All I Was Doing Was Breathing (Part 01) - A Daft Punk Fanfiction
Pairing: Thomas/Guy, Thomas POV.
Suppose that during that fateful night of 1994, only one of them survived the oncoming truck. Suddenly faced with a grief that he is in no way prepared to accept, the one left behind begins to write a diary of mourning, hoping that something valuable will come of it.
But no one ever said that healing was that straightforward.
Warnings: Extremely depressing. Hedonism, fundamental character death, drug use, philosophy, angst, sexual themes, plenty of sexual situations/fantasies, deep-seated emotional instability, screwy formatting (diary), and most of all, based on a real life event. I am only thankful that things turned out okay in reality.
I went to your funeral.
Then I went home that was not home.
The formal beginning of this long bereavement, the acknowledgement of this loss.
One o'clock, the skies are starless and bleak.
My first proper mourning night.
Who knows - maybe something of value in those notes.
Six thirty, not as pitch black outside as before.
The rattling of trash cans, humming engines, the restrained calls of truck drivers.
I remember that whenever you slept over, you would stir awake at those sounds, and lie in bed staring at the ceiling.
When I asked you if everything was all right you would answer with not an intangible relief that the night was over at last.
Then you would close your eyes and spiral back into sleep.
I used to watch you. You always slept so serene.
I don't know if you sleep like that now. They wouldn't let me see you.
Nor did they let anyone else for that matter.
I think everyone can guess at the intensity of a bereavement from looking at it. Whether it's a funeral procession you pass by as you come home with the groceries, or personally watching someone mourn their loss, or witnessing a fictional one from afar. It works across all mediums. When one looks at something like that, they're tapping into a very human feeling, one that we all possess - what we can feel as a cold, deep-seated instinctiveness even when young, or when we're without reason to care about this particular loss.
But I think it is never possible to measure just how much someone is afflicted.
Nor do I think we ought to ever make a serious attempt at doing so. It's contradictory and disrespectful.
One full week since you were gone, forty-eight hours since you returned to the embrace of earth.
It's pointless to count the days now, as if you were capable of returning at the end. This is now my reality.
Maman bought some macarons and put them outside my door. I threw them all away.
They're the vanilla-bean ones I was asking for just over a week ago, you remember, the ones from that place in Rue Lepic. The new ones that I tasted just once and yearned for desperately, ever so tragically, like I would never to get to eat another. She bought me an entire bag's worth and now I can't bear to look at them. The desires I had before can no longer be fulfilled, because that would mean that it was your absence that allowed me to fulfil them; I could have had you, endless longing for vanilla, and no macarons, or I could have had macarons and no you.
That's only a very shallow example, but it's one of countless many.
But losing you has changed me. I no longer desire what I used to desire. I must wait, supposing that I can wait and such a thing is possible, for new desires to form - desires wholly following your absence.
I have had to leave my room. The vanilla scent is inescapable.
Across the river to the place de la Sorbonne.
In front of the frothing, never-ending fountain: sad/gentle/deep (relaxed).
I spent the past day in my room, crying. You were meant to come over last night, do you remember? We'd have gotten dressed and headed over to the Silencio together. One by one the days fall past and the notes I scribbled on each calendar square become irrelevant, whether from simple time's passage or the impossibility of the task in question being fulfilled. All night the phone rang, and just from that alone I knew that no one else we'd planned to go with had actually gone. Mourning in their own terms, but making time for me. To check that I was all right. It makes me feel worse that I didn't answer a single call. It's a given that I'm not okay, and that I don't feel like talking, but at the same time I feel that my condition doesn't justify ignoring all of those people.
You were meant to come back with me. I was meant to see the dawn of the twenty-ninth with you, the two of us giddy with drinks and whatever we'd managed to score at the club, and collapse on the floor of my room to sleep it off until midafternoon. Around two in the morning you'd have gotten up and placed a pillow under our heads, maybe. No different to any other amazing night out. But now I'm alone and I have nothing but the memories of you and this diary to assuage my pain.
How am I going to manage all by myself?
But at the same time it's clear that there is no other place.
To every man his little cross, until he is dead and is forgotten.
To each their own rhythm of suffering.
Not even a fortnight gone and life has begun the first of its grand interferences into my grief. Essay due on the fifth, fifteen pages max., regarding to what extent children learn language via mimicry. I put in an extension request because this is the last thing in my mind right now - grant me two weeks, no, one week, just so I am mentally prepared for what is to come in the next few days.
