Out of all the girls he had ever had a crush on, she was the most intriguing one. She loved him, that much was clear; but she also challenged him. She showed him how to love and trust again after the betrayal he had suffered at the hands of the last woman he had loved openly and freely. She was reliable and had lots of integrity. She always meant what she said, and he had never once caught her in a lie. Oh, she had an eccentric mind and she was weird in all the right places, but she knew how to handle him and he knew how to handle her too. She had a unique sense of humour; a bit like his, and a lot of general knowledge, she was intelligent and kind. Whenever he needed something, she was there to provide. Advice, money, a shoulder to cry on; she was always there.
Once, he had felt that she was becoming too close and in a weak attempt to push her away, he had tried getting to know another girl, but the new girl had quickly become a bore and she had not understood him in the least. And he needed to be understood without needing to spell everything out. And so he went back to his honey babe luv. They fought that night because she was jealous and didn't want to admit it. But he knew her better than that, and in the end, he had made sure that she felt loved by him. They made up and became even stronger than they had been before. Their bond, their connection was special. Unique.
He scratched his chin and looked at the selfie she had sent in response of his own. He smiled fondly and wished for her to be there. He decided to call her. He loved her. He wanted to care for her and to protect her. He wanted to share every little thing with her. "Mmh ja allo?" was her typical way of answering the phone. He chuckled. She was saving him a little more with every moment they spent in each other's company. And he began to tell her about his day.
One day, she will become quiet. She will not drop everything for a moment with him. One day, she will stop caring. One day. Maybe then he will understand what he’s lost and how much she mattered. One day.
What is love to a child who was never held when they cried?
What is love to an adult who was rejected when they unmasked?
What is love for a person who feels unlovable?
What is love for someone who owns the world?
What is love and why does it lift you up?
What is love and why does it break you down?
What is love and why does your heart skip a beat?
What is love and why do you play that song on repeat?
What is love and why does it hurt?
What is love and who offers it freely?
What is love and why is it so hard?
What is love? Who has an answer to this, really?
What is love?
Who is love?
It is that feeling floating between you and me. There but unseen. It is in us and oozes out of every pore. While we always want more. It is you and me and us and them. It is the air we breathe and the steps we take. It is the thoughts we think and the smiles we give. Love is all we need. It is you and me and us and them.
I LOVE YOU!
The wave of sorrow is lapping at her feet, trying to get to her. What if she has an invisible expiration date written across her forehead?
And while he was sitting on his bed letting his fingers feel the strings of his guitar, his thoughts wandered back to her. It irked him that she kept insisting that she was not in love with him. It had been ages since he had allowed a woman to get this close to him and he started to question his feelings for her now too. Was he falling in love? He couldn’t possibly allow that, could he? She was a friend, a confidant. She easily lent a nonjudgmental ear and whenever he hinted at his financial issues, she gave him money. That way, he had paid for many therapy sessions, for meds, and also for some cannabis, without ever asking for an explanation or anything. She complimented his art and encouraged him when he needed it; when he doubted his abilities or his sanity, but at the same time, she never nagged or demanded anything from him; apart from being there. And he had no qualms promising that he would be there; always. Because that was what he intended to do. He wanted to keep her in his life. She was the best that had happened to him in ages. And yet. He was confused and unsure. Somehow he needed her presence to have a good day. Without her, something was missing; someone was missing. He had tried to take a step back, but it was so hard. It agitated him, made him nervous to push her away; to think that he had to exist without her.
What if he lost her while protecting himself? What if she was just like his ex and couldn’t handle his rejection? What if? No. No, she was different. She had integrity. Everything she said proved to be trustworthy. She never said or promised things she couldn’t keep. And her intelligence was a turn on too. She was sexy and beautiful and in recent times, she was the only woman with the ability to get him aroused or turned on. There was no one else. When he woke up at night from a bad dream, she was there. When he couldn’t sleep, she was there. When he craved ice cream but couldn’t afford it, she was there. She was always there for him. Keeping her promise. It scared him. He let her get too close. He couldn’t handle it. Maybe if he pushed her away and maybe if he was not there for her – breaking his own promise; maybe then she would break and show her true face. Perhaps she would show that she was just like all the others, ready to hurt him as soon as he dropped them? But, no. He couldn’t imagine it from her. They had so much chemistry together; something all too real. He was afraid to be a failure or a disappointment in her eyes. He was afraid that she could leave his life. And he was not ready for that.
