Bitterly Beautiful

Ever since my boyfriend broke me up in the night of our two years anniversary which was three years ago, there was no day that went by without realizing that I needed to feel again, to be loved, to have someone that was constantly there for the woman that deserved him. Loneliness that I felt these past few years nearly froze the heart that was once warm. I completely understood that loneliness could kill someone even when she kept saying she was okay and happy being single. It was a pathetic thought, I knew, but that was the only thing keeping me survive in this hard time. Just when I thought nobody wanted me, somebody came filling in a hole that was once left by some asshole in the past.

It was in a travel fair where I visited one of friends who became a volunteer to promote travelling destinations in my country that I saw him for the first time after constantly being told how decent he was as a man. My friend showed me his picture once, but that wasn’t enough. Therefore in the name of curiosity, I decided to pay a visit on the last day of the event to check myself about how good this guy was since she never stopped talking about how kind and gentle he was. As I walked towards a table where my friend sat behind, there he was standing straight with all that effortless humble good-looking face that immediately occupied all blank parts in my brain.

“Alex!”

He turned his face to the source of the voice which was coming from my friend in front of me. Upon seeing two beautiful mesmerized girls, he walked towards our direction as if he knew that I wanted to know him more.

“Yes, Keira. What’s up?” he said with a stunning smile.
“I’d like you to meet my friend, Hailey. We went to college together.”
“Hi, Hailey. I’m Alex. How’s it going?”

I felt his firm hand shaking against my hand confidently. I couldn’t help but smiling in peace looking at how gorgeous he was. His strong Scottish accent were calm and soft within his voice.

“Please, call me Hails. Nice to finally meet you. Keira told me so much about you.”
“Ah, I hope she didn’t tell all the things about me otherwise there’s nothing much left to tell you myself.”

My brain froze a while hearing something that I didn’t expect coming from somebody who happened to be my new friend and a potential crush.

“Don’t worry Alex, I left a few things for you guys to discuss privately.”

The three of us laughed in the middle of the demanding crowd. Alex here is a representative from Ministry of Tourism where he managed all of the volunteers who participated on that day’s event. Somehow a fact that I didn’t really pay much attention to since his gorgeousness had already demanded so much attention.

“So what brings you here, Hailey?”

I wished I could just say ‘you are’ at that time, but I got to keep my dignity a little bit so I restrained myself.

“Keira told me that there is a cool tourism exhibition where I can get cheap plane tickets anywhere I’d like, so yeah, here I am,” I really hoped he bought it.
“Right. You’ve come to the right place. Let me show you where you can get those tickets without having to spend so much money. Also, are you planning on going to The Tower of London recently?”

Words were just floating from his thin yet kissable lips and they hypnotized me to the point where I could only stare at him without being aware of what he actually said. He walked me through the corner of the room where we found a stall that he was talking about. He mumbled about how he loved this country and its beauty and wanted the whole world to know about it. That was why he worked in Ministry of Tourism.

Seeing the way he talked to me, I felt like I knew the guy before I even met him. That was probably not normal, but I didn’t care. As long as he smiled at me while we were having a conversation, I was happy to listen to everything he said.

He was in the middle of an explanation when suddenly a voice appeared from one of the stalls shouting Alex’s name in the crowd. Somebody needed him in charge. He was about to leave after saying sorry that he couldn’t finish his explanation when he said something unexpected.

“You know what, we should have some coffee sometimes.”
“Yeah? Sure. That would be great.” It took me about five seconds to respond to what he asked. My smile clearly said that I didn’t see it coming.
“Alex! I need you here.”

Ah, that voice appeared again wanting to separate me from the man I was really into. He looked confused whether to continue his desire to ask me for a coffee or to do his actual purpose of being in that place.

“How about I call you later when I’m done with all this work?” he said in the end.

I was just nodding while he was staring at me like I forgot about something.

“And your number is?”
“I’m sorry, here it is,” so that was what I forgot. Bloody idiot!
“Cheers! Right, I got to go. My colleague needs me. See you later, Hailey.”

He quickly blended to the crowd before I had a chance to say goodbye and I stood there without being able to move for about 30 seconds. Gravity had brought me back to earth after I had a such a nice trip on piles of fluffy clouds in the sky.

Was he the one? Was he the right person that deserves a chance to fix a wound that other had created? I couldn’t wait to find out more about him.

*****

Six thousand three hundred and fifty two Whatsapp messages later, Alex and I finally met again on a cold and rainy night in a cafe near Thames River. I hesitated at first because he said he brought some friends with him since they just finished a meeting, but he convinced me to come anyway. I just got home after work myself and seeing his face would help me to reduce what was already a long and tiring day.

