Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Certain Man, VI

I met my husband in the afternoon of my father's funeral. Well, technically, I've met him long before that, but I never really gave him much thought. He was just some guy from work that insisted on calling me missus even though I wasn't married, and smiled as if it were going out of fashion. I guess he was one of those people that just flew under the radar, invisible to the naked eye.

It was a heart attack that got my father, during one of his many daily naps. No one even noticed until it was dinner time and my mother went to wake him up. I wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to feel about it all. I was in a haze of sorts, switching back and forth between dull melancholy and stark indifference. I felt a weightless anticipation, like a gust of wind would soon blow me away. Meanwhile a flurry of people would pass before me; kissing me, shaking my hand, and rushing towards the dessert spread. He came and went with the rest, and I absentmindedly nodded to his condolences, just as I had been doing all day.

Then, at around 3 p.m, just as my patience was about to reach its threshold, I felt a hand on my shoulder, "Would you like to take a walk?" he asked, and immediately lead me towards the door; tall and slender and bright as the afternoon sun.

We walked in silence. The pitter-patter of my shoes nervous against his long, calm strides. He would walk slightly behind me, purposely falling back whenever I slowed my pace. And throughout it all, the only thing I could think of was how strange it felt to have the warmth of the sun against my back; as if I've been living in perpetual nights all this time. For a moment I wondered if it was meant to be symbolic, but then I decided I'd better not attach too much meaning to the summer sun. Winter will always follow, after all.

"You didn't have to come, you know."

His pace slowly quickened, and soon I found him right at my heels, "I didn't?"

"No. I mean, thank you and all, but we're just colleagues... you didn't have to go through all the trouble."

"Oh, I'm so relieved you know who I am," he laughed, now comfortably walking shoulder-to-shoulder, "All this time I was thinking: oh god, what if she doesn't even recognize me? And I came all the way here like an idiot."

I fell silent for a few seconds, smiling a bit too widely and staring a bit too intently at him, but I just couldn't help it; there was something incredibly remarkable about his openness, his sincerity; like a child unspoiled by the ways of the world. I found myself so inexplicably drawn to him, like he was the sun and I was some planet; mercury or venus, for they were the closest, the most affected by the sun's gravity.

"I just made a complete idiot out of myself, didn't I?"

"Not at all. If anything, you've made quite the impression. Up until now you were the guy that called me missus." I turned, carefully skimming over him. He had a black mop of hair that would shiver and tremble against the mildest of winds. And a smile that was stuck to his lips; more out of force, it seemed, than choice, as if his entire face would burst into flames if he were to ever stop smiling. His eyes were so incredibly vibrant, like the green of emerald stone, and they would radiate in fluid motion; as if he had wild rivers running through them. For a minute I had to wonder if he was actually this beautiful, or whether my eyes were tipping in favor of my biases.

"Why do you do that, by the way?"

"The truth?" he asked and when I nodded, he eagerly continued, "I didn't know whether you were married or not. So I came up with this ingenious plan: I'll call her missus and see if she corrects me."

"But I never corrected you and you continued to call me missus instead of just using my name?"

He shrugged, "Well, I don't know. I guess I was hoping that you'd correct me, someday."

"Are you saying you were hoping I'd get a divorce?"

"No!" he stepped closer, moving his hands towards me, before changing his mind mid-way and dropping them stiffly to his sides, "No, no, not hoping. I was just... waiting."

"Waiting for me to get a divorce? That isn't all that better, you know."

"I wasn't waiting! Oh, god." he sighed, smiling like a child who'd just been caught with his hand up the cookie jar, "There's no way I'm turning this round, am I? I should just shut up."

I found him so incredibly endearing, then; mainly because he seemed so pleased with himself, beaming in silent mirth, and coyly leaning in so that our arms would touch, "I'm not married, by the way."

He instantly stopped, forcing me into a halt myself, "What? How come you never corrected me, then?"

