Love and Hate- Chapter 1

T. checked her wrist watch and was on the verge of a panic attack. Her classes at the university were about to begin in 30 minutes and she was still left with a shitload of drafting for her boss at the law firm. The offices were completely deserted at this hour before 8am and except the watchman, a single soul was not present at the office. This was her favourite time of the day, as the evenings were full of grumpy middle age men snorting and snoring or cribbing, whatever pleased their ego.

T typed as fast as her fingers allowed, trying not to let the panic freeze her brain as it usually did. It took her another 15 minutes to proofread the petition she had been working on, set her boss’ schedule, print his cases for the day and leave it at his desk, while briefing his clerk about the same, whom she met in the hallway while sprinting to her outdated Volkswagen. She had been working at the legal offices for almost a year now, although the anxiety of rushing to her early morning classes remained the same.

She prayed for no traffic blocks, speeding the entire way to the university, then sprinting up three flights of stairs, coughing furiously when she reached the top. She thought to herself how badly she needed to join a gym and cut down on her daily dose of cheese burgers at her college canteen. She almost skidded and hit her Jurisprudence Professor on the way, narrowly avoiding it and stood at the closed doors of her classroom for Constitution. She checked her watch; it was past 8:30am and she knew being allowed into the classroom was a miracle. Which is why she wasn’t allowed to enter, in addition to the dirty look shot at her by Mrs. S.

She slumped her way to the library, repenting another early class she had missed, the 3rd time this week. She was about to stow her bag in the locker when a text from A. buzzed her phone.

“Coffee.” It said.

“How did you know I missed class again?!” T texted back, picking up her bag and walking towards the college grounds.

“You rushed past me 10 minutes ago. I didn’t even bother going.”

“Why didn’t you stop me?!”

“Like you would have listened.”

T smiled despite of herself and walked into the canteen. She spotted A sitting at their usual spot, right next to the glass window that overlooked the overgrown college garden and broken fountain. She was reading a novel, bending its cover with one hand and sipping machine coffee with the other. The canteen was full of students stuffing breakfast or working on their overdue projects.

T threw her bag at A’s face and glared at her.

“What??!” A screamed back at T, although she was unable to control her laughter. “I felt you needed the exercise.”

“Thanks.” T croaked back.

“Shitty coffee?”

“Why not.” A walked over to the counter and got T a cup.

“This job at the law firm is killing me.” T took a long swing of the too hot coffee, letting it burn her throat.

“Mrs S is going to kill you if your job doesn’t. This is the 3rd time this week you missed her class.” A got back to her book. She had the rare ability to carry on a conversation while reading.

“I know. I’ll talk to her. The murder trial is today. I had to finish proof reading the written statement from last week.”

“You should draft one from Mrs S’ side for when she is on a murder trial for killing you. There’s a chance she won’t fail you in her assessment, like she’s planning to.” A crumpled her empty paper cup with one hand and shot it across the room into the bin. She did not miss.

“And why are you not in your class?”

“Mrs F. is on maternity leave.”

“Again?”

“Yes, judgy. Didn’t know she needed your stamp of approval to have her 3rd child.” A rolled her eyes.

“Fine. What are we reading this week?”

“The Fountainhead.” A placed her yellow half torn copy on the table for her friend to see.

“Again?”

“Didn’t know I needed your stamp of approval for my reading choices. I’ll be careful next time, your highness.”

T shook her head. She pulled out a copy of her Intellectual Property assignment and began skimming the pages.

“I’ve got news.” A began. She tucked her book in her bag and folded her arms, her face expressionless.

“You’re scaring me, A.”

“My father’s boss, Mr X. Do you remember meeting him at my parent’s 25th Anniversary last month?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember the son he mentioned? The one who lives in New Jersey? Well, he’s visiting here next week, with a couple of his friends or workmates or something. They’re closing a deal on some acquisition of some kind, the details went over my head when dad explained it to me on the phone last night.”