I wait and I hope - but until then, I'm staying next to you.
Over here it is night, eight o'clock in the evening exactly. Today I actually managed to sit down for dinner with Papa and Maman; they looked relieved, kind of, though they said little about it. The food tasted bland, but then most everything has for the past couple of weeks. Quiet, but uneasy atmosphere; I was glad to leave it.
Part of me keeps a despairing sort of vigil; and at the same time, another part struggles to put my trivial affairs into some kind of an order. I should have done this, could have done that better, and so on. The garden doesn't not need watering because you are gone, I still need to go to class, there's an essay to write, there are people I still need to meet if only to tell them that our projects cannot go ahead. I want nothing more than for time to stop its relentless march until I am over this grief, but the world refuses to wait for me - it is forever rushing, progressing, trivializing you with its accursed flow - and that makes me resent the world in turn.
This is the sickness you have gifted me.
No extensions granted. I can't believe this. But so much time has passed that I don't have much of a leg to stand on.
I have to finish this assignment.
I'll come back soon. I promise. Please wait for me.
03 February (midnight; taking break)
Spend the years of learning squandering
Courage for the years of wandering
Through a world politely turning
From the loutishness of learning.
- From Beckett.
Just made the deadline. I thought it would take maybe a day at most to write, I'd made notes for most of it. But I overestimated how willing I would be to sit down, shut off my brain and write, I think, for writing this diary and writing an assignment are two completely different things. As far as I'm concerned that particular essay was mere busy work, of no ultimate importance, while this comes straight from my heart. I need to be fully engaged with this endeavour if I'm to make anything out of those notes.
They offered some token sympathies when I went to hand in the essay. I'd put down why I asked for the extension, doubtless the word got around. The implications I got from those words amounted to nothing of any importance - they were sorry for my loss, they hoped that it wouldn't impact my work, I ought to take care of myself, and such. Take care of yourself, but be sure to work, even if it hurts you. Right. Ha. I got it.
It doesn't matter, though. It doesn't matter...
I have lost you, and right now there is a void in me that I cannot hope to fill on my own.
Healing first, then I'll be ready to return to the impersonal world of academia.
I need to protect you.
Meet Laurent and others, Silencio trip expected. (Slip out before ten o'clock) - 11th.
Le Parisien for Papa.
Awful migraine the past few days, followed by a fever. It has not gone. I am glad for it. Let me be broken before the eighth.
Afternoon. Still unwell, but clinging on. That this death fails to destroy me altogether means that something in me still struggles madly - wildly - passionately in order to live. Does that not therefore mean that my own fear of death is still there, not having been displaced a single inch?
I almost want to lie about feeling better.
Our Lady of Paris rings her bells.
There are some mornings, so sad...
There's a box wrapped in gold paper and tied off with ribbon in the corner of my room and I can't bear to touch it
If you saw it the last time you were here thank you for never mentioning it
They're calling me to come downstairs now. Church. I've got five minutes.
Bon anniversaire, mes vœux les plus sincères.
Que ces quelques fleurs vous apportent le bonheur
Que l’année entière vous soit douce et légère!
Et que l’an fini, nous soyons tous...
Pour chanter en chœur...
In lieu of a birthday present your brother wrote and read you a small eulogy.
I reproduce it here. I like to think that you were listening, so it might be redundant - but just in case.
Not a day goes by that I don't replay the last night I saw you on this earth. I'm haunted by how it all happened so quickly, with you only a few miles away from home, so close and yet too far for us to reach in time. And what if we hadn't done all the things we did that night, would you still be here today? If I'd stayed on the phone a minute longer, if I'd never been asleep, if I'd stayed awake long enough to tell you that if you stayed there, we'd come and take you back home? What if I had known while you were on the phone, sounding rapid and breathless, that it would be the last time I would get to talk to you? Why didn't I notice earlier that something must have been wrong?
There isn't an answer to all those what ifs and maybes and whys. Or rather, it's the case that I have no way of answering them.
But I'm your brother. I was by your side for all of those years. I was meant to know you more closely than anyone else did, and it hurts me endlessly that I didn't pick up on your tone of voice, and that I didn't do anything about what was so obviously going wrong. I can't help but blame myself for the loss of you. I'm still here - we both got up to the same amount of mischief, had plenty of close shaves, but just because I was home that night and you weren't, God took you and not me. Maybe that's alarming to hear, but it's true. Speaking from the depths of my heart, if I could have gone instead, I would have.
