Closing the Door
It started, more or less, a month ago. At first, the impact of such heavy words, of such a sincere confession, didn't affect her, didn't seem to cause much to the depths of her always troubled soul. But, as she guesses now, it was most probably a pure lie to herself, and nothing else; a desperate hope to cover under many layers of lies, false hope and masks the vastness of a truth she couldn't admit and positively bear.
"I'm not in love with you…"
As simple as that, and yet, she still dared to hope for more, dared to cling on phantoms of faded words that travelled away with the summer wind so long ago… Now, it is winter, one of the coldest yet, all crispy, bitter and heavy, as more angst and realization come and sit arrogantly deep on her chest, along with the hurt and the nerves and the endless, scaring what-ifs…
As she has to come up with a serious decision, she reminisces the fading of a bittersweet, young past; the secret meetings, the nearly awkward hiding, the stolen kisses, the meaningful looks, the hesitant, inexperienced touches, the silence, the anxiety, the burning tension, the dark tints of bitterness and anger and mild ache… A pallet full of vivid, intense colours, which were abruptly evaporated, only to leave behind the dull greys and the sharp blacks…
And now, all she has to do is face them and wipe them off, all these tints of darkness, before they become too immense and powerful, to the point of swallowing her up wholly.
She takes a deep breath, one that reaches the most remote cell of her lungs, and then she knocks the door; the hollow sound of knuckles on wood makes her heart tremble with unease and fear, her stomach another, tight knob that would never be untied…
He opens the door, his lips, red and luscious like always, at the glimpse of her sight, stretch to a small smile; his eyes don't gain that tasteful gleam though, but they just keep on observing her face, a portrait of nervous seriousness and shuttering strength.
"I need to talk to you." That is all said, and that tiny smile disappears altogether; he nods and lets her in, then closes the door behind him silently.
"What for?" he whispers hesitantly, his eyes cast downwards, watching soullessly the floor beneath his feet. For a moment she looks at this same floor as well, before inhaling deeply, trying desperately to keep her voice strong and infrangible to all the powerful and rushing emotions coming from deep inside her chest.
"I'll tell you, but first… could you, could you just sit down?"
At long last, he averts his big eyes from the floor, so he can stare up into her own ones quite emotionlessly. He eventually nods once, takes a mute, deep breath and sits on the opposite armchair from the one she was currently occupying, setting an appropriate distance between them. Yes, that is what she is currently hoping, for him to sit as far away as bodily feasible, but, at the same time, her heart kicks dully her ribs due to a new ache apparent. Despite her decision, it is so hard, being so far away from his warmth and sooth, from his entire existence.
For a painfully prolonged moment, stillness prevails all over the cold living room. Both pairs of eyes look around for a bit, then freeze to stare mindlessly at an indifferent spot of shadowy whiteness, then they start wandering again, sometimes so fast that the behind of the eyeballs starts to hurt. Her heart beats faster and faster, more and more agonizingly, because she needs to put this end, but still, she isn't sure if she wants to put it, to put into stake that huge part of her life.
"So?" he suddenly asks her, breaking the heavy silence with his seemingly nonchalant whisper, even though she is just so absolutely sure that he knows, he just knows the reason of such a stiff meeting from her part- no small, sweet smiles, no gleaming eyes full of naïve mischief and no relaxed posture that reflects an inner, content state; there are just a painfully straight back, stiff muscles, trembling hands gripping each other on the lap, bitten lips and eyes dark and sorrowful behind a mask of frail determination.
"I want it to be over," she says with a voice as clear and loud as feasible at the time being, with a lump gradually forming in her throat.
It's like time stops flowing by for a bit, staying still in between them, giving to the moment the gravity and the graveness it seems to worth. His eyes snap up to find hers and she instantly finds a minute amount of mild shock in the depths of his large pupils, which, quickly though, blends with the growing realization that was already resting there. All she can guess is that her choice of words, as well as the colour- or rather the lack of it- in her voice surprised him, not the meaning behind them.
"I see," he mumbles after another dying minute, casting his eyes downwards once again. The girl stares at him, as strands of hair fall in front of her eyes, a semi-transparent curtain that hides some of the mess she truthfully is. She stares and stares and stares, an unstoppable staring that does neither good nor harm to her soul, just enhancing and expanding the already existent numbness that prevails all over, in hopes of not—
She couldn't even think about it. So she just keeps staring at him, observing, yet again, perfections and flaws of his face, as well of the things it lets out for the curious eye to see…
Another couple of deafening prolonged moments passes and she realizes, a bit too late possibly, that he doesn't intend to speak, or at least, to say the first words. Comprehending that, she decides half-heartedly that she is going to speak; she is going to show that she is strong and not at all bitter, she is just realistic and she can make decisions for herself.
