Serendipity

Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way? I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.

214

I used to wonder whether dementia was the brain’s primitive way of saying ‘Hey, I’m tired of remembering’.

Because we’re not supposed to live this long and suffer so much pain, and it’s merely nature’s last defense mechanism against the cruelty of reality. Those who are affected are never the ones who suffer. It is friends and family who must live with the fact that their lives will never be the same again. They have lost someone who is still with them, and must watch their loved ones’ mind succumb to nothingness while the body remains.

I can tell you what it feels like to see someone who has watched you grow up all your life forget your name and existence entirely. It feels like relief, to see her stare into my eyes and not glimpse a shred of recognition. Like her slate had been wiped clean, like life had forgiven her, all her mistakes, all her worries, they were with the wind. Because sometimes when the world won’t grant you peace, the mind retreats. No matter how broken or battered, what lives once may never die, and we always find our own serenity.

213

‘Do you not like me sober’?

She wanted to ask but the words were glued to the back of her throat and she couldn’t cough it out. So she lit another cigarette instead and watched the smoke swirl around them, filling the air with toxic fumes.

It takes precision to kill yourself slowly. It takes discipline to commit to socially acceptable suicide. It’s like a traditional sort of depression, the mild kind that people can ignore without feeling guilty. Common and predictable, easily manipulated with medication, and doesn’t end with a noose or a gun shot. No one will ever discover her corpse and say it was a tragedy. They will have seen it coming. They will say she deserved it.

When her body is laid out in the coffin and her legs don’t quite fill it out, they will say that it’s a shame she didn’t try harder to stick around. When the scars on her skin become conspicuous under the fluorescent light they will mutter that she was weak, that she succumbed to the worst type of regression. Self harm is selfish. Self mutilation, a childish renegade form of indulgence. Her inability to cope with reality, her distorted view of the world, her disillusion, her mistakes, her failure to be.

No one will discuss the drunk boy that raped her when she was 19 and too scared to say no. No one will mention the boy who told her he loved her only to cheat with her best friend. No one will understand why it was easier to hurt herself than to hurt them back. No one will question the absence of her family, their anger, their disappointment in her unnecessary existence. Their bitterness will be justified. No one will make excuses for her.

But her smile. They will remember her smile. The way her eyes would light up, the faint lines around her mouth, her charming grin, her girlish giggle. They will remember the way she could brighten the room with her laughter, the sound of pure joy. It’s hard to imagine how someone clearly filled with such happiness could possibly contain such grief. Maybe that was the problem. Every experience was so exaggerated, every emotion so raw, so incompatible. The pain had nowhere to go, so it consumed her.

He will remember the way she used to look at him, like he was her whole world, and he was. She didn’t know how to love only a little. All the ways she understood him that no one else ever could, all the words they never said, but felt. It was true, he didn’t like her sober. He loved.

212

I heal faster but I feel less, I’ve learned how to steady my heartbeat. I don’t love as hard and my kisses don’t draw blood anymore. I know how to hurt people now, so I stay away. I know how to make them pay, so I don’t. My lips are kissed by fire but all you taste is the cold.

It’s not relapse and it’s not recovery. It’s nothing so simple but it’s not terribly complicated either. I just don’t recognise myself anymore, nor do I remember who I used to be. No one ever warned me when life alters you forever you don’t receive a memo, you never realise how important those moments are until they’re long gone. I see a stranger in the mirror.

I’m afraid I will never love anyone as much as I loved you, and the injustice of it hurts almost as much as your honesty. But we are not star struck lovers, we are not promises made under starry hot summer nights, we are not warm whispers in the dark and sweet memories. We are bruised egos and crooked hearts, we were stubborn even as we fell apart.

But you, my darling, you think this pain is unique. You think no one else has ever felt like this, felt so deeply, but we all did. You think no one has ever loved as hard as you, but we all did. You think no one could hurt this much and survive, but we all did. You think you’re alone in this world, but we’re all with you. You think this pain will haunt you forever, and you’ll never be able to erase his mistakes. But one day you’ll wake up, it might be three days from now, it might be three months, or three years. One day you’ll wake up, and he will have lost the power to wound.

