And as she is standing on this slippery pebbled shore and sees the world is floating by, she takes a step on wobbly legs and starts on her road to hell. She knows the way and she knows how to get there on her own. No one on this journey with her. No one else to blame. As much as she wants to pretend it’s them – the men she seduces and teases; the words she doesn’t use; the past, the present, and the future. But no – this is about her and her road to hell. Maybe she has found her hell already? But no – this is life. Her life. Her choices. She keeps watching as the world floats by until she understands that she has lost her legs and that she is floating too. Well damn – isn’t this swell – this road to hell.
It has been a while, hasn’t it? May was the last time we spoke. May 8th. Not that I am keeping track, but I remember the day. Since then, I deleted your number from my phone. Not because I despise you or don’t want us to be in touch, but you told me to wait for you and that’s what I am doing. Waiting has never been my strongest quality and I know that I am waiting in vain. This – this entire situation is harder on you than it is on me. I guess it should be the other way around, but I can’t change it. And I don’t regret it either. Sure, for you everything is different and I can’t pretend to understand you, your motives, your reasons, or your actions. I can’t and that’s a fact. Once, we agreed that we need to be friends and trust one another. Maybe we trust each other but I don’t think that we are friends. We never shared anything that really mattered. We never were in love. Just in lust from time to time. And with our lust, desire, passion, we broke limits and boundaries. Maybe a couple times too often? Yes, maybe. Certainly. Some of it was my fault. I enabled you and didn’t stop you when I should have said no. I gave you my control when I should have taken control. I let you be the dominant one when I should have been. I write this right now because I do miss you. For a week now, I wasn’t sleeping right and I blame it on you. Your presence in my mind. And I worry. Also, I want to know how you are. And selfishly, I also want you to remember me. You will never forget me. I know that for sure and yet… I want to touch you again. I like your social media posts just to make you see that I am still there. Maybe we will never speak again. Maybe we will be an active part of each other’s lives soon again – truth is, it doesn’t matter. We will always have our memories. You will be a memory. And in many years time when I can grandchildren, I will tell them all about you. (The censored version! But come to think about it, then there isn’t much to talk about.) I wish that my presence how ever short or intense left some sort of impact on your life. Preferably a good one. I will never know what you won’t tell me.
I am still there…
She lay awake in bed; wide awake. The time on her alarm kept moving forward until it was 04:26 in the morning. She only heard silence. No birds tweeting in the trees, no chirping in the grass. In the far distance, she thought she had heard thunder, but maybe it has just been a plane. What kept sleep so elusive? It was a memory.
“I made a mess,” he chuckled. I need to take a shower,” he said still trying to catch his breath. “Will you stay on the line?” She was somewhat surprised by his request, but she agreed. “I won’t take long,” he added. She heard the rustle of his sheets and the padding of his naked feet on hardwood floors. Doors opened and a shower curtain was pushed aside and then she already heard water running. She could almost see the water cascading over his naked, still flushed body. She heard how the water got caught in his hair and how it was released with a splash against the tiles. She heard bottles being open and shampoo being squeezed out. It was all so mundane, yet so intimate. And then he began to hum. She smiled. She loved listening to him. He wasn’t holding back. Just being himself. It filled her with a sense of serenity. Words were added to the sound of water. They didn’t make sense to her, and yet… She kept listening in. The water stopped and the curtain was pushed back again. Was he brushing his teeth now? The sheets were rustling again. “Are you still there?” “Yes, I am” she said fondly. “I need to go, I need to meet with my brother.” It wasn’t how she had the call expected to end, but he never did the expected. “I’ll get in touch, okay?” “Yes, yes okay. Take care.” “It was nice talking to you, sweetie. Bye” It had taken three months before he got back in touch.
She had been listening to his new record. It had been released weeks prior to her sleepless night and one particular song felt familiar. For days she wondered why. Until it hit her like a brick wall. That day in the shower, he had hummed the melody and sung some of the chorus’s words. Had she inspired a song? He hadn’t said anything in that regard but still… A girl can dream, can’t she?
“It’s in the way you need me,” he sang.
5am. The sky was changing its colour. A little over an hour before the alarm would go off. And she tried to hold on to his memory. A man who had since left her life. She still saw him at the edge of her life, but it became easier to ignore him these days. It became easier to not wait anymore. Most days anyway…
There sat a man on the stairs. His hair was hidden underneath a black hoodie, and his pale hands clutched a mobile phone. His jeans-clad legs were bent, and his knees were hugged by his arms. His head rested on his knees. He looked like a tired, sad man. His eyes were at once empty and overflowing with a raging storm. Maybe he was homeless. No one could tell for sure. Appearances can be deceiving in this day and age.
A busker stood next to a pillar. His fingers picked at the strings of his worn guitar, and his voice pronounced every word he sang with as many emotions as he could muster that day. His guitar case lay in front of him; opened wide, so that passersby would be tempted to toss in some of the loose change they kept in their pockets. So far not many coins were spread out on the black velvet. The romance of busking in the underground and being discovered accidentally by someone influential was wearing off. Sometimes he wished he hadn’t quit his day job because of a fluke. He had, though, and there was no turning back. And now, he played for people who hurried past him without seeing him and homeless drunks like the one on the stairs across from him.
I stood at the busker’s left and observed both men. Both had a similar aura. Tired of their situations. Not of their lives, like me. I felt a momentary connection with these strangers while I projected my own struggles on them. The man on the stairs looked lost in thoughts and mesmerised by the busker singing and interpreting songs we knew from the radio. And rightly so. He sang a beautiful version of Mad World. I hummed along.
The man on the stairs moved his lips in time with the lyrics too. Three strangers who had no connection whatsoever connected over a song. It was magic. I smiled at myself. It was a strange and foreign sensation for me. During this brief moment of contentment, the man on the stairs looked into my eyes. He nodded ever so slightly and, to me, it seemed as if his eyes were less tired then. A glimmer of hope was shining through his eyes and enveloped my own hopeless self.
The train arrived and the spell that had surrounded us dissipated and vanished with the throng of people invading this space that had been so magical mere seconds ago. The stranger was swallowed by the masses, and when the rushing brook of busy people had turned into a trickle, he was gone, and the busker was packing his guitar away. I turned to leave too. Without direction, without purpose. I had missed the train.