A STORY OF LOST LOVE
I’m gonna text her. I’m gonna do it. No more procrastination. Come on.
There I sat, at 2:54 AM, wide awake. My phone and I were having a staring contest. And I was losing. I knew exactly what I was going to write. In fact, I had known it for almost six months now. Every night that my insomnia was keeping me up, I’d repeat the words over and over in my head. At first, I had meant for them to be spoken out loud, in real life and straight to her face. But the days went by and every time a chance for me to talk to her presented itself I’d back out at the last second. I just looked at her as she passed me and when she was out of reach, I cursed myself and mentally punched a wall.
But this was it. The moment. After all those wasted chances, all the time that had gone by, I was finally convinced to send her the words that I had rearranged and corrected over and over again in my head. I finished my whisky, put out my cigarette and reached for my phone. In a couple of minutes, I’d have sent my short novel of a text message. I’d go to sleep, forget about everything and then in the morning I’d wake up and read her answer. No dreading, no waiting, just sleep in between. Beautiful.
I started writing. I poured my heart and soul into this one life-changing text, perfecting it to the point of complete and utter satisfaction. Not a single word was missing or misplaced, not a single grammatical mistake to be found. It was perfect. But then, just when I was about to hit send, the song playing on my speaker changed and I hesitated. It was The Night We Met by Lord Huron. The exact same song that had been playing at the bar I’d taken her after our first date. We had danced to it and when it had ended, we had asked the barkeeper to play it again. It was magical. At the end of our third dance, when people started asking for different songs, we finished our drinks and went outside. It was a beautiful warm summer night and above us, the stars were glimmering like a million fireflies. I turned my head to look at her. I took it all in, her raven hair, her perfect lips and her blue eyes that were only dimly illuminated by the light of a street lamp. She must have noticed that I was staring at her because she abruptly turned her head and looked right into my eyes. Then she smiled. Never before in my life had I seen such an innocent and honest smile. A shiver ran down my spine, I wanted to hold on to that moment forever. And then, as if an invisible power was guiding me, I kissed her. It wasn’t a kiss of lust, nothing animalistic or primal. It was a kiss of love. The kind that burns itself into one’s mind and stays there until the end of time. The kind that makes time stop and lets one forget about everything else. It was the most beautiful moment of my life. Sadly, it really was only a moment. Out of nowhere, she pushed me away with the force of a bull. I was pulled out of my daydream and that despicable thing called reality punched me right in the face. The light of the street lamp blinded me as I stood there, dumfounded, staring at this angel-like creature in disbelief. What the hell was going on? I couldn’t grasp what had just happened and in my confusion I couldn’t even manage to open my mouth. It felt like someone had set the silver screen on fire that was showing a hollywood love scene. I started seeing black spots and felt dizzy. But before I had even sat down, she was gone.
So when that song started playing, taking me back to that night, I knew that I couldn’t just send her a text. I had to man up and look her in the eye. Words of love shouldn’t be digital. And I knew damn well what I had to do. Fuck, I’d known it for almost six months now.
The following days went by as usual: I would go to work and during lunch break, I’d see her walk past me. Every time my whole body was aching to get up and confront her. I’d look at her from the moment she walked into the room till she got to the door and left again. However, she didn’t even seem to notice me. She gave me nothing. No smile, no look, not the slightest glance. It was as if I was nothing more than air to her. Nevertheless, I knew that she was aware of my gaze. What the fuck was I doing? Six months had passed since that night and I still couldn’t get myself to talk to her. Hell, if she’d ever had feelings, they were surely gone by now. She probably barely remembered my name. And then it hit me: She probably barely remembers my name. Damn it, I had nothing to lose. All that time I’d just been sitting and staring, overthinking the whole thing, when in reality I had absolutely nothing to lose. So, on the fourth day after my sleepless night I confronted her. When she entered the break room I didn’t just sit and stare, no, I got up and went over to her. She was wearing a red shirt and tight black pants. Her raven hair hung loosely over her shoulders and I could smell the heavenly scent of her perfume from halfway across the room. It intoxicated me and for a moment, I felt paralyzed. Then my whole body started shaking and I could hear my heart pounding. Was I seriously nervous? I had played out this exact scenario in my head time and time again. The words I was going to say were stacked up in my throat like a loaded machine gun. All I had to do was pull the trigger. I tried to breathe calmly as I closed in on her but it didn’t help. However, I didn’t want to back away now. And it was too late for that anyway because she turned her head towards me. Fuck. She saw me. Alright, you can do this. I smiled awkwardly, swallowed my fear and took the remaining steps to her table.
“Hi” I stuttered.
“Hello, Lars. How are you?” She asked. She was smiling now. It wasn’t the same smile as on that night. Nevertheless, it was kind and warm and completely overwhelmed me. I didn’t expect her to be so friendly and forward. Don’t get distracted now! I composed myself and locked my eyes on hers.
