A perfect metaphor

Before you, I didn’t really understand why they call it falling in love. I thought it was exaggeratedly metaphorical, a hyperbole just for the sake of it. Too theatrical, without a doubt.

I thought of love as perfectly written poetry, red roses, soft kisses, a familiar perfume, a way to find home.

But to my surprise, the expression was perfect. From that day in October when a girl with freckles painting her cheeks and eyes dark as the night walked into that bar I used to hate, just a little brighter than everyone else, the word began to make sense.

Through looking for the words that you would want to listen to, discovering that your laugh was my favorite song, crossing my fingers under the table like a child when I asked you for your number, through the hours I spent thinking about which date would charm you the most or wondering the exact right moment to call you, through the things I said and was always disappointed when you didn’t say back, through all of it, I kept thinking about that word. Falling.

The shortness of breath, the blurry vision of everything around me, the adrenaline felt on every spot of my body and most of all the desperate uncertainty of what will come next. Pain, death, the heartbreak of a lifetime, a story I will never want to tell, a dive into crystalline water. Falling felt like a beautiful possibility, but mostly it felt like a sharp fear of the unknown. At best I could see eight feet in front of me, and whatever would come next was a complete mystery.

For a while, it felt almost like a nice kind of thrill. Those are the butterflies, I thought. The suspense made things exciting, somehow, although I could have done without the unbearable nerves. I though about you all day, wondering where to go or what to say or when to kiss you or how to tell you the things I wanted to tell you. There was something about the beginning of the relationship, about discovering the mysteries of you.

But as it does, time passed, and it was always there. Every day more butterflies, and more seeking of your laugh, your smile, your kiss, your words. Every day, a little disappointment. Every day another evidence that love in fact is like falling, a perfect metaphor, not at all a hyperbole, as much I have wished so.

There was I, falling at maximum speed, no way back, the wind blowing in my face, and you were nowhere to be found.

I like to think love could be perfectly written poetry, red roses, soft kisses, a familiar perfume, the way back home.  I like to think after you fall and your heart is to your throat there is the sweet quietness of a waterfall only you and I know where to find, the peaceful and simple beauty of everyday waking up to your eyes. Maybe if as I feel you had jumped too. Maybe if you had held my hand.

Two or three, at most (on a scale of ten)

I’m not sure why I am waking up just now. If it was the dog downstairs, who barks at nothing (or ghosts) in the middle of the night, or the girl upstairs – the one with hair so black I sometimes think it’s blue (maybe it is) – that gets home this late almost every day (one day I’m going to ask her – doesn’t she have a job?) the heels tapping the floor, my ceiling.

I’m not sure what time it is: the battery of my digital watch died (at least two or three months ago, at best). But the Sun hasn’t risen yet, so I must have a few hours until cold shower, hot coffee, crowded subway.

I get up to open the curtains, that by the force of habit I closed before going to bed. Since the battery died, at least two or three months ago, I have been waking up with the sunlight (I have always been a light sleeper). I wake up even earlier than I would with the alarm on the digital clock – and still, every day, I sleep with the light, almost imperceptible, adrenaline of the risk – the risk of waking up just before lunch.

Without caring about how pathetic that may be (is), I pretend I am one of those people we hear so many stories about – so many sometimes we forget they really exist. The ones who climb mountains, travel to Africa, quit their jobs, parachute jump, the poets who write about waking up in the morning, taking a cold shower, drinking hot coffee, and, on the way to the crowded subway, getting hit by a blue car – imminent death. And here I am, almost high on the adrenaline of the risk of waking up just before lunch.

The streetlight hurts my eyes (even though it is almost completely dark). A lamppost, one car or another here and there, two windows, three at most, with the lights on. When the curtains are fully open, my dangerous (almost) alarm turned on (almost), my eyes get used to the light (or lack there of). The street outside is ugly. (Always has been). The building next to mine too grey, too close; so close I can barely see the sky. (And if I could, only two starts, three at most, would shine as they’re supposed to.)

