He heard the song on radio, repeating lines he no longer knew if they were true.
He hadn’t realised how much his life had changed since he had met her.
It had only been three months since their last meeting, but each day that went by without her presence felt worse.
He didn’t want to change her life; he couldn’t, anyway.
The knowledge pained him – wanting so badly to, yet knowing he shouldn’t, couldn’t, and wouldn’t.
It wasn’t as if she would agree to it; she had too much to lose.
It wasn’t as if she would, anyway; because she would never know.
No, he didn’t want to change her life, but he missed every moment he once had with her.
He didn’t deserve her time. He wasn’t entitled to see her smile. He had no right to hold her. Because someone else did.
“And I don’t want to change your life…” the song played on.
Didn’t he? How imprudent of him to have gotten into this state. Pathetic, to say the least.
He knew he couldn’t change her life; he could only walk away and slip away into the darkness…
She knew better this time.
Even as she felt the knots scrunching up in her tummy, and the creepy-crawly sensations that slid around within her chest, she merely let out a soft sigh.
Her fingers itched to call him, but it was less than two months since they last spoke.
No matter how much it took for her to suppress the urge, she was certain it would get easier. Watching the clock tick made it better, she persuaded herself. As long as day turned to night, she was certain she could let the feelings pass too. Perhaps it would be better not to make any rash moves, she reminded herself. She did not need another rejected call to ascertain that he cared less for her that he claimed he did. It wasn’t the first time she had to endure such emotions, and it surely wasn’t the last.
But she would learn, she reassured herself.
It had taken years, but she was positive that she could learn not to think of him.
Writing about it did him more harm than good. It didn’t make him any more certain about the situation. It didn’t help him forget her. But strangely enough, it didn’t help him to feel better about them either.
He tried to describe as vividly as he could, the day he had met her. He wrote fervently about the light that lit her silhouette, her eyes that glittered with the sheer hint of light that night. Then he typed fastidiously in an attempt to document every word and touch they had exchanged over time.
As he tried to weave their tale into a coherent story, he realised that there was hardly a story. No, there wasnt. There were countless expressions of affection from him to her. There were endless nights that he longed for her that it hurt his body and soul. There were infinite moments of closeness that he once held on dearly to. But to say they had an experience to retell or a relationship to cherish made almost a mockery to the true definitions of the words.
Perhaps putting these down in tangible words could help, he thought.
He kept up with writing, scribbling, typing, and back to thinking again. But slowly, as more days passed, less made sense. Feelings began to fade, and his resolute was evidently shaken. He could hold on the the last threads of memories, but the emotions were drained.
Did you still like her? They asked. This time, he wasn’t sure anymore.
Sitting in the middle of a box, she was unsure of where to lean. The left was filled with thorns. The right was laced with poison. The front was tattered and slippery. The back? Don’t even think about it; that was where she fell through and landed in this square of unknowns.
Now what couls she do, except to continue sitting smack in the middle of the box?
He adored her. She was a breath of fresh air in the trenches. She was a flicker of light in the black void of space. She was the foothold for a man caught in a rip tide. She was everything that kept him grounded, hopeful and alive.
He liked to stare into her eyes and fall into a state of hypnotism.
He liked to observe her the curves of her lips meet in soft promise.
He liked to watch the curls in her hair rise and fall with the rhythm of the wind.
He liked to follow the curves of her body; the length of her fingers; the shape of her calves…
It wasn’t easy when they kept such distances apart. One day upon his request, she had sent him a photo of herself. He scrutinised the image from corner to corner; left to right, up to down, and diagonally edge to edge.
But with each pass, the air seemed to have been sucked out. The lights seemed to be dimmer than he remembered. His body rocked as if waves had swept him into a whirlpool.
He couldn’t take his eyes off a band around her finger – looking hard, through the reflection in the ring, he saw a man; looking harder, he was undressed, exhausted, and sharing her bed.
“Someone told me about you just awhile ago,” she said. It was a casual enough remark for him to dismiss with a smile. Which he did. Until the lady raked her memory and spurted, “Now I remember who it was! It was … … ”
The rest came to him like a never-ending whirr. He heard the name, and was certain he had given the stupidest response that his mind chose not to register. His ears rejected further information, but his heart longed to know more. His mind raced, questions slipping from his lips uncontrollably.
For a moment while he stood rooted in the room, every voice became white noise, and every person that brushed past him merely part of some cluttered wallpaper’s design.
Oh, that name, that name. It was … it was … he simply couldn’t say it.
He was as forthcoming as he knew how to be, short of asking her to stay the night. He was treading lightly; so carefully, as if the ice would crinkle and crack just by the sound of his breath.
He laid his hand on her waist, moving to the soft flow of music that defied them of gravity. He adapted to her pace, following rather than forcing, looking still rather than shifting. His heart set the beat for his steps as his feet moved in perfect sync. His fingertips pirouetted in delicate circles on the small of her back. Eyes sweeping across the dance floor, he twirled her away from the leering eyes with a nimble coupé. He embellished their dance with a small kiss to her ear, poised with a smile that was hardly hidden by her hair. His heart leaped, ballon, as she turned her face into his neck.
Oh, how his fingers had waltzed; how his lips had tangoed; how his heart had swayed.
He dared not make a sound; not a sound that would break this perfect dance. Perhaps she would see that he’ll like her to stay for the night.
The music stopped. He slid his hands away, fingers briefly entangled in her hair.
He would ask for an encore.