“Strangers, Again.”

•September 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

vi.

He crossed the street. Lights glimmered as the shops down the boulevard began to open for their evening patrons. Still, it was early enough that very few people walked along the street. He didn’t mind though, because he enjoyed the silence.

As he kept walking, he saw a couple approaching him. The autumn evening was cool and crisp, and both of them were bundled up heavily. The woman especially, was bundled up in a soft woollen scarf and toque ensemble. Still he recognized her. He thought about walking the other way. It would be the easier thing to do.

Yet, he didn’t.

Their eyes connected, and he hoped not for the first time that she would smile with her eyes back at him like she used to. That way you could tell it was genuine and full of love.

For that brief moment, when the distance between them became smaller, everything seemed like it used to be. They were holding hands walking across the backdrop of the lake shore. They were kissing each other good night at her door. They were up in the early hours of the morning talking on the phone with each other.

But all good things must come to an end. His hapless flashbacks ceased as he saw her eyes glimmer with tears. As she walked closer she awkwardly raised her hand up as if to wave goodbye once more. Then she looked away, and drew her hands away from him just like the first time. Except this time he knew it would be forever.

She was crying. He was standing still. She was leaving. He tried to hold her back, refusing to let go, but she struggled free. Then she was looking down and walking away.

With a weak smile at his direction she walked on, arm tightening around the guy she was with. He watched as the man wrapped his arm around her waist and looked at her the same way he used to. She should be with someone that could treat her like the princess she deserved to be.

The man walked by him without a second glance not noticing what had unfolded, but he could feel her avoiding his gaze. As they passed him by he could smell her perfume hanging in the winter night air. For a brief moment, he thought about reaching out and holding her and never letting go.

But he didn’t and he kept going, walking the other way.

Lovers? Not anymore.

Friends? Not quite.

Acquaintances? In time.

They were just strangers, again.

“Memento”

•August 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

v.

It was late, and the apartment was dark safe for the weak glow coming from his laptop. The sandwich he made for himself 3 hours ago remained uneaten, and without having to touch his cup he knew the coffee was probably less than warm by now. Everything was silent. Even the busy streets that seemed to be awake 24/7 had toned down for the night.

He didn’t check the clock. All he knew was time was passing too quickly for him to finish the draft for his novel and give it to his editor in time for tomorrow morning. But he didn’t really care. It was a good way to distract himself, avoid the thoughts that he knew could edge into his mind if he let them resurface.

As he reread the writing on his laptop, his fingers absentmindedly touched the neck strap of his camera that he had forgotten was sitting on his desk for weeks, maybe months. As if something was reaching out to him, he grabbed the camera and turned it on. He didn’t know why, but his heart skipped a beat as he looked down upon the screen while his fingers trembled with anticipation.

Why hadn’t he delete these?

Silently, he scrolled through each picture and tried to remain composed. It was hard, though, as he thought about how many places they had gone to and the smiles and laughter that had once been so easily expressed dancing in front of him as digital pixels. Now, each memory was echoed by a dull thud from his heart and he tried to ignore the feeling in vain. Unsurprisingly, a wave of nostalgia washed over him. It was sentimental and melancholic. He rubbed his eyes that were beginning to blur the pictures in front of him. At this point, he wasn’t sure if it was the sheer fatigue of his work that was weighing him down or the emotional burden that had suddenly reappeared.

Here they were in the forest, the amusement park, the dance, the candlelit dinner, the city, the 

He paused at one of the last photos — a picture taken at the beach by a friend. A picture of a time he had forgotten.

The beach.

They were holding hands and running towards the sunset while the fluttering waves of low tide washed at their feet. As if by sheer coincidence, two shore birds were captured in that moment as well, flying overhead with their wings outstretched and contrasting the golden sky with their majestic black silhouettes.

Photographs have always been excellent tools for capturing every smile, frown, and expression into the confines of a single frame. And this one was no exception. It was as if time had frozen at that one, perfect moment.

At that time, there was a feeling of invincibility that they both shared. They were in love, and it would stay that way. It should stay that way.

Not anymore.

He breathed out emphatically as he saw the date on the picture. 11 months ago.

He wanted to ask himself how everything fell apart so readily. He did not have any pictures that captured the fights, the silence, and the final realization that it was really the end.

Are you sure you want to permanently delete these 520 items?