"I couldn't stand this anymore," she tells him eventually, though the last word was horribly broken, probably as much broken as her soul.
So much for showing strength…
At long last, his eyes shift and focus on hers again, holding all the seriousness of the world in them. "I- I understand, really…" He pauses for a while, looking gravely down at his fidgety thumbs. "I felt that way for a while, as well… I needed… I needed to lean back a bit, you know…"
"Yes," she answers immediately, even though she doesn't really know. Everything in her head is an incomprehensible mass of tangles and knots, and her ears are buzzing too much, to the point she isn't sure she is hearing correctly, or that the signals are coming all wrong in her brain; she's simply lost in an ocean of demanding-for-attention sentiments and haywire stimuli.
All the control she has built up for so long, all these years of life, with the intention of never failing, of never becoming a fool-being-played… all that control starts shaking greatly, too close to the point of tumbling down eternally, never to be repaired again. That very sensation, of losing all control, is driving her insane to the point of wishing nonexistence.
She doesn't dare to look at him, his eyes, his face, even at his feet. She believes that if she does so, something deep within will erupt suddenly and violently, like a bomb, and the consequences are unknown, they could be disastrous, they could be fatal and she wasn't sure what else it could be bear… So, the only thing she does is inhaling and exhaling, breaths in and out, in and out, in a sequence too careful that almost frightens her; a shiver runs up her spine, sending a slight tremor all over her body.
"Are you cold?" His words startle her and she unconsciously glances up to his face, noticing immediately a tiny speck of sincere concern and kindness in his big eyes; suddenly, the only thing she wants to do is laugh, hard and bitterly, because this is ironic, almost a blasphemy… he is concerned if she feels cold, nothing else.
She just shakes her head in a negative motion and silence engulfs them again, for time unknown.
"I'm sorry…" she abruptly hears a soft mumble, after an immeasurable course of near deafness. She feels startled again by the suddenness of the words, even though this time she feels quite unsure of their existence; this time, she stays frozen, not signaling with any motion that she heard him. "I- I really am… so very sorry; I should have never asked you—"
"Don't start with this again," she cuts him off weakly, not even raising her eyes to look at him. She knows these words; she has learnt them by heart, as he has spoken them so many times by this moment… All the very same quotes, which always lead to a vicious circle of the, more or less, always spoken words; a conversation that the universe had heard too many times to count. It was devastating and exhausting… it was almost lethally painful…
"But it is true!" he responds, desperate in his own exhaustion. "I started this… this whole thing, I made that foolish question, I started that conversation just—I don't even know the reason I started that conversation back then! I guess I wanted to be sure, I wanted to- to…"
"You wanted an important ego boost," she fills in his trailing off with a colourless tone, one that was made to show no emotion, none of the reactions that are taking place inside her frail, tired body; in the course of half an hour, she feels like a decade fell onto her shoulders, pulling her down to the ground more and more. She knows that her words may seem cruel, but they, deep down, carry a truth probably vaster than expected. He seems to snap a bit, his eyes, she can feel, are more alert and focused on her, but she isn't able to care about the mere fact.
"That may be the case…" he whispers after a minute or two, his voice struggling and clearly soaked in an essence of deep, deep shame; she wants to feel sorry for this shame, she wants to be able to comfort him, to tell him otherwise… but that part of hers- the vindictive one- is just glad to see him suffer, just like she is suffering for so long.
"It's a mistake of ours- neither yours, nor mine," she simply says after a while, her tone almost casual, as if to pretend a turmoil of monstrous sentiments to make a probably disastrous appearance. "You may have caused trouble by asking that question… I caused trouble by never listening to my conscious- I simply followed my heart, partially ignoring the consequences, partially not caring about the facts…"
He just stares at her, most probably not quite sure about how to respond to facts already guessed, but never truly spoken. He opens and closes his mouth for a few seconds, the words that always seemed to adore him, now abandoning him nearly mercilessly. She, too, cannot feel much mercy about him, even though, somewhere deep, deep down, in a dark, remote place in herself, she feels too much ache for him; it is almost schizophrenic.
"You cannot blame yourself for feeling that way," he breathes after a prolonged minute, his words a bit strained, like he's afraid of using them, or of the probable aftermath of their sound; she chuckles as an instinctual reaction, the sound of it hollow, almost crazy.
"I can very well; it's stupid, letting myself feel like this, especially when you made it this clear that you do not intent on feeling any other way," she speaks, quickly and breathlessly, this time daring to look up to his face. She is almost sure that her eyes are wet, as well as that he can make out that hateful shine in them, but she cannot care about this mere fact, either. Too many things apparent during this maddening situation, all demanding her utter attention, while there is too little strength to afford such demands; so, she decides on focusing on pain, guilt and misery, an easy thing to do that requires the smallest amount of effort; pain needs too little to make a grand appearance, and she knows that all too well.