In one of the many windows with the light off (now I see there are only two with it on anyway), there is a girl with honey hair. Or maybe it’s red, or perhaps it’s only the fire on the tip of her cigarette that gives me that impression. She drags looking at the sky and blows the smoke with her eyes closed, head stretched out the window just like dogs or drunk blonde girls do in those movies that almost always have happy endings (and I’m not complaining – I have always been a fan of happy endings).

I look for a while – not too long. I would rather remain a romantic without becoming a potential stalker. Even though I’m not, I would like to think if someone was looking (maybe someone is) they wouldn’t think I’m that weird guy who stares at pretty girls (maybe she isn’t, but I don’t think it matters) smoke cigarettes by the window in the middle of the night.

Before going back to bed, I look for stars one last time (there is no harm in trying). The grey building is blocking my view, and I’m not sure there even is anything to see, but I keep looking (there really is no harm in trying), and I wonder what she, with the honey (maybe red) hair is doing awake at this hour (two or three in the morning, it must be). Maybe she was woken by a dog who sees ghosts or a neighbor with very high heels and stretched her neck out the window to look for stars (, sure, but mostly so that her boyfriend wouldn’t notice the smell of cigarettes – she does have asthma after all, and he really cares for her health.)

Maybe. Or maybe she owns the medium dog and doesn’t want to make of him a passive smoker (he’s her best friend). Maybe she is the neighbor who just got home from a loud noisy party, the kind that happens every weekend and we go to anyway (and worse: love doing so); (maybe that is a normal tendency between girls with unidentifiable hair colors); and as much as she promises everyone she’s not a smoker, when she’s drunk it’s a free pass (and she drinks every weekend).

I pretend she has blue eyes (I have always been a fan of blue eyes – yes, I know everyone is a fan of blue eyes). I pretend I have the courage of smiling at her. I pretend the only thing stopping me is not wanting to seem like a stalker. I pretend I am that guy from the movies that always have happy endings (and I’m not complaining); the one who runs through the airport (as if he can’t just send a text she’ll see just as she lands), the one who kisses in the rain, who travels the world, who quits his job, who buys a hundred red roses, who risks (for real). I pretend she smiles back.

And just as I lay in bed again, eyes already closed, I realize that, by the force of habit, I closed the curtains again. I need to get up, of course, to turn on my (almost) alarm. My version of parachute jumping, the danger I enjoy being in. And I get up again, and I open again, and I lay in bed again – eyes already closed, falling asleep, almost high on the daily dose of adrenaline. The imminent death, the second you jump, the unbelievable danger – of waking up just before lunch. (On the last two or three months, it hasn’t happened once.)


“I am over you”, she said blandly, over the perfectly loud music, not in anger or love or passion or hope. She said it as if just stating a fact, like she was informing me that the sky was blue or the Earth was round or like she would if I asked her the day of our first kiss (she always remembered, she was so good with dates). I stared into her dark eyes, waiting for her to say anything else.

I couldn’t see my face at that moment, but I am as sure as I can be that my eyes were begging. I swallowed.

I looked at her, illuminated by the flashing lights of the club, waiting for her next words, for the but. Nothing came. She just kept staring back into my eyes as I searched for any sign of a lie in hers. I didn’t find it, but maybe I didn’t look enough, I told myself. Maybe. She seemed honest, too honest, maybe more than I had ever seen before. More than when she said no when I asked if what I said drunkenly hurt her or if she minded staying home with me instead of going out just tonight i promise or just one last time please please please.

I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to scream louder than the very loud music, louder than the very very loud thoughts, to scream until I stopped feeling so small she could squeeze me between her thin fingers. I wanted to scream myself into the size I once was when I stood next to her. I wanted to scream at her why why why are you saying these lies just to hurt me, how could you be so heartless after I loved you so much, I loved you, I love you, why can’t you appreciate that, I love you you bitch. But I also wanted to pull her body close to mine and kiss her, and more than anything I wanted her to kiss me back, and I was drunk, confused, a little very surprised with her confidence and way smaller than I was used to being, so I stayed frozen, staring at her.

She looked so beautiful. She always did when I missed her. The longer we spent apart, the more beautiful she was. The colorful lights illuminated her perfect face, changing from pink to red to yellow to green to blue. Behind her, bodies merged into each other, completely interchangeable, and everything was dark. She was the light, and I just watched.