But I'm here and I'm left to pick up the pieces and for the sake of you and our family, by God, I'll do my best.
But right now? I just want you back.
I'm sorry that we're saying all of this so late. When we buried you we didn't have the words. It's been two weeks since your funeral. Long enough for us to understand that we have no idea how to manage the next two months without you, let alone the next two years, four, six, twenty. You are everywhere and nowhere, now that our family is less than a collective one. It feels as if you only just left, and that we missed you walking out of the door by mere seconds; every night we're just waiting for you to walk back in, jacket slung over your arm, slumping down on the sofa and reaching for the remote. Your records are still stacked on the floor, your bed is made and the last shirt you changed out of is still there, only that it's been folded and set on your pillow. Sometimes one of us forgets and sets the table for four, and then none of us can bear to eat anything, being reminded of you who can never return to us. You said we ought to change the message on the answering machine - the one you recorded when you were sixteen - and offered to re-record it at some point. But I don't think we ever will change it, now. Not for a very long time.
You always promised me that you would never leave me alone in this world. That didn't happen, but it wasn't your fault. It wasn't a promise I'd have blamed you for being unable to keep, especially not now, not that I've seen how quickly and unknowingly a life can be over; you are no longer suffering, at least. But there aren't words to describe just how much I miss you, and maybe I'll live my entire life without being able to describe it. I almost don't want to, out of the fear that that'll mean I accepted any part of your death, since the step after acceptance tends to be forgetting. Maybe you'd have wanted us to forget and move on. But for now, at least, this pain is going nowhere.
They say that to die would be an awfully big adventure but they almost never think of the people left behind.
Still, if you can, wait for me a while. One day I'll be able to join you, and we'll go adventuring together, the way we did when we were younger. Until then, our blue-eyed dreamer, our-
I have to omit your name. I'm sorry. It's been too soon and I don't want to make this more real for myself.
I'm so selfish.
Horrible day. More and more wretched. I can't stop crying.
I'd had your present bought months beforehand. I mentioned it earlier, didn't I?
Well, here it is.
Two bottles of butterscotch schnapps, and a crystal schnapps glass, for your eyes and lips only. Two nice large bottles. I'd have mixed you up a cocktail, too, when you opened the box and brought out the bottles. Butterscotch schnapps and a dash of Irish Cream was what you liked to drink. You'd do a few shots of that and be ready to party, in less than ten minutes.
Back then, anyway.
But that was weeks ago and now I'm stuck with one and half litres of butterscotch schnapps that I can neither stand to drink nor regift to anyone else. Not that I don't like butterscotch schnapps - it's nice on its own - but it's just dumb, you know? It's just dumb. These bottles were yours. The experiences that would have come of it were ours. I don't know what I mourn more, the fact that you aren't capable of ownership now, or that we can't share things any more.
Maman looked in and asked me if I wanted anything.
Yes. I'd like to lie down and not do anything and not feel anything for the rest of my life. But I couldn't say that - couldn't just demand things from her like the child I used to be, mere weeks ago - so I said nothing until she sighed, stroked my hair and went away. I can't bring myself to say anything to Maman, not when a different Maman is downstairs, watching her footsteps wander up the stairs, hearing her voice calling out to me, all the while knowing that her own child can't demand anything of her ever again.
I haven't the courage to face her. I am staying here. It's cowardly but I can't help myself
If our friends saw me doing this they'd be unbearably disgusted with me.
But I already tore the gift wrap off. Might as well go all the way
Here's to you.
On second thoughts I think that I miss sharing the most.
You could have had nothing and I'd have given you what you needed
You could have been dirt poor and I'd have done anything to help you
Everything in this room are just things and I'd have sold off all of it so you could flourish
At least you'd have been there.
Sure you might not have been laughing or happy
But I could have helped you laugh again.
You'd have smiled again...
... at me, all for me, for my sake.
