The Boy Who Collects Sorrow - Short Story
You were stranded in my dreams.
It was the same, I swore: the way your eyes seemed full, not even awash with indifference; your lips, slightly opened, as though you were about to say something; your hair cut a little too short in the front. In my dreams, you were young; because that was how I wanted to remember you...us. Young, we knew nothing about how the world could hurt us. We knew only its noise; the unsure waves it so stridently smashed around us; the noise of its randomness.
Today, I woke up with the cold, bare, black fusion of an idea I once planted; my eyes quite teary, my heart beating faster than normal: To the less random, a less arresting phenomenon is not that much of a divergence, that destiny is existent, in all places, like particles in the air; imperceptible by the eye, yet, inhalable. The sun wasn't out when I awoke. It was freezing. This was one of the few moments when sleeping again would be unfitting, for in my mind there was but this blockage of a dream; the soft pillow was useless in pressing the thoughts that keep dancing before my eyes.
Today, I should be the happiest guy. I promised I would not play the same rhythm. Not at all. We were out of goodbyes.
It was candidly not by a strange twist of fate that we met under the most casual circumstances.
You were seventeen - there was this light in your eyes, the promise of destiny; and perchance, the pain of an unrequited infatuation, the pain with deceiving weight, the pain of shallow wounds.
The first time we met, we kissed.
I never knew that kissing a stranger would be that comforting - and i always disliked movies with two characters, just meeting indiscriminately and kissing each other that easily. Back then, I never understood the reason why. Possibly, the soul wanted to feel owned - or, possibly, it was just how random the body could react, that when two people decided to press their lips together, they would scrape off each other's loneliness.
You held my hand and it was sweaty - I have no idea why; my body was reacting mistily. But as we sat on the dark and unfrequented corner of the park, I felt as though I was out of harm’s way. I just came from the distress of a worn-out novelty, and my heart was falling slightly into decay. You told me it was your first time to do something remotely like this, a plotted meeting...an unhoped-for warmness. You said you were more than glad to finally meet me. It was not love, the least bit. That was how I remembered our beginning: the sky was deserted by stars, but a slip of moon was aboard behind the dense trees; the air, thick with the city's lack of balance. Your eyes were full, seeming delighted. Inside them dwelled the profundity of desire and patience. Inside them was destiny. Inside them was me.
“Feel the rhythm of the world.”
I knew you had grown with me.
You used to detest how disordered I could be—how vague I could suddenly be. Like the way I would force you to climb with me at the top of a water tank. The view was magnificent, truthfully, and you said that you'd never forget the feeling of being at the top: your hands trembling, the wind battering our faces. The traffic did not care about us. For a few, brief seconds, the silence drowned us the noise. It was as though the world had grown tongueless.
“I can feel the rhythm," you said, your hands now still.
We both have found comfort in this rhythm—the rhythm we played; the same rhythm that had unified us. I had to admit. This rhythm made a dupe of me. This rhythm insulted my old belief about the universe's abstraction. I did believe that there were power far beyond us, plans far beyond what we could have ever thought of, visions far vaster than what we could ever see with our own eyes. It was my plan to live as a memory. It was my plan to make you joyous and never forget me. We were all living to become memory, and I taught you things you did not even deem existed, brought you to places you've never been to. Yet, it had never occurred to me that you, too, were teaching me things I never thought existed, bringing me to places where comfort was not difficult to feel.
You were eighteen when you told me that you were in love with me—and there was the same, full glow in your eyes.
Your eyes—they told me things you didn’t want or didn’t have the courage to say—indeed were the windows to your soul. The idea had remained: the beat was inconsistent; and, for years, you have found your way in and out of my life, as though almost delighted in leaving and returning, in goodbyes and how-do-you-dos.
Maybe, I inspired you to rise to my level.
Our years together have made you vague—undefined in a way that you groped for things you thought you needed. A number of times during the night I had wakened from sleep, nudged by the memory of your words: I don't love you, anymore. But you would come back, nonetheless. I knew you would always be back. And when I would ask how you did and what you have found, you would constantly reason that digging up the past is only going to revive unhappiness and we have enough to contend in the present.
