Dating 101: Blindfolded
fears and pitfalls of dating. looking for love.
THERESA and NICK – MESSAGES OF HEARTBREAK
The heavenly madness reading through the messages from Theresa and Nick as my heart keeps on sinking deeper into the pool full of mud.
“I’m sorry. But I can’t,” Theresa’s message reads. “I’m sorry.” The lack of effort to cradle my expressed frightening thoughts. She did nothing but run the other way.
I’m a mess. I know but at least give me a moment to explain. Give me a moment to understand how frightening and lonesome my thoughts get. So, I sip my chilled tea and allow myself to feel the pain of rejection. Sorry seems to become this casual word. A no-fault explanation before a heart-wrenching truth. It hits me and I cannot shake it off with ease. I also understand it’s not the easiest thing to witness someone who Theresa barely knows to fall apart in a split second. Going from dancing and enjoying a moment in the park to cowering in the middle of the crowd from something I could only see and experience. Embarrassment. Fear. Misunderstanding. All settled in and the shock on Theresa’s face, paralyzed, stunt, and silent. As if the whole stage got sucked into the black vortex with me. The zipline has snapped and every participant plunged to the unknown.
‘Breathe,’ I told myself.
“Breathe,” I tell myself as tears fall. Tears are hard and more often than I would like. There is shame in pitying myself. There is shame in being who I am. There is shame in feeling anger and pain. There is shame in not having control.
“I’m sorry,” I reread Theresa’s words. “I’m sorry.”
Two days later and it’s the same replay with Nick; although, he tries to make it sound casual. Like we were never an item to begin with. Like that’s what dating is all about. Figuring things out. Figuring people out. Figuring who you mesh with and who you don’t mesh with. At least his apology simply said, “I’m sorry, man. It must be tough for you. If you need someone to chat with, you know my number.” The passing note of false commitment. But please don’t call, are the words that I echo in my head.
A week passes and to my surprise, as if drunk dialed two o’clock in the morning call, Nick’s message triggers the notifications on my phone. The bright screen light illuminates a circumference of about a foot and a half on my nightstand. “Are you up?” He asks. “Do you want to meet up?” Another message blinks after a few minutes. “You said you know a 24/7 place.”
The place. The place of lingering and departing ghosts. The place of acquaintances whom I am not delighted to revisit.
“Sure,” my stupid answer, only because I am up and might as well see how the drama will unfold. The train-wreck I cannot step away off and shove my sockless feet to my sneakers. Sneaking by my mother’s room is always a challenge but by now she only prays that I’d return unharmed from my late-night adventures. By now she’s been educated on my common whereabouts and hangout sites. ‘At least it’s not rat holes,’ she would say comforted by my explanation as to where I spend my nights. The ambushed bistro is around the corner. ‘It’s only a few feet,’ she would add.
No unwelcomed kiss this time but a simple brush along my shoulders. “Hey,” Nick smiles and plops to the seat across from me. Nick’s pretty well dressed for this hour of the night as if he was coming back from a late stay. “I couldn’t sleep either,” and flips the barely attached menu to the Drinks section.
“The bar is always open” sign becomes my fixation and I cautiously peel away my eyes from it. My most dreadful fear is to look someone straight into their eyes but with Nick it becomes unavoidable. As if purposely he located himself directly in front of me and forces me to engage.
“There is this desperation in your eyes. Desperation to be seen,” Nick utters with an attempt to classify and proud to be able to do so. As if he has figured it all out and yet it’s a complete misjudgment that I find insulting. If anything I want to hide in the deepest cave and not be found or discovered. But then again, I doubt my reflection. Maybe I do give a vibe of desperation. No matter what, it’s still unfitting and disparaging. “You’re difficult to shake off my mind. It bothers me. This gnawing thought. But a revelation. Your raw honesty. Truth. It’s rarely found these days. Which brought up the courage in me to be honest with you.”
Honest with me? What should I be preparing myself for?
And then as if Nick is zapped back to reality, he shakes the thought with his whole body, and awakes to utter the stupidest question, “No one’s here to take our order?”
I’m frozen and unaware that my lips move to answer, “No. You got to order at the counter.”
