It was her eyes that did it. It was her eyes that wrecked me. Endless depths of black surrounded by white, with only the slightest ring of red that says she’s been smoking something. Her emaciated body tells me I’ve been gone a long time. Her eyes tell me I’ve been gone far too long. I catch her as she stumbles, nearly losing herself in the rags she calls clothes. They hang off her bones loose enough. She steadies herself and tips her head up. My eyes meet hers. Those eyes.
“It’s been a while,” she says.
“Too long,” I say. “What happened?”
“You didn’t come home.”
I tried. I really did. I try and explain this, but she’s gone again, sinking into whatever hole her mind has created. I look around the room, at the pipes, and the vomit, and the despair. It’s everywhere. Within a second, the light in her eyes returns, and I know she’s back.
“How did you end up here?” I gesture to the room around us.
“They took the house.” She bows her head. Is it shame? “How did you find me?”
“I haven’t been gone that long,” I reply. “I still have friends who know things.”
“Where did you go?”
“I went to war,” I say. “Don’t you remember?”
“No.” She tries to remember, her brow furrowing. I see the wheels turning in her head as she searches for a memory that’s all too elusive. She gives up after a moment, or maybe she forgets what she’s trying to remember. Her mind is too far gone. The worst part is that she doesn’t even realize it. Again she looks at me with those eyes, broken shells of what they used to be. In that moment, I could have died.
“Where did you go?”
I open my mouth to say the same thing I just told her, but stop short. “Away,” I finally say. “But, I’m back now.” I hold her close, stroking her arm. I’ve been away so long, and I’ve missed her so much.
“Are you going to leave again?”
“No,” I say. “The war is over.” I take her arm, as I’ve done so many times before, and I lead her away. Away from all this shit. Looking at this scene from the outside, you would never consider the two of us a couple—a soldier and a junkie. But, there’s more to us than two labels. I remember fights we’ve had, too many to count. I remember making up afterwards, our bodies lost in entanglement. I remember love shared, love lost, love rediscovered. Despite what I’ve become, despite what she’s become, we are both so much more than that.
So, I take her hand, and I lead her away. I will take her to a new home, where I will stay with her, where I will nurse her back to health, where we will fight and love, where we will become one yet again. War is over, and I will never again leave her side.