All The Way North

If you speak Italian, then you will know the meaning of ‘tiramisu’ is “take me away”².

That’s why, I ordered seven slices of tiramisu at once. The chunks of smooth, creamy, cake slid against my tongue, warming my tastebuds. It wasn’t until I had distracted myself with the sweetness of the cream that I was able to hold back my tears.

However, the sobbing person in front of me was different. She lowered her tear-streaked face, asking: why?

Why was I throwing her away?

I ordered another two slices of black forest gâteau and strawberry mousse. She had finished crying, and was now quietly looking outside, her eyes focused on the falling snowflakes and the rehearsal of a group of carollers. The street was festive with the spirit of Christmas, and the bright decorations and ornaments seemed only to torment her.

I shoved the last of the cake in my mouth, then said goodbye.

When I returned home, I took a shower to rid myself of the cold sweat that had accumulated over my body. Then, I walked to the refrigerator, pulling out the expensive mocha I had bought yesterday, and poured it into a glass. One third of the taste was of the bitterness of the coffee, another third was the chocolate, and the last third was the taste of my miserable mood. Drinking it was like developing an addiction, as if I was longing for the time before I had developed the illness, longing for those intermittent memories.

In the morning, I noticed that my weight had gone down by quite a bit. I picked up the basket, looking for the smallest pair of clothes inside to wear.

She called my cellphone. I didn’t pick up.

When I returned, the basket was filled with a blackberry caramel cake. The scents of chocolate, assorted nuts and eggnog filled the room.

Finally, I found myself smiling faintly, and my mood gradually returned to something happier.

At night, I drew an old, bearded man on the glass window. She had always said that if you walked all the way north, you would be able to meet Santa Claus. The younger me had not believed it, but now, I knew her words to be true.

I planned on walking all the way north, until I was physically no longer able to.

I remember every time I was unable to continue walking, too fatigued to climb the stairs, she would always shrug off her backpack, before patting herself: Here, let me carry you.

You can’t carry me, I said.

I can! she insisted obstinately. What a pity. What a pity, that I had never told her how attractive her stubbornness was to me.

She repeatedly asked me why, until the word itself seemed to have become habit. No matter what, I remained silent.

I said, as long as we still had the memories of those times together, that would be enough.

She said that it wasn’t enough.

A person couldn’t be too greedy.

I swallowed the 13th grapeseed macchiato.

When I weighed myself, the number had gotten smaller again.

I made a wish to the swirling snow spirits around me. Darling, if there’s a second life, I will carry you, take care of you, for an entire lifetime.

Two months ago, I proposed a breakup. Since our days in middle school, we hadn’t fought even once, let alone bring up the subject of breaking up.

Two months ago, I had received the laboratory test results. It read: Gastrointestinal Organ Failure. Status: Terminal.

The love was still there, but fate had cut it short.

 


Notes: 

¹The title of this piece is based off a Jay Chou song with similar themes. Listen to it if you want to be sad(der).

²The more common translation is “pick me up”, but “take me away” is also a possible meaning.