And you'd have been there.
this drink isn't strong enough
HELLO WHERE ARE YOU
might have broken the schnapps glass. whoops
got myself a wineglass instead
but it didn't feel right to drink schnapps in it
so i saved that for later. precious, precious liquor. come to my arms
tripping all over the fucking stairs jesus christ
but you know wineglasses belong with wine and it's a perfectly good wineglass.
shame to waste it.
you are no longer suffering, they said
but in that sentence to whom does 'you' refer? what is the meaning of that present tense?
you always filled the wineglass exactly half full whenever you drank, and never a centimetre more or less. i used to think you were excessively polite or just very quaint for doing that
but it's midnight and i'm doing the same thing now and there's a beauty in it
(whether it's the same beauty you saw i don't know.)
have you ever looked closely at a half empty glass of wine?
half full maybe? i don't know shit about your worldview oh my god i really am a bad friend
please don't hate me i'm trying i promise
have you ever looked at a glass
that's at half-capacity?
or looked at the world through a glass of wine that's at half-capacity? that's better
i'm performing this exact experiment now and this is what i observed.
the top half shows things clear. the clear half. everything's pretty much how they are. it might be warped here and there because of how the glass distorts it, but everything is seen pretty much how they are. but the bottom half, there isn't much to be made out of that at all. dark red reflection, what little you can see tinted, upside down, and distorted.
but it adds a splash of colour to an otherwise colourless world. the bottom half draws me in more than the top does.
i would take this over seeing what's in plain sight any day.
the raw shade of reality does nothing but wreck your complexion.
i look through the bottom of the glass and it's fucked up but it's very pretty. beautiful.
broken and appealing at the same time.
it's a metaphor for my life i think
or yours. that colour on its own probably is a metaphor for some kind of life
or the lack of it rather...
i don't know what i'm saying.
this red is doing nothing for me
pour, oh pour, the pirate sherry...
Laurent came over today.
I have been in a state of chaos the past few days. No doubt my diary entries have been proof enough of that, not that I want to read them over and find out; not just yet. I've thoroughly embarrassed myself that night as it is, spending the entire night drunk out of my mind, spilling wine on the stairs and refusing to clean it up. Just as well the floor there wasn't carpeted, but anyway. No one's said anything, but out of shame and a days-long hangover I've been keeping quietly to myself. Day in, day out - coming out for snacks and a drink of water now and then, and to shower off every morning, but nothing else.
I'm losing track of the story.
He came upstairs and knocked on my bedroom door at roughly four o'clock in the afternoon. Papa must have let him in. I hadn't been expecting to see him here, but I wasn't surprised to see him, per se; I haven't seen our friends the past two weeks and I felt obliged to show my face at least once, just to confirm to them that I was still here. You have to do that every now and then, and all. Tonight was the date we agreed on, and though they were planning to go to Silencio afterwards (free shots; subdued music; quieter nights of the week), I'd planned to slip away before then. I'd banked on them understanding why I would want to do something like that. But it's not as if I kept in regular contact with them since, so Laurent probably came over to check up on me, to see if I was still up for it.
I say 'probably' because he said nothing about this when he came in. Very little time was spent on us asking each other if we were all right. I think he felt no need to ask.
He was very wan-looking, about as much as Maman worriedly told me that I was getting. His eyes still had focus, but they had a faint veil to them, and while he was responding to what attempts at conversation I was attempting to make, it was clear that his mind wasn't really in it. He didn't look as if he'd rather have been elsewhere, but that worried me ever more because that made me unsure where he really wanted to be; if not home, if not the clubs, nor my room, then where?
Your disappearance has taken away the homes of many.
I mixed him a cocktail. Butterscotch schnapps (he never knew that it was a gift for you) and amaretto, not quite your favourite but close, and a mixture Laurent had never tasted before. He took a while to get into it, but by the time he reached the last inch he was downing it with ease. I silently poured him another and he drank that down as well, and only then did he really began to talk, though none of it enchanted me in the slightest. It turned out that he too was disapproving of the choice to go to Silencio, and was wondering out loud why there of all places, so close to where it happened - the same things I wondered, myself, and only did not protest because I had no energy to do so. By all means we were on the same side, we ought not to have been arguing.
But argue we did.
"You're just as bad as them. Hell, even a flat no would have sufficed. We'd have all understood. Didn't you know that this outing depends entirely on you, knowing who you were," I opened my mouth to protest but he cut me off. "it's true. Don't argue with me. You've gone outside of his memory. This is hurtful to watch, Thomas."
"It's trust that you killed," he said - observed my flinch - and gestured wildly towards the glass. I'd made him a martini from what we had downstairs. "mix me another, the one with the schnapps. This one's too watery. That was the only halfway decent drink I've had since all of that happened. I think I'll go on a walk after."
"Not with those drinks in you. You're talking crazy."
"I'm not talking crazy. Nothing's crazy about a little walk around the streets of Paris. You can stay here or fuck off to the club or whatever, I don't care. I'm going on a walk. Either that or kill myself."
"Laurent nothing!" he shouted. He took hold of his glass and glared up at me.
