wall and grabbing the box I dropped. “We can tell her if she can go the extra mile and make us sweat, we’ll return the favor by making her things disappear.”
“That’s the spirit!” I said jumping off the dresser. “Let’s get it started—ha!” I sang.
“Let’s get it started in here!” J.D. sang back.
“You fucked up! Now you’re stuck playing the song.”
J.D. rolled his eyes but pulled out his phone and put Dani’s favorite song on. The music surrounded us as it hit the walls and echoed back to us. It felt like Dani was with us in the room at that moment. If I listened closely I could hear her belting out the song lyrics. And if I closed my eyes, I could pretend that she was in the middle of the room dancing. That she would get closer to me until she pulled me into her makeshift dance floor and make me dance with her like we had no care in the world. It made putting her things in boxes a tiny bit easier.