9th February, 2016

N. D

Dear You,

Have you ever watched a flame flicker to its death? Watched as it grew larger and larger, gasping for oxygen, until it fluttered out and left behind a glowing wick?

Go on, touch the wick. The flame will lick your fingers like warm water; but the wick snatches the skin from your bone.

My patience is flickering out, darling. I fear that by the time you get here (wherever here may be), there'll be nothing but scathing glances and fingers that refuse to touch your own and the sight of my retreating back.

I will never be indifferent to you, but I do have the capacity – and I mean this from the bottom of my heart – to despise You.

Don't get me wrong – I do not despise you. I despise You – the notion of a mythical lover, the other half of a splinched creature, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold, eyes to gaze into and hair to run my fingers through. The concept of You is possibly the most frustrating idea I've ever come across. I tried, I swear, to dispel You – to disprove and discard and find my own bearings in a series of misfortunes. But I've run so far, for so long; my feet are bleeding. Hope is a hard habit to shed..

I wonder what will remain of Me by the time, if at all, You come along.

This is the trouble with love stories – they never talk about how heart-wrenchingly difficult it is to be sold the idea of love at the age of eight and be left desolate as life charges on with everything it's got, while one holds on, praying that someday, their battle scars will redeem them in someone's eyes.

Or maybe that's just me thinking out loud – but then, I always had a flair for the melodramatic.

But you see the irony, don't you? Here I am, raging at you, and imploring you, and whispering to you and rejecting the very idea of you all at once – while strangers read these letters and pass on without a thought.

There's a strange sense of sadistic satisfaction in vilifying You by tossing your name in apathetic company. Because what I can't have, I will destroy. If you won't get here (wherever here may be) – I'll mock You in trivial letters and burn up in the fervour of caffeine fuelled dawns and trivial let-downs and toss the ashes like sand in prying eyes.

So dramatic – I love it.

Almost as much as I sometimes hope to love You.

I know I'm rambling – but do you know when one rambles? We ramble when we become accustomed to not being heard. Words lose their worth with no audience. And so I ramble – because it matters so little if you listen any more.

You weren't here when I was screaming for help. You weren't here when I was groaning in pain and muttering in fear. You weren't here when I picked myself up and brushed myself off and shuffled noisily back to a semblance of normalcy. I don't know what it's like to speak to You anymore – I only know Me.

I was dying. Drowning, fading, slipping away. Until I wasn't, anymore. And you were nowhere to be seen.

You never are.

My Sadness turned from a nebulous cloud to a muted blue to fine grey mist outside my window to a clinical affliction. I broke and shattered into pieces; I gathered myself again, or what was left of me, and brushed the dust under the carpet. I plucked apart my skin into fibres and wove them into something entirely different. I became Me, then another Me, then another Me – until my history became a jumble of contradictory narratives.

I became the Unreliable Narrator – I guess I've got you to thank for it.

The trouble lies with me – I see you in a well-meaning Best Friend who thinks ironing his cape is my destiny; I see you in Sincere Suitors who drop with approbation and empty promises, and worst of all – I see you in Charming Strangers who offer soothing words to a frantic heart and disappear at the first hint of a smile.

Oh, and by the way - I don't smile anymore; I pull my lips down and apart and arch my eyebrows. It's so carefully artificial - I look lovely.

The sheer absence of you fills my heart with lead, but my bones with steel. There is a strength in loneliness, that masquerades as solitude and cavorts in self-deprecating humour and general disinterest. It feels like hot flames that drench me in rage and desperation for merely a second, then flicker out to leave behind quietude and complacency.

Like white noise in the night. Like sleep laden on eyelids. Like a cup of lukewarm coffee.

Like me. Exactly like me.

Where the idea of You ends, the reality of Me begins. Or maybe it's the other way round.

Either way – dragging You through the mud gives me a sense of purpose that no amount of self-reconciliation can bring. You are my cross to bear, but You are my martyr, too.

While it seems like the glowing wick will tear your skin from your bone, when you do let go of it, it will leave behind a smudge and some ash and the slightest bit of pain. So anticlimactic – but the shock of it is worth a try.

Some caffeine fuelled mornings, I imagine that will be your reaction upon meeting me – shock and awe, then dismay and resentment. But then, two can play at this game. I've had my turn.

I said you were the One. I never said You were the Only.

Love,

Me