Michael Imagine: You
It’s blurry at first.
It’s nothing, really – the outline shirt blending into the
background, the colour of his hair a little hazier.
But if you stood close enough, the picture of Michael was
sharp in your vision – and he loved it.
He absolutely adored how close you stood – not just for your
vision, but for the warmth. He loved how you were always two steps closer than
the rest, how you automatically melted into his arms and stared at him with
You were drinking him in.
You knew and he knew and it was just a matter a time; just a
matter of days before everything would melt into black.
And while the very thought of it left spikes of panic and
fear for the unknown that was behind your eyes, it was nothing in comparison to
the butterflies Michael’s touch left on you.
You savored every moment with him – hell, you savored everything.
The colour of the sky just before the sun rose. The details
of a painting you love. The colour you loved so much on your favourite shirt.
The way the waves of the ocean were an artist’s palette of blue and green and
yellow and purple, all smudged with a paintbrush as the colours melded into
each other with the sound of the ocean hitting the shore.
But most of all, you savored the sight of Michael.
The flecks of silver in his eyes when the moonlight shined
on it. The pale marble white of his skin, the way it sloped and curved on his
body. The shape of his lips and the exact shade of pink just after he wet them
as he spoke. The black ink on his skin, the faded red of scars from bumping
into doors and tripping up stairs. The multiple shades of his hair; how they
glimmered differently in the sunlight than they did in the moonlight; how it spiked
in chaotic directions in the morning and flattened after spending a day in a
snapback you loved so much.
You tried to memorize him, tried to burn the picture of the
boy you loved behind your eyelids.
Because if all you had left was black nothingness – if you
were to focus your memory on one last thing for the rest of your life – it would
You could soak up the picture of Michael next to you and
paint him underneath your eyelids for you to return to, but the darkness always
inches closer and closer, day by day.
You wake up every morning and you still see the colours and
you still see the shapes – albeit blurry past recognition – but Michael is
there, he’s always there.
You always wonder how many times you can still wake up and see
this beautiful boy next to you.
You relish every day you wake up with the sunlight piercing
your glassy eyes, because you know one day you’ll open your eyes and there’ll
be nothing left.
And at that point, you can only hope to reach out and find
Michael there, still smiling like he did in your memories.
You’re afraid because even though you saw it coming – even though
you knew it for months, even though you quite literally saw it coming – or stopped seeing, slowly – nothing could prepare
you for the moment the last bits of light left your eyes.
Nothing could prepare you for the moment everything comes
crashing down on you, without a way for you to dodge it.
I’ll never be able to
drive a car I’ll never be able to draw I won’t be able to see another sunset or
the ocean or the forest or my parents or Michael and I won’t be able to see my
children or –
And he tells you it’s okay, that it’ll be alright because he’s
here – he’s here for you and he’s not the only one and he’ll guide you with
gentle hands that will undoubtedly take you where you want to go.
But while his reassurances were soft, it couldn’t dull the
ache you felt in your chest over the darkness the enveloped your vision.
I’ll be – I am a burden.
Because you know that you’ll spend more time fumbling around
for doorknobs and shoes and socks and you’ll mix the shampoo with the soap and
you’ll accidentally misplace a book or the remote and you’ll be constantly
searching in the dark for something right in front of you.
And the thought of someone having to take care of you – to constantly
have to hold your hand and walk with tiny steps to match your hesitant ones, to
reach for things for you and read out what you no longer could see – it only
sinks your heart down further with remorse.
You don’t want to be the body Michael has to drag, for him
to be the crutch that you’ll need for the rest of your life.
He deserved better than that.
But he merely chuckled lightly in your ears and while you
can’t see him, you can feel him behind you, his breath hot on the back of your
He tells you you’re just as beautiful as you were before and
if you miss his lips then he’ll settle for a collarbone kiss; if you trip he’ll
carry you; if you wear his clothes instead of his then you can just keep it; if
you can’t find the shampoo then he’ll just run his fingers through your hair
with the soapy suds instead.
Michael tells you that if you can’t see, then he’ll tell.