And without pause, Nick gets up leaving in suspense, pausing at the pivotal moment of the film in the middle of the cliff-hanger. But, fuck it, what is it to me? I’m half drunk from lack of sleep. Would anything make a difference? Would anything be shocking? I pretty much heard it all.
“How long do they take?” Nick asks returning to this seat. “He says twenty to thirty,” pointing to Mason, the caretaker, food taker, and cook of this fine establishment. “Should I believe him?”
“Yeah,” I answer still waiting for the shock.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that I haven’t eaten since lunch. It’s been a shitty day. All these nerves revved up but today I finally came out to my family.”
Who hasn’t come out to their family yet? It’s very uncommon in the age when people throw coming-out parties and divorce celebrations. Freedom and identity is a huge thing these days. But, I guess everyone has his journey. “Congratulations,” I mumble with as little enthusiasm as possible and not even intentionally. My disastrous monotone.
“Yeah. Being trapped in this religious cult, you know, hasn’t been easy. Latter-day Saints don’t take kindly to homosexuality.”
“Oh. Who’s that?” My sleeplessness is getting the better of my dumb mind. A complete cluelessness lives in my temperament.
“Too bad. I pray every night,” so please don’t dismiss my belief and faith. At times that is all I have left. But that’s not what I should be concerned about. A man confessed his struggles. Be a kind and compassionate Christian and stop acting like an idiot. “I’m sorry,” I finally utter no knowing if I mean it or did I just say that because it’s the right thing to say.
Nick smiles. “You pray every night? To who?”
“I don’t know. Universe.”
And now Nick’s whole face glows. His eyes smile as if a glimmer of some hope lived between us.
It seems both of us are dismissing what’s important in the conversation. A misreading of minds.
“Must have been liberating?”
“Yeah. Frightening and liberating. But it doesn’t matter. I have left the church many years ago. This was the last thing I needed to be honest about to my family… and you helped with that revelation. So, I wanted to thank you.”
“With cocktails? I don’t drink.”
“With a meal,” and he smiles again. “Plus, I was concerned.”
“Maybe I was too mean in my text and I didn’t drive to… I meant what I said. If you need to talk.”
No matter my sleeplessness and half-away brain, but Nick’s last words woke me angry. I don’t need his fucking pity or a charity. But saying, ‘fuck you,’ might be an overreaction. Now in a complete sober state, Nick doesn’t look any less of a player than the first time I met him. The fucking fury always discharges the darkness. The familiarity of the cloud. The room fills with gust and fog as the voices swirl like a tornado and stop to breathe
“Breathe! Breathe!” My mother’s voice echoes in the recollection but I overturn it to radio static.
The pit emerges in the aisle to the side of our table and keeps on growing and growing. I jump in my seat moving away from the pit. “Take it back!” I shout at Nick. “Take it back! We’re not friends. Stop fucking lying. You just wanted to get on with me. Fucking sob story.”
“Buddy. Let him be.” Mason materialized as if out of thin air and speaks as if casting a spell over the darkness. With Mason’s words, the fog gets sucked out into an invisible vacuum. The lightbulbs above us light up like flares. The guiding light. A protector waves his hand and all the trouble disappears. “Matty,” and he leans to me, “are you okay?”
“Yeah.” My saviour.
“Is he giving you trouble?”
Shit, I completely forgot about Nick. “No,” and I sit back down across from Nick petrified. Nick looks at me likewise, petrified, but remains in his seat.
“May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Jude. Chapter one. Verse two.”
Did Nick just quote scripture?
“I forgive your blasphemy,” and he smiles, “You aren’t another score. You might have been a year ago but not today. It was a messy couple of years… Are you okay?”
Our reflection in the window, the true lens of two lost souls sitting across each other, staring in silence decoding each other’s next move. The opposition at war. “It was the pit to hell.” I roll my blind eyes from Nick’s face and to the counter and Mason, “I need to sleep.” I take a twenty and leave it on the table as a parting gift before departing.
My mind shuffles following my feet. I am walking or at least that is what I believe. The cold air on my cheeks is some proof that I at least made it outside.