211

Is it possible to miss the person you could have been?

Who would I be if we had never met?

Maybe my hands would be less shaky when I touch his skin, and I would relish his warmth and forget the world when he tightened his arms around me, instead of pushing him away whenever it felt dangerously comfortable.

Maybe I would have less scars on my body, and it would be easier for him to mark me. But to be honest I don’t think I would have stopped if you hadn’t told me you would stop loving me if I didn’t learn to love myself a little bit more.

Maybe I could listen to that damn song without crying or drifting into wishful thinking that somehow, miraculously, you were still by my side and we were still something, anything.

Maybe I wouldn’t waste any time thinking of different ways to hurt you should we ever meet again. Weren’t you the one who told me “we always hurt the ones we love”? Well darling I’m still hurting, so I guess that means you loved me the most.

If we had never met, perhaps the words I love you wouldn’t bring me to my knees. I wouldn’t be terrified of wanting permanency only to discover that I was only ever meant to be temporary. I wouldn’t be frightened by the possibility of happiness, I wouldn’t associate pain as a necessary part of that equation. I wouldn’t smile at him like I knew a secret, there would be less sadness in my eyes, and I would not doubt myself every time someone showed me a hint of affection.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had never met you, some other boy would have taken your place. My heart would still be unceremoniously broken, just in a different way. Maybe we don’t matter as much as we think we ought to. So none of us are really villains because none of us are that important. Maybe we only hold on so tight to the hurt because we are not ready to admit that our love was never as unique as the stories we were promised. We never meant as much to each other as we said we did.

And yet, I miss all the things we never said.

210

Too riddled with inconsistencies to remember how to tell the truth. Too busy dissecting your mistakes to notice when you’re  being sincere. Too obsessed with how others perceive us to take comfort in our balanced imperfections. Too troubled by your misery to fix my own sadness. Too preoccupied with your life to live my own.

I am forgetting myself again. Cast in your shadows, tracing your footsteps, always steps behind, always waiting, always late. Always caught in the middle between leaving you and being left, not sure which is worse. Being left is always worse.

You never truly understand the value of something until it’s gone. Even then we try to salvage the leftovers, make art out of forgotten promises, but the bitterness seeps through and the sour taste lingers like burnt coffee.

Walking down the cobbled path, my hand grasping his a little too tightly, trying to keep my balance on the uneven steps. We caught glimpses of the sunset but never stuck around long enough to see all the colours. We called each other baby and kissed frequently, the taste of tobacco stuck to the back of my throat and I adored his particular disheveled charm. We drove too fast and lived recklessly because being young afforded you that luxury. We stayed up late and drank too much and smoked till our lungs were black and our hearts felt less heavy. Being around him was an escape from reality, I was never sober long enough to contemplate my own mortality. We sang along to bad music and danced under the moonlight and I swallowed my pride till all that was left was envy. We fell in love and I fell apart and boy he left me empty.

209

That first ray of morning light, the crisp air that chills your lungs and wakes you up better than a cold shower. Old books composed of battered pages, memories left behind through dirty fingerprints. The smell of parchment and the sound of creaking floorboards as you walk in. Rainy days and thunderstorms, excuses to stay in and hold hands with you when I was too afraid to ask you to stay. Speaking my mind even when I knew I shouldn’t and never making the bed because I liked the way you left it. Messy hair, shirts that never fit properly, torn sheets, and scattered ashes on the windowsill. That half empty bottle of whiskey left open on your desk, always tempting. That almost but never empty pack of Marlboro Reds I could never quit, just like I couldn’t quit you.

These are the little things that I miss.

These are the small things that kill me.

208

We spent most of the night talking, filling in the silence with too much staring and kissing, finally slumbering off to sleep as the morning sneaked up on us. I woke up to him studying me with those sharp green eyes, his steady breathing, and my not so steady heartbeat. For the first time ever I was no longer counting down the minutes till I left, I was counting stars.