“That doesn’t seem too bad.”

“He wants me to take him out, show him the city.” She frowned.

“And that’s a problem, because?”

“Because it’s awkward. And weird. And I don’t want to do it alone. Can you pretty please help me out?” A put on her best puppy dog face.

“As long as it doesn’t involve late nights. You know how paranoid my mother gets and I don’t want to get into another fight with her.”

“Please T. Help me out. You can stay at my flat at night when we plan that. I’ll talk to your mother, you know she loves me.”

“That’s because she thinks you’re some sort of good influence on me. Ugh. If only she knew.”

“Whatever it is, I can’t plan anything if you’re not on board. Could you please help me out? This is our last year together, we need to be making memories we can tell our kids about. I promise it’ll be fun.”

“Okay fine. You’re going to get me out of this thing with Mrs S. I don’t really get why everyone who hates me is so much in love with you.”

“T, your mother doesn’t hate you.”

“If you only knew.”

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

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Dear World

Somehow sometimes in the briskly fleeting innocence of the moon, right before it sets, the world is utterly perfect. The silence is peaceful, the air still. The sun is breaking in the opposite corner, ready to move on. At moments like these, the dreams of yesterday, all the pain and brokenness seem forgotten. Just for a moment. Just for a second. And then, in a blink, all the magic is gone and all that left is a memory. A touch. A kiss. A stillness in the chaos.

In a parallel universe, I’d like to believe, this moment lives on forever. This magical moment is broken into almost infinite pieces, and you are allowed to jump from one frame to another. And as soon as it ends, it begins again. The perfect groundhog hour of serenity. And nothing ever dies. No hearts ever break. No pain is ever felt. The monotone of the hour is the nirvana. The sky is forever a war between the deepest blue and the sweetest purple.

In that hour, I’m too scared to touch anything around me. For I am impure. I am vile. I am filth. I’m the only thing present that makes this scene less that perfect. Just that thought of myself polluting this purity nauseates me. I am the grey scum in this war of the gods of light. That is when I decide to scrub myself until I am clean again. Scrub myself until I bleed.

As I step into the river, the coldness wafts over me, like its arms is where I belong. And it feels like I’m back home. The fog is so thick, I can hardly breathe. But somehow, this suffocation feels like a penance necessary. So I decide to walk deeper and deeper into the stream. Beyond the rocks that pierce my feet and colour the water crimson. Beyond the moss on the riverbed, that makes me slip and lose the sight of the sky. Beyond the last breath in my lungs, when I decide to let go and let the water heal my bare body. Beyond my last thought when all is peaceful again.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2018.  All rights reserved.

 

The Beauty of the Mess: Letter #1

(This is an epistolary fictional story-series)

Dear E.

It is very unlikely that this letter will ever find you. Besides the rare possibility of me getting over my vanity and finding the courage to send this to you, there is the glaring hiatus in our correspondence, of 2 years 4 months and 26 days to be precise, that dampens my hope. Then there is also the question of you using your old post box that forbids me from thinking otherwise. Or if you even live in the same city. Or country for that matter. There are a million reasons why this letter shouldn’t find you.

But life is a long shot. Life has never made sense to me, so I’ve given up trusting in reason or signs of any kind. I’m not the believer that I was once upon a time when you used to write to me. And even if the ink and paper from my hands lies in a rusted metal box for most of eternity, the paper yellowing, the ink fading off into the air like my words and emotions, I will find a sense of calm in it. It will satisfy me that I tried to renew our friendship before I grew old and died. I tried to fix things when the world around me fell apart.

I’ll come straight to where we left off. And in all honesty, I was as angry as I’ve ever been in my life. I waited for seven hours on that rusted black bench in the far left corner of the Rose Park in your precious city, where I was supposed to meet you. You had so eloquently described it in your letters to me as your favourite place in the world, or to quote you, “the world you knew”. I wonder if that has changed in the past two years, if you’ve traveled to the far away mystical lands you always adored and admired.