“Matty! Wait.” It takes me a moment to recognize Nick’s voice. I stop and wait without turning around. He catches up and rests in front of me. “You’re a fucking mess.” The glitz in his eyes still shining brightly and then he whispers, “You’re a mess.” I’m not sober enough to digest Nick’s words but he continues, “But so is everyone else.”
I close my eyes and try to silence the street but I can feel Nick’s warm breath hitting my cheeks. As he’s about to speak, I raise my finger to his lips and hush him. “No more talking.”
“Okay. Tomorrow then,” and with that, he leaves a bit too cheerful for my liking.
There will not be ‘tomorrow then’. I conclude.
MATTY, I – KIKI
The thunder rolls in my head. A blitz of un-drunken night. How can I be sober and yet feel so drunk? My mindless mind.
Find joy in my words. Find joy in my heart.
How long has it been since I last slept? Like slept, slept. Two nights? Three nights? No wonder, I am not making any sense.
Theresa becomes a ghost. A lost memory. Nick is too persistent with his scriptures and swinging dick. The pendulum from a cheap trick to a nice guy. No one can be both, have a heart and not. But then again how am I to argue. After all, I am a sober drunk.
My mother’s soft snores announce that she’s asleep and I quietly try to crawl to my room and close the door with a minimum clatter. My mushed brain follows and starts to play tricks. I cannot see clearly. My hands are a blur. My feet are a blur. My face is a blur as I look into a mirror. This is the next stage of my shutdown.
“Good morning.” Kiki was a gorgeous girl. All the ladies at the salon have said. Her chipper voice carried far. She had this way of saying “Good morning,” as if turning into a song. “Good morning,” all the ladies replied.
Brown hair. Brown eyes, and the skin of an Egyptian queen. She was perfect until she wasn’t. Until her anger took control and I got the worst of the hits. Scrapes and cuts bled as I tried to restrain her outburst. She was the love of my life.
I collapse to the floor fading in existence. The present becomes irrelevant because Kiki, the memories of her, face plank me to the floor. Like a sober drunk man resting his heart for a while. The moments fill with regret and ache.
Oh, Kiki, how she used to scream. Her melodic voice turned to fire and stone.
“Why did you leave?” I whimper. “Why did you leave?” My clenched fists to my chest. Press, pressing until they leave an imprint of her heart. Her salty-sweet lips, painted in tears of joy. She loved to touch my skin and held on tight. When days were good, we stayed in bed from the sun to the moon. The moon hours we spend embraced kissing, making love, feeding each other’s high. The excessive compulsion to get high off her scent, as equally, she got of high of the ecstasy. We were in constant delusions of love, fabrication, lust. ‘As if you were attached to the same cord.’ My mother used to say. Sickly obsessed with each other. When one pulled the other followed and then ricochet the opposite way. And then when days were bad. When one pulled the other pushed. The passionate friction which my mother called demise not love. My bruises were constant evidence of abuse and illness. The separation was harder and they peeled me away from Kiki’s clutch. But, she loved me. That’s all that mattered. She loved me even when she hurt me. At least I had someone. At least I wasn’t alone.
I couldn’t see the harm. The view through a dirty window, a filter. I was a blur until I was nothing. They peeled me off. Tackled me to the floor. Restrained me because I was eruptive. I was uncooperative. Screaming. Shouting. Crying. Because at last, Kiki left me. Moved on to someone else. I was discarded. I was trash.
My mind trick. Love is not supposed to hurt.
I don’t know what is happening to me. Why Nick drove me to sudden rage. Why I’m frightened to live.
“Mom,” I whisper as I crawl to my mother’s side sobbing because my life is hell. No more feelings, void of feelings, simply permanent and evident hell. Without opening her eyes, my mom reaches out her arm and wraps it around me. “Breathe. Breathe,” as she tends to say. Her first instinct is to say. “Breathe.”
So, I breathe without knowing why I should.
That was a long verse of self-loathing. I am disgusting.
