Fear Writes a Letter to Death

 

Dear Death,

The charm of your compatriot, Immortality eludes me at the best of times. Although Dickinson glorified the two of you as noble chaperones to every ascending (or descending) soul, I must confess that I can’t quite see eye to eye with futile attempts to delay the inevitability of that last breath.

Why does all life strive to ‘live’? ‘Living’- a blanket term, no doubt, for indulging in the most ill conceived pursuits be it shelling out exorbitant sums to jump off lethal heights, falling in love or drinking to one’s heart’s content (or one’s liver’s failure as you would put it).

Interestingly, the old Elizabethans believed that the liver was the seat of all emotion. I wonder then if the equivalent degree of intoxication i.e. to one’s ‘liver’s content’ expressed safe drinking levels, keeping in mind of course, that the liver wouldn’t be too happy about a binge whereas the heart (imbecile that it is) would render me invisible. I myself shudder to think how close the misrepresentation of linguistic evolution has brought living souls to you and by how much modern healthcare and my dear cousin, Prudence has managed to slow that ride down.

Forgive me for going off on a tangent. I meant to say, and I say this more for your sake than mine, this idea of ‘living’ is a farce. Living souls revel in maniacal thrills not in a bid to bridge the narrowing chasm that exists between them and you, but to cheat you, to elude you, to slip through your fingers.

It is not you they are entranced by. It is me. Think of the guns, the poison, the cancer sticks. I may not be centre stage, but it is me who draws the final curtain.

Deeds of Courage, Valiance and Stupidity are never fearless. The very Euphoria synonymous with such moments is not born of Joy or Freedom, but of Fear; the Fear that every moment may be one’s last. Death, it is not upon me to purge myself of Cowardice. I can almost envision you shaking your head saying “What a shame that every moment worth ‘living’ be characterised  by Fear.”

Until you snatch living souls from my clutches, I rule the Living. The living serve me.

I am the final act. You are the epilogue.

It is only where you begin that I cease to exist.

Until You do us part,

Fear

I wanted to play a prank on a few friends of mine. This letter was the result. It’s quite rough, but it was written in character. Fear starts off by being timid and beating around the bush and gradually gets bolder. It was to touch upon the fact that fear is the most potent of human feelings. It is not fear which saves us from Death, but Death from Fear.

 

The Beauty Of Desperation

Everyone knew they weren’t going to last the year. He invested too much, too soon in the relationship, they said. No one said that she didn’t invest enough.

That’s how they saw relationships these days. Like investments. A fruitful one was said to repay rewards or dividends on the time and energy invested by an individual in it. The perceived folly on his part was viewed as a poorly timed investment-he professed his love too soon. He came across what teens today call ‘desperate’ or ‘pathetic.’ She came across as smart to withdraw her energies from the relationship at the right time.

 So, this boy. How foolish was he exactly? Let me tell you.

Despite sharp stings of the inevitability of their numbered days together which wafted through the air as caution might, he wrote her epic poems and novels in her favourite emerald ink on expensive ivory paper held together with paperclips. He did this so as not to leave any staple indentations in the paper, a pet peeve she had. He posted them in envelopes sealed with a kiss. He sent her messages signed off with one too many heart emoticons. He spent long hours staring at her from where he sat while she toyed with her perfect, perfect curls. When she finally met his gaze, he didn’t look away. When she laughed at him, often in a not-so-friendly way, he told her he loved the crinkles that formed by her eyes.

He loved her. You could see it in the way he caressed his phone while he read her texts, even if they were often monosyllabic. You could see it in the way he looked at her while she made coffee. If you told him he had to do that for the rest of his life, he would be the happiest person in the world. You could see it in the way he kissed her. Firm, hard, like she’d asphyxiate if he didn’t coax her lips apart.

Every day as they left for work, the two of them parted by filling the air with mutual utterances of ‘I’ll miss you.’ He actually meant it. She was the kind of person who stopped believing in herself when life knocked her down. She would inhale and try to suffocate. At times like this, he would breathe for her, exhale and save her life.

Don’t get me wrong. She loved him too, in the words she never said. She loved him to destruction. She wanted to call him beautiful. She meant to write him poetry. She wanted to tell him how it physically hurt her heart when he was away from her and how every word of every text he sent her played its part in getting her through the day. Instead, she just smiled and let the words she never spoke melt away into nothingness. She told herself she didn’t love him. She didn’t know how easy it would be for her to believe it.