You’d said that the dilapidated park bench gave you hope in hopelessness whenever you sat there eavesdropping into people’s lives, forgetting about the dilemmas of your own. You used to call it “the beauty of the mess” that life was putting you through. I tried doing the same while waiting for you to show up, while imagining you in your contemplating colours: wondering, worrying, waning. It upset me even more, because it made it extremely hard for me to hate you. And I hated you for what you did to me. Loathed you. Detested you. I was disgusted by you.

The beauty of your city was dust to me. It was smoke and ashes and garbage. And I swore, as I sat there rotting away on a rotting park bench in a rotten city, to never write to you again. I swore to cut you off and forget you like you forgot me. I felt stupid for not asking for your address or phone number, or even your real name for that matter, before flying halfway across the country to meet you, a stranger I had never seen or spoken to in my life, except through letters written to a post box.

But here I am breaking my oath to myself, falling into the path of vulnerability again, for you to hurt me all over again.

In all that hurt and pain, I took another decision that I shouldn’t have, that I probably wouldn’t have had you showed up that fateful day. I can’t help but laugh at my sheer daftness; at the fact how my life would be completely different than it is now had I let the fire of hate and hurt burn down to ashes rather than adding more wood to it. I wouldn’t have been a broken man sitting in a lone cabin in the middle of an abandoned sea shore putting ink to paper in this flickering tangerine light. I don’t even have a phone or television here. It’s just me, my pain and a few empty canvases I plan to paint my pain on for my impending project.

Let us let go of what happened. You didn’t show up two years ago; I’ve accepted that now and all that has happened since then. But throughout all of it, through the anger and the impulsive decisions, the fleeting illusionary happiness and the everlasting agony, I’ve missed talking to you. I’ve missed looking at the world through your eyes. I’ve missed your metaphors and poetry. I’ve missed you.

I’m not asking for an explanation. I’m not even expecting a response. But if my words find you by a twist of fate, know that no matter what I’m thankful to have known you in this lifetime. I’m thankful to have stumbled across your pen name on that god awful pen-friends website. I’m glad I decided to write to you. I am glad you decided to write back to me.

Your friendly neighbourhood

Achilles

Ps: I hope you’ve read the Iliad by now.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.

The Crumpled Unavowed Words in my Pocket

I wrote about you one night when Hypnos was awake and all seeing.

A night when every corner of my mind was iridescent with your being.

With eyes too alive to rest, too awake to dream.

(In all candidness, a part of me did silently whisper that I was but dreaming.)

I wrote words to you too that night, undoing the crippling fragile seams.

I knit a web of inside jokes and humour, eternal moments and incessant feelings.

I poured my heart into black ink that night and poetized my dark soul,

painted galaxies, captured nebulae, gathered shimmering stars and coloured black holes.

I carved words that would give you courage in covert moments when you become your own undoing,

in enigmatic moments when your shattered faith eclipsed the sun in you.

I etched words that could make you feel at home when you are away and unraveling

like the miles between us are too illusionary and untrue,

for you always owned a part of my soul.

That night I crafted words; you were loved, cherished and wanted they told.

I sculpted words that would make you feel you belonged,

I thought you were a long forgotten childhood song.

I bared my soul to the whiteness of paper that night,

drenched in every emotion that could make a person blind

Blinded by the dust in my eyes I cried that night for it was all a waste.

The right moment to tell you those words never ever came.

You were gone even before you ever left.

Now I think of it, you were never there.

I keep these words with me for they are a lesson I learnt,

as I keep your words, carved out and hollowed in me they burn.

You will never get my words now, or my tears or my soul.

’tis all buried within me now, ashes to ashes; dust to dust.