LEE – ELVES
Another week passes and no texts from Nick. Five texts from Lee. I contemplate each time and each time I respond. But only a text I return, evading Lee’s invitation to see each other again. Another date. Another disaster waiting to happen. Some excuse from me not to go. An illness. A mother’s calling. Errands. Chores. Work. So on and on. Plus, texting is the only effort I can afford at the moment. That’s all my strength that remains. Although, Lee’s elvish costumes are quirky and humorous. At least, he makes me smile; and I adore his last attempt with the ridiculous pictures. At least, they are not dick pics. Is that a new exchange of introductions? The comparison of sizes?
“But it’s not even Christmas,” I reply.
Within seconds my phone vibrates, “Haven’t you heard of Christmas in July?”
If it’s too good to be true? A whisper. A tickle in my head. Maybe the voice is right. If it’s too good to be true. Is Lee a fake as well?
Don’t get close. That’s the rule.
Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. That’s the rule.
Don’t fall in love. That’s the rule.
Love shouldn’t hurt. That’s the rule.
Keep your mind clear of foolish love. That’s the rule.
I promised my mother. I promised my doctor.
No more obsessions. No more delusional passion. No more fantasies.
I handed it in writing. A promise. A contract.
I’m set for reality. I’m set for loneliness.
Another message, “Come out. Please. Did I do something wrong?”
No. But, I will.
I hesitate. Would more than two messages a day be wrong? But I cannot end the conversation without answering Lee’s question. I don’t want to leave him in suspense. Silence tends to indicate that something is wrong. That he might have done something wrong. And, yet, he hasn’t.
And then another picture of Lee in elf costume with a pout, a hen in his arms, and a caption, “Ludolph would like to meet you.”
“Let me see,” I settle on that reply.
MOTHER – HEM
“Where in such rush?” My mother catches me running down the stairs.
“The circus,” I reply with a joke. Obviously, there is no circus in town. No carnival or clowns. Only elves and maybe a Santa Claus.
“I’m happy to see you happy,” she says looking at me with meek contemplation and delight. “Let me hem that before you go,” and she takes the torn jean jacket out from my hands.
Maybe she’s delaying me on purpose and concern. My ups and downs were pretty noticeable during the week, after Nick’s incident. My outburst that same morning did not help the situation. Me ending in my mother’s bed sobbing, a definite indication of something wrong. My mind has tempered on the wry.
“New date?” Mom asks.
“What’s her name?”
The simmer of boiling water begins to whistle, and my mother pours the scorching over the loose leaves.
“A boy?” She asks not with surprise but to clarify.
“You like him?” And she begins to mend the tear in my old and overused jacket. She threads the needle and looks up.
“I don’t know… but he makes the darkness go away… like Mason. When Lee speaks, the precipitation evaporates into the clear sky.”
“Were you honest with him?”
“I haven’t told him yet… but I will… I’m planning to.”
“Not to be okay.” I finish the sentence knowing well that she wanted to say ‘it’s okay to be you.’ Because she reminds me of that every chance she gets before or after utter her ‘I love you’s’. I also know she refuses to bring up Kiki’s name after my attempt and the involuntary commitment to the institution. It was a complete loss of control on my part. I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. Whether I was moving or being entirely still. Whether I was alive or dead. The shaken foundation of me utterly collapsed and there was no way to put the rubble back together. But my mother’s visits helped. My comatose state lasted for a while and the outcome looked discouraging. But my mother never gave up, pulling me out of the sinking sand, out my self endorsed hell.
After a few stitches, the fix-job was done and my mother lifts her finger, the jacket hanging from it. Ready. Set. Go.
“I’ll be at the Christmas in July festival,” like a sign-in sheet, I leave a verbal note about my whereabouts, alleviating my mother’s worries.
Don’t get trapped in my mind. That’s the rule.
Kiki’s presence left in two stitched scars on my arms. A defensive wound when her rage ended with a knife and attempt to stab me. A bite mark on my shoulder and a flying plate inflicted wound, cutting my head.
I already have a residue of terrifying relationship leaving me with nightmares and social awkwardness. I don’t need a cloud of darkness following me as an accession. Or is that the other way around? Two burdens are already too many.
And with that cue, my mother latches onto me, squeezing quite hard. I know she worries. I worry, too. I worry not to get too vulnerable and be exposed and used as someone’s trash. My mother’s squeeze always means the same. Be careful. But again she doesn’t utter those words. Just like she doesn’t utter Kiki’s name.