"Pour me another. All I want to be is drunk. So much that I can't walk home and you'll have to pay for a taxi," Then he shoved his drink into my hand, making some of it splash over the edge and drip onto the carpet. "never mind tonight, because I sure as hell won't be going. Fuck the Silencio. Fuck the DJs and the booze and the whores and every single goddamn thing you and the lot of them ever stood for. Is that where you pop your pills now? So you can break up another family or five? Pour me another, you son of a bitch!"
That was too much. I am not proud to admit it - but before I knew it my arm was raised, and I slapped him hard around the face.
His head jerked sharply back and his hand flew up to his cheek, where the skin was already reddened.
I hadn't meant to hit him that hard - I hadn't meant to hit him, full stop - and I regretted it the moment I felt the contact. The glass dropped from my hand and rolled on the floor, not breaking, but all the liquid in it spilling on the floor; aghast, I stared down at my hand, then at Laurent, fully expecting him to hit me back.
But he did no such thing. Nor did he retaliate at all. Instead he looked up at me for a long time, tears slowly filling his eyes. He didn't look away from me even as they spilled and ran down his cheeks, and he didn't make a single sound. Only when I sank down to my knees did he finally bury his face in his hands, crying wildly as I've never seen him cry before, not even during the day of the funeral. Like a child who'd lost the way home.
I reached out and held him as we cried together; once he tried to push me away, weakly, but gave in and fell against my chest. All the while he sobbed 'he's dead, he's dead, he's fucking dead' over and over, those words hammered into the depths of my heart, and even though I wanted to tell him to be quiet I hadn't the presence of mind to do so. I don't even think I said anything at all. I just cried. And when we ran out of tears, or at least thought we had, we simply sat there leaning limply against each other until the sun set and darkness seeped in.
I did pour him another schnapps with amaretto, hours after he first asked for it, but he left it unfinished after only a sip. He was intent on walking back, so I didn't insist, either; with a mumbled utterance that he'd call me sometime soon, he sniffed, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, and stumbled out into the night. I watched him go for the longest time, seeing him eventually stand straight and cross the road with a much-welcomed wariness in his eyes, before I even backed into the doorway.
When he was gone I took a sip and winced; Laurent had wept into it during the short time he'd held the glass in his hands, and it tasted like it. But I stood there and drank down all of it anyway, because I couldn't bear to see the liquor go down the drain - specifically, the schnapps part. Every single drop of it belonged and was dedicated to you. Only when I put the glass down did the salt get in my eyes.
Schnapps, amaretto, and tears.
Sometimes, very, very briefly - a blank moment - numbness - forgetfulness.
The occupation of something else forcing you out of my mind completely.
It frightens me.
there are parisian mornings and afternoons so blue and sad
underneath my feet the earth revolves as chaotic as my mourning
Not looking forward to tomorrow. Nevertheless I do want to go out.
Maybe I'll take a look in the shops...
I always loved shopping more for being able to talk to you, being able to hold your hand, having non-shopping related conversations wherever we walked. I can still do my half, though, can't I? I'll tell you about it when I come back, if I find anything interesting.
No news from Laurent yet. I'm getting worried.
Sad afternoon. Shopping. Bought a pair of headphones (frivolous) that I haven't unpacked. Thought about sitting down for a meal in our usual café, but in the end stopped only for a tea-cake in a bakery I've never been in. Taking care of the customer ahead of me, the girl behind the counter said voilà.
The expression I used whenever I brought you something, or lifted up a new record from the turntable, whenever you slept over at my place and I wanted to wake you in the morning with buttered croissants and coffee. The very last thing I remember you telling me is you pulling me out into the snow-covered pavement, free from the noise of the club, gesturing to the frosty night outside as you whispered, faintly, voilà.
Voilà. I am here. Affirmation of existence.
That word brought tears to my eyes and my voice shook as I placed my order.
Back in my dark, silent home I sank down on my bed and carried on crying for a good long while.
(I would have liked to visit you but that one word took all the strength I had out of me.)
Last night, for the first time, dreamed of you.
Your fingers trembled in the light overhead, pale and delicate under the sodium streetlight, the lighter in your hand clicking rapidly as you tried to flick it and missed every attempt - -
February is the cruellest month, so many dates to dread in such a short period of time.
Your birthday, one month since you left this earth, one month since you returned to earth, all in this one month.
No one shall call me tonight, I want to be alone, I have no energy to even ignore phone calls.
Sad start to another day. Over breakfast Papa told me off for tugging the phone cord out - he was waiting for a business call.
