Sometimes, love holds a tight grip in one’s heart it shatters into tiny million pieces. It gets broken beyond repair that even time can’t mend it. That’s the story Annie wants to share. A broken girl whose heart was ripped to shreds, but braving each day, surviving the emptiness in her life… because she has to.
Hello! How have you been doing? It’s been a while since, you know… I wrote you a letter. It seems like a lifetime ago. I did everything I could, though, to restrain myself from penning down every single emotion I kept bottled up inside me, I really did. But you’ve been a fixture on my mind lately. I shooed your memories away, wiped your image off, kept my brain occupied with important matters, but none of those things seemed to work. I never thought any of it would work through, not after I bumped into you.
It was such an unfortunate event, seeing you last week. The unfiltered impact of our unexpected rendezvous was enduring. Raw. Fresh. Painful. Hence, against my better judgement, here I am, about to pour my heart out on a piece of paper. I don’t know if I can be able to pull up enough courage to send this to you, but I’m still gonna write you a letter anyway. An emotional one.
A letter for you, my dearest Ethan.
Do you want to know how I felt when I saw you last week? I was flustered. I was baffled. I was confused. I was mystified. I was hurt. I was torn apart. A thesaurus of emotions, really.
How was it possible that one moment my life was okay–not entirely happy, but I was okay– then the next it was as if I was caught in the midst of a raging storm?
It felt so surreal, when from the corner of my eye I thought I saw someone who looked like you. My heart skipped a beat at the simplest idea that it could be you. What if my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me? But then, I realized, I was in a bookstore. There was no way you would set your foot in that four-cornered wall that smelled like a thousand dead trees. The geek-dom. The nerd-dom. My kingdom. Somehow, I was able to breathe at the realization.
It was my favorite bookstore. My place of solace. The only place I know where I could find peace and solitude. That bookstore has no single trace of you. You were never fond of reading. And you avoided that place as if it was infested by some sort of deadly bacteria. Your constant reaction hurt me at time more often, it amused me. I remember vividly the thousand times I begged you to join me browse the aisles, not shelf-after-shelf, just the aisles because I didn’t want to overwhelm you with my unadulterated love for books, but your answer was always a flat out, no!
There were even moments when I tried to drag you in, but it was always to no avail. You would give me enough time inside the bookstore though, you would wait somewhere else and do your thing while I immersed myself into finding some fictional worlds where I would live ’till I was done reading and psyched up to go back to the real world. It was the only spot in my world that had no lace, hint and imprint of your memories. It was my bookstore. My safe haven.
But I don’t think I’d be able to see it that way ever again. You ruined it for me. Now, I have nowhere to go. Because my eyes were not playing tricks on me. It was not some sort of hallucination, that I was gladly believed for a fleeting moment. Your vision was not just a figment of my wandering imagination. It was really you. I still remember every single details of what happened last week. They are still graphic in my brain. Like-like. As if an HD movie is playing on my mind. Consuming my sanity.
I was browsing through the bestsellers section. I was searching for a ‘new release’ that I still had not yet read. I picked one book, but right about that moment I felt something completely inexplicable. A premonition of disaster waiting to happen? An epiphany? I could still hear the loud thumping of my heart, like it was trying to flee from the rib cage where it was imprisoned.
I remember my confusion. I remember I told my heart to be still, to be calm. I assured it that as long as we were in that bookstore no harm, no pain and no hurt would come. Me and my heart would be safe in there. It could not be pacified, though, my heart. It thumped, pounded and banged incessantly. It was restless. It was crazy. I tried to listen to what it had to say. To its warning. But I probably listened a bit too late.
I remember, I saw someone that looked like you from the corner of my eye. I cautiously turned sideways to where the glass window was located, for a full view, since I could not entirely trust my peripheral, and then, I saw you. Walking by. I felt the world literally stopped turning. I felt like the hands of time stopped moving. Everything was in haze, but you, me and the bookstore.
Every senses in my body functioned all at once that very moment. I remember how my eyes noticed the way you carried yourself. You strides were full of conviction, every inch a confident man. I remember how your smell lingered in my nostrils long after you’re gone, your favorite cologne, musky and manly. I remember how my mouth longed for the sweetest yet wildest kiss we often used to share inside the movie theaters, on top of our favorite hill, in your car. I remember how my skin tingled whenever your calloused hand caressed it and the tiny goose bumps it produced. I remember how my ear perked up a bit every time you whisper your promise… Your promise of forever. A promise I hopelessly believed and hold onto even after we broke up. Those senses, they worked all at once the moment I saw you.
My senses probably wanted to torment me. Hurt me. Devour me. But I would like to believe they were only reminding me that once upon a time, you were a part of my life. The biggest part of my life.
You were my life. My world.
You made me happy. Yes. I was very happy when I was with you. I was content. You were all I needed. You were all I wanted. For you sadly, I wasn’t. I was inadequate.