He wanted to, right then and there. Why not erase it all? Erase everything that they had once shared, the memories of yesterday. It was pretty easy, he thought as his finger itched to press the right button beside the screen. Wouldn’t that give him closure?

 

But he knew. He knew the true answer to that.

Sometimes, maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

Sometimes it was for the best.

 

He wasn’t sure where the sudden realization came from. Certainly it wasn’t the paper he was supposed to have finished. Nonetheless, a glimmer crossed his face as the edges of his mouth curled up faintly. It was a look of understanding and…acceptance.

He felt calm, calm like the summer breeze and the ocean waves that day at the beach.

He looked longingly at the photo one last time, but this time with remembrance rather than unhappiness. Then he pressed one of the buttons on the camera.

 

“All exits lead to a new beginning.”


“Boulevard of Broken Dreams (& Promises)”

•August 13, 2011 • 2 Comments

iv.


She walked quietly along the empty pathway that encircled the park. Behind her, the darkening sky and setting sun in the horizon grazed her backdrop. The late clouds hanging over the aura of darkened light was splashed almost artistically across the sky and anyone who saw it would normally have paused to take in this grandeur. But the lonely girl walking by herself was oblivious to all of this. It was a night like any other,  one that she felt heavily with cold melancholy seeping into her heart.

As the evening turned into night, she walked aimlessly with her head hidden in the patches of dark shadows formed by the surrounding forest. From a distance, she looked like any other person on a late stroll. But if you saw her face, you would be able to see, no sense, the emptiness and know that everything was not all right.

Slowly she made her way along the path and ending at the gazebo centred in the middle of the grassy escarpment. She stopped at the fixture in front of her, and let out a choked weep that was inaudible even in the complete silence of the night. There were no crickets harmonizing to their love songs. Everything was pitch black and noiseless, as if every living creature was anticipating something to happen.

The park bench.

She sat down on the wooden fixture and her fingers ran across the rough edge until she felt the unmistakable marking of the carving. Even without light to guide her she knew what words were etched onto the surface –

Forever and Always.

This was their spot, the spot so long ago where they first met and he first said he loved her. This was the spot where through so many painful memories she had believed that their love was inseparable. This was the spot where it was supposed to be forever and always.

And now it no longer was.

Looking down, she felt the remnants of broken shards of glass that somebody probably left from before. For a moment, she wanted to feel its sharp bite and relief herself of this anguish. But she knew she couldn’t do it.

“And it’s all here in

Black and white and red

For all the times”

She wanted it to rain, so that it could mask the tears that were falling and to soak her clothing until she could feel the coldness of the icy rain against her skin. She wanted to be lost, drowning in the melancholy that was cloaking her. Instead, her tears streamed down her face and fell onto her lap, each drop like a waterfall rescinding down her moonlit complexion.

Overhead, though, the night sky was glowing with the faded twinkling of early stars. For once, the sky was not clouded over.

Was it time?

In her mind, like a choreographed dance, she watched the end unfold.

The girl desperately hugged the boy from behind, trying to hold on. She watched as the boy easily grasped the girl’s fingers around his waist and slowly pull them away from him. 

As the pirouette reached its climax, he turned towards her and she stopped struggling. For a brief moment he held her hands and looked down at her, acting as if he would never let go. Then with a final breath, he kissed her on the forehead, turned away  and walked into the shadows.

She held his hands tightly in hers, refusing to let go. She willed this to be forever, hoping that this was not the end.

But even before she opened her eyes and saw her hands clenching at nothing but the air, she knew It wasn’t real. He was not there, and he was not coming back.

Somewhere a clock chimed twelve times, echoing across the silent landscape and resonating to the girl sitting on the park bench.

It was their anniversary, if he had still been there with her.

But he had left, bringing along with him promises that were never meant to be.

“Her, My One.”

•August 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

iii.

He pushed open the door, placed his headphones around his neck, and glanced outside. The sun was slowly disappearing into the horizon and after trying to get rid of the thoughts in his head by working out in the gym, he was glad to make his way home. Overhead, the greying sky looked like it was preparing to release a relentless torrent. He almost wished it did.

As he moved out of the the looming building behind him and across the campus, his mind drifted to the same thing that he had tried not to think about. He wanted to get over it, but he knew that was next to impossible. There was no way of getting over her.

He didn’t even bother going to classes today for fear of seeing her and not knowing what to do. He had spent the entire day in the exercise room where he knew for sure that nobody would bother him. He wanted to be alone, and now that the school day was over, he could leave without being annoyed by his friends or risking the chance of bumping into her.