It is hard to remind myself that love and lust are different things, and what we feel right now is simply chemicals reacting, nothing more. I should be content in becoming a pleasant memory, something to be filed away and looked at later, when we’re oceans apart and tired of dreaming. But I want more than just the gentle gaze of an old lover. I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to scream at the sound of his name.

I tried to remember the last time I felt like this but all my memories are blurry. I remember our first kiss. It felt like home, so soft and sweet I thought I would melt in his arms. He ran his hands down my back and traced the fragments of my spine, sending shivers all through me. I have never been touched like this before.

But all this happiness feels so temporary, like we are playing with borrowed time. The question is who is willing to play the fool this time. We are treading on dangerous territory, carrying our shattered hearts in tired suitcases and trading love for stolen kisses. We are stumbling fingers in the dark, dirty whispers in the night, guilty goodbyes when morning comes.

207

The problem is the profound influence he had on me, his ideas forged me into part of who I am. I am no longer able to separate the girl I was before I met him with the woman I became after he left.

He understood me, the parts of me that even I didn’t fully understand. I had spent most of my life subliminally championing the idea that being misunderstood made me interesting, but it took him seconds to dismantle my mask. I wanted to be mysterious, but he refused to give me that courtesy. I despised intimacy, he found a way to get close anyway. We found in each other something that completed us, we loved each other when we were both unlovable. I built myself a new home with his arms wrapped around me, and I thought forever was a promise meant for keeping.

But waking up in the morning to that empty bed, all that space, I felt like I slept on needles and every piece of my skin was burning. All my mistakes came hammering down, drilling into my brain and hell is the special pain I had invited into my life, hell is knowing I am no longer permitted to speak your name.

206

he says i’m all teeth and sharp edges
and soft skin doesn’t make up for the bruises i leave in the mornings
we fight we scream we kiss and wait for the guilt to wash in
we pretend we never wanted any of this to happen
i smile so much these days my cheeks are always aching and i never tell him that i have to bite my tongue to keep in the poison
i don’t show him the bullets under my skin

i tell him purple is my favourite colour but i don’t explain the reason
he watches the bruises blend in and tells me i’m too broken
i’m fractured i’m fragments but i’m stronger at the seams
i’ve been sewed up and smashed to pieces and glued together again
so maybe i am impossible to live with but you will never see me give in

he says i’m jagged knives and sinking stones but there’s no turning back now
and still waters run deep but he’s still waiting to see me angry
we poke and prod each others wounds till we’re both raw and bleeding
he tries to kiss it better but pride always get in the way of healing
i don’t show him the hollowness in my chest

i tell him rainy days are my favourite because i get to stay in but i don’t say i miss him
he shows up on my doorstep with roses at 10pm and i yell at him for no god damn reason (i yell at him because i love him)
i ask him if my hands are steady and i play a tune that can’t be forgotten will he still remember me when his shirt has finally been washed so many times that my scent is no longer stuck to the fabric
i just wanted to be his favourite

he says i’m tired of your crying and manipulation
i didn’t fucking sign up for this (i’m sorry, i’m sorry, i’m sorry)
i laugh and laugh and laugh and it comes out in frozen stitches and silence completes the spaces he used to fill in
we pack our bags we never say goodbye and i forget our composition
i don’t tell him that i love him

205

That morning I almost blurted out the words “I love you“. I whispered it in my head and watched it drift through my mind like Autumn leaves and it filled me with dread. I don’t think you understand what this means for me. Knowing for certain that in three months or years or decades, this feeling will be replaced by something hideous and I am inviting unbearable pain into my life again.

I grabbed a cigarette from your table and opened the curtains just enough for daylight to creep through and smoke to breathe out. When you put your arm around me to light it, your presence silenced something inside me, I felt my walls shatter. I let my guard down and we shared a moment of peace that I think I’ll hold with me forever.

Baby I wish I knew how to love in a way that isn’t toxic, but when I was young and my heart was still wide open, a beautiful boy told me he adored my poison. I dug my nails deep into his skin and left marks on his shoulders to remind him that he was taken. We laughed and we loved and we filled the summer with passion but when summer was over he realised it was only infatuation, he never loved more than my skin. I made it so easy for him to walk in and out of my life, like I was always meant to be forgotten.