"I don't know. I guess I forgot to at first, and then it was too late so I just went along with it." 

He loomed over me; frowning as if I somehow did him a great unkindness. It took him a few moments of absolute silence; one that brewed over his head like grey clouds, and after a long, frustrated sigh, he smiled, "Thank you for finally correcting me, then."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Certain Man, V

I haven't seen him since that day at the grocery store. Well, 'haven't seen' is a bit misleading, isn't it? It makes it sound like it was because of some outward force beyond my control. In reality it was simply my conscious decision to stop seeing him. I guess it just lost its purpose. I once left the world at his doorstep, shed every layer of skin and gave myself entirely, unreservedly to him. With him I was self-centered, insecure, obnoxious, unappealing; I was myself without restraints. I was not what my parents wanted of me, what society said I should be. I was simply myself and the sum of my terrible qualities.

It lost its purpose because after seeing him there; pushing his trolley and checking items off his grocery list, the lights suddenly switched on, and I could so plainly see what I was once completely oblivious of. This man; this beautiful, kind, creature that took me in and let me explore the whole of him, venturing so deep that I somehow found myself along the way. And with all of that, I couldn't possibly just drop in, have him, and leave.

I've said that I stopped visiting him, but I can't say it was easy. It came and went in waves; the desire to see him. Once I even got to his building, before turning away. I don't think of him often, but there are times when my desiremy needto see him manifested itself so strongly within me that I began to wonder if I'll ever manage to get over it. I say get over it, and you immediately assume that it was love. But it wasn't love, not even in the slightest, and if you thought it was, then you should go back and read every sentence, every word I've written. What I felt for him was not simplynot onlylove. It was an intense appreciation of the very air that he breathed, and conversely, the clear understanding of how little he truly meant to me.

And there are times when I couldn't even remember his face. I do remember his eyes being big and protruding and the colour of murky river water. I remember his smile; kind and unassuming, and secretly mocking me (or so it seemed to be). I remember the hair on his arms, and how it grew more sparse as you traveled up his limbs. I remembered all of his parts with all its little details, but never him as a whole. I guess that's just how it is with memories; they slowly slip away until the only thing remaining is the rabble.

He never came to see me, just in case you were wondering. Though I've spent countless days waiting for him. He had to, right? I imagined, I dreamed, of the day he came knocking on my door. It'd be late at night, sometime during the winter. My address would be written down on a paper, sitting right at the centre of his desk. He never did muster the courage to do it before, but tonight was unlike any other night. Tonight, he decided to just sod it all and come see me.

So he found himself at my apartment building. Studying it, skimming over the windows; wondering which one belonged to me. Wondering if I'm awake; with my terrible sleeping pattern, I should be. Wondering if I ever got over my troubles with sleep. I probably did, by now. It's been years, after all.

And years, and years, and years.

Even in my own dillusions, he turns away. It always ends this way, no matter how hard I tried to change it. The furthest it got was with him knocking on my door and disappearing down the corridor. I didn't even get to see the back of his head. Fucking pathetic, isn't it? Dreams are meant to be our escape from reality, where we seek out our wildest and most far-fetched of desires.

But I guess some things are just not meant to happen, huh?

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Certain Man, IV

We had set the rules very early on; made it perfectly clear to the both of us that we only existed within his walls. We held no obligations, extended no courtesies. We were simply two strangers that enjoyed each other's company, sporadically, or; whenever I felt the need to.

So when I saw him at the grocery store, trolley in hand, staring right at me; I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to do. I was so completely taken back by it, more so than I thought I would. It was as if it suddenly occurred to me that he actually existed. That he wasn't just some enigmatic man that fed me and listened to my problems (among other things). He was an actual living, breathing human being; with a job and friends and a fucking grocery list.

I was walking when I saw him, and while my pace slowed down, I didn't stop. I kept going until the only thing between us was his trolley. And right when I was about to speak, a man popped out of the cereal aisle and stood next to him, "This supermarket is shit. I swear It's arranged all wrong!"