She started to turn away from me, officially nothing else to say, and I grabbed her hand. Please, I whispered, though I don’t think she heard. She didn’t look back like she used to all those times before. She untangled her hands from mine, back still turned to me, and she kept walking. I waited. I looked at her walking away and waited for the moment when she would look back. The moment she would run back to me, the moment I would find the lie in her eyes.

But from a moment to the next, just like that, her body merged into all the other ones, and I no longer could see her. Everything was dark and then colorful, but the lights weren’t illuminating anything specific. One second she was there, right in my hand, about to look back, I’m sure, and then she wasn’t anymore. Just like that.

In that moment, as I had in more ways than one lost her, it crossed my mind that maybe it was true. Maybe she was really over me. Maybe she wasn’t coming back. I ignored the thought and waited a few more minutes, and still nothing. So I shruged and went to buy myself another drink. Okay, not today, I thought to myself. I’ll text her in a week. Make her think I don’t want her anymore, make her almost sure I have given up on it, and then a glimpse of hope. She won’t resist. She never does. I bought my drink, absolutely sure of it.

What I didn’t know then, as I sipped my twenty dollar whiskey, was that I could not have been more wrong. That I would text her the next day, the moment I woke up, and that she wouldn’t answer. That I would go back to my initial strategy and wait long enough for her to think I had given up. That the thought that O actually had would be a relief for her, and when I called her again she would block my number. That she was really, truly over me, that it was the hardest thing she ever had to do, and that it hurt her more than I could ever imagine, but she still did. She was over me.

I didn’t know then that I would go on feeling small for a very long time, and I definitely didn’t know I deserved it. What I didn’t understand and would keep not understanding for years to come was that she wasn’t making me feel small; she had simply stopped letting me believe I wasn’t.

What I didn’t know was that I would go on living my tiny little life, and when I finally understood how small I really was, she would be living the big life she deserved.

I didn’t know exactly what I had just lost, and I also would never know what she had lost because of me.

I give it two weeks for her to come back, I thought as I took another sip of my drink.

And the sun will keep rising

He died on Wednesday, late at night. Heart attack, completely unexpected. It was the bacon, maybe. He smoked sometimes, a lot when he was younger, almost every time he drank. Did he have a stressful life? (who didn’t?)

His wife woke up with the noise and called 911, but he was dead before they got to the hospital. Her older brother helped her with the paperwork, her mother took their daughter for the night, her younger sister organized the funeral: ordered the lilies, found a caterer, offered her house. They met at the cemetery early in the morning. His wife cried as her brother hugged her and the daughter held her hand. A few teenagers who knew the girl from school sat silently in the back. Old friends from college looked at each other fondly, suddenly reminded of how much the missed the people who were once the closest. His sister cried desperately as her husband tried to control their son, who followed the woman’s lead even though he was too young to know why. Distant cousins regretted not going to his last birthday. His wife saw his body one last time, watched him be put down where he’d lay forever, and she felt as if she was dead herself.

They got in the limo, the empty space and 16 minutes all filled with crying and a sharp, painful lack of words. The house smelled like food so good it didn’t belong on such a sad occasion. They ate and tried to tell stories without acknowledging how depressing it was, and then night came and people went to their houses and she paid the caterer and was taken home. She told her daughter goodnight, and they slept.

She felt as if she was dead herself, but here is the thing: she woke up the next day. Her heart was still beating, and the sun was shining because it didn’t know anything was wrong.

The college friends went home to their families, secretly happy they weren’t the ones who, statistically, would have to die young. The distant cousins took their long drives back to their houses and promised they would go to more birthdays, but when the day comes there will be so much traffic or a friend’s dinner party or they’ll be feeling sick, so let’s leave it for next year. The baby cried all night and will cry for a few more days until his mother stops, and then she will, and he’ll grow up and understand and pretend to miss the uncle he doesn’t remember. The caterers packed their things and went for a drink after work, because it’s Thursday and Thursday is almost Friday. The owner of the flower shop used the money from the lilies to buy her boyfriend a late birthday gift.