Then you turned and looked at me in the way every girl dreams of being looked at. Like I was the only person in this world and nobody else could compare. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t true, or that I would only ever be a secret. You made me feel like I mattered, and that was enough. That was always enough for me. But I was never enough for him, and I will never be enough for you either, not really.

Please don’t let me fall again, if you’re not ready to catch me.

204

You’re on my mind a lot, and it kills me a little.

When you left you never questioned why there was only one set of footprints in the sand. You never bothered to mention to her that I carried you across the sea and the desert, that my feet were bloody and my hands were bruised and calloused but I still smiled at you like it didn’t hurt.

You’re on my mind a lot, you ruin me, I think.

When the light in my eyes extinguish, don’t let it put out the fire in your heart. Stay with me in my era of mistakes and delirium, find some semblance of balance within my twisted world of distorted realities, my favourite madness.

You can be my sun, my world, and I could love you till the universe was no more, and yes I still believe in love stories and fantasies because we dream further than our realities, that is how we reach the stars.

You’re on my mind a lot, you break me, darling.

When you reach the crossroads will you take the coward’s path, or will you take my hand and walk the lonely road paved with good intentions, filled with turns and tricks and no happy endings? Will you take me with you and learn what it means to suffer, to experience excruciating pain that rips you apart but when it’s over, when you heal, nothing is ever the same. Are you brave enough to start over?

You’re on my mind a lot, love is a feeling best served with heartache.

Don’t mistake me for the girl with the flowery dress, all broken smiles and easy to please. Watch me twist your arm till your world is upside down and let’s fall together, let the past unravel, whisper my favourite word: Yes.

203

I used to think love was a madness that manifested itself in the hearts of weak women. Women who had given up the infinite possibilities that the world had granted them, women who would never accomplish anything that society deemed worthwhile. Because being a mother in this day and age is not something to be proud of, it is a signal to the rest of the world that you lacked the ambition to fight to be remembered. You belong to the class of women doomed to be forgotten, too fragile to exist on the stale parchments of history. The light of these women fade at the same consistency as the china patterns they obsess over, their lives revolve around the cries of children and the endless demands of childish husbands. These women are accused of relying on men, they take and take and (according to everyone else) they never give anything back.

I see now with a dull winter ache and a still beating heart that it takes power to give love away, and mistakes may have been made but I did not crush myself to pieces just to watch you walk away and brag about how easy it was to hurt me. My mother did not scream till she lost her voice just to watch me lose myself in the darkness, I was taught to follow the stars.

I know now in your heart of hearts that those beautiful promises originate from a place of such cruelty that they make your hands shake when you touch my skin, and the blemishes don’t show up for days but the scars simmer for decades. I see her shadows stalking you in the dark, you are plagued by secrets. You crave my affections but you loathe my company. You wish you could be alone but you hate being lonely.

I want to know what you’re looking for, if we’re both searching for the same madness, if you know how to ask the right questions. I stare into murky brown eyes and I confess that I believe this madness is inside all of us, it runs through my veins, from the soles of my feet up to the tips of my fingers and it has ruined me many, many times. But it keeps us moving forward, propelling us towards our inevitably disappointing end, and still we march on, day after day, like little toy soldiers. You take my hand and lead me on this path of destruction, and I don’t mind, not even a little bit.

Because in my heart of hearts I know everything you think you’ve hidden. In my darkest hour I’ll remember, you were so fucking broken.

202

Speeding down the highway with blaring music, letting the vibrations drown out the voices in my head. I think I might be missing you, and I scold myself for allowing this to happen. I keep wondering when I’ll outgrow these childish infatuations, but you keep pulling me closer with your lousy attempts at intimacy, and we are both getting nowhere.

