He Called Her “Love”
He called her “love.”
Not my love,
like a pirate would say.
He called her “love”
with the nuance in his voice
hinting as if
she was the very concept
Maybe he didn’t
call her my love
because he knew
he couldn’t own her.
That she never belonged to him.
In his fantasy,
she was walking the earth,
as the two-legged version
of love itself,
and he could do nothing
but to watch her, appreciate her
and in frustration,
call her out
by the name:
She wasn’t an impossible woman
or an unreasonable goddess
who was used to getting
everything she wishes
on a whim
as he accused her to be
whenever he drank a glass
She had nothing.
She was nobody.
Yet, she was free,
and no one could wrap any chains
around her neck,
even to bind them
to a heart.
A pilgrim, a nomad
she could only be.
And he resented her freedom.
So, he called her “love.”
Never my love.
I never thought he could really love me.
Everything seemed like a game at first, as if none of those touches, glances, kisses, love-makings got their share of reality. It was like a dream, already dead, yet got caught in a storm of excitement, swaying in the air, pretending to be alive.
I thought I loved him as if I was some kind of protagonist of a serious, even heroic book, and he thought he loved me too. But neither of us were protagonists nor we’d end up together despite every obstacle. In fact, it was those obstacles that kindled our desire to be together. Those obstacles made an unbearable man seem like a charming one.
Those obstacles created false magic.
It was temporary madness, like gambling and losing all your money in fifteen minutes, getting drunk or high or having passionate sex. It was the kind of yearning that everyone you passed by in the street carried: a restless, relentless craving of stepping to the bad side to escape this dull, grey, limited, and choking life. For whatever reason, people achieve a sense of freedom only when they do bad, selfish, and irresponsible things.
And we wanted to be free.
I never thought he could really love me, I only forced myself to believe that. I secretly wished to believe in his promises, lent my ears to his lovely whispers, heard only the nice words. The warmth and softness of his lips felt like falling into sleep —a deep and sweet slumber in a silver cup full of hemlock. The traces his lips left on my skin burned constantly. Yet, as if to spite me, our love-making was so mechanical, tasteless, and meaningless. So in vain.
It would end eventually as we’d already agreed from the start. He acted like a kid, saw the world through his rose-colored glasses, and found consolation in his fantasies, ignoring the serious matters and playing the three monkeys when something didn’t suit him. He was happy to live as ignorant as he could be.
I didn’t want a child to take care of; I wanted someone to take care of me. Or why else would I escape my responsibilities, myself? It was as if I took one of the side tunnels that had a light at its end. I wasn’t stupid enough to think the tunnel would lead me to the sun itself, but the desperation of wandering around in the dark for a long time kept me going, hoping to find a crack the sunlight oozes through. It was disappointing to see that the light at the end of the tunnel was coming from a 100-Watt lightbulb. Though it pained me more to see how stubborn that lightbulb was. It didn’t matter that he left me in the dark more than he lightened me; that stubbornness stopped me from feeling sorry for myself and made me feel sorry for him instead.
The way he begged, his forced tears and flutters of a fish caught in a net created a weak spot in me. Like every selfish and cheeky person, the feeling of being needed by someone ensnared me, and I allowed him to use me as he needed. He caught up quickly; the more I showed compassion for him, the more he drained my blood from the open wound I had called my weak spot, like a leech. One by one, my days turned into a tired, dirty, and hopeless chain of yesterdays.
When I couldn’t take it anymore, I looked for ways to escape him — escape that fake light. He had to have seen it coming; the time was up. But surely, he believed everything would continue in its humiliating way. He never liked changes. He thought I’d come and go whenever he’d ask me to, like a trained monkey, or better, a paid companion.
I was the one who asked him to go, and I didn’t go to him when he called me. He kept asking why things couldn’t stay the way they were. He even got through my defences for a moment, and his lips found mine. It was familiar and easy, so easy to let him take the control, let him be, let him step all over me with his muddy shoes, only because I didn’t want to deal with the after-mess. But the words that came from my mouth when I pushed him back surprised me.
Because I want to be honest from now on.
He didn’t reply, but he didn’t need to find the words. He was the man whose existence would always remind me of my dishonesty, my failure, my dirtiness. I allowed him to come to me, so every sin committed was chalked up under my name. I thought I was the one who used him, and he was the one who’d be left behind. But it was me I left behind, abandoned on the side of a highway like a broken brake fallen off of a car, and I didn’t know what I was to do with the empty shell of my being.
I could have lost myself in that quicksand of a man if his impudence didn’t slap me on the face and made me see things clearly. When he realized he wouldn’t be able to take anything from me anymore, he became rude, destructive. He threatened to ruin my life. He insulted me. Tried to make me cry.
Like every lightbulb, he resented me for preferring the sunlight.
I still catch him sometimes; when we coincidentally sit at a crowded table or when I happen to stand in his gaze. He holds my gaze for a few seconds with pleading eyes. Just say the word, and I’ll come to you. He’ll come to me. He’s that gracious.
I look back, though my eyes don’t respond to his longing. He stays put wherever he is, looking away, annoyed. I know he’s still angry. He despises me because he believes I destroyed something once-sacred with my vulgar actions. The animosity on his face is obvious: Who’d want you back, anyway?
He’ll never understand those protagonists weren’t us, those personas never reflected our real faces. He wasn’t a silly kid with his eyes and ears closed to the rest of the world, who only wanted to kiss the pretty girl in front of him. He wasn’t a hero who jumped out of some romance novel, getting the girl despite all odds.
He was a married man who cheated his wife with his boss.
You were the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Just you being nice to me was enough for me to fall for you.
I never thought he could really love me.
And I’ll never believe he ever did.
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A perfect ending for that story. I'm way behind on my reading, squeezing a story in here and there. So glad I clicked on this one tonight!