LEE – CHIVALRY
I finally see a real Elf. Not the one on the picture on my phone. But an elf with a huge smile. A smile that ignites the moment Lee sees me. “You came,” he says with excitement and delight. His candy-cane striped hat looks ridiculous but I love it. It brings cheer even to the mournful of us all. Basically, me. So, I smile in return.
“Is this rented?” I ask.
“Can you believe it, but I own this foolish costume. And I’m proud to say. I made it myself… and this one is for you.” He hands me a replica of his elfish hat.
As much as I enjoy the view of Lee, the noise of bells and whistle not quite accommodating to my dark companion. The spectacle of noise and crowds is not the greatest recipe for my well-being. But, the darkness stays at bay for now. Lee’s smile seems to shield the darkness from occupation, from taking over.
“I thought we could hang. I’m almost done here.”
I cannot recall how it went about. Whether Lee invited me to his place or whether I invited myself but I am in his one-bedroom apartment waiting for him to appear changed into his day-to-day clothing. And the only thing I can keep on thinking about is him unclothing from his ridiculous elf uniform. It’s this trap that I play. Getting close to someone. How quickly I can get under their clutches.
I bolt out of my seat as soon as Lee enters the room, following him with my eyes to the kitchen.
“Want one?” He shows me a can a bottle of cola.
The bottle cap snaps and the cola sizzles. I am mesmerized. Fuck. Physical attraction. The ecstasy overtakes like an addiction. Entice everything bad that I forgot about Kiki. My promiscuous habits flooding my veins. Uncontrollable and uncontainable need to feel the high. Like a tiger, I pounce onto his lips. Surprised by my act, the cola spills from Lee’s mouth as he chokes on the rest.
“I’m sorry,” I retreat as quickly feeling nervous and idiotic. That’s why I never make the first move. I tend to misread the signals and timing.
“It’s okay. Just a bit warning next time,” Lee lightly laughs. “You okay?”
In my moment of aroused hysteria I unnoticed that some of the coke stained my white t-shirt.
And now I’m completely embarrassed. My cheeks turn red. I know it. I can feel them enflaming. But I’m frozen and mute, awaiting Lee’s next move, Lee’s next permission and words.
“If you wanted me naked, I could have just undressed from my uniform,” Lee with his suave charisms and places the bottle on the counter.
But I have brought in the darkness with me and the mist slowly spills through the windows. The whoosh of Kiki’s voice enters with it. ‘You dumb useless fuck!’ Her shout is loud. ‘You dumb useless fuck.‘ Her face emerges in pure clarity and then disseminates into bursting black vapour.
“I’m joking,” Lee adds after a moment of silence. “I have a bit more chivalry than that,” and he pats the stain on my t-shirt with a kitchen cloth.
“I’m sorry,” I utter still frozen in my spot.
As he takes a step back Lee reassures, “No worries.” He throws the rag next to the bottle, then takes two steps forward, meeting me with his gaze. Eye-to-eye. And for a brief moment, we exchange stares. His shallow breath hits my neck before he makes his move. His unhurried move to reach my lips with a gentle and relaxed graze. Unlike my aggressive attack. His fingers curl around the bottom of my t-shirt then make their way up to my sides. My arms on the other hand hang like dead twigs.
I am gone. Lost in the moment. Floating. And if Lee wasn’t holding me, keeping his fingers wrapped around my shirt, tugging slightly, I would most likely collapse.
My heavy exhale and thin moan ends the kiss as our foreheads meet and we linger in a moment before my reality hits.
TRUTH! Fucking TRUTH!
I cannot get lost now and that’s a promise.
“Next time,” Lee finally breaks the silence.
TRUTH! Fucking TRUTH! I’m a fucking mess. Dumb and useless fuck.
“Chivalrous,” I softly utter.
“Yeah. I like to court a little.”
KENDRICK – UNRAVELLING
Ever since Lee time has begun to elapse slowly. However, my insomnia still hasn’t evaded my nights. Another three-o’clock in the morning and I meet the same casualties at the bistro. Who can forget Kendrick as he makes his appearances at random? Usually those nights/mornings I try to avoid, but today I can care less. Maybe because meeting Lee has started to transform my DNA.
