Inspired by A Roller Coaster, by Lang Leav
You will find him in
my highs and lows;
in my mind,
he’ll to and fro.
He’s the tallest person,
that I know—
and so he keeps me,
on my toes.
It was his fingers that left their traces on the palm of my hand, unlike a memory that fades. It is his voice, the whisper of my name I crave when I’m at my peak. It’s his smile, the sure, strong signal that he’s proud of me even when I’m flawed and falling. It’s his light that I seek on the other side of the tunnel. But it’s his absence that greets me, leaving in its wake, a heartache unlike any that I’ve ever experienced.
It’s been almost six weeks, and I still wake up from the dreams of him into a nightmare. As I remember – two seconds after I’m up that he’s really not there in my life anymore, my will shatters and I dissolve into a horrible mess of getting excited every time my phone buzzes and writing words in my diary; of clenched fists and grinding teeth, and watering eyes. I felt like even his proclamation of eternal hatred would have been better than this. Anything, anything would be better than this icy silence.
It dulls, of course. Some days are better than the others, but then there’d be a song on the radio, or an article in a magazine and I’d wonder what he thinks of it. And then I remember that he walked out that night and never returned. And my heart shatters all over again.
The morning after, I switched off from the world, but I hoped he’d come knocking at my door, literally. For the next two days, I felt horrible. Why was I unable to function? Then, I took a month long sabbatical to Melbourne, where my cousin stays. I was especially glad it was off season, and could afford travel to Melbourne. However, after that one month, the real agony began: I had returned to daily life, and I didn’t see any messages or texts from him, and now that I was available on phone, his not calling was agonising. Five weeks of helplessness, and hopelessness later, I realised that it was probably not worth it. But the horrible part was that what I wrote during those months gained me the most followers and somehow that made me want to hold on to that feeling. Was I a horrible human being? Maybe. But did it work? Yes! I wasn’t horribly alone, anyway. I made a lot of new friends in Melbourne, even though the pretext was trying to replace the void he left me in.
Even though I was a strong independent person, it felt horrible. Because how can you just forget? It’s not that I didn’t have anything else: I had amazing coworkers and bosses, who were fine with me working off-site, and I had friends who were happy to stay away when I needed them to stay away, and my parents didn’t mind my whining- even my mum stopped asking me what was wrong after a while, and one night I even heard my parents arguing about how I can handle myself, while all I could do was sob into my pillow to stop myself from screaming out loud. But breaking down had to happen, right? It wasn’t just that he was someone I was in love with for years, but he was my best friend- someone who didn’t need words to understand me, and yet, yet he failed to understand an important part of who I was. He didn’t see the pain I was in- well, he did, and he didn’t ask about who was causing the pain. He didn’t ask if he should wriggle his neck on my behalf. What was it? Was he hoping I’ll tell him one day, when I’m ready? Did he, somehow know it was about him, and refuse to accept it? Did he not see? Was he blind to my affection? Was he- oh, well. I choose to fall asleep, with my thoughts running wild, and dream of him. Again.
All the talk of independence felt like a joke: yes, I was promoted at work, yes my readers were more satisfied, and yes I made new friends, and yes, I was happy for myself, but every time a happy incident occurred, the first person I wanted to share it with was missing. He was the first one I wanted to share all my joys with, and his was the only congratulations that mattered. His approval was the only real thing- and nothing I did, or wrote felt authentic to me, because he was my muse. He wasn’t the reason for my life, or my living, but his was the energy and motivation that fired my imagination. He wasn’t the beginning or the end, but he was the thread that filled the gaps in the middle. And now that he’s gone, it feels like I have to work harder to keep afloat.
It was a January morning, when I decided to walk to the café a few blocks away that I run into him again. I was just handed over my morning coffee and croissant, and I was contemplating whether to sit at a table there or to go home, I heard his throaty laughter, followed by a “Hi, Jane.” He looks tan. I punch him.
