What is love? I never knew it. Standing on the rooftop terrace of my apartment building as I had every morning, I watched my neighbor from across the street stumble toward her apartment building, drunk and high with her arm linked with a guy that was just as drunk and high. I could hear their laughter but have no clue what they were laughing about. I blew a ring of smoke into the air as I watched them stop at the door and then her leg popped up as she pushed her lips against the guy’s lips. Is that love? I wondered.
Anyone who’d ever met me said I’m dark and loveless. Some would even say my world is a world that had never seen the light of day. I don’t understand it. I never did and exactly how am I supposed to learn if no one would show me? It’s like watching a fire burn through a screen, you can’t feel the heat yet, it’s right there in front of you. What makes love so strong? What makes a person fall head over heel over someone they just met? What brings out the light in them? If love’s so strong, then why does it break so easily?
As I stubbed my cigarette and walk back to my apartment, I found my irritatingly peppy friend, Mikayla, waiting unexpectedly at my door. Immediately, I felt a slight anger, annoyance, along with some irritation. I don’t know why she wanted to be my friend so bad. We are the complete polar opposite of each other. She’s so bright and sunshiny while I’m dark and gloomy.
She stood up excitedly as I opened the door and strolled into my apartment. “Hey, Max, what are you doing today?” She chirped lightly.
I shrugged, “Nothing, just stay at home and read, maybe wr…”
“Great ’cause I really need someone to keep my company today. We can go to the movie, get mani-peddis and all those things we girls never get to do together.” I stared at her, those are all the things I would never do. Was she seriously going to try this game again?
“I’m sorry but I prefer to stay home.” I declined politely.
Unfortunately, she was not the kind of girl that takes “no” nicely. Whenever I say no, she takes it as a yes. Just like that, my day was ruined. She chained her arm around mine and pulled me out of my apartment. On the way down, she wouldn’t stop talking about all the fun we’re going to have together. For me, this was the beginning of a long torturous day.
We took our seats at the back of the theater for the matinee of a movie I would never see (it’s a chick-flick). It was slow and torturous like a train that never moves. As the movie reached its climax, where the boy told the girl he was no longer in love with her and broke up with her, Mikayla suddenly placed her hand on top of mine, jolting me awake. The girl in the movie broke down crying and the flood of emotions made her looked as if she’s been shattered into a million pieces.
I looked down at my hand and at Mikayla, her eyes were red from crying throughout the movie. It was then I felt this strange tingle. I didn’t know what it was but I could feel my heart swell. Is this love?
After the strange tingle I felt at the movie, the rest of the day went by in a complete blur. It was like someone grabbed me by the ankle and threw me into a black hole which led to an unknown universe. By mid-afternoon, I was once again walking up the stairs to my apartment, the pack of cigarettes in my back pocket, untouched since this morning.
Mikayla’s nails were painted bubbly pink while mine were painted midnight black. Strangely, I liked it. I sat down next to her on my inherited patchwork couch and sighed. She adjusted her pink skirt while I stared out the window. As I watched her hands resting on her lap, I curiously slid my hand on top of hers, wanted to feel that tingle again. It happened again. What’s happening? I asked myself. I could feel my heart swell and speed up.
Mikayla glanced at me, surprised as I stared into her eyes. Out of nowhere came this feeling. It was indescribable but it was as if nothing else in the world matters at this very moment except for this one person sitting next to me who wants to be my friend extremely bad but I wouldn’t let her. She would go through lengths to change me. For what? For me to be like any other girl?
Why does it matter? Our connection was already strong enough, right? Unaware,I found my hand under her soft chestnut hair and around the back of her neck. I looked into her eyes again, they were full of confusion and happiness, not a trace of detectable anger and frustration and irritation of what I’m going to do. Slowly, I pulled her toward me and our lips met in the middle.
Our lips barely touched as she pushed me away. She shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry, I like you and all but not like this. I’m,” she paused, “I’m not that kind of person.” She wiped her lips in disgust and stood up.
I remained sitting on the couch, feeling a piece of my swollen heart just exploded into a million pieces like how the girl in the movie felt. It felt so right a minute ago, perfect, even. “I’m sorry, ” I found myself desperately saying and shaking my head, “I shouldn’t have. It’s just a feeling I felt when you touched my hand at the movie. I just want to feel it again, that’s all.”
“I never meant to touch your hand, it was just at the moment.” She said loudly in her high-pitch voice, brought the chain of her purse to her shoulder, and headed toward the door. “I’m sorry,” she said coldly, “I have to go.”
Stay, I wanted to say. I’m even willing to try and make everything right again, to go back to the way it was but I knew the damage had been done. There was no going back.
After she left, I headed back up to the rooftop terrace, pulled a cigarette from my back pocket, and lit it. I sighed. Is this the awful feeling you feel when your heart is broken? In this very day, I felt it all, I realized, the circle of love. A single tear formed in my eye but I willed it away.
I climbed onto the ledge and stood there for a moment as I looked at the sunset. Love, magical love, it changes you, it breaks you, and it kills you all in one day. I threw my cigarette onto the roof behind me and took two steps forward.