Then, noticing me, he turned and smiled. He was much younger, around my age, maybe a bit younger; he looked a lot like him, but taller, slimmer, and a lot more handsome. His brother?

"I'm sorry, do you... do you two know each other?" he frowned, looking back and forth between us.

I waited for him to answer, but he never did; and it wasn't that he was too shocked or nervous to do so, he just simply ignored the question and kept looking at me, all smiles and intrigue. If he was feeling any sort discomfort, he certainly didn't let it show.

"Yes, erm, we're friends."

"Friends!" the younger man echoed, eyes wide in surprise. He kept staring at me with a bewildered expression to his face; skimming over me, again and again, like I was that last puzzle piece that doesn't fit; like I simply didn't make any sense.

"Yes, an acquaintances of mine. And this," he smirked, as if he was about to reveal some terrible secret of his, "Is my son."

It felt as if I crashed against a brick wall, face-first, and it must've shown because the younger man suddenly broke out in laughter. He, on the other hand, stepped back and crossed his arms.

"I'm his nephew," he smiled, "Do excuse my uncle's sense of humor. It's always been... peculiar."

"Well, it's already been established that I'm peculiar, myself." he chimed in, cocking his head.

"Well, erm, I should really get go"

"No! No, wait!" the nephew interrupted, stepping closer and taking my hand, "See, uncle? You're scaring the pretty bird away."

"I've done no such thing. It was you that scared her off."

"Me? But I've been nothing but friendly," he protested, with a slight squeeze to my hand, "It was him, wasn't it, pretty bird? He always scares people off."

"No, he doesn't scare me at all." I mumbled, trying to subtly break free of his grip, but he only held on tighter, "I'm used to him."

"Oho!" he cooed, turning to his uncle, "Pretty bird's used to you, huh, uncle?"

"Settle down," he sighed, taking my hand away from his nephew, "And what have we said about unwanted bodily contact?"

"What? You're allowed to hold her hand and I'm not?"

"Well, it isn't unwanted," he smiled, looking down at me in that menacing way he does, "Is it?"


"Oho!" the nephew exclaimed once again, almost jumping in excitement, "Pretty bird doesn't mind your touch, huh, uncle?"

I had never been easily offended. In fact, it was nearly impossible to offend me at all. But being there, trapped between those two while they did their... comedy routine. I felt like my head was going to burst. Having a litter of siblings of my own, I knew exactly how it felt to be the butt of the joke. To be teased and pulled in every direction for the sole purpose of entertainment.

"Please let go of my hand," I snapped, turning towards the nephew, "And you, don't call me pretty bird ever again, yeah? Now, I really have to go. It was lovely meeting you. Have a good day."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Certain Man, III

On the topic of strange behavior (some would argue all our interactions revolved around mutually strange behavior). I remember this one time I came knocking on his door. He swung it open, as you do, but instead of letting me in, he remained still; staring like it's the first time he's ever seen me. And when, in an effort to break the silence, I greeted him with a hello, he pulled me inside and shoved me against the door.

What transpired next could only be described as a series of willful penetration (Dear me!). It felt like he was trying to prove something, some point that had somehow escaped me; thrust, thrust, thrusting his way to self-assertion. And once he finally had enough (and at times it felt he was never going to) he slumped on the floor, breathing loudly through his nose.

"So," I propped myself up with my elbows, turning towards him, "What was that all about?"

"What was what about?"

"That," I raised an eyebrow towards the door, the sofa, the floor, "You were very... spirited today."

"Am I not always?"

"You are," I inched closer, expecting him to back away, but he didn't, "But not like this."

 "I saw you yesterday."


 "I was at some coffee shop. You were out on the street with someone," he said, rubbing his wrist and staring at the ceiling, "You were holding hands."

