Purloined Letters

There are instances in our lives when we consider an event as fleeting, forgettable, ordinary, at that particular moment when we are experiencing them. Like a quick glance from a passerby on the street, a word, a phrase spoken without the least bit of intention, the way a stranger’s face carves a memory of some faraway island, the way city lights hum in a frenetic buzz in the midst of the metro traffic.

I picture those events together with the people in them. They all looked like unarmed soldiers: their ammo snatched away by the unforgiving hands of Time, their trousers a camouflage for their faces, for their fears; thoughtless and unwary of the dangers that lie ahead, completely unguarded from the looming damages these events eventually bring.

And when I look back, I see myself floating in pink vapor, my eyes bloodshot from the lack of sleep; my soul bare, hungry and needing. He leaned a little bit closer to me and I laughed at something I couldn’t remember now. He took my hand and I felt his pulsating with warmth, as I thought to myself maybe this was the part where we were supposed to tell each other how we feel.

I inhaled the mist of dawn like I was learning to breathe for the first time, not knowing that in the future I would remember this exact scene and bleed. The last traces of the city lights were fading from us, as if it were dying, as the whiff of daybreak slowly crept from the east. I think I heard him say, “I’ll take you home,” and I remember speaking to myself, “Why? Where? How?”

There was a time when you could tell the world that I would fight for you. How I would smash my own beliefs in order to make room for accommodating your own, how I would invent a new language if the present words do not fit your thoughts.

Once, you fetch me and took me home from a heavy drunken night with my fake friends. How you stayed up all night watching me sleep even though you had classes in the morning; how you were so worried I might die in my drunkness and never wake up again. And when I finally did wake up I told you I do not love you, I love him. Who knows the things we do for love? Who knows what fools we become?

Do you remember December, along the stone paths by the park on a cold empty midnight? There were very few people around us: homeless folks, street vendors, strangers — all looking lost and weary. I was in my usual jeans and top, and you were in your college uniform, and together we talked about ten thousand things all at once.

Do you remember when you told me you do not believe in love? It took me by surprise that you were so keen on speaking about it, even providing me with a lengthy argument to back up your disbelief.

Do you remember the hint of sarcasm in my voice when I told you to cut out your lame little speech as I forced myself to laugh off your apparent interest on the subject? I told you rather jokingly that you were a contradiction. I found it funny that you do not believe in love but you were asking for my heart.

What has happened to us since then? I look back and count four long years of plastic love and crimson hate, and clashes and conflicts and collisions, and at the end of everything we are still cursing each other.

When I try to think of an answer to how and why we end up this way, I remember December: the orange lights, the scent of grass, those wailing sirens from afar which sounded almost like our weeping hearts.

I remember the words you were too careful to speak to me, words so fragile they actually break at the mere attempt of uttering them. I remember how you whispered them in my ear, how you warned me of my delusion. And I laughed. I laughed.

All I knew was I loved you, or learned to love you. It does not make any difference to me now which came first or which came later, because in between the space and the time we occupied and spent together, there was a place in my heart reserved for you, and for no one else.

Deleuze wrote somewhere, “In love, the truth always comes too late.” I look back in time and figure I was four years late to this single truth that you never loved me, you never knew how. And in all those years we were together, I have loved you all alone.

But I could never put the blame on you, because I know you tried. God knows how I tried too. I guess they were right when they said that it is inevitable for two people to drift apart, to fall out of place, out of love.

This morning you screamed at me, “Know your place! Know your place!” as if I had stepped on the wrong territory, as if I had breached an unwritten contract which prohibits me from coming near you.

And I screamed too, and threw things at you, as a helpless attempt to get through to you. I did not want to hurt you. I just wanted you to know.

But you smashed me with threats, hurled me with insults, threatened me about calling your mother, about calling the cops. All of a sudden you were summoning the whole world and waging war against me, convinced that I was the enemy. And in my head I kept thinking, is this how you treat the people you love?

In the movies we know how it is done. A boy and a girl get into a fight, argue for what seem like an eternity, and then they kiss and make-up.

I actually waited for you to snatch me and hold me tight, whisper to my ears once again the things you told me when we were younger: Love is dead, but I will never let you go.

I waited for you to rush to me with all the weight of our sorrows, because I thought you knew that we were ready to forgive. But in then end there was only silence, and pride.

I told my Mom about not being able to breathe in the pain. She texted me today and asked me to come home. And I thought mournfully: for the longest time in my life, you were my only home.

You do not need to explain ‘cause I get it. I get the fact that you were bored with me or that you got tired of looking after us, or that you found something else on the internet that is more deserving of your time.

But I just wished you did not make it sound so true, so believable, the lie that you wanted this too, or that you felt the same way. It’s funny because I was supposed to be the one to leave you, because we both know I only forced myself to love you. But now you are the one who’s leaving me too.

I did not want to hurt you. I just wanted you to know.


For B.
I wish I knew how to love you right.

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