“Hey, Sam! Sam? Right?” Kendrick shouts as he plops onto the stool beside me, still unable to remember my name. But I let it slide and do not correct him. “Why do you pop these pills? I saw you taking out the orange bottle. The ones that the pharmacies circulate. What you on? It can’t be fuckin’ working. That guy. That guy who was with you last time. Some douche freaking you out. You fucken’ spun.”
Nick. I haven’t heard from him since. Or maybe because I blocked him. Too embarrassed to face him.
Isn’t that what I do?
Singe dates. And then. I’m a ghost.
Plural dates. And then. A freak show. And then. A ghost.
That’s pretty much a familiarly repetitive formula to my dating life.
That. Or a complete submissive, impulsive, and blind love.
Kendrick’s teeth still like sharp knives on full display. “I forgot to ask you,” he starts again, “how is Kiki?”
That name he remembers and how does he know Kiki?
“She was something. Now you what? Better than the rest of us? You were such a pup wrapped around her finger.” He pats my shoulder, “Oh, fuck. Remember the night, when I sucked your cock on her dare? And you just took it because you did whatever she requested. You were so naïve. She knew how to pull your strings.” His teeth sharpen more and now he adds a hooted laugh.
Knock. Knock. The darkness swirls beneath Kendrick’s feet. I pray for it not to reach my stool. But Kendrick uninvitedly pushes his face to mine and his boozy mouth thrusts me to forgotten memory. I remember the smell of the booze, the same as on Kendrick’s lips. I remember the room with a lava lamp and wall hanging rug. Feathers, cotton candy, and Kendrick’s head peering out from under the sheets before Kiki’s lips hover over mine. Kissing me bitterly and hard as Kendrick disappears under the covers.
I jolt from my seat seeing the ghost of my past. It cannot be possible. How can I possibly forget this? “You’re lying. You are a liar.” I argue with a faint fight.
“Oh. Shit. You don’t remember. Boy. You must have been high. You tasted pretty good for an obeying pup.” He laughs again that disgusting laugh. “She got you under her spell.”
She got me brainwashed and I was easily operated on. I would have done anything for Kiki as long as she existed in my life. The desperation to be loved. The desperation to be noticed. Elicit drugs cocktail with pharmaceuticals wiped some of my memory slate clean. But then I got clean and Kiki didn’t like that. I could not have been whored out for her amusement and dollar signs. That’s when the violence started. That’s when reality turned upside down.
Bleeding lips. Gashed skin. Bruises and broken bones.
The weightlessness of the high to the crashing demise.
“So, how about another round?” Kendrick’s proposal seems so simple and appropriate. After all, I’m a slut. Might as well live up to the label. But, I’m too sober now to sell my soul to the devil.
Plus, I cannot tarnish the moments with Lee. May they be real and true.
I unpin Kendrick’s hand from my chest. “Get off me,” and shove him to the pit. Let the whole orbit fall into the abyss. Let it be eaten by the black-hole as the light above me grows and grows filling in the room with sun and its excess.
KATIA – LEFTOVERS
Two nights and no word from Lee. I know it’s over. I know I scared him, so, might as well drown it all. A third shot, followed by a fourth and fifth. Let the room spin for real. Not some imagined anxiety symptom. The pit. The pit. Let it swallow me and don’t spit me back up. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live.
Everything is ruined. I’m ruined.
Bowe catches my hand and says, “Maybe you had enough? Huh?” Not confrontational. Rather worried. His friend, Maxwell, eyes the situation and laughs. The laugh echoes for minutes and stays bouncing in my brain.
Katia catches my attention and I drop the glass to the table spilling the last of the liquor. Maxwell is not pleased with that. To him, any form of alcohol is golden water that shouldn’t be spared or wasted. Wasted, that is exactly what I am right now. My ambition was left to the devices of Bowe, Michelle, Maxwell, and Katia.
The music drums through the room and I stumble off the chair. Bowe catches me and lifts me. Don’t pick me. Don’t dust me off. Let me sleep in the gutter.