Cool air grazed against his neck, still warm from the workout. He zipped up his sweater absentmindedly and looked up. He flinched at what, or who, he saw sitting at the bus stop a short distance in front of him.

It was her.

He hoped she had not seen him and looked around for a different way to get to the parking lot, but he knew it was too late. As he got closer, he saw that she was sitting alone at the bus shelter. She was looking down and he hoped he could walk by without her noticing.

Thoughts started to amass in his head. What if she did look up? He knew what he wanted to do, what he needed to do. He wanted to tell her the truth, and feel her in his arms. This was the chance he had been waiting for. He knew that he couldn’t let this —

Then she looked up.

Time seemed to stop, as their eyes met briefly. In that moment he saw the pleading in her eyes, and he felt his heart sink a little.

He wanted to say it, say everything that he had wanted to say since he started having feelings for her. He wanted to grab her and tell her how he really felt. He wanted her to be his one.

But instead, he kept walking. Closing his own eyes wearily, he placed his idle headphones around his ears and pressed play. A soothing piano melody began playing and without stopping he walked pass the bus stop and stepped onto the empty street. He didn’t dare look back, fearing that he would see the emotions that her eyes had shown him again. In his head, the song faded to the chorus

Baby

Listen to your heart, won’t let you down

Cause you should be my Lady! …

The END, he thought as the setting sun casted a lonely shadow and he walked away from the girl he had always loved.

… Now that we’re apart love will show how

Life carries on…

How can it BEGIN just like that? She thought to herself as she sat alone on the bench listening to her iPod and waited for the evening bus to arrive. School was over for the day, and she was very relieved to finally go home. It wasn’t because of the classes, however. Home was where it was safe, safe from seeing him.

And that was not something she felt she could do right now without crying.

So she had gone to all of her classes using the most roundabout routes and had sat in the farthest corners of the lecture halls. Her friends had texted her throughout the day asking if she had gone to school, but she had ignored all their worried concerns. She just felt like being alone, and now she only had to wait 5 more minutes for the bus to come and do just that.

A cool breeze danced through her hair and she pulled up the hood on her jacket to keep warm. Overhead, the grey skies darkened and the rain clouds seemed like they were about to burst. Nearby, somebody was walking out of the rec centre and walking in her direction.

Perfect, she thought as she closed her eyes and hoped the music would lull her into forgetting the world outside. Of course, she quickly realized that this song wasn’t going to help. With a sigh, she opened her eyes and looked in the direction of the approaching figure and instantly regretted it.

It was him.

She was sure he hadn’t seen her yet, so she quickly looked down wishing that he would just walk by.

What if he stopped? What happens then? She didn’t know what he was thinking. All she knew was how she felt and what she wanted. She wanted him to tell her what she knew. Tell me that you love me, she pleaded silently.

She knew she shouldn’t, but she could’t help it. She stole a quick glance in his direction again and her heart skipped a beat.

Time seemed to stop, as their eyes met briefly. In that instance she saw the longing in his eyes, and she felt faint.

She waited for him to stop and to hear his voice. She waited for the words to be said and the embrace that would surely come afterwards. She wanted to be his one.

But instead, she watched as he turned away and walked pass her without looking back. She was almost glad that he didn’t look back at her. She didn’t want him to see the tears that were brimming out of her eyes. as she watched the boy she had always loved disappear from view.

“Technology Ruins Romances”

•August 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

ii.

She sat at her desk, distractedly playing with her pencil that had taken its fair share of her worried chewing. Beside her, the clock read 10:59 pm in its red riveting numbers. They always had their conversation at this time of night. The little ritual had started last month, and now every day she would countdown the minutes waiting for him. She looked anxiously at the chat icon. The clock read 11:01 pm. He’s taking awhile, she thought as she refreshed the page.

“I have something to tell you.”

He had said that 25 minutes ago, when she was just about to start on her art assignment that was due in a week. He then promptly left to go take a shower with a “BRB” and a winkey-face. It was a tease, but it was enough for her to become restless and put her homework on hiatus. She let out a sigh, closed her eyes, and returned to Kiss The Rain playing harmoniously from her laptop’s speakers. Interestingly enough, just as the song had begun to play, she had heard the rumbling of distant thunder and the soft pattering of rain falling against her bedroom window.