It was only a gentle admonishing, and he stopped as soon as I ducked my head and nodded. I don't doubt that he knew why I did it, and that he understood how raw my grief is still - but I acted without regard to other family members, and that simply needed telling. Even in deep sadness there are boundaries to be kept.
Poor Papa, poor Maman; they seem to have withered with me during the past month, the lines around his face are deeper and she is more sadly quiet than ever. Maman still talks to your Maman, by the way, I sometimes hear her while I'm upstairs, quietly engaged in chatter that is simultaneously gentle and therapeutic (I hope). She never pries and she never talks about the incident, but she never seems to pretend that it didn't happen or that things have stayed the same. No denial from her part; she is too much of an adult. I have a long way to go.
Nothing much was said. But ten days of silence is longer than any we have endured from each other since we became friends, and he seemed to think that that was punishment enough for the time being. He simply asked me how I was doing and if I was not too sad, though I don't think he was listening too closely to my answer. (I am doing as well as I can manage, which is to say, while I remain endlessly sad.) More a question of formality.
In-class topic today: psycholinguistics.
'Thomas Bangalter suffers from the death of another human being,'
(A slow approach to reach the literal fact - to be continued.)
Damnant quod non intellegunt.
You make this all go away...
... I just want something I can never have.
NIN, was it? - Promising.
I just realized that I never told you anything about what happened to that assignment, the one I finished on the fifth. It's not that there was a lot to say about it - I got a good grade for something I spent so little genuine effort on, and that's the end of that tale - but the fact that it took me this long to realize that should tip you off to what I've been doing, in regard to this diary. This is the first time I have read it over from the start.
Verdict? Not happy with it, that is to say, not very happy with myself. But that's to be expected.
And that re-examination was spurred on in the first place because of the date. Notice that it is the twenty-fifth; a full month since the funeral, before you were irrevocably returned to dust, and I had to begin walking my own path. So far what I have crafted/written of it displeases me greatly and I'm not sure when I will get better, nor if I indeed will.
But you'd have wanted me to persevere and I shall (bad faith).
Goodbye, wretched month!
How glad I am that this is not a leap year, that I do not have to endure the extra twenty-four hours - your miserable offspring!
Today I spent an unhealthy amount of time sitting on a bench in the university gardens, staring intently at the ground.
I'm sure it was unhealthy, I missed a lecture to do so, and I felt concerned - nervous? - gazes pass my way every now and then. I was very painfully aware of all of that. But I couldn't look away. My focus was not on how neatly the grass was trimmed (very nice) or how the flowers were just about beginning to bud and bloom (very pretty), but more of what lay beneath it all. Paris is a city literally built upon the dead, over six million resting in the commonly toured lengths of the catacombs alone. Who knows how many more there must be amidst the fallen-in ceilings, blocked walls, and the illegal condos and cinemas built within? I could not imagine willingly walking into that cold earth, even if that space was adapted with familiar comforts; certain values that I possess have made it difficult for me to imagine disturbing so many of the dead.
And if not that underground labyrinth, the graveyards, overflowing with people three hundred years ago - hardly better now. Underneath the modern, stylish serenity of Place Joachim-du-Bellay, the very heart of Paris, lies the forgotten remains of those who never made it into the catacombs. For centuries they lay there, bodies melting into fat, fragile bones crumbling, disease melded in every...
Pardon me. This is slowly becoming spectacle. I'll stop.
But the point remains that these times are gone, safely buried underground, where no one ever thinks of them - except when a close one has passed away. Then comes the inevitable funerary rituals, considerations that leave everyone shaking their heads and throwing their hands up in frustration, eager to be done with such things and never think of them again. (But this is the desire of an immortal; these people too will one day die and leave that burden of sorrow behind.) All that and more are the reasons why you cannot be found in any of the inner-Paris cemeteries. Your grave is a longer ride away, though it's still not terribly far. Only far enough away that sometimes I forget that you are there at all - out of sight and out of mind, as ashamed as I am to admit it. Since the funeral I have not been there.
It's not that I don't know the way. I know that I should go. I want to go.
... I just don't know when, and how I'd react if I saw you again.
(But I also insist on going alone. Complications.)
My sunset is slow and my first star is pain, still the darkness will not come.
The evening spreads blood-red over Paris. Sometimes it does that, of course, due to the sun. I remember you used to watch the sky whenever this occurred; you found it quite exquisite. Imagine me, closing all the curtains and hiding from beauty essential to your memory, because it reminds me of quite something else.
