Heavy droplets of rain were being pelted from swirling grey sky, that first day we met.
The drizzles of water streaked across the reflective surface of my thick glasses, dripped into my tousled hair, ruined my coat. I stared at my shoes as I walked, hunched over, hands stuffed in my pockets. That day, I was wearing Converse the color of white sand, the kind that had stretched out across the splashing coastline when I visited the beach, that one colorful summer, eternities ago. Now, all that I noticed came through in a disorganized jumble of dull thoughts, one at a time. Everything felt worlds away, as if I were on a separate plane of existence, so far from the world, surrounded by nothing but a lonely quiet, with only distant chatter in the background, blurred out into nothing but indistinguishable murmurs to supposedly comfort me. Around, I knew there were people. There were always people. Each, with their own, individual life, their own, individual story, that means the world to them and next to nothing to anyone else in the world. I’d bet you could zoom in on each and every person casually walking down the street next to me right now, laughing or crying or smiling or chattering, whatever they may be doing, and they could tell you a story, a story worth telling, of love and loss and happiness and obstacles—but I couldn’t. Because the only thing I would have to tell is of an endless void, filled with darkness and failure, that stretches over the course of 35 pointless years, on and on and on, and will continue to do so until it is like I never existed to begin with. Because that’s all I’ve ever been, anothing insignificant part of a faded backdrop, grey and dreary, like the sky. The darkness has been broken through once, and only once, and that was by my mother, who shone a light and revealed the path ahead, who pointed me to look up from my books and become a write. But she’s long gone now, and even her incredible optimism will dissipate into nothingness once I am buried and everyone forgets, like they always do. That was me. Merely the pessimistic shadow of a defeated writer, who creates nothing but monotone worlds that are just as monotonous as he.
I suppose you could say that I fell, in a way not so different from so many stories out there, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. I was pushed, plain in simple, both quite literally and figuratively. There was an accident, and there was a girl, as there always is. And, finally, I had a story worth telling, though I can’t quite say that it was my story.
The crisp morning air pinched at my cheeks, accompanied by drops of rain that splashed against my face and formed a continuous metronome of pitter-patters. The day had been off to an uneventful start. Wake up, drink coffee, wrestle with writer’s block until you give up and go take a walk to clear your head. I was on the “taking a walk” part. Really, I knew it was a lie. What little time I had was up. I wrote a story, it got a bit of recognition, nothing since. And I knew that. My career as a writer was as good as over, but I might as well chase after the idea of it a little while longer, humor myself. What I do now won’t matter in a hundred years, after I die, so why not. Haven’t got much else to do with my waste of a life. Besides, I needed groceries. There were people, plenty of them, moving along with their lives around me, while I stayed here, stuck. Not literally. I was actually walking around with crowd. Only an idiot would stand still in the middle of the sidewalk during this hour, when everyone was rushing to work or school or something in between. I hung my head, glasses slipping down my nose and hair forward. One foot in front of the other. Step, step, st—. I feel the hand of someone trying to push through the thick crowd on my back, and the splash of a puddle under my foot as I toppled to the ground, thudding to the concrete sidewalk. I felt someone step on my coat as I struggled to get up. Footprints landed across the edges of the fabric and yanked at my hair. My clothing was soaked through. Scrambling to get up, I felt a grip on my hand. I stared up at a silhouette, arm outstretched. I hoisted myself up and was pulled into a thin space between two stores. The first thing I notice is red hair, short and a little frazzled. I push my glasses up my nose and run a hand through my muddy hair.
“Looks like you’re having a lovely day,” the thread of words. followed by a slight laugh, and the ends of a mouth quirking up. Only then do I see them. The tubes and machines that trail behind her and sit between her nose and mouth, life itself. I pause for half a moment, feeling the pressure building up in my chest.
“Sure seems like it,” I smile back. It feels as though the rain has stopped. She offers her hand.
“Rosaline,” I stand on the edge of a building, staring. Do I move, do I jump? No, scrap that. Don’t hesitate. I jump.
“Alex,” Someone had pulled me into the rest of the world. I was no longer on my own plane.
Perhaps a month passed, maybe two, I don’t quite know. What I do know is that the world began to repaint itself. It was like I removed the filter from the photo that was my life. Everything became so, absolutely vivid. The blank pages suddenly began to swirl with dancing colors, brilliant what-ifs. My Converse were no longer the color of distant, sandy beaches, but rather the color of her carpet. My life, which had shattered into a thousand pieces, and now I was piecing it back together with superglue. Call me cliché, but there isn’t another way to describe it. It was a story, but it wasn’t. It was real. And it came in three parts. The beginning was that dreary January day. The middle went something like this.
The park was overflowing with color. Green-apple leaves were dipped in dripping yellow sun, laying themselves under blooming flowers the color of rubies. I can’t tell you what shoes I was wearing that day, just that her eyes were a green that I could have sworn was more vibrant than the greenery itself. We sat among a sea of grass, basking in the golden daylight, a tangle of red hair and green grass and scrapped ideas. I scribbled at a notebook, writing all the good ideas and the bad ones.
“I like your hair,” she said, absently, “It reminds me of coffee.” I laugh.
“Boring. Yours is lovelier, it’s the color of autumn leaves. The kind that entangle themselves into your hair and crunch under your shoes.” She smiled.
“I’ve got a question for you,”
“Do you, uh, enjoy being a writer?” I look up, slightly surprised.
“Y’know, I didn’t before, but... now, I think I do.”
“Huh...is it...because of me?” I laugh.
“Absolutely,” Her face fell, though I didn’t know why at the time.
“So, say, I left. Would you still write?” I considered the question, staring up at the pooling blue sky.
“I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t really want to have to think about it,” I turn to her, and watch her shape her face back into a smile. God, I really was oblivious.
Weeks later, she seemed exhausted. Dark circles lined her eyes, and she’d gotten thinner. When I asked, she brushed me off. I figured she was just going through a bit of a rough time. I was wrong.
I began to worry. She hadn’t been responding to my texts. Had I done something wrong? My phone dings. Excited, I look to find a text message. Where’d she been? What happened? All I get are three short phrases.
“I love you.”
And nothing else. The darkness has crept in again. Once again, I am being pulled away from the rest of the world, dropped back into my lonely plane of existence. The tears started to flow, salty and hot, and I did all I knew how to. I ran, and I ran and I ran, until my legs couldn’t take it anymore. I dropped to the ground on the icy sidewalk, in the place where we first met. And I drowned out the murmurs of the rest of the world with my screams.