The cheers, the whistling, the joyful jostling consumed the room as the clock struck midnight and we were pushed, suddenly and violently, into 2020.
People were hugging, kissing, drunkenly singing Auld Lang Syne, slurring ‘happy new year’ into the phone, to their families miles away. Or just down the road, having a quiet one. We made our annual vows to make this year better, messier, louder, than the one that had just passed us by. In a blink.
We vowed to live our lives to the fullest, to travel the world, to quit our jobs, to cut people off, to make more money, to find love, to achieve things we hadn’t achieved over the last 365 days. We vowed… that this would be the year. Women in bathrooms telling each other they were too beautiful to let that man into 2020; leave him behind, you’re stunning, he doesn’t deserve you. Take my number, we should all go out one night.
The atmosphere was all joy; vodka, rum and whiskey sending sentiments sky high.
By the end of the night, strangers were sitting knee-to-knee, having wide-eyed conversations as they took shots together. Tequila, to melt away old memories and make space for new ones. The room softened and lines blurred.
‘2020 will be our year.’
What do you carry in that heart?
What is it that weighs you down? Why can you only smile so wide, and why is every laugh touched by sadness? Why do you sigh like that, and why do your shoulders drop when you hear bad news, and why can you move on so quickly, as if you were expecting it all to fail anyway?
You carry the weight of the world, and you carry the worlds of other people, and you carry the worlds of the people you no longer are.
We can only handle so much sadness until we crack; we can only find the answers to questions we understand. You take on the pain of other people and lock it away safely for them until one day your soul is clogged with anguish that you can’t even locate. You ignore your own pain and push it deep inside you to make room for others, for the new you that you’re desperate to maintain, and it gets lost behind boxes that don’t even have your name on them. How do you rip something out of you if you can’t even find it? It’s as if something has died behind the walls, under the floorboards, and nothing of it remains but the bad smell it leaves behind. And you find that everywhere. It lingers on your clothes, in your hair, and it threatens to drive away everything you love. It eats away at your strength and it fogs everything in front of you; all you want to do is run away from it and keep running, and you can’t stand still to appreciate what you have in front of you because you’re embarrassed. If you stand still long enough, they’ll see you for what you are.
‘Explain this to me. What the fuck happened?’
It’s 03:32am and we’re doing sixty down a forty. The roads are mostly empty, but I know this means we’ll be hearing police sirens any second now, and I don’t know how shady it’ll look when they open the door of a blacked out A3 to see two brown twenty-somethings with blood on the passenger seat. But I don’t tell Adam about the last part, because I want him to make it to the hospital alive without flipping the car.
I wouldn’t normally see a doctor for a cut, but I haven’t been able to move my hand for a while without fear of painting his seats red. I can’t feel my arm anymore and I think my fingers are about to fall off.
‘I don’t know, man,’ I sigh, too exhausted to even try to think about what happened. These days I just give myself a migraine trying to fill in the gaps; I can’t remember something I wasn’t there for. But I saw the marks on her neck, and what I do know is I did it again. I don’t know what else happened; we made up and fell asleep, we had sex, I think. She fell asleep again. I stayed up. Everything was fine. Then there was blood.
The lights outside are a blur.
Adam quickly looks down at the blood-soaked cloth I’m holding against my left palm, and his eyes keep darting to his seats, occasionally checking that I haven’t spilled any. I have.
‘Why the fuck…’ he mutters under his breath as he pushes his foot down on the accelerator, the engine growling. Read more
Earlier. Around 8pm.
‘Please, just fucking let me go,’ she said slowly, trembling, and making sure I heard every single word.
I didn’t want her to go and she knew it wasn’t me, I just wanted to calm her down. I – whoever that was – probably hurt her, but that wasn’t me. It was not me.
Still, she could’ve screamed. She could have shouted, banged on the walls so people heard her; she knew how thin these walls were. She could have had someone running to rescue the damsel in distress, but she didn’t want to be saved. Because she enjoyed this. She would always come back to me because she loves me. I barricaded the door and that was the last thing I remembered when I was there.
‘Please,’ I heard her whimpering. I blinked and I was no longer by the front door; I looked down and saw myself holding her against the wall by the bathroom, my hand wrapped around her throat. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face looked slightly swollen. Her body was stiff and unmoving, the way it is when you’ve given up fighting and you’re bracing yourself for the worst. It took me four seconds to register what my hands were doing and I immediately removed them from her neck, allowing her to scurry to the corner of the bed.
‘Fuck,’ I whispered, looking down at my hands.
‘Tell me what just happened, what did I do to you?’
They keep telling me that if I fall asleep, she’ll wake up in the middle of the night and leave me.
I’ve already noticed how she keeps her shoes and bag strategically by the door so she can run out as fast as possible and leave me here all on my own, which is why I always move them back by the foot of the bed. The table against the far wall is scattered with… things. Rolling papers, lighters, her phone, my wallet. I tap her phone to wake it up; a photo of us, smiling, lights up the screen. I laugh to myself as I remember how she begrudgingly replaced the picture of her favourite band. No notifications. That’s what I like to see. I swipe and enter the passcode anyway and open up messages to see the most recent ones.
Give me ten minutes. Make sure nobody sees you, and cover yourself.
LOOOOL slut. I’m gna tell them where u really are xx
Weariness starts to sting my eyes, so I lock her phone and walk into the bathroom to wash my face; the light is bright and harsh, so I push the door closed slightly so as to not disturb her. The lock is broken from where I kicked it in last week; she was crying and wouldn’t let me in. I run the tap and look up into the mirror, leaning on the counter with both hands.
I study my face. I had everybody after me. I had women dropping everything for me at the click of a finger, I had them whenever and wherever I wanted. Anybody I wanted would be mine, anything I wanted would be mine. I had money, I had looks, I had charm. I have had women fighting over me; I have had them betray their own friends for me. Women wanted me; men wanted me and wanted to be me. I run my finger across the scar on my left cheek; even my brothers were jealous of me. But she didn’t want me. She had no desire to know me, and I didn’t turn her head… so I had to have her. Nobody could say no to me, and I had to know why she was immune to my presence.
But I didn’t think I’d fall in love.
The air is balmy, musky, and heavy
You are the smoke floating into the air from between my fingers, enveloping my hands as I wistfully write about a love for which I desperately yearn. You are the droplets of water protesting the heat on the side of my half-empty glass, creeping down and leaving a print on my page, making the words bleed into one another. Maybe becomes yes. Soon becomes now. Want becomes need;
you becomes I.