You can see why it didn’t work out. They were opposites, and while they say opposites attract, sometimes we look to fall in love with ourselves.

She was complicated. The way from her heart to her mouth was a maze, and the words often got lost on the way. She didn’t know how much to invest, so she didn’t at all. He was a straight line. He knew he loved her and he was going to let her know because too many people died waiting all their lives to feel the way he did. He didn’t have time for games, playing hard-to-get and leaving words unsaid. They say he was desperate.

But one day, he will find someone who will say ‘I love you,’ despite fears of being greeted with hesitation. She will tell him to kiss harder. She will always outnumber the heart emoticons he texts her in her replies. She will stare at him for hours to meet his gaze. She’ll savour each word he writes for her, imprinting it somewhere in her memory. She won’t be afraid to invest.

They may call them desperate. But desperation is sorely misunderstood. Desperation is courage. It’s giving your all, without assured returns. Desperation is honesty. It’s the purest expression of the mind and heart. Desperation is beauty. In that split second of insanity, a nebula is created of the purest, unmasked desires one cannot control, where no matter what, one has no choice but to be selfless. Yes, they were two souls clad in desperation. And they wore it like a medal.

This is probably my last post for a while as my board exams are looming dangerously close and I have to make up for all the time I’ve spent not studying for them in a week. Trust me, that’s quite a lot. So, see you after March, the 18th.

I’m Such A Hypocrite, I Should Totally Do This

Why don’t you try something new today?

 Why don’t you wake up and smile, never once looking at the time? Don’t involuntarily reach out for your phone even if it doesn’t ping. Your messages can remain unread for a day. It’s okay not to know the hour of the day. You won’t fear time running out.

 Wash your face. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile, because you still have teeth. Tell the world that, but don’t say a word. Have a cold shower today and feel your pores tingling with each droplet. Savour this feeling. Don’t touch that zit on your face. Don’t brush the knots out of your hair today. They hold mysteries and riddles that only trust can attempt to detangle.

You know that dress you bought but never wore because you hadn’t yet found the right occasion? Wear it today. It doesn’t matter where you’re going. Just wear it. But don’t take a picture. Don’t take any pictures today.

 Hug your father. Tell him that you love him. Ask him to tell you stories from back when he was on the football team. Tell him to show you a team picture. Don’t forget to tell him how handsome he was, how handsome he is. Kiss your mother. Tell her she’s beautiful. Tell her you love her food. Learn to make that chocolate cake from her. Master it. She may serve you an extra slice of toast for breakfast today. Relish it. She put a lot of hard work into that.

 Stuff some cash into your wallet and go out. Don’t count it. Smile at everyone you see. Some may smile back. Some may not. Remember to forget your phone and your camera at home. Don’t think about who is calling you, who is texting you, what a person you barely know from Adam is eating for lunch (courtesy: Instagram) or whether your favourite celebrity’s new facelift is trending.

 Eat that poppyseed muffin you always wanted to try for lunch. Leave the café a Thank You note in the folds of a napkin. Buy a coffee for someone in the shop. Throw a coin in the wish fountain and make a wish. Make it twice, for better odds of it coming true. Get on a bus without knowing the destination and try to guess it along the way.

 At twilight, sit on a park bench and watch evening melt into night. Count the stars one by one as they appear. Make your own constellations. Smile at the moon, even if she hides her face. She’ll be out full, bright and shining in a matter of days. Just you watch.

 Send someone a handwritten letter by post telling them that you love them. Dance with someone special in the garden. Dance alone on the roof and seduce the night sky. It will look prettier than ever. Don’t take a picture.

 Have you ever wondered how much precious time you waste posing for or trying to capture the perfect picture, as though that alone defines the moment you’ve had? After that, you critique the picture and fumble through as many retakes as it takes to achieve perfection. What you forget is that you are human. You are not here to be perfect. You have flaws. You are here to drink and dance and kiss and smile and cry. You are here to live, to create moments that will rise from stardust and be reborn in your memory and not reproduced in high definition on a screen.

 You know it. You spend too much time staring at a screen. You don’t need a backlit LED screen to light up someone’s day.

 Just forget it for one day.

 I promise you, it’ll be a good day.

