Sei la mia vita

By: Abigail Cottingham

The boy from the apartment below yours writes you letters about the birds and calls you a sunset.

“Tu sei il sole del mio giorno.” You are the sunshine of my day.

He wakes early in the morning to sit on an overturned orange crate below your terrace, a small notebook and charcoal pencil in his hand. You lean over the iron and ask him what he’s thinking about today, and he looks up at you with his rounded glasses and a coy smile.

Sometimes he writes about the swifts that fly high above the rooftops, the ducks that nest around the lake in the park, even the pigeons that hobble around the square. His handwriting is smudged and messy but you don’t need to read his words to find beauty in them.

He’ll sing to you every night when your window is open until you invite him upstairs to whisper sweet nothings into your ear. He calls you things like “Luce mia” and “Anima mia” behind closed doors. His words scare you, promises of forever that make you shiver even when it’s warm being wrapped up in his arms.

“Sei la mia vita.” You are my life.

Your bed was only meant to be a single but when you’re wrapped around each other, there’s room enough. Though, he’ll still disappear sometime during the night. If it weren’t for him leaving behind his sweaters, you’d imagine being with him at all was just a dream.

He’ll bring you flowers from the river market until you run out of vases, he’ll bring you seashells until you run out of shelf space, he’ll bring you his heart when your apartment is full but there’s still space for him.

This gift is not as easy to accept. Polite smiles and “grazie” will not suffice, but then again, you’ve always found him more beautiful than the flowers or the shells. But unlike them, you cannot cradle this decision in your hands for hours. 

So you make up your mind and when bring your lips to his, he tastes like sea salt and honey. You no longer feel suffocated by the chance of empty promise but rather living in the euphoria that comes with kissing a requited lover in the twilight of Venice. 

The boy who has your heart died when you were young lovers. Like the ancient clock on your mantel, you didn’t realize how little time you had left until the cogs were too broken to continue counting. The sunset was never the same when you were no longer its envy. The birds became synonymous without language to give them personality, adjectives floating away like a feather in the breeze. There were nights when you would wake alone, still grasping at the empty space beside you.

When the flowers were long withered in their vases and the shells had since gathered dust, you decided to leave the apartment. You spent the rest of your life trying to find him again, in music, or art, or literature. But he had already been a masterpiece. 

Your time ran out too, too soon for your family, but not soon enough for your exhausted heart. You died without ever wrapping yourself in another lover’s arms, keeping that space reserved for the person who could bring you the sunset in a cup.

But Fate knew better than to separate you forever. Your souls were made to be intertwined like hands held together while walking in a cobblestone alleyway, like vines growing together in a vineyard, like the iron railing you clung to to avoid physically falling for him as well.

The boy with charcoal eyes will spend an eternity following you through the universe, giving you the stars and asking for nothing in return.