It’s midnight and I’m still waiting for your call. My number flashes up on your phone with just the smallest hint of desperation. You took one glance and shook your head disapprovingly, as if scolding a child, and return to telling your joke. You don’t notice me standing in the background, with the glazed look of a woman scorned. I hear her laughter, and it turns my insides cold. Amidst this game of love and war, I vowed to never gamble my heart away, I have learned to love living more.

3 am rolls around and your whiskey soaked breath is next to mine, whispering dark fantasies not meant for daylight. I’m expected to nurse your hangover in the morning, but now I’m wide awake, nursing the terrible thoughts you’ve planted in my head. You think you might love me, but we both know I love you more. Reality is unforgiving to hopeless optimists who still believe in magic. It takes courage to bear unwavering faith, it takes a fool.

I am waiting for you to prove me wrong again.

I am begging you to prove me right instead. 

201

I am mesmerised by the idea of you. It has been too long since someone was able to capture my attention with uncompromising force, and create such a convincing illusion of instant intimacy.

I can’t remember the last time someone touched me like they were painting a masterpiece on my skin. You reached out for fragments I buried when I shed my innocence seven summers ago, and I am still trying to figure out how you saw the parts of me no one else even knew about. The bruises he left faded long ago yet I always felt their sting whenever I found myself tangled to new skin. But this time it felt different, it was the first time I’d been held by someone who made me feel clean.

I am unnerved by the image of you. I have insanity carved into my bones, I crave the cheap thrills of temporary madness, I saw a storm in your eyes and it is captivating, now I can’t bring myself to leave. You pulled me closer and I wanted you closer still, never pausing to contemplate the origins of your easy charm. You tasted like the winds of Autumn, sheltered by faint notes of tobacco, dangerously addictive. You brought back memories I thought were lost forever, and when I breathed you in, I felt like treasure again.

I am falling for your clever lies. I’m sitting here trying to recreate your crooked smile, the unmistakable smug satisfaction derived from a lifetime of privilege, of never having to hear the word ‘no’, because you are too hard to refuse. I have the unfortunate habit of forgetting that the high is never worth the low, but with you, it didn’t feel like a crime to be kissed. You brought back a side of me I forgot even existed, you make me feel whole again.

I am plotting my defences, rebuilding walls that you teared down mercilessly. I am afraid of falling in love with you, and having to watch you fall out of love with me. It is like awakening from a deep slumber, they took and took from me till I was a shell of the girl I used to be, but you’re standing at my doorstep now with flowers and promises of new beginnings. You’re drawing me close, my hands are pinned down and you whisper that I’m the prettiest girl you’ve ever seen. I look into your eyes and all I want to do is stay, stay, stay.

If you set fire to my heart, I’ll burn us both to the ground, baby. 

200

A part of her enjoyed the ambiguity, never knowing where they stand. It adds a layer of intrigue to the game, when everything is open to interpretation, anything can happen.

It is the unknown that allows us to dream, to imagine what could have been and what might still be. I am in my own sick world of fantasy, dreaming of summer highs and untouched by reality, unscathed by life’s arduous lessons, I am reborn.

We talked politics, science, religion, and I questioned his faith. Hours vanished and when I closed my eyes I no longer cared what the world thought of me. I pictured what it would be like to wake up to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat, whether it would resemble a seamless coexistence or share the bitter taste of lingering regret. I wondered what it would be like if this didn’t have to end. Whether it was a future of possibilities or merely temporary infatuation. He tells the most beautiful lies, but all good things must come to an end.

I am envious of those who sleep peacefully, unperturbed by the troublesome nature of existing, because life has been kind to them. You see fire in my eyes but I didn’t come here to ruin you, I didn’t come here to hold you either but now I can’t seem to stop. This is more than lust, more than flowers and fine words but a deviant formula, an unnatural intimacy between strangers.

When we cross the invisible line of visibility, when our clothes come off, the lights come on, and our bodies dance, I urge you to see more. I grant you the illusion that I am falling, but I am painting constellations in your lifeline and when you let go, I’ll remain volant. It is the greatest curse of the human condition, to be blessed with a kind heart and a gentle spirit; but with love on my hands, I will rewrite the ending to our story.

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