-Ding-

Her eyes snapped open in excitement at the recognition of the sound. Luckily she had lowered the volume on the music. The clock read 11:05 pm. However, as she read the name that appeared, her heart sank. It was just her lab partner asking about something that seemed incoherently useless to her at the moment. She quickly typed a few lines, wrote “lol” and said she had to go. Then she promptly clicked the close button on the chat.

She glanced at the clock again – 11:08 pm, the monotonous digital clock said. Three more minutes until 11:11 pm. She hoped that she wouldn’t miss it this time, because she knew what she needed to wish for.

It was by chance that they had started talking online last month. She had been listening to Kiss The Rain then too, and he had randomly messaged her about a math problem. A question about derivatives quickly turned to music and then a 4 hour conversation. He had promised to message her again the next day, and he had kept his promise every day for the pass month. Throughout that time, they had become quite close. To him, she was his greatest confidente, and to her, well, she knew the way she felt about him was more than friendship. It had passed that stage a long time ago.

And then yesterday he had messaged her about something he had kept secret for a long time. He was afraid of telling somebody how he felt. At first she was confused, but the more he talked the more excited she had become. She tried asking who it was, but he had avoided the question each time and just kept telling her that he was confused and unsure of what to do. Finally, she had told him to just tell the “girl.” He had “LOL” and said he was afraid of everything going wrong. The conversation had ended there, leaving her to think about it by herself through the night.

Now as she sat here waiting for him to come back, she chewed her pencil and her thoughts started swimming again. Could it be…? 

-Ding-

The sound startled her so much that she almost fell off her chair. She tried to take a deep breath to regain her composure, but she couldn’t help feeling faint as she saw the name that had messaged her. At last…Hand shaking, she clicked the icon with her mouse and started reading:

 

11:10 pm: “I’m back, sorry for the wait. I was trying to calm myself in the shower.”

11:10 pm: “So…lol…remember how you told me to just be brave and tell her how I felt?”

 

11:11 pm: “thought it over last night and I decided you were right. You are always right lol”

11:11 pm: “I’m not sure if I should have told you of all people. It’s so embarrassing.” 

 

(her heart began to race; she was surprised nobody was rushing into her room asking what the loud drumming was).

 

11:11 pm: “But you’re my good friend and I trust you. So you’re the first to know that…”

11:11 pm: “…I asked her out…

 

11:12 pm: “…and she said Yes! 😀

 

She glanced at the time.

12 minutes after 11:00 pm.

She had missed her wish.

“Sticks and Stones May Hurt My Bones, but Words Will Never Hurt Me.”

•August 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

i.

The wind rustled his messy hair as he sat on the park bench overlooking the dying sun. It was much cooler than it should have been for a summer that was supposed to have broken every records for its ice-cream melting heat. In the distance couples were hand in hand as they made their rounds through the park enjoying each other’s company.

“I have something to tell you.”

He let out a sigh and closed his eyes to the glare of the setting sun, and at once, a million thoughts raced through his mind. It felt like one of those saturday morning channels that had nothing but an endless stream of informercials. As always, it paused emphatically on one moment, one which he wished to forget right now — a rainy evening when his world was emphatically turned upside-down. So dramatic that he observed himself from a third person’s perspective, the scene straight out of a black and white film noire. His breath had caught in his throat as he remembered her saying:

“Let’s break up.”

And just like that, the past 2 years disappeared into the ether like it never existed. Who would’ve thought that the English language could have so cruelly-shaped such a simple sentence? He had felt a scorching arrow tearing through his heart and the weakening thuds of it dying with those three words.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

So what if he had seen a future with her? So what if he had decided to surprise her that night? Underneath the dull neon glow of the restaurant lights where they had gone for their first date, shared their first kiss, and celebrated their first year anniversary was no longer important. Only a monotonous emptiness filled him as he watched her enter the passenger side of the car across the street. How appropriate that this would also be the place for their first, and final, good bye. He reached out, wanting to tell her to stop. But he didn’t. Instead, he pathetically lowered his arm and the small red box he had taken out from his coat pocket and clenched in his fist. He did nothing as he watched the car speeding into the night.

“I’m sorry.”

The heavens opened then, and the rain flowed down his face mixing and blending with the salty tears that he didn’t know had begun to fall. The door opened as other patrons were leaving the restaurant. As if on cue, he heard the faint melodies of Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet floating out from inside the restaurant. It was their song, and a fitting end.