The man’s daughter cried all night, skipped school the next day and then she will skip Monday and the next and the next and the next, and then she will wake up and put her uniform on and take the bus. She’ll have first kisses and last kisses, she will go to college and find a job, she will be let go and go broke, she’ll get married and cry because her dad can’t walk her down the aisle, she’ll have a baby that carries one-fourth of the man around the world and adopt a dog; she’ll keep breathing (until she doesn’t).

His wife will cry for days straight and then a little every day for months, until one day she won’t. She will go back to her job after a couple weeks and go back to actually doing a good job after a couple of months. She will be caught by surprise by a piece of clothing or a smell or a song sometimes, and cry until she feels her lungs dry, but in between these moments there will be good movies and delicious meals and a funny joke and PTA meetings and long phone calls and beautiful weddings and a unexpected visit and her grandson being born and days so, so happy that they become a little sad because he isn’t there to share it with her.

The sun will keep rising every morning, as if it doesn’t know anything is wrong.

They will hurt and cry and miss, but they are as alive as he is dead, and the world is too big to stop when we request it. He is gone, and that is so much for so many people, but for the world it’s nothing at all.

The sun will keep rising, and they will keep breathing.

There is too much life, even around his death.

His wife will feel as if she’s dead herself.

But no.

She’s alive.

And the sun will keep rising.

A good man

“I like him”, I say, in a whisper too low, almost like I don’t want him to hear.

I look down at my worn out blue converse, waiting for my father to say anything at all. Nothing. Only silence, painful silence, like a cold hand wrapped around my neck tight and tighter until I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

I wait for maybe two minutes that feel like two lifetimes, and still nothing. The silence is poison in my blood, killing me over and over every second that goes by. So I look up, because I think I rather he just kill me once and for all. I wait for the yelling, the hateful crying, the slap on the face or all of it in just a look.


“Okay.”, he says blandly, like I just told him I’m going to walk the dog or I have extra practice on Saturday. He says it like he does on the breakfast table, sipping his coffee, eyes still reading the paper. He says it like it’s not a big deal at all, even though I know and have always known it is. It is not “okay” for him.

I try to look into his eyes, but fail, so I look everywhere else. From the empty coat rack to the stairs behind him to the outline of the couch to the television, still on, and he still has not said anything else.

“Dad.” The words sounds like a plea, my way to beg for him to please say anything else, punch me in the face, say you love me or say you are ashamed I am your son, say something or anything.

“You like him.” He nods at the door behind me as he says the last word, even though by now Ian is long gone. I wish he weren’t. I wish he was here to see me finally say these words, because he would be so proud. He would say I’m brave and amazing and maybe I wouldn’t be so alone right now.

“Yes.” My voice sounds small. It makes me feel two inches tall, as if he could just step on me and go back to the couch to watch the movie he paused to say hi and shake hands with my friend. He was excited to meet him. “Good thing you made friends with a man, son. I know you get along with girls best, but comes an age in a man’s life he needs a brother.”, he said this morning, when I told him Ian was coming over.

More silence, more poison, and I am afraid I will shrink until I no longer exist. “Yes, dad, I like him.” I find in me the courage to look at him right in the eye. I will not let myself be small, and despite everything I do not want to stop existing.

“Okay.” He says again, though now it sounds more like he is just thinking, wondering what to say next. It occurs to me that maybe, like me, he simply has no idea.

“Is it? Okay?” I just want to run out the door or upstairs to my room or to the other side of the world. I want this to be over, and I would rather he says it now all at once than to keep being poisoned by the silence.

“No.”, he says almost immediately, finally no infinite silence in between our words. For something so expected, it hurts me more than I thought it would. “You know me, son. I’m not going to stand here, look into you eyes and say it is okay. I am no liar. I am a man and a man doesn’t lie. That said, I have taught you to be a man too. And you are my son. I know you as you know me, and I know you are the man I have taught you to be. You are good and you are honest. Standing here and saying the truth to me, that is proof enough. So I’m not going to lie to you or say I can change, but I will say that I will try, because you are my son and you are a good man. And I am proud of you.”