See, I gathered all your sorrows.
I inhaled all your miseries and hoarded them within my lungs. That way, you could breathe with no difficulty once more.
We would lie in the bed, stare into the darkness, and listen to the breaths of each other.
Once, in the room, the moon was big and out, casting a circle of light that left half of your face visible. We were face to face, confronting each other's misery; one of your long legs pressed on mine; your left hand stroking my forehead. I wanted to say something. But your eyes—they were telling me to be silent, to lock up my thoughts and questions, to put aside my quest for truth. Until, your mouth started moving: "I'm sorry."
You leaned back against your pillow, your ashen face almost transparent. I saw lines on your face I've never seen before, and dark smudges stood out in the stark relief beneath your tired eyes. You were twenty-four, and, this time, I did not see in your eyes the glow I learned to love. Perhaps the rhythm did this to you. Perhaps the rhythm exhausted you. The rhythm we played. The rhythm we so cherished—the same rhythm that would take you away from me.
“So what’s new?”
“I’m still alive.”
“How are you?”
“I’m fine, I guess”
I had long years without you. Without you time seemed to slow down. But I have finally learned the art of getting by, two years after we parted. The art of getting by was simple: I got out of the rhythm we have once set for each other. It was courage—to throw away what was once mine that was limited and to plunge myself into the hands of the unknown. I tossed away 'destiny,' and came back to embrace 'vagueness' once again. With vagueness, I felt safer. With vagueness, I wouldn't even have to try.
And when I didn't try, it came.
"I'm getting married,” I said.
You looked at me. I knew you were surprised. You, looked as if a thunder had clapped across the sky. Four lost years struggled on your lips but all you could manage was: "Congratulations."
You were twenty-eight. Suddenly, I didn't know how to read your eyes. I didn't know what more than that surprise was. I didn’t know if you were fearful or joyous.
Perhaps losing you meant losing my knowledge of you.
“You will finally be happy, "you said in a voice suddenly full of wisdom and firmness, a voice unlike any other you before.
Today, I woke up with the cold, bare, black fruition of an idea I once planted; my eyes quite teary, my heart normal: To the less random, a less arresting phenomenon is not that much of a divergence, that destiny is existent, in all places, imperceptible by the eye, yet, inhalable. The sun wasn't out when I awoke. It was freezing.
I prepared myself for the big day—my wedding day.
The trepidation was there, breathing inside me, having a life of its own.
But today, I should be the happiest guy. I promised I would not play the same rhythm anymore.
The wedding march echoed against my ears as she walked slowly, my wife-to-be. Her presence must have been the gayest part of my life but I did not care, as long as this love was right, I knew I was fulfilling the vagueness I have set for myself —the vagueness I have once led off.
But I was still expecting you to come. You.
You who was too vague. You who kept on running away from me. You who kept on disliking and loving me simultaneously. You whose eyes were too readable...once. You who insulted me. You who taught me things I never thought existed.
And then I saw you: standing by the big threshold of the cathedral, at the beginning of the aisle. You raised your eyes to me and I saw that tears were emerging and trickling down your cheeks. For the first time in a long time, I knew what your eyes were saying.
But my wife-to-be was coming near.
For a few, brief seconds, the silence drowned up the noise again, as though the world had grown tongueless again. And I remembered the moment when we were at the top of the water tank, ten years ago.
“I can feel the rhythm," you said, your hands not shaking anymore.
"I love you so much, "you added.
And, suddenly, it came:
We spent years not knowing the name for our rhythm. But today, I was, certain:
The rhythm's name was 'destiny' and 'vagueness' at the same time for fate and unpredictability were counterparts.
Like a mad man, I ran towards you. The wedding march ceased. People turned their heads to me. Some were gasping. Some were calling my name.
You were surprised. I held your hands.
"I don't know what I'm doing. Please tell me if this is wrong," said, my eyes now teary.
"I don't know what I'm doing either," you replied.
And I swore: I saw the familiar glow in your eyes again.
© 2017 Longmire