He explains, on the way to the hospital (because I broke his nose) that he was sent away for six weeks and there was no way that he was going to talk to me on the phone. Agreed, that was a dick move, but he was too shocked that night. He said he knew it was about him, how could he not? I’m not that great of an actress. But he didn’t know what was to be done in the event that it was now in the open and he had to deal with it. So he went home, with full intention to run away. Except by the time he got home, his boss asked him to go to Argentina for an assignment, for six weeks. And he arrived last night. He was apparently going to call me, but the idiot thought it would be a good idea to let me sleep and was there to buy me coffee. “Where did you run to?” he asks. I had blocked him on all Social Media, so obviously he had no way of knowing. “Melbourne.” “Ah, always hated that cousin of yours. He knows you better than I do.” I roll my eyes. I really want to throw up. I can’t understand what is it that he wants. For the past half an hour or so he’s been explaining in excruciating detail everything about his stupid trip. He says he wanted me there by him, like he always does. And he says I’d have enjoyed this and that, and something else, and I zone out. I don’t hear a thing, because he doesn’t get to have that satisfaction. He doesn’t touch upon the subject of our last meeting and neither do I, and I think that’s a testament of how well we know each other – because we both know we’re both still confused and that there’s time to explore feelings and whether or not they’re mutual (well, for him).
But this is agony. And I really want to know what this means. But at least I know our friendship isn’t ruined. Because I’ve not felt more myself till this very moment. He apologises for running away, but he’s determined to make it all right. We both are. And you know what? It is. Everything is perfect with him around. Not because I’m dependent on him, but because he’s my partner in everything. And we’re a great team. And we understand each other more than anyone else. And that’s enough.
That’s it, folks!
Tag Archives: stories
Inspired by Saving You, by Lang Leav
The darkness takes him over,
The sickness pulls him in;
His eyes—a blown out candle,
I wish to go with him.
Sometimes I see a flicker-
A light that shone from them;
I hold him to me tightly,
Before he’s gone again.”
“So… What do you think?” Fred asked me that fateful night.
My heart skipped a beat. It could only hear double date. What did I think about a double date? It was a horrible, horrible idea. I was not going to come out of it well enough. I was going to fall deeper in the mess, if I went to a fancy place, wearing fancy clothes, eating fancy food. My head was going to explode, because I knew that it was all just pretense. It was like my wildest dream come true, but it wasn’t even real.
Fred looked really sad a couple of days ago. His friend and his girlfriend wanted him to go along with them for dinner, for being the amazing person that he was and for introducing them, and for being supportive of them. And the girlfriend, let’s call her Anne, wanted him to meet a friend of hers because she thought he’d like her. Apparently Anne and the friend, let’s call him George, had been talking about it for a while. Fred called me up to tell me all this, and learnt that apparently Anne was a client at his company, and they quickly hit it off (read: he fell in love, and she really liked his friendship) and later when Fred threw a party for Halloween, the George and Anne met, and the rest was history. Did I mention my muse was really smart, apart from being benevolent? If not, let me emphasize that by saying that he told them that he was kind of, sort of seeing someone else, and that somebody was me.
“I think it’s a horrible, horrible idea. Why should I do it?” I ask him, because my self-preservation instincts were finally kicking in.
“You’ll get a fancy dinner, at a fancy place, and I’ll pay for it. But more importantly, I need you to be there. I can’t tell anyone else about how deep a mess I’m in, and you already know it. Besides, everyone already thinks we should be dating, so seems plausible enough doesn’t it?”
Yes, I wanted to scream at him, it seems so plausible that now those metaphoric butterflies are attacking my gut happily, and I can’t make them see the light. I can’t make them see that it’s not real. I sigh. “I don’t know,” I whisper, more to myself than him. “If I want to do this with anyone at all, it’s you,” he tells me, his voice steady. And I melt. Because you wouldn’t associate feelings with it, I almost hear. “Because you are one tough person, and you wouldn’t think in the twisted way that some do, that this is because I’m secretly in love with you,” he says, “You know that, right?” I nod, and he looks away.
“So? What do you think?” Fred asks. “Will you please, please save me from an embarrassing night?”
“I think no, but okay.”
“What does that mean?” he asks, and now he’s genuinely confused.
“I still think it’s a terrible idea.” And I see his face falling, and my heart breaking.