A tear falls down my face. I feel it, the warm drop, tickling my cheek all the way to my neck. I don’t clean it. I let it fall, looking my father into his eyes. Dark brown, a small hint of caramel, just like mine. I feel a quiet kind of happiness. It’s not the best thing he could have said; he could have smiled and hugged me and said it doesn’t make a difference. But I am still happier than I thought I would be, both because he is my father, proud of me, and because it feels better than I could have possibly imagined to finally say the words. I wait for him to break the eye contact, and I think that, secretly, I wait for him to tell me he loves me. I think I have been waiting for him to say it since the door closed behind me.

He doesn’t. He looks at me and I think that if it was possible to read eyes, his would have said he loves me. But there are no words, no smile, no hug. Nothing, except a hint of what his eyes may be saying. But it’s okay. It’s okay because my father is a good man, an honest man, but he is not perfect. It’s okay because he breaks the eye contact, nods and goes back to the couch and the television still on, and I am left standing by the closed door, finally free, and he may not have said it, but my father loves me.

Strangely, extraordinarily

She doesn’t realize I am looking at her. She is staring at her hands, spread on my bed, naked except for that necklace I have never seen her without, the one with the blue rock. She has told me what that specific kind of mineral is called a few times before, but I keep forgetting; what I always remember is that it is the exact shade of her eyes.

I wonder if she knows I spent almost an hour organizing my room before she got here. I folded the clothes that had been on the chair for almost two weeks and put them in the closet. I took a book I had never read and knew she liked from the shelf and put on the nightstand, just in case she noticed. I set a glass of water next to it, planning to offer it to her, but turned it on the sink when I realized it might be too much. I found a white candle in between number shaped ones and thought about lighting it, but that too seemed like an exaggeration, so I let only the lamp by my bed turned on. I chose a CD I loved and put it next to the book, just in case the moment was right to put it on. I made my bed and then unmade it and made it again, so that it wasn’t overly made. (It was probably overly made.)

When the doorbell finally rang, the entire room seemed totally wrong. The image of her there, the most beautiful girl I could think of, standing in the room where I have been sleeping in my entire life, the room where I have had numerous dreams about her, seemed too indescribably good to be true. It seemed like a shortcut in the Universe, like pages of different books glued together.

But now she is laying on my bed and she has never ever been this beautiful, and somehow, in some absolutely strange and completely extraordinary way, it makes perfect sense.

She cracks her knuckles, one two three all the way to ten, and catches me looking at her. She smiles at me. I can’t believe how beautiful she is, and I smile back.

She keeps her eyes on mine. She is looking right at me; not at the book by the nightstand, at the lamp next to it, at the one shirt I left unfolded, at the water stain the glass left on the wood and I totally forgot to put that CD on. She is looking right at me, and she is smiling.

The day we met

The first time we met, we had been dating for about four months.

The first time we talked was because a friend thought we would be a nice match, gave me her phone number and I called because I couldn’t find a good reason not to. The first time I saw her was when I picked her up with my old beaten up car, and she was pretty, I thought. Not extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably sweet like say the poems about love, but far too pretty for me anyway.

It was a nice date, nothing too wrong with it, so naturally there came a second, then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth and without previous questions I referred to her as my girlfriend on the phone. She was a very good kisser, though not the best of my life. She was funny, ironic sometimes but never rude. Her taste in movies was much better than mine, but she was never pretentious about it. My parents liked her and my mom said she probably had good genes. She gave me books I always loved on our month anniversaries and pretended very well she liked the ones I gave her. She was perfectly okay.

Then one day, a regular Thursday four months and a few days in, I met her. She rang the doorbell to my apartment, as usual. I opened the door, as usual, bottle of wine set up and television turned on for our usual in night. She smiled at me a painfully artificial smile without a hug or a peck, definitely not usual, and sat on the carpet next to the sofa, not unprecedented but also not usual. And before I could say anything, she started crying. I had never seen her cry before. She never cried during movies, even when I could not help myself.