Well, I know it’s kind of ironic that I was staring at a screen while writing this and effectively everyone who is reading this is staring at a screen of some sort. This is nothing more than a note to myself to sometimes conquer that FOMO and tear myself away from screens. Instead, I should live a little, something I need to be constantly told to do. I spend too much time looking at beauty through photographs, so much so, that no great moment can be called great without a photograph. I need to see the beauty and the beasts of the world with naked eyes and make my mind the paintbrush. Also, to all my photographer followers, no offence intended. I adore photographs, I just spend a little too much time looking at the world through them, and need to go old school sometimes.

The Dark Side Of Nostalgia

Saturday was the day she trimmed her fingernails. She cut each one diagonally from either side and then chipped off mountain peak of sorts that had formed, giving it a more rounded edge. This was what her father had taught her. They had been rather close once. He called it a plateau, but she preferred not to use that term. She had been doing this for a good ten years now and could at best be called a little clumsy as her father so often pointed out.

In the irrational vengeance that often accompanies the odd family friction, she chose to ignore her father’s pet peeve about trimming nails on his bed and was seldom found doing so anywhere else. The yearbook from a couple of years ago didn’t prove a very effective surface for trapping bits of trimmed fingernail, but that could be attributed to her clumsiness. As she filed her nails and went through the old yearbook, a wave of nostalgia swept through her consciousness.

Every one of the faces on the yearbook seemed to bring a bigger smile on her face in the five minutes it took her to get from cover to cover, than they had collectively managed in all the years she had gone to school with them. Class clowns, geeks, dorks, jocks, prom queens, people she was friends with, people she had never spoken to but smiled at, people whom she knew of who didn’t know she existed; all of these people brought vivid memories before her eyes. And in a way, she actually missed them.

Sometimes, nostalgia did funny things. In all honesty, if most of the things she now thought she missed were never part of her life at all, it wouldn’t have made a difference. That’s what her school life was, in a nutshell; indifferent. When you look back, you often do so through rose tinted glasses. Everything seems better than it was. Nothing will ever be as lovely. And if you’re not careful, the thinly veiled deception of the beauty you see behind may prevent you from ever looking ahead. It’s why all those cheesy time travel movie protagonists realise that the present is the best time to live in, in the end.

Actually, the Dark Side theory makes sense. When you look at memories of the past, you do so through a prism that refracts the light through which you perceive. And a single, ordinary memory will appear to be all rainbows and butterflies and your heart will ache so bad to want to be there again.

School life wasn’t a fairytale. Back then, there were people she knew whose acquaintance she wished she could erase. There were scary moments, embarrassing moments and downright horrible ones. She was different, kind of a loner. And being a clumsy loner can be the most unforgiving traits a person could have in school. She was sad. She just hung around with anyone she could find. She was terrified of being lonely.

A lot had changed since then. She was still kind of a loner. She was still different from her friends. She was still clumsy. But she was happy. She had accepted herself.

She wasn’t worried about what people thought of her when she realised how seldom they did so. She found it hard to identify with people, but she didn’t feel the need to.

A drop of blood splattered onto the corner of the yearbook as she chipped off too much of her thumbnail while smoothing a rough edge.

Nostalgia still clouded her mind. At first, she was afraid to be alone. Now, she was afraid that she missed it.

No, this isn’t about me or anyone I know. It’s just something I thought I’ll turn into a short story someday, when I need to write and can’t quite get an idea. It just goes to say that nostalgia can sometimes be a dangerous thing, and I’ve often been on the dark side.

A Dreamer’s Happiness

Hey there Dreamer,

Yes, you there.

Get up, rub the sleep away from your eyes and let it sail around your room with the colours and stars you can now see. Say your goodbyes. Yes, sleep is not for you. Wake up, get dressed. Yes, wear that polka dotted summer dress. It looks great on you, and today feels like a great day for it. Take your camera. Walk around. Take pictures. Do you see your dreams? Good. What is the right dream for you? Think about it. Listen to your heart. It knows what you really want.

Now say you get up everyday and chase down that dream, follow it relentlessly working hard. There’s little time for sleep. There’s little strength to breathe. There’s no time to make friends. No time to wander around with the camera. No time to smell the roses. But somehow, you can dream and dreaming is all you can do. It’s because you’re getting closer. Something getting in the way? Work your way around it. Can’t? Cut it off. Put on your blinkers and go for gold. Come home so tired that falling asleep immediately is but natural to the insomniac you once were. Do this everyday.

