It rained that day. The sky cracked open and fresh, silver rain poured from heaven like the weeping of fallen angels. He was quiet, and the look on his face was one of pale, dead shock. I supported him with an arm; he would surely have fallen to the ground otherwise. We walked like that down the sidewalk and away from the hospital.
The next day the sun shone, but he did not see it. He saw nothing but dark, the empty darkness of his room. He closed the blinds, shut the door, and retreated into himself. I wanted to go to him. I sat there on the floor outside his room all day, doing nothing but listening; listening for what, I did not know.
Night drifted in as if a funerary curtain was being pulled over the sky; a clock chimed midnight somewhere. Collins sat on the couch, absent-mindedly turning the pages of a magazine. An hour passed, then two.
An audible sigh sliced through the stillness. I jumped as if a bomb had exploded next to me. Collins had gotten up from the couch and was standing next to me.
''You have to sleep, too,'' he said. His face was blank and tired, like an old, worn sheet. ''You're not helping him by sitting out here. Hell be ok, I promise, but you have to give him time.''
Time, time, what was time anyway? How long was time? I stretched out my legs and then looked down at my hands, studying the lines on my palms, looking for my lifeline. According to palminstry, you can tell alot about a person by their hands. The lifeline, for example, is that long, gracefully curving line across your palm. It supposedly gives you insight as to how long you will live.
I was suddenly struck by grief; it occurred to me that I had never looked at Mimi's hands. I didn't even remember what they looked like; if her fingers were long, if her nails were trimmed...there was nothing. Nothing but a blank, empty abyss. She was really gone.
I drew my legs up to my chest, and I think that I actually began to rock myself ridiculously back and forth, like a mad person. Why, I thought then, do they always do that? Why do crazy people always rock themselves back and forth? Maybe the motion soothes them, eases their tortured minds, brings them comfort as if they are being gently rocked to sleep by loving arms, when it is really only their own hands holding them.
Collins sighed again, and it sounded like the striking of a match, hard and sharp. He rubbed his forehead with his hand, and then stared at me.
''This has been a very long day, for all of us,'' he said, ''and I know more than you think. I know why you're out here. It might be grief, but not necessarily for Mimi.''
My head snapped up, and I glared at him with foggy eyes. ''You don't know anything,'' I said. I was trying to sound firm, but the words were issued weakly, and my voice cracked.
''I know'', Collins said. This time he did not sound so sharp. He sounded wise; he had the air of a person who has lived a long life, and seen and heard and felt things that most people would never understand.
''I know'', he repeated, ''that you love him. And I know the way that you love him; what you feel for him. Its not just because hes your best friend, thats a part of it, but it goes deeper. Much deeper. I get that. But look at yourself''-he gestured to my body, sitting ridiculously on the floor, crumpled like a defeated child-''do you think this is helping him? Its not. Give it time; give him time.''
I climbed to my feet, mumbling ''I guess you're right'', even though I didn't mean it. My head was tired and spinning, and I stumbled all the way to my room. I collapsed on the bed, thinking blearily, ''How long is time?'' I didn't even hear Collins leave, yet I heard myself sigh as I fell asleep, and the sigh sounded like the falling of rain.