His fingers kept fiddling the strings of his guitar while he lay on his back in his bed. When had she become the last thought at night and the first thought in the morning? When had she become his every thought during the day? The realisation hit him hard, he could keep pretending that he was not the guy to see a relationship with her in the future, he could keep insisting that he did not daydream of breaking out of his life to leave and start anew with her; but it was all a lie. He wanted her. He needed her. But she had made it clear that she did not want him. She hadn’t said anything, but he was pretty sure it was because he had let down his guards. He had told her everything – almost everything about himself. He had made room in his heart for her. He was needy around her. He was honest and genuine and raw and emotional around her. He hated it, but she made him a better man. The next song he played was for her. She would never know, but it still appeased his mind.
Next to him, his phone lit up. “where are you? The day has been all wrong without you.”
It was her… Yes, the day had felt wrong and incomplete. He grinned, maybe she was pretending too. Maybe there was a chance for them in the future. There was a little bit of hope. It was all he needed for now. Just that little bit of hope.
That dream. Again. She had not had that dream in a long while, and it never failed to leave her unsettled, bothering on anxious. She was breathing heavily, fighting back the tears that were moist on he cheeks. Her eyes were still closed, trying to grab the remnants of the nightmare she had endured and turning them into something else. Something good. But to no avail. The harder she tried, the more her conscious mind took over, until finally, she was awake. Her eyes fluttered open, and she stared into the dark. The sweat was cooling on her skin. She shivered; as much from the vivid memories as from the cold.
She was at work, laughing with her colleagues, when her phone rang. She saw the number and smiled. Usually, she did not pick up when he called, and she was on a shift, but she was in such a good mood, she wanted to hear his voice and tell him that she would get in touch later. He would certainly understand; they hadn’t talked in two weeks, a couple of hours surely were bearable. But it was not his voice that greeted her; it was another man.
“is this Shelly speaking?” The man asked. His voice was slightly familiar, but she couldn’t place it. “Yes,” she replied “who’s this?” She was confused why a stranger was calling from her boyfr…- she didn’t even know how to label him, they weren’t a couple after all.
“it’s Vic, Dave’s brother.” Ah! That was why the voice sounded familiar. Curious, she left the small office to have a moment of quiet and to understand the man on the other line properly. “I’m afraid I have bad news,” he continued. “Dave passed away. He… He killed himself last night.” His voice broke, and her heart was racing too fast. It felt as if someone had put cotton in her head and it blocked a myriad of oncoming questions that washed over her like a tsunami. “What? How? Why? That cannot be.” She refused to believe the words he said. “He left letters for you, an entire box full. He also left a will in which you are mentioned, but we need to have it checked with our lawyers.” Vic sounded so pulled together as he continued to talk without listening to her. It was almost as if he was going through the motions of informing people about his brother’s passing on auto-pilot. “Could you send your address as a text message? I will make sure that you receive everything Dave wanted you to have.”
Shelly felt the colour draining from her face, and the force holding her upright was fading too. “Yeah, no. Will do. I am sorry for your loss”, she said and quickly disconnected the call. A wail left her mouth as she fell to the ground. Uncontrollable sobs shook her entire body, and she heard noises she couldn’t be sure came from her. But they had to; no one was around. She got up from the floor; she was trembling and gasping for air. It was too hot, and too cold. It was too much of everything. She needed to get outside. And she did. Her crying didn’t stop. How could he be gone? How could Dave be gone?
But there were no answers to that question because every time that dream tormented her, this was the moment she woke up. Every time. In reality, she had not talked to Dave in months, and she was pretty sure that no letters or other belongings were waiting for her, and she was most certainly not mentioned in his will either. Shelly pushed the bunched up sheets off her body and decided to distract herself by starting her day. But the bitter aftertaste of that all too familiar dream tinted her mood. She was not ready to let Dave go. And she couldn’t wash the suspicion that something terrible was about to happen to him off in the shower either.
668 words, 20 minutes
And when she woke up from the deep slumber she had vanished to, her soul was shaking, and her body was trembling. Something was different. She was different. One look, one touch had unraveled her stoic self, and now she was a stranger. She did not recognize her reflection in the mirror. She did not understand her thoughts. Her voice was new to her ears. An unusual desire to be alive and present struck her like lightning in the sand. And her iridescent self shone brighter for everyone to see. One touch, one kiss, had turned the key and opened her cage. She was not hidden anymore. The veil that had protected her from curious eyes had been lifted. She took a deep breath and smiled. It had taken a while, but today she was grateful for yesterday’s memories.