Eat what you want. Drink what you want. Do whatever you feel like.

Now you’ve made the goal. You’re all you wanted to be. All of that hard work has paid off. Every drop of sweat has pooled in as a part of your remuneration. You have your reward.

Take a good look at yourself. Scan your insides with a mirror.

You have everything you ever wanted. Think about it. You sure are satisfied. But are you happy?

Damn, I’m Not Ready To Grow Up Yet

However insignificant the second Saturday of the year may have seemed to the average human being, it marked the passage of eighteen years since she was born. She was legally an adult.

And she traipsed through her Psychology text book well past midnight, she intermittently glanced at a phone and read every single “Happy Birthday,” text and replied to them while ignoring the calls. She never liked speaking on the phone and the people who were calling only knew that too well.

So, as Psychology and well, her birthday ensured she be deprived of sleep, she wondered why adulthood was something to be celebrated and most of all, why it had been wasted on someone like her.

Well, granted it helped her do a lot of things like drive, vote, get married, watch a movie rated A and a lot of other things she could do without. Could she be a kid anymore? Could she watch the kiddy TV programmes she loved to? Could she read her Enid Blytons?

Growing up was something she had never really taken too well. “My body grew up, not I,” she kept telling herself. Every sign, she kind of pushed it aside, suppressed it and let it bloom too late. There was still a little kidding around to do.

Yes, that too.

She couldn’t cook, the poor pyrophobic. She was afraid to talk to people. She would forget things. It wasn’t her fault, she was absent minded. She would forget errands, names, chores like brushing her teeth and washing her hair, to give messages, to do favours; she just couldn’t remember. She also forgot to take her daily dose of two spoonfuls of confidence she needed to get her through the day. She needed at least three reminders before she could do anything. She would sleep right through alarms. She couldn’t wake up unless someone woke her. And now, she was expected to be responsible for herself.

She was expected to dress like a lady. Her. This girl who just went everywhere with a crumpled, frayed, torn top, sweatpants and a bun fashioned out of hair that could well be the labyrinth of the devil. This girl would live in pyjamas if she could. She was gifted makeup, something she despised and wouldn’t be caught dead using. Last she counted, she had sixty seven spots on her right cheek. Makeup was obviously wasted on her. There was also a beauty salon voucher. The less said about that, the better.

Vote. She could vote. She ought to vote. And she didn’t, in the sanest of states of mind know what a good government was. She had never lived under one.

“Act your age,” she was told more often than any child strictly should be.

She liked to write. She didn’t feel she was very good at it. It was hard sometimes. She wrote beautiful sentences and tried to glue them together, often ending up with sticky fingers. She wasn’t ready to be much good at much else. She wasn’t ready to grow up.

Who draws the line anyway? How can one spurt into the throes of maturity once they’ve officially survived the world for eighteen years? As the hour neared midnight on the eve of her birthday, she knew eighteen wasn’t going to be the start of her adulthood. There was too much to do.

Her childhood, when it happened, wasn’t exactly the way she hoped it would turn out. A little regret, a couple of things she wished she could change along the way. But in retrospect, it sure was a pretty darn good one.

And so, at 11:55 p.m. on Friday, she closed her eyes and clung on tight to the last few minutes of her childhood; she tried to remember all of those years she’d tried so hard to forget.

Note: So, it’s pretty obvious that the post is about me minus the melodrama. Having said that, eighteen’s been pretty good to me so far if I can overlook the exams that ate into most of it. I’m not ready to grow up. But, it’s okay. I’m eighteen, my blog’s technically one (hence, the makeover). I’m a lazy, fat slob who loves to write with a mental age of 8 and I’m doing my best under the circumstances.

Falling In Love With A Reader

It was a familiar feeling.

People all over the world felt it, but the triggers were different. She too, had felt it before, the very same feeling she felt when he professed to her his love for To Kill A Mockingbird, albeit for other reasons.

 She confessed to laying on her father’s lap as he read Sherlock Holmes to her, unable to discern when the lines above his moving finger separated into words, much like Scout Finch. He never regretted the fact that his parents spent way too much money on picture books, ones that he outgrew by the age of three.