“I got him,” and then Katia comes to my rescue, sliding her arm under mine and around my back. Her scent of citrus and rose is quite comforting, refreshing. She takes over, somewhat carrying me to the guest room. I don’t recall the room being so plain but Bowe and Michelle have recently moved here.
With a quick move, Katia drops me to the mattress that it makes a sudden thump and then silence. The residue of the music from downstairs barely reaches us but I can still make out the beat.
“Stay,” I whisper, grabbing onto Katia’s fingers.
She looks in the direction of the door, hesitates, then takes a seat on the edge of the bed. “You’re drunk.”
I immediately agree without an argument, “I know.” I open my plagued eyes and beg, “Make it go away. The clamour.”
She looks at me with hurt, “Why didn’t you ever ask me out?”
I already developed and nurtured a narrative in my head that I am not good enough. So, it’s an easy answer, “I didn’t want to ruin… ruin us.”
She brushes my spider-webbed hair and says, “I can’t make it go away.”
With that defeat, I close my eyes, wishing that I can disappear. Where is the pit when you need it? But maybe Katia is also my light, keeping the darkness away. There are only a few people who can fight it off for me. To keep the black cloud in its place. Katia has been one of them. Although, we only meet in the presence of our mutual friend Bowe. This would be the first time when we share the room, just the two of us. To my surprise, she cuddles beside me and lays her hand on mine. Her soft and warm touch, an indication that I’m still alive with the ability to sense temperature.
I cannot rush through life. I cannot run through my days. I cannot outrun time. Maybe something has changed and I have slowed down. Maybe my mother was right; I cannot simply do one-day dates. Maybe investing in myself is an answer.
“How is therapy?” Katia asks.
“And you’re impregnated?” She asks as a joke.
We both chuckle disarmed and it feels pleasant having Katia next to me. I missed it, having someone warm next to me. I submerge into the moment and squeeze Katia’s hand as she returns the favour with a kiss. And then another and another. I finally join in the play, letting Katia take the lead. I always let them lead. Then she pulls back and says in warning, “If we do this; we do this once and never speak of it.”
My submission is a lecture I already heard. How easy it is to place me into that position. And I allow it because I’m a whore. Swayed and stupid. Katia’s hands take over and undress me from my top, then unbutton and unzip my jeans. Her hand is no longer warm but instructive and icy. Or at least that is how it feels. But I’m gone and the whore takes over with his moans and grunts. A long-awaited pleasure and ecstasy, which I cannot say that the I, the sober me, miss.
Waking naked and alone is not the highlight of my night. Katia leaving before I came to, doesn’t leave the sweetest nectar in my mouth. The loneliness creeps in and my bright star burns out. All the mistakes I make leave me like a trashed leftover. The undesirable excess that no one wants to finish. And I am in-excess-of quirks, oddities, and lunacy. No one wants that. Or is that I feel worn out and discarded? It’s not different now.
I am trash.
MATTY, I – UGLY
The hangover is a wild beast. Tempting me to drink more yet drowning my temptation of alcohol for a while.
Day three of Lee’s dismissal. Maybe it’s for the best. This way I won’t have to explain last night and my lack of feelings on that matter. Or maybe it’s an overwhelming amount of feelings of self-contempt. I cannot decipher.
“What happened to you last night?” My mother asks from the kitchen.
I shuffle in like a zombie, grunting something inaudible.
“Come. Come. Sit.” She pulls out a chair. “Bowe called. He was worried. He said you drank quite heavily yesterday… What’s going on?” My mother sits at my level and waits patiently for my answer, which doesn’t come immediately.
My self-worth almost diminished and I cannot control my thoughts. “Am I ugly? I feel ugly,” and I barely blubber out the last words because tears overwhelm me. I have done it again. Let someone dictate how my time will be spent, how I should feel, how I should be used. This disconnected feeling of me. I am lost or a lost cause.
“You’re not ugly. You’re not ugly.” She adds the second sentence while engulfing me into her embrace.
