“What went wrong?” I asked, plopping myself on the raised cemented ledge, looking down at the boys having a quick play of football before the sun went down.
I heard him heavily drop himself next to me and cross his legs, finding a comfortable position. “Relationships complicate stuff, I’ve realized”, he said, with another heavy sigh. He was dampening my mood, I was about to point out but decided against it. “It shouldn’t feel like work, should it?”
I shrugged and tried to concentrate on the sinking sun that colored the horizon ahead. “I wouldn’t know.”
“You wouldn’t”, he said, as a matter of fact-ly. We sat for what felt like a million years before he spoke again. “Why didn’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
He turned to face me. “Why aren’t you with some guy, with your hands in his, swinging and laughing at each other’s jokes?”
I suddenly chuckled, much to his AND my amusement. He wasn’t the best at putting words together, I reminded myself. “Never found one.”
“You got lucky then. That’s all a load of batshit”, he whispered and turned around to face the shadows of the trees fencing the little ground, dancing about and throwing darkness over the field.
“No, really. What went wrong with you and her?” I asked, trying to conceal as much curiosity as I could manage. I didn’t want him to think I found his little sad story something to mock and gossip about.
He shook his head and bent slightly down to support it on his hands. “We have happy times. I’m not saying we don’t but there’s times I just can’t seem to stop pissing her off. Everything I do is wrong. I can’t say something for a comeback without hurting her feelings, which was the opposite when we were just friends”, he said, turning to see if I was still listening. “Take you and me, for instance. Do you dwell too much on anything I say to you? It’s all in light air, sometimes. But when I try to play around with her, she gets so worked up and throws a tantrum about how insensitive I can be, when that’s the last thing I want to be.”
“We’re not the same people”, I said, my heart pounding hard against my chest. Is this what I always wanted to hear him say? That it never worked out between them?
He sighed one of his heavy, grief doused sighs and scratched his head, something he did when he was confused or didn’t know what to say. “I know that. But what I have with you, I kind of had with her before I went and screwed things up and asked her out. She was my very first real best friend. It just complicated so much between us. I don’t know when she snaps. I never see it coming and when it does hit, I’m not even given enough time to wrap my head around what happened.”
“Maybe you should take a step back and try and tone down your stupidity?” I giggled, smacking his arm.
He cracked a small smile and played with his fingers. “See, I don’t mind you saying that. But, if I, out of habit, ever said something like that to her, I’d be looking at two days of nothing from her. She’d just go blank and be unresponsive.”
“Then you’re the not the same person as she is. Maybe she doesn’t understand you can’t help being a screw up”. I giggled again and got a full laugh out of him. He fell silent again. I hated that he had compared the two of us when I was nothing like she was and she was nothing like I was. I never disliked her but she was something I never wanted to talk about. Or at least not for too long. But today was not about me. I had to suck it up and be there for him. “Do you not like being in a relationship?”
It took him a whole minute to answer that. I knew I was secretly happy. I just had to hide the fact I liked how unsure he was. Now was not the time to tell him I hated the idea of him being in a relationship. “I like the idea of a relationship”, he said, putting it out in the air what I had only seconds before thought of. My heart sank immediately. “I like that I have someone I can call and talk to. I like that I can call someone mine.” My heart had reached the bottom of the hollow pit in my chest. “I want to be the one paying fancy restaurant bills, driving into the night with her and do all of the cliché-d things there is but I just don’t know if that’s what I really want right now or if it’s just something I want because I like the idea of being in a relationship. Do I make sense?”
“Nope”, I lied. “Not a bit. But sounds depressing to me.”
His head suddenly snapped up. “It’s not depressing”, he corrected, scowling at his fingers. “It’s just confusing. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to point out everything bad. There have been good times and they were amazing. Do you ever just feel like you’ve had great things with a great person but never felt the euphoria of actually doing it?”
“It’s all alien to me, man. I don’t get stuff like this”, I lied, again. With each passing second I was convincing myself of the impossible and I was certain I was beginning to have air sucked painfully slowly out my lungs, if you went by my heaving chest.
“Yeah, me neither. Maybe that’s the problem”, he added, laughing again.
“Do you love her?” Before I could stop myself, I’d already done the damage.
His head dropped again, hiding his face from mine. “I know I like her.”
“Then you should try and work it out. Could lead to something really great, you know”, I said. My heart suddenly felt like an iron laden truck. I was telling him to do the very thing I didn’t want him to.
“Yeah! This is pointless. I probably just needed a second to vent”, he said, cheering up again. “You’re surprisingly good at this.”
“I didn’t even do anything”, I laughed. My body knew laughing was the last thing I wanted to do right now.
He leaned in to punch my arm, like I had. “Someday you’ll fall so hard in love. No, don’t even begin with your stupid stone heart theory camel shit. We all know there’s someone you’re going to be mushy for.”
“Yeah. Someday”, I whispered, smiling. I could have kicked myself that very instant.
“I know”, he replied. “There has to be someone you’re putting up an act for. Such a pathetic attempt but I’ll give you props for at least trying.”
“Love’s complicated, huh?” I asked, shaking my head at the stupid word.
“There’s so much they don’t tell you. For starter’s how it’ll be the death of you. That’d be a good head’s up”, he laughed, throwing his head back, clearly the only person to find this hilarious.
Watching my favorite human laugh got my head all electric crazy. I could only smile at his lit up face realizing, it was never her. It was the idea of her seeing him be this heartwrenchingly beautiful whenever she wanted that revolted me.
‘And you thought you had it rough’, I told him under my breath only so I could hear myself.
I bit my lip, watching another sunset, knowing another day had passed and I couldn’t tell him I knew exactly what he meant when he said what he said. Instead, I’d pushed this little sucker into her court, deliberately. Ways to kill your heart 101.
Loving can hurt, huh?
DON’T GET ANY CRAZY IDEAS! You see the ‘fiction’ on top? Good. Let’s keep that at that.
Until our time meets again,
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