He’ll tell you if your shirt is on backwards or if you’re
holding a fork instead of a spoon; if your socks are mismatched or if you’re
supposed to push the door instead of pull.
Quite honestly, he finds it rather cute.
How your cheeks are a faint pink when you say oh as you realize your little mix-up,
how you need him a little more because he’ll always need you more than he can
put into words and for once, maybe he can help out.
Michael doesn’t mind the extra few seconds it takes for him
to guide you, for him to point out something you can’t see.
It gives him an excuse to hold you for a few seconds longer,
for a millimeter closer.
He loves you all the same, and he makes sure you can feel it
through the darkness.
You grow around the darkness, like a vine climbing up a wall
and reaching the other side.
It’s a part of you – the nothingness behind your eyelids –
but you find a way to carry on your days around it.
Your fingers discovered what your eyes couldn’t; your ears
sensing what your eyes once missed.
Your steps become less hesitant, your touch less cautious. You
know where things are; the height of the doorknob or where you should be
facing; which shoe is which before putting it on your foot; where the last step
of the stair should be.
Your fingers learn to identify things in your hands faster,
and your mind remembers things clearer – where to put things back, where things
Your ears learn to pick up the sound of closing doors and
sighing winds and they learn to locate the sound of voices for you to identify
the faces behind them that you once knew.
You find your way around, but it doesn’t stop you from
holding Michael’s hands.
The first few days were a dizzying rush of fear and darkness
– not knowing where you were or who was around you, and the vertigo feeling
that possibly nothing existed at all in the vortex of blackness that you saw –
and Michael was there.
He was there to remind you lightly where things were, to
guide your hands around the tables and chairs, waiting patiently as you fumbled
around with shapes and textures that you never noticed in your life before.
And while things are better now – while the details of your
life that you never saw before, but simply felt
now became clearer – you didn’t want to let go of him.
He’d describe things for you – the way the leaves changed
colours and the city beneath the airplane, the flashing lights of a concert and
the morning dew clinging onto the grass – the simple things that you missed,
that you saw in your head thanks to Michael.
He painted out the life around you so, so well – and you
always asked him for more.
My hair’s purple now!
What kind of purple?
Lilac, a little – a bit
like the light purples of a summer sky during sunset. Some bits are lighter
than others; like clouds wafting by.
But you think he asks you
for more stories.
Because you see things a little differently now – your stories
are different from his because he couldn’t see like you did.
It’s rather funny, you think.
But it’s your favourite time of the day – the moment where
the two of you would crawl underneath the covers and he’ll tell you about lone
cars on the highway at night and you’ll spin out stories of your day that he’d
be so enraptured by.
How you can feel the fading paint of his guitar, the worn
out places where his fingers pressed down – how you could tell what his
favourite chord was from the indentations of the wood and the pressure of the
string. How you could feel the worn bricks of your school and find the words
engraved into the stone; how you could tell which walls were painted on by
spray cans from the way your fingers ran across the dented surface. How you
heard the rain falling in rhythms and the wind whispering in melodies; how you saw
the world without really seeing it at all.
It always amazed him – you
amazed him, with your whispered words and blinking eyes that would always
They’d be blank, but Michael knew you saw more, he knew that
while your eyes couldn’t convey the messages he once read, your lips told him
all the stories he needed and he’d find new ways of reading you with more than
just his eyes.
It always shocked him; your uncanny ability to sense him in
the room even with your back turned and his footsteps light. How you knew he was
tired without him saying a word, with him merely walking into the room.
There’s something in
your footsteps… I don’t know. I can just sort of – sort of feel it.
That’s just how it was. You felt things; with your fingers,
with your heart.
And while Michael could see that your eyes were glassy and
blank as they stared at him, he could feel the sincerity in your words when you
said I love you, or the message your
body sent him when you curled up to him at night.
And he knew you could feel the same when he did the same for
you. The soft kisses. The lingering touches. The helpful hand; the horribly bad
joke. The affection behind his words and the devotion in his touch.
You didn’t need to see to know that Michael Clifford loved
you, that he’d always be there.
You just knew.
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