The thunderstorm made me think of you. I stepped out of my overheated living room and onto the warm patio. I saw the lightning in the distance. It took a moment before I heard the thunder. And I smiled. The first drops of rain hit my head, and I looked up at the sky. I spread my arms out to the sides. I felt every raindrop kiss me. And I smiled. I raised my hands, palms up, and let the rain soak me. If someone watched me, they might have mistaken me for a crazy woman. And maybe they are right. But I was also glowing from within. Burning with a fierce passion for life. And a yearning for the man I carry in my heart.
The thunder and lightning make me think of you. Are you out there?
This thunderstorm makes me think about you. We both like it. The wind in our hair, the crackling in the air. The rain on our skin. We love it. It makes us feel alive.
And I wonder: did you sleep last night? I worry about you and know that your overthinking mind keeps you from laying your thoughts to rest at night. The lack of sleep makes you overthink, and you end up in a vicious circle.
Yesterday, I read that asking the above questions shows that the one asking cares. There is no judgment, just “did you sleep?”. And how often did I ask this lately? Very often.
The thunder rolls, and I keep thinking about you. I keep worrying about you. Please be well. I love you.
One moment, I was happily dancing in the rain,
The next I was crying, cowering in my shower’s corner.
The manic moments got fewer while the depressive episodes grew longer every time. Rationally, I knew that it was all in my head. I knew that I was allowed to live and to love and to accept affection too. But during the depressive moments, I couldn’t remember those things; I couldn’t hear them. The voices in my head telling me that I am a waste of space or that I don’t matter, they were louder than any reason or sense. And they hurt. So much. Every time a little more. I tried to silence them with music. I tried to mum them with positive thoughts. I even tried to cut them out of my skin and singing them to sleep with alcohol and pills. Nothing worked.
And now I sat here in the shower hiding in the corner, naked and shivering.
These fragile and frail moments were my secret. But I am not sure how well I hid it.
I read in a book that we need to talk and speak up to remind our minds that we are real and alive. I was thinking about that under the cold shower spray. Sobbing, I bit the skin on my arm. The gesture was not to hurt me, but to feel and root my overwhelmed self. I do that too during sex, but that’s more to avoid making too much noise. That’s a different subject.
I watched the water run down my legs in rivulets, little rivers of sorrow. It was a mix of the shower spray, my tears, and, let’s face it, snot was in the mix too. But I was too far gone to care. I tried remembering what had triggered this explosion of emotions, but I couldn’t remember. And it agitated me even more. I forgot so much. Was I too focussed on myself, or not enough? I was just trying to stay alive! The lack of understanding, of meaning, of connection, mixed with insomnia, abject loneliness, and solitude – it was killing me. Or maybe, maybe I was killing myself. Self-loathing, self-destructive, absent from my self.
The water kept caressing the goosebumps all over my body. I hugged myself tighter and bit my skin harder. I looked up to the ceiling. And when I looked down at my knees again, I felt empty. As if this was not me anymore. As if someone had found a switch to turn my emotions off. My sobbing stopped. I got up and turned to water off. Empty. Just going through the motions. As if it was not me. The lights were still on, but no one was at home anymore. I was a robot. A puppet on my mind’s strings. I grew calm but exhausted. Tired. So so tired.
I grabbed my towel and dried off without much care. Heading to my bedroom, I sat down on the mattress, naked as I was; grabbed my pillow – the one I cuddle at night, and rolled myself into a position that made me as small as possible. Fetal position.
I remember thinking that I was not thinking anymore. And then I drifted off.
In the middle of the night, I woke up because I was trembling and felt cold. I covered myself with the sheets and fell into a dreamless slumber. The next time I woke up, it saw the morning light illuminating my bedroom. I felt rested but hungover from the heavy emotions I had felt the night before. I had the image in my head of what a pitiful sight I had been in the shower. Everything else was still a bit foggy.
But as I said, these moments of vulnerability and of my fragile mind being on full display are my secrets. Just mine. No one will ever know the truth.
There was something on my arm; a bruise was forming, the skin was changing colours, reminding me of what I had done.
In sane moments, I wonder why I can’t be normal. Wouldn’t it be easier to be detached from myself more often? Who knows? Who cares? In the end, it doesn’t matter.
We live. We die. And everything we feel in between is not real for anyone but us.