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and leave it at his desk, while briefing his clerk about the same, whom she met in the hallway while sprinting to her outdated Volkswagen.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.

 

Echoes of the Holidays

In the land of eternal summer where it doesn’t snow,

in the midst of shining tinsel and blasting thunder storms,

where at times the soul glances at the miles to home

strangers turn to friends and now to family

under the glow of the Christmas tree

And while we may meet again soon or never

maybe someday in summer or drunk silly in the unforgiving weather

this day will be carried in our hearts, wrapped with a silver bow

and forever will live the memories of December,

of Christmas in the iridescent eternal summer.

 

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

 

The Land of Eternal Summer: Brokenness

My eyes lay on a scene that is pretty as can be and I forget to breathe.

That’s how it was when it all started. I used to say that this one good thing that happened to me, in a very difficult year, means that I’m on the wrong side of a parallel universe. Because good things don’t really happen to me. Especially me. For someone who has known winter all along, the brightness of summer seems too good to be true.

It was perfect in the beginning. I think it felt like that because I didn’t expect anything at all. And life kept me gasping at the purity of every minute as a result of that: because every turn was a surprise and every moment red letter. And then, everything changed.

In the midst of paintings and poetry and the stars and the talks of hopes and dreams, I began to expect. And that is what I account my ruin to. That is the moment of my downfall.

And every moment since has been a drop down on the graph. And no matter how hard I tried not to expect anymore, no matter how I tried to fix everything, it all kept falling apart like the ground was quicksand. And while everything was breaking around me, I fell and broke my toe.

That is how I know I’m still in the parallel universe I’ve been all along. My bonus round in Mario is over. I’m back in the arms of reality and it is a mess.

It is still summer here, but it rains everyday. My secret place is full of bugs and untamed grass. The walkways are all muddy. It’s impossible to lay in the grass and look at the stars. In fact, the stars aren’t visible most nights. I’ve lost the magic that once breathed in my soul. And my deepest fears are brimming like the thunder clouds in the sky right now.

But if there’s something I’ve learnt in these 26 years around the sun, it’s that the sunsets after the storms make the most beautiful views.

I’m trying to go back to who I was when I got here, the girl who saw magic in every speck of every moment. Maybe I’ll find her again. Or maybe I’ll grow into someone I was always meant to be.

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

Why I’m letting you go

Fast forward to when I’m just a girl you used to know

in moments that burnt with the blaze of a hundred blinding suns on a November day.

Fast forward to when our time together is pierced into hollow moments,

spent with a girl you can talk about without feeling anything anymore.

 

I will forget my footsteps spent chasing you

I will forget my words wasted on you

I will forget everything to make space

I will forget everything to the point I don’t remember your face

 

I will spend time to collect the pieces you broke

so I can build a new home

on the edge of the river when I can hear the rain fall.

Maybe then I’ll learn to weather the storm

that tends to tear me apart.

 

I will put back everything together, except one piece

which I will throw away into another universe

so that I’m never whole enough for you to take again

and I’m never pure enough for you to taint again.

 

I will wait for the day when I can talk about you

the way you talk about me

and then fill my notebooks with lessons I can draw,

when you’re just a boy I used to know

and my feelings are six feet under in the land of wastefulness.

 

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

Watching You Leave

Every day the water in the lake I run by sinks lower,

every day another day passes without the rain.

The heat soaks my skin and heart as I continue to go further,

as I continue to run deeper and deeper into this maze I’m never escaping.

 

I want to escape the place we first met,

forget the nights we spent under the stars,

talking, drinking, dreaming.

But the rain refuses to fall and clean my mind

of your voice, your face, your name, of you.

 

You never said the words that I heard,

so I don’t think the blame lies on anything but my soul.

You never made any promises, you were careful of that.

And I read into everything, making castles out of clouds.

 

So now that there are no clouds left in the sky

and I’m left with the stars and this shell of a heart,

I don’t know what to do,

except wait for the rain to bring in a new start.

 

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

The Games we Play

It’s a masquerade ball and I’m dressed in black.

It’s a power struggle, it’s a test of who can hold back,

of who can pretend to care the least,

who can cage the ego of the beast.

 

You take my hand and we move to the piano and violin.

You take my hand and we glide across all that we hide.