“I owe you a coffee. What would you like to drink?” he asked after introducing me to his friends and letting me sit on a chair next to his.

To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about the coffee during the way up here because the idea of seeing him had already made my day.

“I could use some chocolate,” I said while adjusting my seat because that sofa really made me uncomfortable.

He didn’t ask anything further when he called a waiter to show up before our table as if he knew what I really liked.

“I’d like to have a cup of hot coco with some marshmallow on top of it and a pair of hazelnut doughnut. I need to refill my coffee as well. It’s black.”

I couldn’t believe that he still remembered what I told him the other day that I didn’t really like coffee and preferred chocolate to have my body warmed. He noticed my smile and explained that he liked to remember small details of people he knew. He said it made them feel that at least there was someone out there noticing what they liked in their miserable little lives. Of course I knew he was joking.

“Honestly,” he said after we were laughing over his earlier joke, “It’s only for the person worth remembering.” I thought he referred ‘it’ to the part where he said he remembered the things I liked.

At that moment, I was flown through the seven skies as he looked down to me with his big white angelic wings. It was another dose of ‘morphine’ that he was given to keep me addicted over his words that made me feel loved and wanted again. I couldn’t remember when was the last time I felt that kind of feeling. AND HE SAID ‘PERSON’, not people. Did that mean anything? I sure hoped it did.

“So how was your day?” he started the conversation again after it was interrupted by the waitress who brought what we had ordered.

I began to tell him everything I had experienced that day. From the morning meeting which nearly turned into a disaster because I forgot to copy the file for my boss’ presentation for a client (thanked God it didn’t) to a report that I had to rewrite because I miscalculated the numbers, I couldn’t seem to stop telling him what I did and didn’t do that day. I did what I had usually done via Whatsapp every night ever since I met him. I had no idea why all those stories just streamed from my mouth automatically after just a single simple question he asked. It was just like there was some power that drew me to tell him my side of stories, and he had no problem with that, or maybe it was just me feeling happy somebody actually listened to things I bubbled.

“I’m sorry, did I talk too much?” I stopped after he only stared at me followed by some occasional nods and cute smiles.
“No, no, no please. Carry on,” he denied instantly.
“You’re just sitting there doing nothing. I thought you might be bored listening to me the whole time.”
He laughed when I showed my concerned face. “I was listening to your story precisely. That’s why I didn’t react.”

I didn’t realize that I had been talking for almost an hour that I didn’t even remember to drink. I took my cup of chocolate and was sipping it when he threw away a punchline that I was sure it would be in a book called Flirting with a Girl 101.

“Besides, I like watching you talk. Always full of enthusiasm. I don’t want to miss it for anything uneccessary. The way I see it, it’s like no matter how big the problem you face, you can always say ‘I don’t care’.”

It was a miracle that I didn’t choke on a marshmallow I just sipped with my chocolate when he said it. I smiled at him while putting the cup back on the saucer, hesitating whether to believe or to simply ignore it. My logic wasn’t really working that night, so my heart took over and I chose to believe him.

As per usual, I hit him back with jokes because I didn’t know how else to react. We were back to ‘normal’ stories and after another hour of laughing and joking around instead of telling more stories, I felt like my body couldn’t handle anymore cold night wind so I decided to go home.

“Let me walk you home,” he stood and got hold on my coat before I did. I took it from him before he made another move that could make me get even more addicted to him.

I refused his offer in the name of a woman’s dignity at first. I was always being a bitch when I played hard to get. Thankfully he was persistent and offered me multiple times until I said yes, otherwise I’d be walking home alone in cold and miserable condition with my hurt dignity.

London wasn’t really friendly that night as cold wind bit our exposed skin as soon as we stepped out from the cafe. Walking along the pavement to my flat, we kept exchanging stories that we didn’t manage to tell each other in the cafe.

The thing with Alex was that no matter how often and how long I chatted with him, there was always a story to tell the next time we got in touch. Of course the story didn’t only come from one side. He told his stories whenever I ran out of stories to tell. As for tonight, he began telling me stories about his family half way around the corner, about how he ended up living only with his younger brother in the city of London while their parents stayed in Sheffield. There was an upset tone in his voice when he told me that he was still trying to be what his parents wanted him to be, an independent first born.

“Well, fella, you ain’t the only one,” I joked around with the best funniest accent I could possibly produce.

He smiled, not showing pain, but showing a proof that he was one hell of a tough guy.
It was true about what I said to him that he wasn’t the only one. As a fellow first born, I felt the pressure he felt. At this point, I wished my flat was miles away so that I could be with him all night walking on the pavement with God knew what we did. Unfortunately, my door was only two meters from where we stood staring at each other realizing that it needed to end for tonight.