I do not even dare to reproach myself tonight; shouted into this cold, empty darkness, it would have but a disgusting echo.
Another note: I have finished all the schnapps. They helped, even just a little. In the end they were yours, so - thank you.
(in a state of deep confusion)
Surely you were more than just a friend to me. For quite some months it was as if you were my lover, joined in every possible sense of the word in both mind and body. When you left me it was as if I had lost half, no, more than half, of myself; at some point I no longer belonged wholly to myself, you took it all.
But I never told you any of this. I will never know what you'd have felt about it. Maybe you'd have been flattered and change the subject to something else (polite rejection); perhaps you would have been disgusted (the end of us); but perhaps you would have reciprocated with grace. I don't know, the odds never looked too good.
I constantly fear that you yourself wouldn't want to accept my mourning as valid.
People tell you to be brave, wish you a firm bon courage wherever you go. I hate that word: courage!
That word is abrasive from the start, clawing its way from the throat, the harsh guttural 'r' tearing free, finishing with a lingering, rigid snarl. Besides, the time has passed for any and all mentions of courage. Courage is seeing your friend gulp down whatever pill they can score in a darkened nightclub, so dark that no shape nor colour can be distinguished, and saving your own outburst of rage until you've confirmed if things are going to be all right or not. Courage is taking care of him when he is drunk, when he is sick and suffering, concealing your faraway stares and sighs all the while so that he will not worry. Courage is being able to put another before yourself in the face of peril. Constantly one makes a decision and puts on a mask for the sake of a loved one - that, that is courage!
But what use is that now, when there is no such one?
When people pat my back and tell me to have courage now, they really mean the will to live.
And no one can force that. That is no one's business but mine.
Nightmare, on the verge of tears even as I write: I lose you again. I am overwhelmed. Even when I close my eyes the scene lingers as clear as day, dancing behind my eyelids - the crash, the sirens, me lying in the snow, crying out your name out over and over to where neither words nor love can go.
It is half past nine and I am still in my room. All classes have been cancelled.
Snow, a real snowstorm over Paris. Bizarre at this time of the year!
... so I tell myself and suffer for it. You will never be here to see it again, nor can I describe it to you aloud.
How strange it is, how strange; that your voice that I heard every day and knew so well, and which was the very texture of my memory, I can no longer hear. You are with me like a faint echo only, localized somewhere in the back of my head, but no longer immediately recognizable.
But that is far from the only thing gone from me. I am becoming emptied out; I lose the memory of your voice, your laughter, the reassuring brush of your sleeve against mine. Every now and then something is taken away and I notice only when it is too late. Sometimes you want everything, you demand of me a total seclusion from the outside world so that I can mourn you (but then that is not you, it is I who burden your memory with that request); other times (being truly yourself) you come to me and offer me light and a small, loving warmth, your quiet breath caressing my cheek, whispering go out, go on, Thomas, have fun, it's all right to laugh every once in a while. And because I am never convinced of your sincerity until I hear that murmur in my ear, the idea of not being able to hear your voice is slow torture. For if I could not be exposed to your voice ever again, how could I remember it after a while, and if I could not remember it, how would I tell you apart from the demons?
Mon dieu! Am I falling into the angels-on-the-shoulder rhetoric out of all things?
As a child I could not understand what was it that germinated philosophy, only that those things hurt and (largely) happened to other people, and I was not old enough to even think of coming to terms with them. Over a decade later I have been forced to hurt and become one of those 'other people'; though I have grown and would not be able to recognize my childhood self (nor my childhood self me), I still remain the entity known as Thomas Bangalter, so like a child I gaze into the sky and question why night with stars, and then night without end.
An onset of grief. I cried.
Review with professor, who knows about my circumstances. He is kind but not as kind as I would like. Left the room feeling guilty and embarrassed because I felt as if my mourning is inauthentic, a mere weakness to emotion, and that I should be on my way to - how I hate the term - 'getting over it'. So to speak. A part of me is flushed with indignity, another withering silently in surrender.
It was far from his right to speak to me in this way, none of his business; but have I not made my grief everyone's business enough already? Is this just retribution?
hearing a voice
or catching a smile;
turning away from the mirror.
how dare you leave me like this?
(i can't think of seven more.)
Difficult thoughts, second thoughts, feeling a sense of intense abandon.
Bill Withers came on the radio; your favourite song. Sank down onto the floor. Didn't cry, but something broke inside.
Pardon me. I cannot write more tonight.