Your hand on the small of my back, every step a perfect sin.

Your hands are good at this, but my tongue is bit by my pride.

 

Then you go on and make a move I could well expect.

You pull me close for a split of the beat of my heart,

and push me back the next.

Your body next to me, your soul miles apart.

 

My feet will hurt when the evening is over, I know

My heart will burn in insatiable doubts, I know.

 

Yet, I dance along to the music you chose,

And I keep myself from holding you close,

I hide behind your illusion that I’m cold hearted.

You’ll never know what you do to me is a territory uncharted.

 

When this night ends, I know I will have to let go,

because there is nothing that binds us behind this show.

Yet I dance along, for it is only then I have you.

Yet I sway along, never saying out loud I’m in love with you.

Free Falling

The night sky is so close tonight,

I think I can touch it, I think I just might.

I’m floating on a cloud in the pages of a lullaby,

as calm as the vacancy in the storm’s eye.

 

As I think of your smile in the half baked moonlight,

As I think of your accidental touch,

or the way our fingers purposefully brush,

As I recall our last fight,

As I catch a hint of your perfume in my bed,

or repeat to myself all the words that you’ve said,

I’m left on crossroads in the sand,

I’m left with my bare fragile heart in my hand.

 

I’m floating without an anchor, without any chains

without safety nets,  without anyone to blame.

Because it is me who chose to leave the safety of my home,

to open barricaded doors, to stop living in monochrome.

 

So when I fall back into the dirt,

because you refused to catch me,

because it was all in my head,

I hope I have the strength to remember this magic

and to stitch myself together in the blaze of the starry night.

 

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

 

 

The History of People

Looking back at the last 25 years of my life is a mandate around this time of the year, so cue in the introspection, the meditation, the mirror on the wall in the vacant empty hall.

And while history has repeated itself a million times in my case, and as I said in my last post, while it always ends with a circle, I sometimes feel this description, no matter how true in its essence, is an oversimplification of everything. Which brings me back to one of my favourite songs,

“I’m caught in the red and I’m fading to grey, a constant reminder that nothing stays the same, but nothing ever really changes.”

When I started this blog a lifetime ago, I was in my college library, as lost as ever, as lonely as ever, as broken as I could be, drenched in the drama of my being and those of the beings around me. And now that I sit again in my college library (a different one this time), it’s like I’m miles away from that life but still caught in the same web of its essence. The people and the drama. But so much more different this time.

So, the conclusion I’m forced to draw is that people are never black and white, they’re always a spectrum of grey. No matter how many times you classify and reclassify the ones moving in and out of your life, they tend to fall right outside everything. Even if it is only because of a word they say, or a simple movement of their hand.

Maybe I should accept that I will always be none the wiser when it comes to human beings, a real tragedy because I do hope to be a writer someday.

Will I ever escape this web? I think I’m on my way towards it. Which makes me analyse all my past mistakes and counter claims. And I accept I’m to be blamed for almost all of them.

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

The Land of Eternal Summer: A Month

So here we are, a month into the new chapter of my life which has been a whirlwind from the start. Somehow, it is the most beautiful experience I could have asked for. It’s broken and messy and dark and light and just perfect. But sometimes I forget to breathe in the middle of it all and it gets so overwhelming that I have trouble walking straight. And then I have to do what I did today: take a step back. In fact, run away from everything as fast as I can as far as possible.

And then guilt envelopes me because I realise that I’m wasting time. It makes things even worse. Because time is something I feel I’m short on, here and in life. I’ll be turning 26 soon and that phantom has been raging over my head since a while now. It’s like I can turn my back towards it but when things fall apart, it is all that I can see: the glaring red clock just ticking away in a room with silence so deep it pierces the soul. And then comes the self doubt and the notion that I’m wasting resources and someone else in my shoes would have done so much better than I can imagine.

It’s funny that I feel this way, particularly today, because last year this time I was having the most terrible day of my life. And feeling pretty much the same way that I’m doing right now. In the end it’s always a damn circle. You come back to where you start, you reach the place you dreaded and you’re left clueless despite having been through so much as to what to do.

I don’t mean to cry. This is the best thing that could have happened to me. But it’s difficult to keep the clouds at bay when it begins to rain and pour.

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