Sunday, January 27, 2008

Running on Empty

How are you, he asks, as shoppers thring past.
With luck, the crowd could have easily hidden you from him and prevented this awkwardness. No such luck today.

The wife draws closer and smiles graciously.

Of course, she has won. You notice that he is carrying her green bag. He had disdained carrying your bag. He had hated green.
People change over time, you guess.

It has been a while since the break-up, since he told you that he has unresolved commitment issues. You can't help but confront the bate fact now: He didn't not want to get married. He just didn't want to marry YOU.

"How are you, sweetie? I..." he starts and stops, aware of his slip of the tongue. The wife stops smiling.
You are at a loss for words.

You suppose you could tell him that you have been busy. You are taking a part-time course because there is nothing much to look forward to after work. Studying gives you a goal, something to distract your mind from the crippling loneliness that grips you every night.

Or you could tell him that you are thrilled. You have finally published your first book, the one he once spent hours dreaming about and discussing with you. Sales figures may not be phenomenal, but the satisfaction is immense.
Yes, you are still writing relationship theories that you don't practise.

You could tell him that you are bewildered. You are bewildered about how love works, how he could fall in love again so quickly, and how indifferent to each other's lives both have become since his marrigae.
He could not even begin to understand your emotional conflict when he met you a day before his wedding to say he was having second thoughts and you urged him stoically to deliver his promise to her, when all you really wanted was to have him back.

You could tell him you are recovering.
You have reached that safe steady equilibrium between hope and hopelessness. You are dating casually again. You could tell him that on the day of the break-up, ou stood on the verandah of your flat, watching your tears drip into nothingness and wishing the rest of you could disappear too.
You could tell him that you stood at the verandah again the following days until time healed you. This sort of wound never goes away completely. It takes only a moment to fall in love with people but a lifetime to forget them.

You could tell him that, no matter how many mobile phones you've changed, you still kept your favourite sms from him, the one that reads:
"Luv u swtie. Ignore yr critics n run wif yr dreams".

You could tell him that, contrary to what he thinks, you don't hate him, don't think he is a selfish devil. You understood that, like you, he is guilty of being too much of a human being.
You could also tell him that, sure, sometimes you wish he never existed, never cared about you. But most times, you are thankful that he loved you (at least you believe he did).

But you don't say that. Not at all. You steel yourself and say: "Fine, thank you. I gotta run."

And you ran. You ran past the mall exit, past two red traffic lights.
And past the reach of hurt.


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