“But I will go with you.” I say. And I break a little. I’ve been wanting to say that to him after all these years, and I can’t believe that it’s happening, but at the same time, it’s fake! I can’t believe that my fantasy is coming true, but not really. But I fake a smile, as he grins down at me, and ball my fists as he enthusiastically hugs me, and there is something very, very bittersweet about this moment, that I swallow back the sob that was going to erupt out of my throat loudly.
We sit in a circle, with Fred and Anne sitting opposite each other, and we are all laughing together. I know that Fred’s laughter is not real, and I can see that he’s not ready for this, but apparently I’m the only one who does. It helps both of us that we have, between us, smoked a pack before coming here. And I know Anne disapproves of it by the way her nose scrunches up as we hug her. I let the hug linger out of spite, because that’s all I can do. Suddenly Anne says something only Fred understood and the two of them laugh, as George looks at them with pride and unadulterated joy, and I feel like I don’t belong there.
As we proceed to the main course, I feel a small tremble on the table and I notice Fred’s hands on the table leg, his face in a fake laugh. I hate myself for letting myself miss his pain as I wallow in self-pity, and unwrap his hand from the table leg and hold on to it. He stops listening to whatever Anne was talking about street children, and looks at me and gives me a radiant smile, that makes me feel warm. He holds my hand, and we sit through the main course like that, grinning. I could do this for my whole, entire life, a little voice in my head goes off, and I don’t reprimand it, because I think ‘What’s the harm? It’s just one night, and I will let it reign my thoughts tonight.’ And for the first time that day I was genuinely happy.
We are proceeding towards dessert, when all four of us are laughing, and this feels normal, and healthy, and authentic. The awkwardness seeped away, as his warm hands don’t let mine go, and even when George and Anne do the clichéd looking – into – each – others’ – eyes and giggling and other couple-y things, Fred’s hands don’t stiffen anymore, and the dominant voice in my head tells me it truly means something, even when the logical part of my head knows it doesn’t. And that’s when the girl comes in.
She has a chic vibe, and she’s walking (nah, gloating) towards us, determination set in her gait. She looks me up and down and asks – “Hey! Aren’t you Jane, from The Fountainhead of Nonchalance? I wonder how she knew what I looked like. “Yeah, how did you-”
“I’m a huge, huge fan of yours,” she says in her breathy voice, “I can’t believe I’m actually meeting you! Your work is amazing.” I immediately feel elated, and proud. I hadn’t ever met anyone who’s come up to me, and told me they love my ‘work’, especially my blog. “I hope I’m not disturbing you,” she continues, as Anne asks a waiter to help her grab a seat. “Oh, and you must be the guy who-” she says, looking at Fred, “oh wait a minute.” She looks back at me apologetically, and whispers loudly- “Are you both finally dating?” I grit my teeth as she looks at George and Anne, and before she continues, I ask her if she’d like a glass of wine. “It’s like my favourite fictional characters have come together in real life, and I’m having dinner together,” she grins. I get up and announce I need to go to the ladies room, with my heart beating louder than the drums of the song being played in the background. She senses that something is wrong, and offers to accompany me.
“Was I overboard? I’m sorry I got extremely excited, I wasn’t thinking,” she says as soon as I close the door to the ladies room.
“Oh, no, no. Don’t worry about it. I’d be extremely excited too. Just that they don’t really know about the whole blog thing, and Fred and I aren’t dating.” I tell her.
“I saw that the two of you were holding hands under the table and I thought-”
“Well, no. We’re not. I’m here as his friend and only his friend.”
I wonder why I’m opening up to a complete stranger, as she apologized for her mistake. She continues to tell me how big a fan she is, and gushes over my apparent rawness and flawlessness for a good twenty minutes, before she realizes she’s here with her dad, and leaves.
And I do the walk of shame back to the table and gobble up the wine. The three of them congratulate me about my fan and Anne asks me the nature of my blog and the night is spent talking about this and that.
