I close my eyes. He gently caresses my lips and pushes them apart.
« I have a surprise for you», he whispered.
I open my mouth in expectation.
My smile fades away.
Cold. From far away, from years back, emerging from the darkness of my deep buried memories box. I freeze. My heart races. I choke for a second. I feel my chest, I press it hardly. I keep my eyes closed. My breath races.
My treacherous tongue welcomes the smooth edges of the surprise guest. It goes round it frenetically as dogs would do when they recognize an old friend. I feel the palace surrender to the soft creamy insinuating taste. I hear my soul shouting into the sudden darkness. I am dragged into a whirlpool of emotions: guilt, shame, pain, pain, pain… I am lost to the real world as if it never existed beyond my imagination.
December 1999. The nurses and the doctors are getting ready for the millenniums party. I watch them absently. My hands mould the muscles of his arms. Cheerful music invades the ward from the hallway. A few of the patients dance the conga and laugh loudly. They make me a sign to follow them. I would but I can’t. It’s almost midnight. I feel tears welling up in my eyes. My throat starts to soar. I am not allowed to cry.
« Happy New Year to you too! » an old woman gives me a hug. I didn’t see her coming. I know who she is though. Her husband fell and hit his head on the tiles in the residence bathroom. He never gained conscience again. She never lost hope he would come back to her one day. Until then, she kept coming to the hospital to visit him twice a day. And she would always have a sweet treat in her bulky bag for the « green angels » as she called the personnel.
« Here », she hands me a little chocolate box. « This is for you, to cheer you up », she smiled at me like a grandma would smile to her scared grandchild. « It‘s going to be just fine! I am old enough to know this, trust me ». She sat down close to me on a plastic chair. She opened the box meticulously and then made me open my mouth. She was silently waiting for me to bite into the small square of dark chocolate. My teeth cracked the hard crunchy surface. I was craving for it. I moved it around my sealed mouth and enjoyed the harsh bitterness. My saliva thickened in my mouth to make the taste last longer. I was so hungry. I hadn’t eaten in days. I had no money left either. Nobody knew it. Too proud of nature, I felt ashamed to enjoy the pleasure of a sweet-bitter chocolate bite. After all, people were dying around me. In agony, my tongue kept exploring every hidden space between my teeth in search for more of the bitterness that would burn my esophagus. Tears washed its flames down.
He holds my face between his warm generous hands. He looks at me and sees right through me.
« I am here, I’ll never let you go! Open your eyes! Come back to me! Please!»
His soft urge makes me return from my darkness. Pain it’s all that’s left. Tears will rinse it away. Eventually.
« Next time you’ll try some caramel milk chocolate! There’s no way I’ll hit the wall again! » His serious face and straight posture make me laugh. I feel safe again.