How You’re Not the One

There you go, a caterpillar in a cocoon of narcissism and arrogance. Vain. Egotistical. You smile a smile, showcasing your artificially whitened teeth and utterly high cheekbones on your freshly shaven face. Your cologne chokes people to death because you bathed in it, rather than spraying it on yourself like a normal human being, after you hit the gym to maintain your oh so precious abs. If only you valued humility and compassion as much as you value your abs. You park your uselessly expensive car taking up two parking spaces, not because you’re scared of someone scratching it but because it satisfies your humongous ego. You assume that every girl is in love with you. You assume I am in love with you. But oh my dear half-witted simpleton, I would rather stick pins in my eyes than even think of the possibility of us.

Maybe you’re not all that I’ve described. You’re chivalrous. Gallant. Your polished soul resonates your debonair. You serenade the birds and paint the flowers. Maybe you’re not all that either. But you think I’m falling for that faux charm and my heart is in your palm. Because that is what gives you joy. Or maybe not. But honey, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m not a fifteen year old. Or an imbecile. Neither are most creatures of my sex.

You see, had you been the one, I would never have been able to speak to you coherently. My awkwardness would have baffled you to the point of doubting my sanity. You would have, numerous times in fact, caught me gaping at your face dimwittedly. While stammering and stuttering, and possibly literally going weak in the knees, I would have asked you if you love travelling. Or books. Or long walks in the library. Or if you believe in destiny. Or if you see the stars as evidence of the existence of magic. Or made you a mixed tape of my favourite records. I never did that, did I? Hate to burst your pristine bubble, but you are so not the one.

Never Let Me Go

It scares me to death when he puts his arm though mine and we walk into the soiree.

I hold my breath because I’m constantly waiting for the reverie to shatter.

For Cinderella too had her midnight, so shall I in this melancholic story .

I steal a glance at him while walking through the crowd, his ethereal fingers laced through mine.

The brown in his eyes stabs my soul a million times.

I am so in love with him, it breaks me to pieces and I fall apart in a clatter.

He holds me by the waist before even an inch of me caresses the marbled floor.

He knows every movement of my every muscle, every molecule of my breath, every beat of my cracked heart.

He recognizes the look in my eyes, his eyes reading the parchment of unspoken words in my core.

I can sense the gold of his aura drawing in the darkness of mine, turning to an odious grey.

Because that is what we are: mud, and ashes, and rotting vile corpses left unburied in a gruesome fray.

I’m an ignominy, a misfit to the incomprehensible mess his world calls art .

His lips part to say the words I know will melt my fire, sway my conscience for sure.

I refuse to be his hamartia anymore.

I step away from him, every inch of distance a ray of relief, a knife in my heart, a pin in my eye.

Never let me go,” I whisper as a last goodbye.

Her

There is this agony that I fail to define

This want, this need beyond the comprehension of my mind

Her lips, Her eyes, Her glistening smile,

Your phantasm of Her walking down the aisle

I know I’m the one

who told you to seek out the stars

I know I’m the one

who told you to follow the flight of your heart.

Tragic, though, I’m not the one.

The air stings this face that cannot breathe

The sea rises in infinite rays across the pier where I lean

salt meets salt, the clouded eyes that cannot see.

Wasn’t this charred heart enough?

The shards of glass in my soul, weren’t they enough?

The sting of your words dedicated to Her,

The bruises you never saw in your grand gestures on the spur,

You lifted Her in the air and crowned Her in all glory

I, the antagonist of my story

I helped you bleed your own heart

and hid the joy of the daggers I’d sunk in my part

The suffering, the pain, the loss, the darkness, how much was enough?

What a waste, the salt, the sea, the scars my nails dug in the wood leave

My silent scream at Her indifference, your unrequited love, your salt, my salt

Your broken heart is my burden to bear.

