Familiar Stories

You see, there’s this guy and his face lights up when I’m around. But he has green eyes and all these eyes do is remind me of yours.

Same mannerism, same flirting technique, the familiar feelings, but not the depth, just varnish, and the seduction is usually the easy part, with loosely tied strings that are even more easily untied and released. It’s always deeper knowledge that complicates things.

I entertain his illusion- I’m a great writer, don’t you know- and when we see each other, I banter, I blush, I look away- with half of it being genuine affect while the other half is, well, skilled writing. We cross paths, enjoy the thrills from a surface interaction and exchange nothing of substance; remaining strangers with just the tacit knowledge of some playful momentary attraction. From one day to the next it varies without notice, but it doesn’t bother me the way it might have had at another time. I leave things incomplete- I can’t say whether it’s only my doing or ours. The feeling that remains with me when I’m not in his presence is like smoke; most of it fades quickly, but a part still grips at the treads of my clothes on my way home. It doesn’t sink deeper, it has an acrid smell; the subtle scent of guilt and confusion that accompanies flirtations that never go anywhere.

It may be that I know not to be confounded by these feelings, or misconstrue them for affection; I can’t cheat myself that well, it’s my own reflection in his eyes I like. I am flattered, like an object. Along the way of playing my part in this game of seduction, I have convinced myself I’m not entirely cruel, not the way you used to be with me, because at least I’m not playing pretence; part of me could like him, but in the meantime, I just passively play the part of the unattainable target. I’m “me” at my best.

“I’m a journey, not a destination”, that’s what I keep telling myself. But, then again, there are no fools in this game; the both of us know it’s the only part he’s interested in. So I let the charade go on, and sometimes, I even get caught up in it. I let myself wonder whether I could actually let it burgeon, become something of substance, something to ground me… Paradoxically it’s what I’m most afraid of.

I get confused. Sometimes I’m troubled by the vision of a living ghost. Part of me wants to fall in the same traps just to revisit history, but what would be scarier: a writing a different story or relieving the same one?

It’s all trivial considerations; you don’t get to choose who you like, do you? Feelings are or are not, that’s the unfair thing about unrequited affections. In a sense, you could call it karma; the causality of one’s intent passed on someone else, like a turning wheel that never stops. Maybe he would make me happy. It would all be so easy, you see, like a much needed distraction from everything that took place a while ago, to wash you away from my memory. But would it be fair? And could I be the kind to try, just out of curiosity…

Things remain unsaid, undone; while he’s a blank page, one that is ready for writing, I feel like I’m a book full of pages that was left unfinished. I feel a more pressing need to complete my own story first. I’ve made the mistake to want to jump in too fast and tripping on my own feet; my past recklessness, its consequences, are still fresh in my mind. So it ends with me knowing that it’s always easier to love an illusion than to try anything with someone real. I let him chase me and I always slip away before his fingers can get a grasp of me. It keeps him going and me fleeing, and somehow I know the ending of these types of stories without having to read one line of them.

Image source: The Princess and the frog (2009), Disney
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