In the beginning, he taught me about fear. I liked that one, so I decided to remember it.
“Why do you talk about fear in the third person? Fear doesn’t have an identity. You are the fear.”
He also taught me about the ugly side of love. I hated that one, so I can’t seem to forget it.
“I’ve never felt suffocated by your presence,” I said during a fight, saddened by his words.
He kissed me softly, and that hurt the most. I knew I had no power to upset him. I knew I had no power over him.
“That’s because you don’t have a world of you own, baby. That’s why you were so eager to make room into mine. But here you are just a visitor, no matter how many times you try to dust it clean, buy matching curtains or bring your things. Everything will be gone again in the morning. It’s built on grounds that you’ll never fully understand, and you’ll always be cold and starved in it. There’s simply nothing for you here, because everything was made for me. Are you happy, sleeping on the couch night after night?”
Our paths with someone can become these tangled, knotted messes.
There’s a certain beauty about painting outside the lines, too. Outstretching your arms for things at top volume, at their most difficult, at their most needlessly complex, only to remind yourself that you are alive, that you are fresh, that you are worth fighting for. You marvel at your own fire and every, ‘What’s so wrong with it?’ fades away. You wonder what it takes for others to see what you see. You know it’s there to light the way and not to burn them.
But not everybody can love it like you, and it takes you long to accept that. When all parts of you are alight all the time, it’s only a matter time until you can’t cover yourself up any longer. Until they start catching glimpses and end up deciding for you if you are radiant or too much. In time, you love it a little less for it. You think you don’t need it so much. You think you can see ahead just fine, even without your own light guiding you, for don’t they know better? Don’t you love them more? Don’t you want to follow them, if only you could put your fire out first?
So you think you can fool them into believing you are this soft, gentle, watered-down version that is easy to love. So easy to love, you think, that they will. You refine it to pure, quiet perfection. What’s not to love about it? When it gets quiet, you ask yourself the opposite. ‘It’s so dead,’ you think, ‘no wonder they don’t love me.’ Eventually, you’ll light up again. You won’t be able to see your way out of the darkness otherwise. But it takes you long, too.
One night I was standing by the window, watching our reflection like watching an old movie and knowing that the actors are now dead. He told me that he liked my silence.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“This. Sitting in silence, like this.”
His voice echoed for a while in my head.
I, too, liked his arms wrapped tight around me. I liked the intimacies we shared, the hands and breaths and shivers. He was mostly good-natured when I didn’t go too hard, and his sleepy voice made me smile, and the stories about our half made-up past made everybody laugh. But there was always something missing. I was always missing.
If you liked my fire too, maybe we’d come back to life, I thought.
It was the end.