Half Past One on a Summer Night

I sighed a sigh on a summer night

the moon in its half innocence right in the corner of our eyes

the warmth radiating through our palms and finger intertwined

the freshly cut grass sweetly stinging my calves

we saw a firefly dissolve into the kingdom of the stars

they glistened and reflected in his eyes, his eyes that were made for mine

His coat on my shoulders, his voice humming my favourite song

I closed my eyes, I’d never felt so happy to be lost

the musky breeze messed my meticulous locks

I didn’t bother, my hands were right where they belonged

he pushed the hair out of my eyes and laughed

I smiled, knowing the universe and I were one

I was where I was meant to be

I was right where I finally belonged

 

 

 

“Maybe”- A Fictional Narrative

It was a few months after I’d realized I was in love with him. We were sitting in the gardens on a midsummer night, a large table set in the middle of the wondrous landscape in the cheer and bustle, amidst the grandeur of the moonlit orchid illuminated by a hundred candles, or so it felt. Our families had known each other forever, so we had the chance of growing up together. I knew everything there was to know about him, his education, his interests, his general outlook on life. I still had no idea who he was though, what colour his soul was, beneath all this lustre and magnificence. I believed his soul to be as beautiful as he was, kind, gentle, gallant and true, but knew absolutely nothing about his aspirations and inspirations, his fears and his frolics. I didn’t know what kind of music really touched his heart, what movies he could watch endlessly on a loop, if he read fiction or just pretended to or if someone had ever broken his heart. These tiny details were missing in our acquaintanceship, which I knew couldn’t possibly be filled in the course of a single evening, though I was determined not to be hesitant to try.

I kept staring at his face as he sat across me, trying to imbibe every line, every scar, every crevice of his face into his picture that was etched in my mind. I wanted to remember everything about these rare moments I was with him, the way the air smelt, the music playing in the background, the way his face shone in the light, the weather, the sky, everything. I knew this was one of those experiences in my life I would bookmark and go back to a million times, go over everything I said, everything he said. I knew I would be thinking about this moment and laugh at every sarcastic comment he made, think about every word that escaped his mouth and go over every detail I could notice, the crinkles near his eyes when he smiled, that eye roll whenever I tried to come up with a sly retort to his taunts, how he was organised enough to carry his cards in a wallet, the affection in his eyes whenever he looked at everybody but me.

But that was the only thing about him that made my heart ache. His eyes. His deep brown mesmerizing enchanting eyes. They didn’t have a speck of affection when they looked at me, which they rarely did, only when everybody else had their eyes on me anyway.

He didn’t have the same feelings that I did. They didn’t linger on me or bore into mine. He looked at me as he would at any inanimate object. No, he didn’t have any feelings for me, I was sure of that now. I began looking around, feeling really low. It was all a waste, the way I felt about him, the way my heart would almost stop and then start beating wildly when I was near him, how I couldn’t stop smiling or take my eyes off him. Such a waste of emotions. I began feeling like a fool, but I pushed away those thoughts as quickly as they had appeared. I’d have time to think about that later. Right now, I had to grab on to every moment I was there with him. These moments would never come back, no matter how much I cry and pray for them to.

Goodbye wasn’t as hard as I’d expected it to be. He cracked a few sarcastic jokes and even mocked me when I tried to tell him how pretty I thought the stars were. It didn’t offend me. It just confirmed that he didn’t feel the way I felt about him. That is what caused the piercing ache in my chest. His words didn’t matter. They did, but not to the way I felt. It were those little things that confirmed my emotions were one sided.

I walked up to him and said goodbye. I don’t remember the look on his face or who was watching us or anything else. The only thing I do remember is the electricity that ran through me when he held my hand and pulled me into his arms. It lasted just a few seconds, but I’m sure the clocks weren’t moving at the same speed as they usually do. It was a moment suspended in time and air, when I forgot anything else existed, except me and him. Maybe it was a friendly gesture, I couldn’t recall our manner of parting during the times I didn’t feel about him the way I did now. Maybe, it meant nothing to him, as I didn’t either. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

 

The story above is a fictional narrative with no relation whatsoever to anybody living or dead. To put it simply, I made it up. That’s what storytellers do. The characters I create aren’t me, but are a part of me.