RAW #2: …But You Don’t Know Me
Finally, after nearly three years… I’ve revived this little project of mine, and I’ve written a short story. This is now officially the second in a series I like to call RAW: Random Acts of Writing. It’s an attempt to remain creative, an opportunity to keep writing. After all, and I quote a good friend of mine here, “A writer not writing will have words surge through his head and heart and not allow them to be written. It’s akin to abortion, a self-indulged miscarriage. And it’s depressing.”
So here it is. It may not be the most polished thing I’ve ever written (for some reason, I don’t edit my short stories as much as I edit my plays), but it has been written, and I’m proud of it. Enjoy.
R.A.W. #2: …BUT YOU DON’T KNOW ME
He’s known her all his life.
They were neighbors since they were children. Playmates, even throughout the whole cooties stage. They played house together, went to the same parties, and played in the same sandboxes and playgrounds. They grew up together, and they got to know each other in a way no other person ever could.
He has also loved her all his life.
Or at least since he became aware that he was a he, she was a she, and all the bells and whistles that came with it. She was the first – and only – person he has ever loved. His devotion was so strong that he made sure he was there for her through thick and thin, come hell or high water. Even as they discovered their own interests and began to hang out with different cliques, he still found opportunities to spend time with her. The flame burned bright even as they went to different colleges. Their correspondence never faltered; he kept up with the latest technologies just to keep their connection. He swore to himself that one day, he would finally declare his love for her and win her affections.
He hoped that this would be that day.
The invitation to coffee came from out of the blue. He didn’t even know she was back in town. It was definitely a welcome surprise, though. He strengthened his resolve to finally tell her he loves her, that he has loved only her.
Butterflies began swirling in his stomach. His appetite left him. His heart was beating faster than ever. Sweat trickled down his forehead. His balance was unsteady; his hands were shaky. This was the moment he’d been waiting for.
All the scenarios ran through his head. What if this was a trick? No, she wasn’t the type who would trick him into something like this. What if she was here to share some bad news? No, she definitely sounded cheerful over the phone. What if SHE was going to declare her love for HIM? His heart skipped a beat; a silly smile crept on his face.
Then he remembered: It’s just coffee. She wouldn’t tell him she loved him over coffee, would she? Of course, that was exactly what he was going to do, but he would’ve felt better if they were sharing a meal, and not just coffee.
Finally, the moment he’s been waiting for. He’s been sitting at the coffee shop for over an hour. She’s not late; he’s merely eager and over-excited. His heart starts beating faster as he sips his café latte.
She arrives. She’s never looked better, and there’s a glow about her that even he can’t explain. They hug each other tight; it’s been more than five years since they last met. After exchanging a couple of pleasantries, they slip into more familiar territory. It’s as if they never separated at all. The conversation, the laughs, the teasing… everything is comfortable, smooth, easy.
The butterflies seem to multiply in his stomach. His heart is working overtime. His mind starts racing, trying to recall the speech he’s prepared since they graduated from high school. The stakes have definitely been raised.
“I’m glad we finally got to see each other again,” she says. “I’ve missed you so much! It feels like old times. Everytime I’m with you, I feel… safe. Like I’m home again.”
“You are home again,” he says; the big dumb grin on his face has grown bigger. This is it. He prepares the speech in his head one last time…
“You’ve always been such a good friend,” she says. The F-word pierces his heart like a dagger. “You’re like a brother to me. I know my fiancée will absolutely love you.”
He feels his heart stop beating. Everything around him seems to have stopped. He’s barely breathing now. He just stares at her; the speech is quickly forgotten, sent to the shredders in his mind. His stomach is churning now, possibly trying to vomit out the now-dead butterflies in his belly. He feels tears starting to well up in his eyes. “Fiancée?” he manages to squeak out.
She then starts talking about… him. The man of her dreams. An absolutely wonderful guy. Handsome, athletic, successful, and above all nice. And all that’s going through his head as she describes him is, But he’s not me.
He musters a brave smile and a congratulatory handshake. She asks him to be the best man; the request adds more weight to his already heavy heart. “Of course,” he says, with a wide grin, desperately trying to stop from communicating to her his disappointment, his broken heart, his melancholy.
But of course she notices that something’s not quite right. “What’s wrong?” she asks, in that tone that he knows all too well.
“It’s nothing.” It’s clearly a lie.
“No, there’s definitely something wrong. I’ve known you all my life. I know you that well.”
But you DON’T know me.
He pulls out the oldest excuse in his book. “I’m just… tired,” he says, with a weak smile.
She knows him well enough to realize he wants her to drop the issue. “I’m so glad we had coffee,” she says, standing up. “I have to go. My fiancée arrives in an hour or so. Would you like to join me, meeting him at the airport?”
He politely declines the offer. They hug, then she waves goodbye. He watches her leave, and as she walks away, he feels his heart, his spirit, his life following her, leaving him behind as well.