"Oh, yeah." I smiled, looking over his eye-lashes as they nervously fluttered. He had such beautiful eyes, though you wouldn't be able to tell, hiding behind those god-awful glasses. He never did like being without them, avoiding it at all costs, and for him to voluntarily give them up for so long was a rarity of rarities. There was a vulnerability to him, lying naked on the floor (something that he never did, either); asking about the other man in my life. It made me wonder if he actually realized that he was 'the other man'.

 "Who is he?" he whispered, as if by doing so, it didn't really count, "Are you two dating?"

I crawled closer to him, resting my head on his chest, "Yeah."

"Is he new, or?"

"Yeah." I took his arm and forced it around me, and he didn't protest. For some reason, It felt like he was slipping away; and I had this intense desire to be closer, tighter. 

"Why didn't you tell me?"

I sighed, drawing circles on his chest, "I guess I wanted to keep him to myself for a while."

"Do you like him?" he shivered, skin warm against my fingers.


"Do you like me?" he finally looked over, and I couldn't quite read him. I was never really good at this, but this time it was especially difficult; like he purposely threw a veil over his eyes to keep himself hidden.

"Yeah," I nodded, smiling despite myself, "Yeah."

"You're unlike anyone I've ever met in my 30 years of life."

 "Does that mean you like me, too?" I teased, poking him in the chest.

He frowned, "I suppose."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Certain Man, II

He's taken up the habit of inspecting my body for any sign of, what is it that he calls it? Wear and tear. It all started after one particularly violent fight with my boyfriend that left me with plenty of bumps and bruises to count. If I had known he'd react the way he did, I probably wouldn't have come to him. But ever since, right after her lets me in, he orders me to strip down to my underwear; pulling off my coat, my shirt, my pants. He would get down to his knees, and proceed to shove and poke every part of my body while mumbling incoherently to himself.

And I don't know why, but I fucking love it.

I love the touch of his concern, sweaty and open-palmed. I love the oppressed desire in the pit of his stomach, which he so carefully conceals. And the not-so-concealed, the totem at the front of his slacks, the one he so boldly presses against my thigh once he's done inspecting me. Only today he didn't do that. Instead, he pulled away, pushed himself to his feet, and walked towards the kitchen.

"Should I put something on?"

"No," he turned around, eyes skimming over me, "No, what you're wearing is fine."

"Or not wearing." I quipped, which he completely ignored (as always).

His kitchen has always been impressive to me. Nothing spectacular in design, but so neatly arranged it put mine to absolute shame. His pantry was always meticulously arranged, fridge well-stacked, counters squeaky clean. His kitchen was truly a reflection of his personality, as was mine (dirty, messy, and full of clutter). After burying his head in his fridge, he took out two plates, with a slice of cake on each, and placed them in front of me.

"For me?" I asked and he nodded, "Both?" he nodded again. (I didn't really get it, either.)

I then proceeded to tell him all about my day. How my sister's wedding was coming up, and how I wasn't looking forward to it at all. I told him how my mother has always pressured me to get married, and now with my younger sister married, she'll be pressuring me even more. I told him how my sister and I were never really close; how she was all my parents wanted in a daughter; kind and god-fearing and settled with a decent man, while I completely rejected the notion of being the perfect little housewife (as for god-fearing... well). I told him how I always felt out of place, even as a child. My brother was my father's, my sister was my mother's, the twins were each other's, and I was my own. I told him of my countless arguments with my parents, and the never-ending list of disappointments I left them with.

"I could only imagine what they'd have to say about this," I nervously laughed, "About you."

"Oh?" he echoed, corners of his lips curving into a smile. He had been silent all along, nodding whenever I looked to him for a response. It used to bother me at first, but by now I had gotten used to it. He never shares his opinion, never gives any advice; he simply listens, and occasionally nods.

"Wouldn't they approve?" he added, squinting as I chewed a forkful of cake.

