‘Such a one-sided friendship we’ve got,’ she smiled and took another sip of her drink.
‘So we’re friends now?’
‘We could be.’
She leaned over to him.
‘But first, what do you know about me so far, really?’
He took his time.
She was loud, snazzy, she’d wear black-on beige or gray-on-darker-gray even on lonely, rainy Sundays. She was the wishful, slightly unusual, imaginative type, the kind of girl that leaves her mind and bed unmade and men knowing loss for the rest of their lives. She was like a star exploding in the dark theatre, like young love — consumption.
‘Not much, Mel. You tell me.’
She curved her lips into a gorgeous smile, and he added that to the list.
‘You know, somebody told me once that I can only write about my own feelings. I felt terribly limited. Then they told me that I was an expert at it. An expert, you know? Not an unreliable amateur. I may well be clumsy when it comes to anything else, and that I would be fine with, but I’m willing to work like a slave for my stuff to be out there in the spotlight because I know it’s worth it. I’m telling you, I’m worth it.’
He hadn’t seen anyone like her in a while.
‘How did you become like this?’
‘Tell me anyway,’ he said. ‘I’ll be honest with you, Mel, you’re fantastic, but it takes more than charisma to sign you up.’
She laughed again.
‘Oh, but it’s not charisma that I put into my work.’
He ordered another drink.
‘What, are you waiting for your answer now?’
‘I am,’ he said.
‘I won’t give it to you. Tell me one good reason why I should.’
‘Because I need to know who I’m working with.’
‘You have me right here in front of you, boss,’ she laughed.
‘Fuck charisma, I told you. I’m talking about who you really are.’
‘What makes you think I want to put that on the table and hand it to you?’
‘Because otherwise I won’t do it. Come on, Mel. I need to know this.’
She lowered her voice — and sounded sexy as hell, he thought.
‘It’s personal, isn’t it?’
‘Up to a point, yes. You help me – I help you, this kind of personal.’
‘Oh, the desperate kind.’
He choked on his food.
‘It’s intimate as hell, but here you go, long story short — and this coming from me, means don’t expect it to be that short.’
‘I was invisible; can you believe that? I remembered how I always looked up to others, but when I tried to get close I found that people are very bad actors. They never live up to your expectations. I usually left the shows sick to my core of them and everything they couldn’t do for me. But one thing I always knew is that they weren’t guilty. I knew it every night I walked home alone, swearing through gnashed teeth and teary eyes. It took me some time to face I was the guilty one, but when I did I knew I had to change. I had to, you know, learn to have a presence and not be afraid, because people don’t like afraid people. They remind them of their own fears. But I didn’t know how to do it.
I read a quote somewhere… I always look for motivation on underrated blogs at 5 a.m. It said that if you truly want to become a writer, then you should give up on everything else and work on your dream for a year. If you don’t write anything worth reading, you belong back to where you started. So I did that. I started writing, day and night, until my writing improved and my mind refined. If you think that’s impossible, think twice. When you feel there is something more than you average self inside you, there probably is. How do you get to the fearless, wild, beautiful creature? Ah, I feel like I’m making it too easy for you when no one made if for me. Anyway, the answer is you let go.
You forget, even if it was amazing, even if it hurts. You don’t hold on to things. You don’t try and keep them, you don’t talk them through to stay. You let the world move at its own pace and you move at yours. Eventually, there will be some collisions and some of them, you’ll love. But always remember that you will never, ever in your life love anything more than letting yourself shine through the bullshit. And you shouldn’t. Let them choose you and if they don’t, stick to who you are.
Whenever you think of the person you want to become, whenever you can see it clearly with your mind’s eye, know that you’re actually looking right into your soul. You can bring that out to play if you let it have a voice, and you do that by cancelling your day-by-day self for a while. Anais Nin cleverly pointed out that, if she hadn’t had feelings, she could have been the most intelligent woman in the world. I get it.
I used to belong to them, but they couldn’t see me when I was there. Now that I’ve moved on, they see me everywhere.’
She leaned over to him.
‘So make me big, M. Put me out there.’
He grinned. The ice broke under her words. She deserved all that she asked for and more.
‘Mel…’ he mumbled, and gently touched her face. ‘My new shinning little star.’
‘Now we’re talking business,’ she smiled. ‘All yours, but remember that nobody edits me.’
‘I see people’s weaknesses,’ she says.
Her lunch was amazing and he was a great company. She could be honest with him now.
‘How do you see them?’
‘Clear as day. Weaknesses howl, they reach every cage bar, and even if they’d been silenced for a while they still echo for others to hear them.’
He’s got a lovely smile on his face and nods that she goes on.
‘So I see them in their gestures,’ she smiles. ‘I hear them in their words. I feel them in their thoughts.’
‘Yeah. Those little bits of imagination that form out of you soul and crawl into your mind, then show on everything you do and say— and then you pass that vibe to everyone. You know?’
He’s still smiling, but something has changed. His new smile is like a business card, meant to cover a lonely boy’s college long days and sleepless nights with a flower bed violently screaming that there’s the cheapest, most effortless made honey.
‘Weren’t you hungry?’
She takes her first teaspoon of sorbet with melted chocolate and waits for him to speak. She’s learned to be gentle with him.
‘Can it be that you smell people’s fears because you’re so fully aware of your own that you know exactly how they manifest?’ he asks.
He’s got depth, the boy, and she likes proud owners of emotional intelligence. They’re rare and thus very precious.
‘You’re good with people, then,’ he smiles.
‘Perhaps. But that’s not for me to say. Ah, it’s always harder with the ones I start developing feelings for.’
He doesn’t take his eyes off of her.
‘You and me, Mel. You and me…’
He leans over and caresses her hair. To her, it feels like he’s caressing the soul she’s been keeping hostage in the attic, with a few crumbs of dry bread a day so it didn’t come out screaming and ruin the show.
But right here, right now, everybody is free.