She left me scattered. Every single time. Disassembled. Like the devastation left in the wake of a blissfully uncaring child running through a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that had just been painstakingly put together yet again. And all she had to do was show up.
We would go on smoke breaks, she and I. She would call and I would drop everything I was doing just so I could have those 5 minutes with her. As she lit up, I would drink her in from head to toe. Her lips, with that tantalizing red lipstick, wrapping around the cigarette and the hollow of her neck getting deeper as she sucked on it. The tattoo on her neck stretching as she tilted her head and let the smoke drift out. Her delicious ass jutting out as she stood there nonchalantly with one leg bent at the knee and a hand on her hip.
“My ass!” she would say, in response to something she didn’t agree with. And I would see the corner of her lips rising up and her liquid brown eyes twinkling with amusement at what she knew would follow.
“You know I love it.”
“I think you should really stop saying that and just do it.”
I wanted her to. In the beginning, I wanted to fuck her. Like an animal. Like in that song by Nine Inch Nails. Two minutes of flirting and standing really close to her would have me wet and unable to focus on anything else but her. It took everything I had to not snatch that cigarette from her lips, push her against the wall and let go. I wanted to suck that lipstick off her lips, tattoo her neck with purple hickeys and have her wrap her legs around me as I raked her back with my nails. In my head it was violent and good. Fuck, it was good.
Then one day, I stayed over at her house. We got drunk. Her boyfriend left and her roommates went to bed. We stayed up. It was about 3 in the morning. She was desperately trying to find a light. I helped for a bit. Then, as she sat there wondering what to do next, I bent down and kissed her tattoo. That wretched thing had been calling out to me since the moment I first saw it.
“I want a light.”
“I just kissed your neck. And that’s all you have to say?”
“That’s because I’m focused on finding a light!”
I let it go. She found her light and I sat next to her while she smoked. I couldn’t resist. I kissed her on her cheek. Kept on kissing without any idea about what was happening and where I was going with it.
“You do realize that you’re close to my lips, right?”
I stopped while she took another drag. It should’ve hit me right then that she was all tease and no tongue. But hormones and alcohol had me like a puppet on strings.
I finished my drink and she finished her smoke. She wanted to go to bed. Sleep. I didn’t because I was still hoping to pick up where I had left off. Right next to her lips. So before I switched the lights off, I took a shot.
“I want to kiss that tattoo of yours.”
She looked at me. Said nothing. She continued sitting at the same spot on her bed and waited. I switched the lights off and made my way to her in the dark. I kneeled down in front of her and kissed her neck. Slowly, flicking my tongue over her Calvin Klein’s Euphoria drenched neck and breathing her scent in, I worked my way up to that soft spot behind her ear.
“Are you giving me a hickey?”
“It feels like you are.”
I stopped. Again. And before I could say or do anything else, the litres of liquid I had consumed kicked in. Nature, sometimes, has no bloody sense of timing. I came back to find her fast asleep.
A few weeks after that, I confessed to her that I might be falling for her. She seemed a little shocked but took it quite well. Stood there and asked me how, why and when. Comforted me when the tears came spilling out. I cried. Partly because I knew that she had forced me to acknowledge and accept for the first time in my life the fact that I liked women. And partly because, I guess, somewhere deep inside I knew that we would never be. The real kicker, however, was that she never said she didn’t want to be with me. She kept repeating that she couldn’t. And that she had a boyfriend.
From then on, it became some sort of a game. Push, pull, push. Flirt, stop, flirt, reproach, flirt. To her credit, she drastically reduced her flirting, but nevertheless let most of the things I said pass with a smile and a shake of her head. But I wanted to know. She had not even dumped one boyfriend before moving on to another. And it pissed me off that I had no idea where I stood with her.
“Go out with me.”
“Because I really like him.”
“But you like me too.”
“Maybe if I had not met him.”
That day, I didn’t pursue it any further, satisfied with what I heard for the time being. But inevitably, the conversation continued yet again after many months. This time, I decided to give it one last shot after the many half-attempted ones in between.
“If there’s a maybe, I think we should give it a chance.”
“But I don’t want to. It’ll spoil everything we have.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I like you too much.”
“But I like what we have. Whatever it is.”
“What do we have? Are we friends?”
“I don’t know what it is. But I don’t have it with anyone else.”
“If you don’t know what we have and even your boyfriend thinks that you completely change when you are with me, then I’m guessing there’s something worth exploring.”
“I want us to be friends. I don’t feel that way about you.”
“How do you know how you feel if you’ve never been with a woman before?”
“Can we please just stay friends? I want you to get over me.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“You have to. You’re my best friend.”
Right at that moment, I thought I could do it. Be just friends. Get over her. At least I’ll have her in my life one way or another, right?
The mixed signals didn’t stop. The tease continued. And the looks and the smirks. And of course, the boyfriend. He worked in the same office as the both of us. So now, I had to deal with seeing both of them leave together. And know that she was going back to his place and not mine.
She sent me on an emotional roller coaster every now and then. I was bounced around like a rag doll being dragged behind a kid. And the mood swings. Anger, frustration, hopelessness. Everything that I had pushed deep down, like all the extra clothes stuffed into a closet, was threatening to tumble back out and bury me. It was simmering inside, slowly bubbling up.
And it all finally exploded on New Year’s Eve. I was tired of the anger. The crying. Her blowing hot and cold time and time again. I decided I had to walk away. This time for real. I left her house after yet another fight. Walked. Cleared my head. Found those words I needed, the ones I had to say. And I took my phone out. Typed it out and sent.
“I’m sorry. I don’t think I can be around you anymore.”
It didn’t take very long for her to text back. A reply that was as cold as ever.
“Fine. But I’m going to need an explanation at some point of time.”
I didn’t bother replying. Because then, one thing was suddenly very, very clear. Something that had often bothered me but had never been obvious enough to stand out like a blood red beacon in the fog. Something she never once did.
She never asked me to stay.