The last time I announced those words, I was on the bathroom floor sobbing and tattooing the word whore above my ankle. My mother screamed but I did not respond because I couldn’t hear her. The trance is set on one goal. Brand me with a curse. I cannot recall if I lost any blood by the medics had to nail me to the ground to retrieve the knife from my waving hand as I was threatening my life. I manage to get the letter ‘w’ and ‘h’ engraved. So now it looks like initials but still a reminder for my mother of that dismal and regretful moment. But then again I’m unstable and that can happen again at any given time. Especially when I feel ugly and used.
Self-medication is not an option for me. Pharmaceuticals unfortunately are. And lots and lots of therapy. My support group will be ecstatic to hear about my latest misadventures. So much to confess.
But I cannot stop crying letting the rain fall out of me. The blue and the purple because the black already has overtaken the whole kitchen. And I squeeze my mother trying to catch my breath.
“Breathe. Breathe.” My mother says.
But I cannot breathe. The air is filled with poison or is it my lungs have collapsed. Of course, it doesn’t matter because the belief that the insufficiency of air makes everything go dark
My life snaps.
LEE – UNCOMPROMISING TRUTH
Maybe sending Lee a picture of a hospital and a room number wasn’t my best idea. But, my confessions never are. The night after my disgrace of a night with Katia, Lee finally replied with thousand apologies. Some excuse of cracking his phone or something. Well, maybe not a thousand apologies but a sufficient amount for me to reconsider giving him a chance.
I feel unhealthy, irrational, and filthy today. Thinking maybe it’s a mistake meeting Lee in my current condition. Everything is a blur once again. Unrecognizable faces and dimmed day. As if someone has turned the light dial a notch down.
He finds me sitting on the bench overlooking the lake in the most bushiest part of the park. A patch that is secluded and tended to. Somewhat like me. Not too far from us is the hospital. The hospital that I send a picture of to Lee a few days back. It wasn’t a random photo that I googled. It was an intentional attempt to open up and share the truth. I made the promise and I must keep it. If not to myself, then my mother.
Lee’s gentle eyes don’t come off me. His stare is penetrating my skull or at least that is what I envision. “I’m glad you wanted to meet.” His cheerful disposition is replaced by a serious and heavy one. The stormy cloud seems to be hovering over him today. Maybe that’s fair.
“Bellwood Health Facility. I looked it up.” He sits to my side. “Obviously it has significance and message. Either you have someone in there or…” Lee trails off. “Room one-o-seven.”
“My home for about six months,” then I add as if lost in thought, “Twenty-three weeks and five days, to be exact.”
But, Lee doesn’t inquire as to why; for what reason. He sits in silence, leaning forward, looking ahead of him in the direction of the lake and the facility, and avoiding me.
“And yes, I still have someone there.” My morose mood is evident in the tone of my voice. The trickling sound of whispers appears in the eye of the hovering black cloud. But it remains same in size and position. My blurriness remains in utter effect.
None of it seems to bother Lee as his closed mouth turns to a slight smirk, as if he was about to be into something not good, was about to be mischievous. “I thought you are just this regular guy. But then…”
“A curveball,” he alters my conclusion. At least ‘curveball’ is better than an explosion, than a bomb. We can survive a curveball.
The familiar buzz of the door as the nurse lets us through.
“Hi Matty,” the nurse smiles. “Terk is in his room.”
Terk’s room, the epitome of a twelve-year-old boy trapped in a body of a twenty-seven-year-old man. The posters, the artwork, and the vast supply of comic books. How else would he spend his time here? It’s not only a place of reflection and therapy. It’s also a home.
“Terk. Lee. Lee. Terk.” The introductions are done and final.
“Matty’s certainly a man of few words,” Terk jokes.
Lee smiles, “Certainly,” and squeezes my shoulder, letting me know that it’s okay. His smile, the one that implies ease and composure rather than discomfort and awkwardness. Lee takes the truth in stride and champions it.
Out of nowhere, I softly ask Terk not as a joke but to confirm my reality, “Is he real?”
Both Terk and Lee laugh, but all I can make out are their blurry faces.
“Yes,” Terk replies.
© Jacob Greb — 2021
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2 thoughts on “story teller: dating 101”
This feels relatable.
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Riveting and haunting.
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