She cried for a long time. First, I tried asking what was wrong. She kept crying. I tried touching her arm or lightly holding her, but it was like I wasn’t there at all. So I quietly set next to her for the long time during which she cried, and I waited in the silence wondering if there was anything she was herself waiting for. I really needed to pee, but I didn’t want her to feel, even if for two minutes, that I was done with her crying. I didn’t want her to feel like she was alone, because she was my girlfriend and I liked her and she was pretty and she was my girlfriend, so I sat there and waited.

When she at last stopped, I asked again, and she looked right into my eyes, as if deciding if she should answer. I saw a glimpse of her pulling away, and with my eyes I begged for what I didn’t even know I wanted. Then, she started talking.

She told me about where she went to visit her little sister every Thursday. She told me about the nurses around her and the way her eyes seem devoid of life, more every week. She told me about what her mother hides under her bed, and how her  eyes too seem to be losing their light. She told me about that guy she used to date and what the things he said when he was drunk. She told me things so filled with darkness I did not comprehend how I could have known her and not seen any of it escape through her eyes.

Then she told me nicer things. She told me about how it feels to hug her sister when she lets her, and how every Christmas her mother cooks and doesn’t take pills and it’s almost like it used to be. She told me about the day she broke it off with that college boyfriend, and how she grabbed what would fit in a backpack, drove and drove until she was at the beach listening to the sound of the waves. Her favorite sound, she said.

And I saw her. And I was sorry, in a way, because I understood so clearly the reason why she ever let herself be with someone who didn’t see how phenomenal every single part of her was.

That Thursday night, after I finally peed and she washed her face, something so simple and yet more important than anything else shifted. When I looked at her, puffy red eyes, cheeks tinted magenta and lips curved in a smile sad but so real, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen before. She was an unbelievable collection of so many fascinating details, so many little things I had yet to know. I could not believe how I had ever looked at her and not stared deep within her eyes, in them a question which I could spent a lifetime answering. I could not believe she was there, all along, on every date, and I had, still with her by my side, almost let go this unremarkable truth within her eyes. And that night, when we kissed, it was the best kiss of my life.

Fifteen years in the making

Right at this very moment, the man of quiet eyes who I today love is sitting at table in the back of a crowded restaurant, not so far from our apartment, with an old friend of his I have met a few times, and he is telling her about how he doesn’t love me. That might be more than slightly self centered, and though in a way completely true. But it isn’t about me, as much as it will eventually feel that way and yell at him for that, and hate him on some nights. It’s not about me.

He is telling her a story that goes way back to before we had even met. A story that begins when I had just gotten my braces out and had another boyfriend and really wanted to be homecoming queen; when he had pimples and still lived in that very small town across the country. He is telling her a very long story in which I am only a chapter, the last one, although he doesn’t know that yet.

In fact right now he couldn’t even imagine to believe that the ending is that close. It feels like the beginning, although, as it is clear from the story he is telling, the beginning was a very long time ago. Right now, it feels like it has all just started, because he is finally saying the words. It feels like maybe it’s the first thing he ever said in his entire life. It feels like the first sentence, but it is the climax – the beginning of the end.

He says it. He is going through everything, every single chapter, from the first thoughts, to his old best friend from high school, to his dad’s unfortunate jokes, to the fear of playing truth of dare, to meeting me. He says the words, all six letters, in a whisper so low she almost can’t hear it i am gay and he so desperately begins to cry, completely unable to stop. He cries out of his body the stories he never thought he would tell and the love that has turned to hate and all the times in which he didn’t say anything. Tears of so much pain, fifteen years in the making. In the quietness of his sobs, he is free.

His friend is listening quietly, and after he is done she will hold his hand and say it is okay. She will ask if he plans of telling me anytime soon, and he will cry more. He will say he knows he has to, and it is not fair to me because he could never love me in the way I want him to, in the way I think he does, but he can’t find the strength to do it. When I find out, in a couple of months, I will hate him for this. In between glasses of wine, I will scream in anger, calling him selfish and mean and heartless. I will hate him.

And it is true he was selfish. But he was also in pain, lost and confused and most importantly he was human. It will take a very long time for the anger to fade and for me to accept that he isn’t a villain in my story but instead the very brave amd only human hero of his own. He is only human. And he always had kind eyes, even when every breath of his body held a lie which came out of fear, even when he let me love him.