She felt the butterflies flitting haphazardly below her ribcage, a cage too weak to contain her heart as they quoted The Catcher in The Rye in unison.

They’d spend hours foraging through each other’s superfluous bookshelves, that to each of them could never contain their combined, ever growing to-read list. When they were with each other, they just had one fear: of never being able to read all of the books they’d planned to in their endless numbered days.

They spent their holidays sleeping in, quizzing each other on the biographies of their favourite authors. They’d lament at the utter carnage that became of their favourite literature through the movies. They’d mark their favourite lines in each other’s copies of their favourite books in nothing but pencil and leave little annotations bordered by asterisks along the margins.

They gave each other personalised bookmarks as they wondered why “dog ears” weren’t a legal offence. Her favourite was the one of The Great Gatsby.

He told her he wanted to be published one day, but wasn’t sure he’d make it. He shared his writing with her. She said she lived a little every time she read it. She knew he had to make it. She would make it happen. The mere thought that his work would make someone feel the way it had made her, was enough to inspire her.

How did it make her feel? Her days began and ended with him, his thoughts, his words. When he read to her, her head in his lap, she felt safe and was two years old again. When he agreed with her, she felt more confident. When he argued with her, she felt her opinion was worthy of his contradiction. His happiness became her happiness. With, him she felt safe. And he made her heart feel things that only he could ever put into words.

She always feared the day he would stop writing about her.

It was a familiar feeling. She was falling in love.

She was falling in love with a reader.

For when I meet the person who loves To Kill A Mockingbird more than I do.

On Opening Up

See, I once knew this girl. Let’s call her Tee.

Now, Tee had a secret. She was a bit of an introvert. She’d have trouble opening up.

Why was this a secret? Well, you see, she never showed it. She’d have a lot to say, a lot of emotions at the back of her head, but she kept them to herself. Yes, she talked, she talked a lot. But she talked to fill the silence. She joined in conversations that other people started, seldom initiating any herself. When she did, the content rarely strayed away from the generic, thus managing to keep it all neutral and avoid conflict. Because, all she wanted, was to have friends.

But she didn’t want to have close friends. See, being close friends or best friends implied mutual trust which was built upon by the sharing of secrets, likes and fantasies. But Tee was a little different, unsuited for the time or place she happened to live in. For all she loved, she loved alone. Her preferences were never congruent with those of her friends. And she never had the courage to open up about them.

I mean, sure. They knew what and whom she liked. But that was about it. No one had the time or the inclination to delve deeper into the depths of why what made her happy, made her happy. Either that, or she didn’t let them. Dodging questions, never letting the conversation centre around all that nested in her heart.

Of course, keeping all those emotions locked up is bound to hurt. It’s never nice being at the far end of the metaphorical obtuse triangle that is conversation between friends. She never let her heart talk. That’s what the problem was. Because when you’re the only one who breaks out into a foot tapping rhythm of a Police song while those you call your best friends eye you with a look of bewilderment, as casually as you bring yourself to rest and brush the insanity off, your heart is a little gagged. String a number of such incidents with similar consequences together and your heart is gagged beyond repair. You have to ease up and let it sing. And so, she wrote.

She wrote to let the emotions out, filling her attributes, ideas, wishes and dreams of a future into pages that painted an illustration of beautifully fleshed out characters. Her friends were like, “Wow, Tee writes! And she writes well!”, but never really knew what that entailed, why she did it, how it made her feel.

She crafted the lives of others, to make up for the void in her own.

She made up secrets to make herself more interesting. She stayed by her friends, listened. She joked, she quoted, but about herself, she didn’t say a lot.  And what she didn’t say swirled around in her mind like stardust, making up her thoughts. And the more she didn’t say, the more she thought. The more she thought, the more she wrote. And when she didn’t write, all she could do was feel the tears stream down her face.

And like all she loved, she shed her tears alone. Afraid of emotion. Afraid of opening up. Afraid of letting someone in. Afraid that someone would see the intricacies and disdain and envy and loneliness of a writer’s heart.

Every tear, every frown, every real, unforced smile, every childish giggle, every innocent, raw emotion often feigned to a shadow of itself stayed locked up inside and adorned the faces of her characters instead of her own.

How often have you heard this?

Emotions are for the weak.

Well, I’ve heard it far too much and I couldn’t disagree more.

