A Borrowed Smile
sadness. depression. anxiety. love.
Two thirty-four bickers its hour and I sit staring at a buzzing screen bopping my head back and forth to some mute tune that only lights inside my head. I’m not sure if it’s panic, stress, or something I had for lunch, but it’s not a good night. Well, it’s obvious it’s another sleepless night. Jamie’s cat curls near my feet. All safe and relaxed that she begins to quietly snore. It’s cute and a nuisance at the same time but I still refer to her as Jamie’s cat omitting the fact that Jamie has gifted me with this aged precious feline a year ago to ease my sleepless nights and the stress. So far, nothing has worked; although the feline has become a great companion in Jamie’s absence. Jamie’s trips at times become frequent but at least they are short. Lately, he has become frustrated with the exhaustion the trips leave him with and he’s been promising himself to look for another work. The search has been fruitless so far.
“Thinking of you,” Jamie’s last message reads and I’m stuck in replying. Although I have texted him numerous times before his loving message, my fear does not permit me to admit to him that I miss him as well. It’s ridiculous. It’s not like I haven’t uttered these words to him before, but my paranoia is playing a larger role during these wee hours than I would like to confess.
‘Don’t be desperate. Don’t act desperate.’ My motto but I am acting like a fool. Jamie knows all my shortcomings and I know most of his. After all, we’ve lived together going on seven years now. The magic number. It’s the time when people begin to stray or so I heard. But Jamie isn’t like that. At least I make myself believe that. I finally cave in and snap a picture of my frown and sad face. “I miss you, too,” I reply with the picture attached and that’s that for the night. Jamie must be asleep by now, so I know I won’t hear of anything else back. My night of adventure however has just begun. I stroll from one side of the room to the other; the cat ever so often opening her eyes to determine the source of the noise, my noise, and then without much interest returns to her sleep. Must be nice. I, however, jump on every crackle, crunch, and wind whisper in the unit. It’s not like anyone would break into a tenth-floor unit with a doorman and security. But to me, ghosts are real and not to mention alien encounters. Aliens that walk through walls and appear out of thin air. Yes. That is where my mind goes and it’s not a smooth slop to speed down on.
“Good morning,” Jamie’s kiss is sweet and quick but it felt warm on my cheek. I must have dozed off around quarter to seven when the sun has risen and I finally felt relaxed and safe enough to close my eyes and dim the world. Jetlagged Jamie still manages to put on a smile. I have nothing else but to return the favour and give my best to emulate a smile. Panic can distort your reality, submerge you into the dumps, and leave you with very little if anything at all. A surge of paranoia doesn’t help, but Jamie’s smile can be infectious.
“Good morning,” I reply.
“I’m home,” and he lifts off the bed and shuffles towards the closet. “I’m home,” he echoes. “Permanently.”
Coy, he didn’t face me to share in on the good news, but at times that’s Jamie’s way, so I would chase and inquire more. I’m too tired this morning and only huff, “Hmm.”
His energy spontaneously amasses and he jumps on the bed, exclaiming, “I’m home!” I am unable to join in his exuberant jubilance. With the recognition of my heavy heart, Jamie falls to his knees and hovers. “Rough night?” He asks with the joy almost completely evaporated in his voice. To switch from at most liveliness to serious concern within seconds, it’s a talent. I’m mostly stuck in one gear of constant reversal and numbness.
“The aliens visited again,” I answer with a code Jamie is very familiar with.
“I’m sorry,” with the somber tone, his enthusiasm is buried. His arms pull me into his chest as lies down next to me even after I initially resist.
“But, you’re home.” I hold my tears because shame and anger grasp me and I don’t want Jamie to see it.
“I’m home,” he whispers pressing his nose to my cheek but I’m not in the mood for affections.
My heart runs away from me and the inspiration is gone and charted an aeroplane. Love should remain fluid, someone once said to me, but what the fuck was that supposed to mean? I ended that relationship. I know that Jamie would never speak such nonsense to me but I at times have to fake it. As I said, Jamie’s smile is infectious and if I don’t have my own sentiments, borrowing is not prohibited. Borrowed feelings, borrowed happiness, borrowed smile, so I smile, “I’m fine.”
“Tell me about the aliens.”
© Jacob Greb — 2021
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Inspiration: Pretending, wearing a mask, absorbing another person’s mood so you can display that you are okay but also trying to take that person’s mood and make it your own. Change your mood based on the other person’s mood, expression, feeling.