Today I found a picture of you slotted between the pages of my old maths textbook.
My breath caught in my throat. But only for a moment, and besides, missing you isn't the point of this entry. For once. No, I gained a realization from looking at it, and it was something far greater than anything I've learnt on my own since your leaving; it's that I want to share. It will provide excellent justification for the thing I've wanted to tell you for quite some time now. The photo is over a year old, so there is a chance you might not remember what it was - let me describe it first.
This photo is oriented vertically. Portrait, if you prefer that term. You're the only person in it. You're wearing pale trousers and a dark gold-edged Fred Perry polo shirt, the one you wore all the time. Or maybe you had several of the exact same, I don't know. That shirt was a part of you the moment you left Carnot; you wore it to clubs; you wore it to our gigs and our friends' gigs; you wore it when you died; in that coffin you are presumably still wearing it, or a replacement of some kind. By virtue of that I can't stand Fred Perry shirts anymore, but no matter. The weather is bright and your eyes are halfway shut to protect them from the sun. There's a chain bracelet on your wrist, thankfully angled away from the camera so that I don't need to revisit the sight of it broken and dangling useless between your limp reddened hand, and a cigarette is poised delicately between your fingers. You have lovely long loose hair. There's a smirk on your pink lips, so daring yet so cute, in that bullshit sort of way I've only recently been able to recognize. Once that look inspired in me a sense of awe, and a quickening heartbeat that always took a while to calm.
Now? The more I stare at you, the more you appall me.
Look at you. Look at this image.
Carefree and careless. Proud-looking, as if you hadn't spent the past year being squashed between pages of Galois and unsolved quartic equations. Hardly dignified, if I may say so. You are so utterly unaware of what's going to happen to you at the start of this year that it makes me furious. I can barely see your eyes, but in what little sunlight hits them, it is as if you were unstoppable against the world while you positively marinated in that foolish charming naivety of yours. You gaze sideways towards me as if you had some sordid unfinished business and all the intention to take care of it, which is, in the end, a mere mockery of your current state. You look at me as if I owe you money. It's disgusting.
You have no right to look so timelessly happy, when I'm so miserable.
But even then, the bullshit is completely subjective. I didn't feel that way months, weeks or even days ago. Maybe tomorrow I'll think I was just having a crazy episode and nothing more. That's why it's so important for me to stress the actual purpose of this entry: I'm focusing on the conclusion that I gained from looking at that photo today, not the photo itself. When I gazed into your smile, and felt the pain that this mere image of you caused me, with it came a deeper, more dreadful feeling - that while many others still love me, from now on my death would kill no one.
Think about it. Papa and Maman have each other, they're best understood as one unit with the strength of several persons. I'm sure my sole death wouldn't be able to bring them down. Laurent? He blames me and wouldn't waste tears for me at this present moment, of that I'm sure. Your family? They won't miss me. Maybe they'd even be glad, as horrible it is for me to say it; I have never thought your family hostile or resentful. But I also feel that from their perspective, my death completes some kind of equilibrium, restoring a balance to their world and enabling them to move on at last.
(I don't think that's the only way that they can be at peace, and I don't think they hope for my death.)
(But it would be a viable method.)
And thinking about this scares me; the fact that I have no one who would be torn apart so viciously when I am dead. I suspect that if I had gone first, you would have been this person, though I don't know whether you would have resented me for going. But that's not what happened. Neither of us banked on leaving before the other, or even leaving so suddenly and without closure.
And that isn't fair to me, you know?
That simply isn't fair.
Maman told me last month that I ought to stop writing to you. She said it wasn't healthy. I ignored her at the time, but now I see the truth in her words; you are gone and I am not. We occupy different worlds now. Things aren't the same. I can still spill my heart out to you in words - I can apologize endlessly, shout, rage at you at the same time as I'm taking my anger out on hapless objects around me - but you are no longer capable of responding, and it's ridiculous of me to expect you to do so. I mean, that's what I've been doing these past couple of months. Nothing has come of it.
There is nothing to be gained from this exercise.
Which finally brings me to this conclusion: I'm done. I shan't write in here any more. I'll treasure this diary as long as I live, and deep inside me there will always be an emptiness where you used to be; as far as I know, it is not a void that can be filled, and I shan't attempt to fill it either.
But I can pull myself together into another coherent whole. So that's what I'm going to do.
I'm sorry. But I have to forget you to move on.
Adieu, adieu. Please forgive me.
Yours entirely, once upon a time,