“I know,” Fred whispers, as he parks his car in the parking lot near my apartment. I try to pretend I haven’t heard him, as he opens my door for me, full of chivalry, and walks me to my door. I invite him inside and he makes himself comfortable on my couch. I sense that he wouldn’t leave till he’s talked about it. “What do you know?” I ask, trying to keep my voice steady. “I know about the blog, and I know about your feelings.” I look at him, with fear bubbling behind my calm exterior. “Okay,” I say, not knowing what else would be an appropriate response. “Okay?” he asks, gritting his teeth. “What else am I supposed to say, Fred?” I ask him. “Well, that is true. You could tell random strangers on the internet that you like someone, but not your best friend.” I haven’t heard him lose his temper at me in the years that I have known him, and now I’m truly mortified. “Who is it?” he asks me. I wonder what he’s on about.“What do you mean who is it?” “Who is this guy, who has been the object of your desires, Jane?” “Hold on,” I say, “How much do you read?” “Enough to know that if he hurts you any more, you’re going to crumble down into ashes.” I laugh at him, incrediously. “You’re stupider than I thought.” “Just tell me who it is, and let me go talk to the guy. Okay?” he says, rather softly, and I feel like I could throw up. I think of a some way out of this mess, and realize that there’s none, unless one of us drops dead. “It’s you, you dumbhead.” I almost yell at him. I refuse to look at him, at his reaction, and I know I’d regret it for the rest of my life. He slowly gets up from the couch, and leaves the room, and the apartment building, and my life. And I let him.
There may or may not be an epilogue.
I wish to thank Lang Laev, for writing, and my friends for gifting me Love and Misadventures
Inspired by Jealousy, by Lang Laev.
It was the way
You spoke about her.
With animosity, regret, disdain
And underneath it all-
Just a hint of pride.
It was the way he talked about her: soft, warm, melodic and with a smile that reached his eyes. Like she was the perfect girl he’d been waiting for all his life. “You’ll love her,” he said. If only she were mine, his eyes said. And his eyes dropped, hiding fire and hurt.
I tell him I don’t want to love her. Let them all love her- she’s our friend’s girlfriend, after all. She may be brilliant, and beautiful, but she broke his heart. She’s the reason he’s hollow inside. She’s the reason everything is shattering. She’s the reason he almost didn’t want it all, and that’s enough reasons to hate her. I hate her, not because he loves her. I hate her because she doesn’t love him.
“She worked for Greenpeace,” he said, “her favourite animal is a penguin.” His voice is barely a whisper, but it’s enough to pull my heart. “She’s going to apply for peace corps, soon. She’s also worked for children’s rights.” I never deserved her, his demeanour speaks for him. “Besides, she’s hot, yeah?” I ask him, smiling bitterly. His eyes light up for a bit, “Oh, yeah.” “Why didn’t you tell me before, Fred?” He looks up at me, and my heart skips a bit. “I don’t know. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to jinx it when I thought I was going to have her, and later…” he trailed off. “You didn’t want to show how broken you were,” I whispered.
How could I not hate her? She was tender, and beautiful, and strong, and everything about her hurt him. The way her eyes shine and her lips are always curved upwards in an otherworldly smile, and her sing-song voice and her brilliant mind, and her heart with a thousand rooms. And I knew why he didn’t tell me about her. It’s the same reason I didn’t tell them about us: a façade built just for me. And how could I not hate her? She worked with children, and I worked for a big corporate selling lies for a living, and came home spilling lies onto a computer screen, for thousands of people to entertain themselves with. I was just Scarlett O’Hara and she was Melanie. He was the Ashley Wilkins neither of us could get. And I sip my wine with gritted teeth because she’s too good, but too bad for him. And he’s wasting on her, riding high for what’s not his. And all I can see is his lows, and his blues, casting a red light on my heart.
I looked at him, and realised that he may not get over it, even if he told me he is. It’s his friend, and he’ll always see them happy together, and it’ll remind him of his own misery. I realised how I hurt in the month and a half I didn’t talk to him, and I understood that he’s going to be hurting the rest of his life. And I wanted to envelope him in a hug, and tell him it’ll be alright, but I knew if I did, it’d be the end of me. But I did. I did it to make him better, and I saw the first smile breaking his beautiful face, and I fell deeper into the pit. But I was alright, because I found a new story to write. All was well.
One last segment left.