"It's not your fault," he repeats after a minute, or two, or a hundred; her heart kicks her ribs, though she isn't able to clearly understand the reason why. She absentmindedly thinks that, through these words, he is possibly trying to take all the heavy load of the blame, for once taking all of her stress and agonies away, comforting her and relieving her, setting her free from every burden, every hateful nail that keeps her rooted into the burning grounds of hell. "You cannot help your feelings, the way they grow and conquer your heart or possess your mind, poison your logic. You cannot—"
"You mean that it is my fault, then?" she cuts him off abruptly, her voice risen unexpectedly, almost reaching an angry tone. "My feelings for you blinded my logic, thus I brought us to this?"
"No!" he exclaims quickly, in his face clear the feelings of shock, abrupt realization of a sad misunderstanding and of apology. "I didn't mean it like that! Of course you are not to be blamed about this- you're so rational all the time, and understanding! It's bound to happen, though, you giving in after all, and I don't blame you for that. I'm more at fault here, because I was the one who could stop this, yet I never did, I rarely tried, let alone wholeheartedly!" He exhales a long breath, one that could possibly weight his entire soul, and his fingers massage a bit his temple and eye, the moves slow and tired. As his words keep echoing in her head, she wants to scream at him, accuse him for playing with her, for letting her feed her hopes with motions that meant little to him, with words that were of not-so-grand importance to him as they were to her, yet he always manages to make them seem like they did have an impact on him, like they held a deeper meaning.
She keeps her mouth shut, her teeth biting the insides of the cheeks until blood grazes her tongue and back of throat, her nails dig deep into the flesh of her palm, seeking for calm and a comfort certainly outlandish in this moment, in this entire universe, probably. He looks at her deeply, almost intensely, and she looks back at him with a blank stare; yet, too late, she realizes that a tear escaped from the outer corner of her eye and now it rolls, ever so slowly, down her cheek, travelling that long path to the cliff of her jaw. The saltiness of it burns her pores and she wants to wipe it away, but she eventually decides against it, wondering bitterly if his reactions to it can possibly be aching, nightmarish.
"I wish…" he suddenly whispers hesitantly, his eyes averting her persistent look from under heavy eyelashes. "I wish that, after all, at some point, we can still be friends… I wouldn't want to, to lose that, after all these years…" She wants to laugh, half-bitterly, half-good-naturedly, but she bits it back, because, honestly, she wants that too, but is too fearful to believe it wholeheartedly, too tired to hope for it, too worn out and torn to actually attempt it right now.
"It may happen… one day," she breathes emotionlessly before taking another breath in, deeper this time. "I really need some space though, right now; I can guarantee you or promise you nothing." He nods immediately, maybe too eagerly, according to her opinion.
"Of course, I understand." God, she wants to believe him on that, she really does… but she cannot.
She only nods once.
"I'm really sorry for everything."
And then she risks looking at him; and she sees everything.
Everything that made them friends, eons ago; everything that attracted her to him, slowly drawing her to him like a moth to fire; everything that made her fall in love with him, desperately and sincerely; everything that made her happy; everything that broke her heart; everything that infuriated her; everything that made her feel alive next to him, or that later made her fear their impending closeness; everything that made her cry either devastating or blissful tears.
Simply everything, and that makes her heart harder, stiffer, unable to say that necessary goodbye, because she is a masochist- she's blindly in love, and, is there a torture worse than this one?
"I think I should go," she says shakily after some more minutes, as she struggles to find courage nonexistent inside her soul. He nods and stands up quickly, rubbing his slightly shaky hands on his thighs and smiling feebly, whispering back a needless "yeah."
They both head close to the door, for a long moment standing before it silent and motionless, not quite sure what to do, what to say. Her hearts trembles and screams, begging her to reconsider, to say something and make things alright, make him possibly understand, change his mind, his heart… Her hands shake, her knees wobble slightly, her breaths are coming out with difficulty and her eyes, fidgety and fearful, take constant glances towards the doorknob, weighting up its distance from the hand, then from the mind and finally from the heart. It is frightening, almost sickening, how the distance lengthens and lengthens, until it makes her insane, because, right at this moment, nothing seems right and nothing seems wrong; the doorknob seems as inviting as the arms of the man next to her, yet, its metallic texture is as repulsive to her as are the echoes of a vast past, each meaning underlying each motion or word, each sacred moment…
She closes her eyes and takes a lungful of air in, trying to seek the nearest thing existent within her mind.
It is ache- ache for something already lost.
And she grasps the doorknob, despite the terrible shaking of hands or the sudden blur of the vision.
A step is taken, and she closes the door.