Like Tee herself, I’ve never been one to open up easily, to let people in, to trust. I don’t show emotion much. I don’t rush into love. I don’t cry when confronted with the news of death.

And that’s not strong. That’s weak. That’s running away from emotion. That’s escapism.

People who cry, who show they’ve been hurt, who trust despite having been cheated, who love despite the risk of heartbreak, people who let themselves be cracked open from time to time, they’re strong.

When, we’re broken, we let our hearts out in different ways. Tee wrote.

And though her friends read what she wrote, fell in love with her characters and remained faithful spectators to their lives, they never realised that it was her they were looking at.

Dreams Of An Insomniac

Kaspar saw little specks of stardust before his eyes as he rose out of bed. A surprisingly graceful gait guided his hazy vision to the fridge. He reached for a beer and then placed it back for a diet coke instead, the latter seeming like a more apt beverage for the time of day. It all tasted the same anyway. He hadn’t slept.

He washed his hair and waited for the caffeine to kick in. Insomnia. It was funny how a feeling so familiar took so much getting used to. With the amount of sleep he had eluded the past month, Kaspar was sure that one of two events would occur in certainty. One, the sheer consistency in his lack of sleep pattern was certain to provide him immunity against the lulls of languor; Two, the fatigue would eventually drive his body into the arms of Morpheus. Given current rate of progress, the occurrence of these two events seemed unlikely to say the least.

“Eleina,” he mused as he unbuttoned his shirt after mixing up the buttons. She certainly was something.

Eleina wasn’t what one would call conventionally pretty. With jet black curls, dark grey eyes and a rather noticeable behind, there was something about her that was memorable enough to inhabit Kaspar’s thoughts all the time.

He thought about the first time they saw each other. It was at a Scorpions concert. She wore a raspberry hued halter neck blouse with skinny jeans. Standing at five foot two in high heels, it was a wonder he even saw her in the metal headed crowd the stadium housed.

It started with mutual eye contact; a fraction of a stare. Then another. And another. A couple more. Smiles. Steps were taken in each other’s direction. The distance between them was reduced to a measure that proved its inability to house even the tiniest human. Soon, the inevitable brush of skin against fabric led to the exchange of deceptively useful trivia. His favourite Scorpions song was “When the Smoke Is Going Down” while she was a slave to “Rock You Like A Hurricane”.

The conversational exchange between Kaspar and Eleina seemed so scintillating to the two of them that they ended up exiting the stadium and later, the bar together. When they had run out of matter for more confab, they stared into each other’s eyes, She fingered the contours of his cheekbones and rose as high as her heels comfortably permitted. She kissed him. He just stood there, immobilised into a stupor as she walked away.

Kaspar’s eyes stung as he held on to that memory. He disposed of his empty Diet Coke can and grabbed the beer. He took a swig.

He remembered that bewitching smile. The smile he had been married to for three long years before the thing. Calling it the thing painted a false picture of its insignificance. The thing held superlative importance. It didn’t allow him to sleep.

Eleina and Kaspar were happily married; Well, as happy as any married couple could hope to be. Kaspar welcomed a visitor one day with a rather sullen look on his face. It can’t be easy, telling someone about the death of their loved ones. Eleina had met her fate in a brutal car crash. Kaspar was summoned to identify the body. It was mangled beyond recognition. Kaspar didn’t say a word. He went into a sort of stupor, the way he did when she first kissed him. The body was cremated and a month went by. Kaspar hadn’t felt the results of a collective forty winks over thirty three days. Although he was exempt from work, he found himself seeking the energy he lacked in caffeinated beverages.

“What you need is a holiday,” he was advised by many a friend and well wisher. At this point, Kaspar couldn’t agree more. He packed his bags and left for Baden Baden. A weekend of R n R would probably do him good. And it did. It really did. Hours in the the spas actually rejuvenated him. He still hadn’t managed to sleep, but he felt relaxed. He actually found himself smiling and laughing, a side of him he deemed obsolete.

Baden Baden was lovely. It offered scenic views of hills, greenery and even girls. Two in particular caught his eye. One of them was a bottle blonde with dark eyes. She looked like the kind of girl who would have an identical twin. It was easy to imagine another her. She went up to her friend and hugged her. Kaspar looked at the friend twice. His eyes were drawn to her derriere. Her jet black bob in some way brought out her grey eyes.