"I don't know. You're some sort of doctor, aren't you? Or are you a teacher? I don't know, maybe they'd approve." I sighed, drawing circles at the kitchen counter. Something about this topic always made me uncomfortable, even after all this time. It's like a wound that never quite healed. "But they definitely wouldn't approve of me."

"Hm." he set aside his glass and tapped his fingers against the counter. He always had the incredible ability of knowing exactly what I was thinking about. I guess after sharing so much of myself with him, he's come to understand me perfectly (and here I was thinking I was too complex to be understood). "Shall we, then?"

"Should I wash up? I've just had cake and I know you don't like"

"No, no, definitely not." he smiled, his eyes falling to my lips, "Come as you are."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Certain Man

I don't exactly understand how things ended up the way they are, but welloh well?

He started out as some shady figure in the background, lurking around like a toothache waiting to happen. I dismissed his existence entirely, simply because he was as intriguing as a wooden log, and when he spoke, he had the charm of one, too. And his eyes didn't move. They never moved. A friend of mine saw him once (it was an accident, she never saw him again), and said he had the eyes of a fish. I guess he does. Big, round, bulging eyes that looked at you squarely in the face and just stared without emotion. His features weren't particularly handsome on their own, and when added up, they weren't homely, but not exactly attractive either. All in all he was bland, in both looks and personality.

Yet here I am, sprawled on his bedroom floor, multiple pairs of underwear scattered about (he insists on putting on a fresh pair right after we're done). He's in the bathroom, brushing his teeth (he insists on brushing his teeth afterwards, too). Him and his toothpaste kisses, they always taste like mint Aquafresh. I can't fucking stand it. It reminds me of that first hour at school; when everybody's sulking miserably in their seats, missing the warm comfort of their beds.

We're not really dating, though many would make that assumption. To be honest, I don't really know what we are. I frequent his place whenever I feel the need to; after a particularly nasty fight with my boyfriend, after a shit day at work, early in the morning or late at night. He's become my sanctuary, my very own island retreat. Whenever the world proved too much (or not enough), I'd come knocking on his door; one, two, three, and before I get to the fourth he would swing it open and say, "How can I be of service, miss?"

  And to his amusement I would say, "Love me."

(Only it's not really love, but another four-letter word. And he never finds it amusing.)

He doesn't say much. In fact, he hardly says anything at all. Maybe it's because I never shut up; going on about every single detail of my life. Sometime it's about my day at work, other times it's some random memory from my childhoodbut whatever I'm talking about, he listens as if it's the most fascinating thing he's ever heard. And once I'm done, he'd give me one of his smiles. His entire face would wrinkle and fold into itself, like a deflated balloon, all except his eyes; his eyes would always remain unfazed.

"Do you want something to eat?" he asked, in that calm voice of his. He was so soft-spoken, words would just pour out of his mouth like warm honey. I love his voice, I love the way he talks; I guess it's the only thing about him I truly like. Rather ironic, seeing as he hardly speaks at all.

Without really waiting for an answer (it wasn't really a question), he placed a tray on the floor and sat next to me, "Put something on, you'll get a cold."

"And here I was thinking you'd appreciate my naked form."

"I do." he said, picking up a pair of underwear and placing it carefully on my lap.

"It's dirty."

"Aren't you the one who's always agitated by my, what do you call it? Obsessive hygienic practices."

"Doesn't mean I want to wear your dirty underwear."

"It isn't dirty. Put it on."

I promptly obliged, sliding them over my thighs while he silently watches over, "Now eat."

God, I love it when he's like this; all sexual frustration and fatherly concern. He always made sure to tread on that delicate line between them, careful not to sway one way or the other. Sometimes I wished he wasn't so careful, that he would tilt whichever way he preferred; but I'm not really sure which side he'd choose, and I don't know which I'd rather he chose.

"And here I was thinking you'd ask for another go."

"I will, once you're done eating."