We were together since college. I remember the first time you tried to hit up on me. You were aggressive. Of course, you were never the shy type. You were always so sure of yourself. So confident. So arrogant.
You came up to me and said, “Can I drive you home?” I hesitated. I didn’t like you much. I found you loud, proud and quite honestly, annoying. Up to this day, my indecisive ‘yes’ still resonates in my mind. That was it. That was the beginning of us. You drove me home that day. And it became a daily habit. We shared everything; meals, laughter, pains, fears, dreams, regrets, hope… everything lovers shared to each other.
I found that you weren’t emotionally strong like you let on. You made the world believe you were tough. That nothing could ever break you. You fooled everyone. You fooled the world. But I saw right through your tough exterior. Your well-painted facade. So, I asked you, no… I begged you to unload all your burdens on me. You were scared most of the time, like a little child. Behind the defensive wall you built to keep everyone at bay, I saw darkness. And in that darkness sprung my need and desire to protect you from the big bad world. To keep you safe and tucked away from this never ending battle you called life. Because you needed it more than you anyone else. I wanted you to feel that even with your flaws and imperfections, you were being loved. I wanted you to know that I always got your back… to whatever comes.
You said you were tired of fighting all those demons inside you all by yourself, so you invited me. You seek for my allegiance. I blindly obliged me.I fought them with you. I fought them for you. Until it was only me who was left fighting. You were broken deep inside. Too broken, but not beyond repair. In my heart of hearts I believed I could fix you. But you were also a wanderer. You were always astray. You were a paradox. So complicated.
You enjoyed all the attention people, nay, girls were giving you. You fooled around with a couple of girls behind my back. I learned all about them eventually. I remember I died one time too many as you confided in me because you had no other choice. You were never subtle, you left a lot of traces, you were always caught red handed. It was as if you laid out marks and clues specifically for me. As if you wanted me to find out. As if you were deliberately hurting me. I didn’t understand why you had to go through all those troubles when you could have just told me. I would have given you a dagger, would have instructed you where to hit, straight to my heart.
But I had always forgiven you, because like you, I had no other choice. I would rather live with you and with the memories of your betrayal than live without you.
Because yo loved me, Ethan. You showed me your love the best way you know how. You loved me in your own way. In your own sweet way. I knew it. I felt it.
You asked me to fight for us. I vowed to fight for us.
I was with you in your lowest. I picked you up every time you fall. I loved you when you hated everything about yourself. I was your pillar, I was your strength. I made sure that I was everything you needed. But that wasn’t quite enough. I realized that no matter how many times I bent over backwards to keep you from being hurt, to keep you from pain, to keep you from hating yourself… they weren’t quite enough.
You always find a way to betray me. Hurt me. Torture me.
But I could not complain. You told me you were a lost soul, a hopeless case and I would be better off without you. I disagreed. My life would be empty without you. I promised you that together, we would search for your missing pieces. Until I lost me. I lost my way because I was busy trying to find yours.
And you did. You found your way. You found your missing piece. You were not really a hopeless case, after all. You found another girl. A girl whose very existence changed you completely.
I was waiting for you to turn around forever, but I waited in vain. No amount of sacrifice on my part could change you. I wasn’t what you needed. I wasn’t meant for you. It killed me that after all those times, after all I had been through to keep you happy and safe, to make sure you were loved and protected… I still wasn’t the one.
In that bookstore, at that moment, every single memory came flashing back and I died a thousand times all over again. I thought I was fine. I thought, I had already learned to live around the gaping hole created by your absence in my life when you left me for her. I thought wrong.
In that bookstore, at that moment, when our eyes met, when you smiled tentatively at me, I knew I had to suffer those vicious flashbacks once again. The dark night would surely come and I would have to fight my own demons when everyone else is asleep. Yes, I had my fair share of demons too.
You came up to me, hesitantly, maybe because our history compelled you to do so. I remember I faked a smile, I tried to act nonchalant and asked you, “What on earth are you doing here?” I remember you scratched your head coyly, the way you used to, and replied. “My wife is pregnant, I’ll just buy her some books and magazines. I’ll also check some books for myself.”
I remember the pang of hurt that hit my gut the moment I heard your answer. I remember fighting back the tears that were threatening to escape my eyes. But I also remember the look of pity in your eyes, pity for me. Because after all these times, I still haven’t learned how to let go of you… and your memories, no matter how cruel they might be. I remember you said goodbye and paid for the books and magazines.
But you were never a reader. You hated reading. I tried to make you read a thousand times, but you never once agreed.
I remember you leaving the bookstore.
I remember how numb I felt. How lost. How empty.
Where else can I go to run from your memories when my safe haven, my bookstore, has already been tainted by your mere presence?
I am still broken, Ethan.
And I am afraid I will always be…