“Well, thanks for the coco marshmallow and the doughnut. I liked them a lot.”
“And thanks for the stories,” he smiled back as I began running out of words to say that night. “I had fun and I personally think that we should do this more often.”
Gosh, those punchlines were killing me!
“If you say so,” I said being agreed to what he proposed.

By the time we were about to bid each other a farewell, I was ready to shake his hand when he suddenly leaned on, and landed a soft kiss on my right cheek. It was short, yet it brought warm to my entire parts of body. I was rather surprised because I clearly hadn’t seen it coming anytime soon before that day.

“Until we see each other again, Hailey.”

He smiled and slowly stepped his legs backward until he finally turned and walked away. He left me stoned in front of my door not knowing what to respond. I was just waving my hand to him like an idiot until his firm body and his smile disappeared behind the black brick wall of my flat building.

*****

“Are you kidding me?”

Keira’s jaw dropped into possibly the biggest jaw dropping she had ever made when I told her about my night with Alex and how it ended. It was a week ago by the time I saw Keira again and Alex and I had exchanged even a lot more stories on Whatsapp.

“He kissed you?” she asked still on her disbelief mode.
I nodded.
“On the cheek?”

I nodded again with a big smile this time. I swore I still could remember how soft his lips were when they touched my cold cheek and I started to miss them! Probably began wondering when they would be pressed against mine.

Keira’s smile didn’t tell that she was happy though. It was odd because she shouldn’t have been surprised over the kiss since she was the only one I told everything about what was going on between me and Alex.

“What?” I asked wanting a clarification over that suspicious smile of hers.
“Nothing,” she tried to be as calm as possible, but I could sense that she hid something from me.

I tried to persuade her to tell me what was in her head at that time. When she finally opened up about it, I felt nothing but pain stabbing my heart constantly. Keira told me that Alex was actually seeing a girl which happened to be one of his colleagues in his office. She also added that it had been going on far before Alex met me.

The clear blue sky that had been hanging around inside my head for the past few weeks covered by black clouds in a matter of seconds. All the things I remembered that he ever said suddenly became bias and meaningless. Forget the beautiful punchlines, did the kiss even mean anything to him?

“Look, I’m sorry, Hails. I should’ve told you since day one.” Keira’s guilt was hanging in obvious on the tone of her voice. She knew better that her friend was the kind of girl who easily fell for a simple decent act of a gentleman, let alone his sweet talks. I didn’t say I blamed her for neglecting to mention one important fact about Alex. I just wished she told me earlier.

“Don’t worry, Key. I can pull myself together,” which was A BIG FAT LIE.

I cried in silent on the Underground to my way home as soon as Keira departed on her destination leaving me alone in a crowd. The thoughts of finally finding someone that could fill the hole in my heart slowly blurred into sketches of pain which completed the collection of my depression gallery. In a few weeks, he made me believe that I found someone who loved me without compromise. He made me believe that he was the one who could heal my three years wound. Instead he poured more salt to it.

At the same time I felt angry to myself for letting me fall for someone who didn’t really deserve to be loved, for letting me get addicted over someone who probably didn’t really care much over me. The thoughts of repeating the same mistakes made me want to bang my head against the car window. All of the above, I was angry because I kept staring at my phone still wanting a Whatsapp notification from him.

Was I that desperate? That I still needed to feel wanted even though he actually didn’t want me? Had the wound created three years ago corrupted my judgement that I’d take whoever could heal it even though I chose the wrong person? Should I avoid him before it was too late? The thoughts of deleting his number and all of his social media from my contact crossed my mind. Just as I was about to press the ‘Yes’ sign from the deleting confirmation feature, one message came up.

“Hey, Hailey! What are you up to this evening?”

I pressed the ‘No’ sign instead and started to think of what was the answer going to be. I typed a confrontation over the fact that he had a girlfriend about four lines, then I erased them again. It happened at least four times before I finally decided what to respond.

“I was thinking of going to a movie theater with my friend. Want to join?”

Instead of a confrontation, those were the words I used to reply his message after knowing the fact that I was no one but his friend. I hated myself more than anyone at that moment. I was defeated by the helpless feeling on a thought of not having someone like him texting me almost every time on my days if I did what I thought I’d do.

“Sure. That would be great!”

Alex, who was really a fine gentleman, who I thought could heal the sets of pain inside me, brought more pain which somehow still felt sweet. I surrendered to the sorrow and the hollow that kept me numb for the past three years. I couldn’t handle them anymore. I’d rather feeling hurt than feeling nothing at all. I despised loneliness and decided to do what other women would thought I was an idiot. What could I say? He was my morphine.

“We’ll see you at Empire Cinema at 7, Alex.” I replied as I wiped tears from the corner of my eyes.

THE END

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