Isn’t it funny how particular sentences from books or poetry just jump out at me and bring tears to my eyes? They make me cry when nothing else can.
There are instances when I think that I can’t feel anything anymore. And then I start reading and then invariably I will come across a string of words that will make my throat close up, make my eyes well with tears, and make me feel like my heart is being torn in two.
Words are the only things that can stir this kind of reaction within me. Nothing else, not even music, not even pictures or movies, can even compare.
So I send my thanks to all the authors and poets who tirelessly write and selflessly share the magic of their craft to the world. Without the pages I hold in my hands, without the lines of black print that I devour with my eyes, I might have forgotten that I had a heart.
I stared at the paragraphs I wrote, frowned at them, and then balled up the paper and tossed it out the window in silent rage. I had an essay due for creative writing class, but couldn’t seem to write anything worth reading these days.
My sudden spike of anger was replaced with worry the moment I remembered my school’s strict anti-littering policy. I grabbed my things, then headed to the window to pinpoint where exactly I’d dropped it. Since the paper had my name on it, I would be instantly incriminated.
That’s when I saw the boy. Alone, silent and unmoving, wispy dark hair haloed by a shaft of sunlight.
You know what I find insanely attractive?
It’s a boy with a book in his hands. There’s just something so mesmerizing about watching them read.
Turning the pages slowly, their fingertips lingering on certain lines. The way their brows furrow in thought. The way their lips are pursed in concentration or sometimes moving slightly, reading along.
Just completely, wholly, utterly absorbed in the book.
That was how I first saw him, and at that moment I knew he had to be mine.
He was completely innocent to my territorial thoughts – as I said, he was lost in the book.
The boy was sitting in the middle of an empty football field in late afternoon. He was biting into a red-gold apple thoughtfully, wearing a fitted white v-neck t-shirt and worn-out jeans, his Vans scuffed at the heels. There was a hardbound copy of Lovecraft stories propped up on his knee, and his grey eyes would glint and cloud at intervals as he read.
I looked down at my own copy of the book and caressed its embossed cover, smiling to myself. We seemed so different from each other, but it appeared as though we had our similarities.
I was darkness and he was light, but like the sun and the moon during an eclipse, we had to come across each other’s paths at some point.
I observed him as he read for about an hour before I reluctantly had to leave, my earlier mistake forgotten completely. I was hoping that it wouldn’t be the last time I would see him – and, of course, at that time, I didn’t know that he had read the discarded essay I was working on and he was watching me as well.
He was waiting for me the next time I saw him, and he had an extra apple which he tossed to me as I approached.
We didn’t speak, we just opened our books and read until it was too dark to see. Only then did we lie back down on the grass and watch the sky, an intense conversation flowing between us as effortlessly as a stream of blood from a cut.
I became his, and he became mine. Soon we grew as obsessed with each other as much as we were obsessed with books. We’d devour each other as often as we could, usually behind bookshelves in book stores or in the dusty nooks of the library. We’d emerge every time, limbs and throats and lips flushed with bitemarks and the beginnings of bruises, armfuls of new books to read cradled to our chests.
And we were happy, so very happy. Or at least, it was what we thought happiness was like.
But then one day, all of a sudden, I decided that I didn’t want him anymore and he didn’t take it too kindly.
What was he going to do without me?, he asked. He said it was unfair of me to make him fall for me and then drop him when it became inconvenient.
We were in his room at the time, I was sitting on his bed with a stack of books I’d brought over to return. All around his room were traces of me – my black hoodie hung on the back of his computer chair, handwritten notes and drawings tacked on his cork board, my picture as his PC’s desktop background.
And of course, my books. Hard-bound books, paperbacks, comic books with glossy pages, manga written in their original Japanese characters.
I rose to leave, but he stopped me. He slapped me hard across the face and I stared up at him, my hand on my cheek and a shocked look in my eyes. I was too surprised to react.
He was the one who started crying.
I love you, he said. I love you because you don’t even blink when I sink my teeth into you until I start tasting blood on my tongue. I love the way you breathe in your sleep, the way you eat cereal in the morning, and the way you study me obliquely when you think I’m not watching. I love the careful way you verse your thoughts, the way you stare at my lips, then at my eyes, then at my lips again when you want me to kiss you.
I don’t know what made you stop wanting me, but if you leave me now, know this – I am never going to stop looking for you. I will be on the hunt for you, and the next time we cross paths, I will be taking you home with me. But not as a lover, but as a hunter with his prey.
I lie on my back with my face turned towards the stars. Their elusive twinkling is at the same time magnified and blurred by the tears that form in my eyes. It makes me laugh a little that I am oddly coherent, now that my life is rapidly slipping away. And then I think I hear a crunch of deliberate footsteps – I think I see a wavering shadow fall over my broken body.
And he is there, as if he has never left.
I’ve been searching for so long, he whispers.
In one hand, he carries a knife. It’s the same knife that was embedded in my stomach and chest just moments ago, before I pushed him off and managed to blindly run a few meters before he caught up with me again. I touch my side briefly, trying to find a spot that is not wet with blood, but my trembling fingers smear and stain with brilliant crimson.
He cradles my head in his lap and smooths the hair away from my face, and he gazes down at me calmly. His eyes are grey like a drizzled morning, his smile is gentle and unwavering. His fingers trail down my cheek and stop at my lips. He strokes my lower lip gently, painting it red with the blood trickling from the side of my mouth.
Let’s go home, he says. He brushes his lips over my eyelids to close them, and he whispers the final words that act like enchantments that make my heart stop pumping and my lungs stop drawing in air.
You will always find your way back to me.
It’s like an eclipse, remember? He points up to the unnaturally dark sky, and he smiles. No matter how far away we are from each other, we are bound to cross paths at some point.
And at that moment, sudden clarity struck me that this was it, my full eclipse – but unlike the eclipse happening in the sky above us, this was one I would never emerge from.
(Image sourced from Tumblr.)