She wasn’t very tall, this girl. Standing on tiptoe in high heels, she cradled her blonde friend’s face and kissed her. The two of them held hands and walked away. Where a bob had replaced long, flowy curls, Kaspar recognised that gait anywhere.

“Eleina,” he cried before he could stop himself. The woman turned on her heels and found herself staring into the face of the boy who sang “Still Loving You” for her on her wedding night.

The two shared a long, knowing glance, before they finally walked away. On his face, a thousand emotions flashed by in microseconds. Anger, surprise, shock, vindication, justice, joy, jealousy and a muddle of other sentiments raced through his brain.

Eleina just watched as Kaspar’s face showed a flurry of emotion, most of it amounting to disbelief. All she could summon was guilt.

“Danke,” he trailed off as she walked away.

That night Kaspar cried. That night, Kaspar slept.

Bianca

A tear rolled down her cheek and plopped onto the dog eared photograph she cradled.

A self claimed sucker for all things sentimental, she was aware of the consequences of staring at the faded print in her hand for too long; she felt them rushing through her veins to the one organ she knew she couldn’t trust. “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you,” they said. And in that moment, a surge of counter emotions in that very heart could well have nullified the damage it was about to do.

“Follow your heart,” the voices in her head chimed. “Do what makes you happy.”  Sounded simple enough. Only, you don’t ever really know what will make you happy, do you? You take a chance. You don’t really know what the outcome will be. The fact that the road looks easy or “right” can only be determined once you take it.

Bianca dried her eyes and threw the photograph on a pile of clothes that she, by some small miracle, attempted to fit into a suitcase equipped to carry half their volume. She chanced upon the hat she wore in the photo.  It was their first trip abroad to Vienna. And in that photo, besides the Schönbrunn Palace in the background, were all the things that made her want to stay.

Her mother, with long, flowy hair; they said Bianca resembled her. For the first time, she felt she did too. She had her arms around Bianca’s Dad. She couldn’t remember the last time they had kissed. Or gone a day without yelling each other’s heads off. She saw her little brother and how he was tired from all the walking and how she carried him piggyback for a ride. She felt a laugh almost take life in her throat. She looked at herself. She was a part of them, a part of that unit in the picture. And through those fatigued yet enthusiastic tourist smiles, she felt a warmth within her that seventeen years of living with those very people failed to evoke.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She looked quite a sight. Matted, unruly hair. A bloated, tear stained face and an oversized sweater that didn’t do much for her figure. But that sweater was special, it was. It belonged to the one guy that she loved more than chocolate. And now it seemed, more than her family. They were gonna be together. And after a declaration of eternal love, a snap decision was made to pack up and drive. Just drive. Drive to the ends of the earth. Forget about life. When the ideals of hedonism in their heads made way for a little sense, they decided to just get away and live on their own. Their families seemed to sicken them. His parents were messed up and in rehab. Hers knew that and didn’t approve of their union. They forbade her from seeing him. She didn’t like them fighting much anyway. It had all seemed so easy. Until now.

How would she survive? She was just seventeen. The right life decisions made at seventeen were, to put it politely, not as well documented as the wrong ones. And the wrong ones were plenty. Then again, maybe that was because they were well documented. She thought of her mother. The only thing that woman ever regretted was the scorpion tattoo on her rump. And she had just one cardinal piece of advice for her daughter: Never make life decisions at seventeen. But with her heart being the rope in a well matched game of tug of war, she had to.

She fingered the hem of the sweater she wore. It was hot. It made her sweat, just as it had made him do. The hand me down, though thoroughly washed, still bore his scent. It was him. And every time she wore it, she was enveloped in his embrace. It was a healing embrace, it was. She stuffed her clothes in her suitcase and wept once more.

It was a lot more difficult then it seemed. She knew what she wanted. She knew where she wanted to go. But as she delicately cradled the smooth curve of her abdomen and sensed beautiful, innocuous life, the looming threat accountable for her dilemma resounded in her head once more.  Her decision wasn’t about what was best for her. She wasn’t in this for herself. She wasn’t alone.

Note: This is the first post I’ve finished in a long, long time. And, when I see one less draft on the list I’ve built up, I feel good. This story was inspired by the song “She’s Leaving Home” by The Beatles.