One day, three or so years from now, when he will finally know that today is the beginning of the end, the night in which he is free, I will see him for the first time since the ending of the end. I will be in the line at the supermarket, buying the ingredients to make myself pasta because it is my favorite, and when I hear my name and look behind me, he will be there. The same, but so very different. A light to him which I have yet to see. His eyes so, so blue, almost unrecognizable, because before all I could see in them was a certain sadness I didn’t even quite recognize. He will look more like him than ever before, and it will make me smile. There will be nice, maybe quick small talk, because we both have somewhere to be, and though I won’t say anything I will catch a glimpse of a ring on his finger. I will go home feeling in my heart the warmth of forgiveness and of understanding, the warmth of being human, and I will never see him again.

Of course, right now, I don’t know that yet. Right now I am watching a movie on TV and eating frozen pizza, wondering how long it will take for him to get home with the cupcake I asked him to bring. I am in love with a man I am sure loves me back, completely clueless of the fact that in two months he will sit me pour me a glass of my favorite wine and sit me down across the dinner table we bought together and tell me news that will shatter my world. I will hate him, then forget him, then forgive him, and never see him again. And in the quietness of a forgotten love I will know we were only a single chapter, and for a second before I forget forever, I will be convinced the sweet happiness of his eyes is the single most beautiful thing in the world,

Maybe if

Maybe I should have asked her not to leave. Maybe I should have held her face between my hands, looked right into the sweet darkness of her eyes and all the beautiful things they held and said please please please you are wrong about me i can do this. But of course I didn’t, and maybe she was right. If she was so wrong, I wouldn’t have let her go.

Maybe I should have run down the stairs so fast that when I finally got through the eight floors, the elevator would have just arrived. Perfect timing. I would have kissed her, and she would have kissed me back, and I would tell her to give me a chance to prove her wrong. Or maybe I would arrive at the lodge right as she left the building, and I would never see her again. Or maybe she wouldn’t kiss me back at all, or not give me the chance to prove myself as the man I should have been.

Maybe she would have given me a chance. Maybe if she did we would find the happiness it was so hard to believe in. Or maybe I would have proved all her predictions to be true, and one way or another made her stop loving me. I would have promised that my father’s drinking habit and beating the shit out of his wife habit, my mother leaving without an address and phone number behind and my brother not talking to me for years didn’t necessarily mean I had abandonment issues. I would swear with all my heart that I wasn’t afraid to love or be loved. But then one night we would be watching that movie she loved so much, drinking wine and eating popcorn, and I would look at her and it would kill me. As she laughed at a scene she had watched so many times she knew by heart and put a handful of popcorn in her mouth, I would realize just how much I loved her. Her beautiful dark eyes, the simple truths I found within them, her long and wavy hair in a messy bun on top of her head, the chipped green nail polish she always had on, her pink lips and rosy cheeks, all of it so fatally beautiful. My heart would weight in my chest, and I would want to cry and scream and yell because I was so scared of how much I loved her. I would be so scared that one day she would wake up and realize how she was infinitely too phenomenal to be with someone like me. I would pick a fight over something stupid and she would hate me because she was right all along and she was never the kind of person who needed to be right.

Or maybe not. Maybe I would have been tempted to find her a reason to end it already, but I would have stopped myself. I would have closed repeated in my head that I owed it to her to try my very best. I owed her to be the man she deserved. And when she told me she loved me, I would have done my very best to not let myself be convinced that she was lying, because her eyes always told the truth.

Maybe. Or maybe not. There isn’t really a way to know. Because when she told me I didn’t know how to be loved, I looked down at my feet and said nothing at all. I let her close the door behind her and go down the elevator and out of the building to a life, as I believed she deserved, without me.

There was no asking her to stay, running down the stairs, kissing her and being kissed back, watching marathons of the same movies every weekend, loving her and being loved back. There was also no unrequited kisses, heartbreaking rejections, uncalled for fights or unkept promises. There was just me, alone in my apartment, and enough what ifs to haunt every single second of the life of a very foolish man.