I need you, can you please come over?” she said and just hung up. No other words, no pleasantries. Just that one simple statement. I could imagine her moving around the house. Her hair all messed up, clothes all shabby, glasses askew with a cigarette in her mouth vigorously puffing away at it.
I got dressed and hailed a cab, she didn’t live that far away and something in her words told me that I would regret blowing her off.
I arrived at her place and knocked twice on the door. No reply. I stood patiently for 5 minutes and knocked again. Two sharp knocks. She opened and it was like imagination had come to life.
She looked exactly as I had pictured her in my mind except for the fact that there was no cigarette yet I the sharp pungent smell of tobacco lingered in the air. I had given up smoking quite some time ago and the smell made me flare my nostrils. It was like a siren beckoning me with promises but all it had to offer was death.
“Thank you for coming over so quickly. I’m sorry if I intruded upon anything,” she mumbled. I just shrugged and walked in and settled myself on her couch. With a sigh, she closed the door and came sat beside me. “Is everything alright?” I asked. It was probably a foolish question cause it was evident everything was not okay else Y would not call me in the middle of the night.
She said nothing but just brushed her hair with her fingers and looked around. Having finally found what she was looking for, she reached for the cigarette box and took one out, lighting it with trembling fingers. I patiently waited while she went about this task; with Y it was all about waiting. You could never force an answer out of her, she would talk when she needed to and that was it.
Finally, after 10 minutes she said, “I’ve been thinking of moving to California.” “Why?” I asked. “It’s because I need a fresh start. Things are too overwhelming over here. There is only so much I can take,” she replied.
“Is it getting bad again?” I enquired. “It was never good, to begin with; you know the thing about sorrow X? After a while it becomes addictive, you do not want to let go of it. Happiness may come to you on glorious wings but it comes with a sense of unfamiliarity. You don’t know what’s in store for you. Sorrow on the other hand is comfortable; you expect the bullshit that comes along with it. There is nothing hidden. It is all very clear and defined,” she said.
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“Those are heavy thoughts to have…” I said. “Heavy? Yeah, maybe….but this is the way things work for me. Life is all about irony, isn’t it? You try your best to pick up the pieces and move on but it kicks you back to the curb. I read somewhere that people must always strive to be the best versions of themselves and that got me thinking….that statement is complete shit.
What is a person’s best version? Sometimes what is your best maybe mediocrity for the world? Sometimes, life does not demand your best version. It demands your worst. There has to be some person in constant hell for all the damn writers and poets to appreciate the beauty of heaven.”
I let her rant..it was not something I was used to. I never knew exactly what had happened to Y. The first time I saw her was at the local coffee shop where she had just walked in randomly.
I was doing the crossword and had just looked up and there my breath grew short. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and it was right from that moment that I knew we would be in each other’s lives. The role I had wanted was not the one I had received but it meant being close to Y and for the moment I was content.
She burst into tears and just stood there looking out of the window, her eyes damning the world and all that there was in it. I got up from the couch and stood close to her. I took a sharp breath and put my hand on her shoulder. “Y…I said, “I don’t know what has happened to you and I have never asked.
All that matters to me is that I can be there for you when you need me and see you happy. I know it seems hopeless to you now but I just wanted you to know that I love you.” There, I had said the forbidden words. I let them hang in the air and I could feel the authority of fate rushing in on me.
Y looked at me and smiled. She didn’t say anything but just turned her head away and looked out the window again. I felt disgusted with myself, not because I had just confessed my feelings for her but because the look in her eyes was one of pity. She didn’t need to know that I loved her. She already knew that, and she pitied me for it.
I wanted to walk away and go back to my place and crawl underneath a sheet but I couldn’t. I stood there looking at her.
Here was a person who was in so much pain that she had effectively blocked off any chance she had for happiness. She no longer appreciated love, she pitied it. Unwillingly she drained her friends and people around them. She needed to be happy but it came at the cost of sucking the life out of others. Many people had walked away but here I was letting her use me knowing that all there would exist between us was a pity.
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I went to the kitchen and put a pot of coffee on the boil. When it was done, it took a cup to her and said, “Here, drink this, you’ll feel better. I should be going now. It’s getting late…” “Stay, please” she begged. There was a hint of manic desperation in her eyes which I could not ignore. “Fine,” I said and just went back to the couch watching her sip her coffee.
Once she was done, she put her cup away and came to me. She crawled onto the couch and rested her head on my knees. My breath started to come in ragged gasps and I brushed her hair. We didn’t talk. There was nothing to say. It was a moment that made to appreciate silence. We both understood it and did not want to risk losing it.
Soon, she fell asleep. I found a blanket and tucked her in. Dawn came and I decided to go home. I went home, took a hot shower, and crawled into my bed finally succumbing into the loving arms of sleep. Y didn’t call me that day nor the next.
I didn’t panic because this behavior wasn’t unusual. On the third day, I was sitting on the couch sipping coffee and flipped the newspaper open only to see Y’s face staring back at me under the obituary section. Not long after I’d left, she’d chosen to rest her soul by seeking eternal sleep.
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