Francis Rubio

Rotting Flesh in a Beating Heart


I thought we were a stronghold. I thought what we have was a watchtower. We weathered countless storms and battled giant waves. We’ve given all we had to be as sturdy as any castle can be.

It would have been easier if our enemy was time. We might not have seen rust forming, but it would have been obvious by the time we collapse. We might not have heard a sudden creaking of the floors, but we would have been sliced and cut by loose pieces of wood by the time we decide to get out. We might not have felt the things changing, but we would have anticipated them crumbling to the ground.

I would have been ready. I would have found someplace else to settle. I would have found someone else to call home or re-learned to be content with my solitude. I would have grieved the dead when they were still breathing on their deathbeds. It would have been so much better if our enemy was time.

But it was us against us. It was one brick against another, one roof against another, one limb in opposition to another. We are a body working to kill itself. We had a conflict, internal and enormously painful. We surmised we’d get through, but we never realized we wouldn’t get through together. When in wars, we’d battle together, I the shield and you the sword. But when we fight against each other, what are we if you’re defenseless and I cannot fight back?

We retired one night, and the morning came for us. It did not hold back. It did not falter. The day washed every bit of what we had. And the warmth of the sun that once nurtured has become a burning flame toasting us in its way. To ashes, they say, as they watched on in shock and grief. But there is no wailing nor there are tears to extinguish a fire that’s already left us in ashes.

So, we move along, one away from the other, now that our dichotomies have suddenly been real. We paved our own cow paths, at the same time but not with each other, on a journey we both once promised to take together. I regret to have not held your hand as tightly as I could have, or that I did not cage you in my arms’ embrace as breathless as I could have. But what is a bird, if not free?

Now that we walk these paths, may there be no stone be left resting on top of another stone. Let every foundation collapse, and let every roof be powder on the ground. Let there be no memory left of this day, nor of the days before. Let there be no trace of you on me, for there is not any more pain than a rotting flesh in a beating heart.

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