At times when I least expect it to happen, I think of her, quick and all of a sudden, like lightning unzipping the night sky, momentarily revealing what lay hidden in the thick of darkness, and as I am not used to the swiftness in which things have to be decided, especially those that have everything to do with forgetting, I let my memories roam, rekindle the life they once have acquired, take the form that they used to have. It is under these unwarranted conditions where I have learned to dream the dreams that make sense, and to nurture the vain optimism they bring with a resolve as unflinching as iron that no force can wrest them from my hands without having to remind me first that I have emptied my world in favor of another, one that I have built on a shaky foundation, like a promise on top of another promise, collapsing under the slightest trembling, yet demanding to be hoisted anew whenever the opportunity presents itself. I think of her, and when I do I sink back to the reality supplanting my conviction that nothing in this world is fair. Nothing is.
You give it your all. You get nothing in return. A broken heart does not count, even if it reveals itself each time I think of her.
I have learned not to stray too far from familiar territory, fearing that I might lose myself along the way, for I have betrayed myself more than I have betrayed others time and again, and as I remain ensconced in the comfort of a house that no longer feels quite like home, my mind drifts, flirting with the temptation of venturing into the unknown, begrudging me of my physical immobility by its ambulant desire to flee, to taste the freedom that flight offers. But then, all by my lonesome as with most other times, I recall hearing her name, parting from the lips of friends and strangers not too long ago, the word floating about in the room like a whiff of an unsettled promise, an afterthought, a whisper not to be dictated neither by the flurry of the afternoon wind nor by the stillness of the evening, and then something inside me starts to awaken and stir despite its innocuous state, or precisely because of it, gentle at first but pulsating with the bold eagerness of a moth drawn to the beauty of something as riveting and as dangerous as fire. I surrender myself to this inner flame, and I feel warm.
That is probably where I belong — in the heat of things.
I have learned to reverse, or unsettle, the natural order, or at least I have tried to turn the world on its head, so that I can jump straight to the happily ever after part and skip the once upon a time standing in my way. Beginnings have their own promises, but I no longer believe in them. I tried. For quite a while, I did. But then again, I have finally understood what they say about promises, or expectations. Permanence, too, is a convenient excuse. The unforgiving truth is that everything changes, some quicker than others, from our preferences down to the smallest of things that irritate us in some way. Like living, or having to live just to wait. Life I can endure even if it is its own punishment, the waiting not so much. Not anymore. So I try to seize whatever I can, take it as though no one else will, and if someone else does, I let the world split itself asunder, for life has left with me with no other choice but to fight tooth and nail. Gone are the days of the kindness that I once knew. They have set like the sun long ago, once upon a time.
We live in a world of contradictions. I have learned that people will tell you one thing and yet, in the same breath, do the exact opposite. We are capable of performing miracles, only the type that no one really wants, like making a fool out of someone. People will make you want them, desire them, and then discard you, dispatch you with haste because there are so many of us, dispensable creatures that we are, and yet there is so little time for their ilk to sample the rest of our species. Trust is passé, it seems. Guilt is flat, unconvincing, like breakfast when you are down with the flu. And again I remember her, the only truth I have known, and I cannot help but question how she remains possible in a world that thrives on deceit, feeds on contempt with an insatiable hunger, the kind that does not leave the bones behind. How many of her kind are left, I do not know. I wish I knew so that my life would be easier, more forgiving than fate would allow, finding comfort in the assurance that this world of contradictions is yet to run out of kindred souls.
I have learned, or I like to think that I have, and in the course of it all I have learned myself, for here I am and this is what I have become: a man conjuring a belated defense for a cause equally late and lost it begs not to be found, preferably forgotten in ways so profound that no one, not even I, will ever remember again, sparing nothing, certainly not the reason why I cling to my memories in the first place, as though I have always walked this earth with my past in front, ahead of everything else, casting the longest of shadows where my feet will have to land themselves so that I may, at least and at last, dignify my solitude to a respectable level by moving forward. Always forward, even if it means that I have to be ahead of myself.
This is a life too lonely I have to learn many things, but I am yet to learn how to forget. I survived unprepared, and so I must suffer.