“Leah, I think you know what this is about. I’ve finally worked up the courage to talk to you about that night six months ago. Now, I’m aware that this comes way too late but I just had to get some closure. I really thought there was something between us back then. So I was obviously a bit surprised when you pushed me away and just left. Could you explain to me why you did that? I’m not mad at you because of what happened, I’d just like to hear your side of the story.” My voice was firm but calm. Or at least I imagined it to be. For all I knew I probably sounded like a broken record player. Whatever I had sounded like, she seemed to be somewhat impressed with my little speech. Leah didn’t say anything, she just sat there, looking at that pathetic worm standing in front of her. Seconds passed before my eyes. Seconds that felt like hours. The silence grew unbearable. At some point I could hear it. Yeah. I heard the silence. It was loud like an unrelenting storm, thrashing against my face. After an infinity of moments she finally opened her mouth. But she didn’t speak. No, she laughed. Loudly. Hysterically. She looked like a crazy person having a stroke. The noise of silence was gone, it had been replaced by high-pitched laughter that was pounding on my eardrums like a sledgehammer. I was suddenly painfully aware of my situation: I was being laughed at by the girl I had been dreading to confront for half a year. I mean, there couldn’t have been a worse reaction. It was like a kick in the nuts. And right then I realized that I did have something to lose after all.
“And then what happened?” Edward glanced at me from across the table. We were having a drink at our regular bar Whisky and You and I was fresh out of booze.
“Well, what do you think? She got up and left, leaving me alone with the soothing embrace of my self-pity.” When I had finished my oh so poetic sentence I, too, got up and left. Well, I went to the counter to order another scotch. As soon as I had returned to our booth Edward opened his mouth.
“Don’t get me wrong but there’s something I don’t quite understand. You went out on one date with this girl, kissed her once and then didn’t talk to her for half a year. How the hell are you still so hung up on her? I mean, you’ve been on a first date with a girl before without there having been a second one and never in my life have I seen you this upset about such an occasion.” He looked at me with a serious face. Edward knew me quite well and I was sure that he’d immediately see through a half-assed explanation. Therefore, I had to try my best to make him understand my situation.
“This time it was different,” I began, “all the girls I’ve dated or been on dates with before Leah had had an interest in me. They had all come up to me first. But with Leah, it was me who had an interest in her. I initiated the contact. I asked her out. And I did it because from the first moment I saw her I knew, I just knew that I’d have to at least try my luck with her. It wasn’t love at first sight or anything like that, you know I don’t believe in that hollywood shit. However, there was definitely something there. A spark, if you will. And I think I’m still so hung up on her because I didn’t expect her to reject me. This sounds mighty cocky, I’m aware, but I was honestly surprised. I guess you could say that she’s the one.”
“The one?” He asked, astonished by my usage of a term that definitely belonged into my hollywood shit category.
“Not the one in that sense. More like the one that got away. You know, the person you will secretly love for the rest of your life even though you are sure that the two of you will never actually be together.”
I was quite content with my explanation so I leant back in my seat, put one arm on the back and took a sip of my scotch. Edward seemed to be somewhat satisfied with what I had said too, for he emptied his by now fourth beer and burped loudly. I barely heard it, though. My brain was clear of every thought and I slowly sank into the sound of Tracy Chapman’s voice, wailing out of a jukebox that had definitely seen better days.
Drip, drip, drip, went the water tap, relentlessly dripping underneath my sweat-bathed face. I was staring into the mirror of the bar’s bathroom, not recognising the man that was staring back at me. He seemed old and tired. The worry lines on his forehead were far too visible for his otherwise young exterior. I stared at him in contempt. Fuck you. Fuck you, you miserable piece of shit. How hard can it be to just live life? How fucking hard can it be, huh? You asshole. No response. I hated him with all my heart. That fucking loser. What the fuck did he know? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Drip, drip, drip, went the water tap.
“Another, please,” I said to Nick, the bartender.
“Are you sure? You’ve had quite a few drinks already.”
I fixed my eyes on his. Couldn’t he see that I needed this?
“I’m sure, Nick. My life is a fucking mess right now and my job’s a drag. Scotch is the only thing in this world that can bring me comfort right now,” I replied.
“Alright,” I heard him say. He poured me another drink and then looked at me with a troubled expression.
“Say,” he began, “have you ever thought about tending bar?” He asked suddenly.
I looked up from my drink. Of course I had. It had been my dream for most of my youth to have a bar of my own.
“Because there’s a job opening up here. It’s yours if you want. Maybe a change of scenery wouldn’t be the worst for you,” Nick said with a kind smile.
“Well smack my ass and call me Judy,” I exclaimed. “I’ll take it!”
“Great! You start in two weeks.”