Dear Subconscious (Those were your words, not mine)

“Well, do you ever still think about us? About what we shared?” Her tone is somewhat insouciant, but a subtle curiosity clings to the back of everything she says. Her words settle for a few moments while I put a Marlboro Gold in my mouth and light it. My heart thumps against my chest slowly but powerfully. Not a combination I recall experiencing before. Each beat surges through my torso.

I let out smoke through my nostrils.
“Do you?” I eventually respond with my eyes on the potted areca palm in front of me.
She crosses one stretched leg over the other, swirling the water around her. I’m sat on the edge of the bathtub. We’re in complete darkness save for the candles she lit.
“I used to all the time,” she begins after a thought. “It’s because you left a deep, deep impression on me. Kind of like how an owner of cattle might press a branding iron onto the flesh of his livestock. You were the one who gave me my first taste of love. Or at least what I thought love was. How perfect was that summer we first met. When was it now?…”
“It was 2003.”
“Yes, that was it. Doesn’t feel like four years ago, does it?”

She raises her arms to the sides of the tub. Then she extends her right leg, drips of water and bubbles slithering down from her foot to her thigh, back into the water. She then bends the leg, bringing it close to herself.

“Anyway. Remind me again how we met exactly. I know you must have replayed that moment in your head over and over after I’d left you.”
I blow out smoke and say nothing. Without looking, I can feel her glaring powerfully at me. It’s difficult to tell whether she’s being playful with the remark, or if she’s being slyly devious. Despite her sustained nonchalance, though, I still feel those echoes of curiosity around the room.

“I ran into Adriana, and you were with her. It was a quick hi-bye but even within that small space of time, I was slightly awestruck by the look you gave me… your smile, your eyes, I thought you looked amazing.” I stop here, contemplating motionlessly. “So the same day, I insisted that she gave me your number.”
I toss the end of the Marlboro Gold out through the small window.

“It didn’t take two days for me to receive a call from you. What immediately interested me is that you saw what you wanted, and pursued it. You and I then met three days later. From the first day, everything was so natural. I felt I could open myself and not worry about what pours out in front of you. You gave me that kind of space. A space which I could share with you and be entirely myself, a space where I didn’t feel as though I needed to suppress parts of myself. And as much as I offered you the same space, you were hesitant, never wanted to pour yourself out. Though I hadn’t realised this at the start.”

I mull over her words. She’s right. Simply put, she was willing to give me all of her when, on the other hand, I gave her hardly anything. She continues.

“Our first months were as bliss as that first summer we spent together. Then problems between us started to arise, mostly due to your passiveness and lack of effort. We were so young. We could have grown together.”

She pulls in her other leg and submerses her body in the water, arms are crossed over the stomach I used to lay my head on.
Casually she asks me if I remember our first kiss. Amidst the dimness of the room, I know her eyes are low and her face bares a faint smile of pleasant reminiscence. She made me wait so long for that kiss. We saw each other almost daily through the summer, and it wasn’t until one mid-autumn evening that she eventually allowed me to kiss her. We’d gone to a restaurant. She wore a crimson red dress which made her stand out like a rose beneath the brightly moonlit sky. We were having so much that we’d lost track of time and her mother called.

Reaching the corner from where she stayed, we stood under the gleaming moon clutching onto one another, sharing a few last words and smiles. We both didn’t want the night to end. I could feel it in her embrace. We looked each other in the eyes and said nothing for a short while. She then drew closer to me slightly with narrowed eyes. I also drew close, and gently laid my lips against hers. It was all euphoria. My hands caressed her amorously as we kissed with flaming passion. We didn’t want to pull away. But she had to go.

Yes. Flaming passion, she says after a long silence. I sigh and reach for a cigarette, and she asks me for one.
“You don’t smoke.”
“I do, actually.”
“That’s a shame. You hated that I was a smoker and said you’d never become one.”
“That was a whole four years ago. I’m not the same young girl anymore. Times change, people change.”
I edge closer to her, she sits up and sticks her neck forward. Then, struggling to make out any details of her face, I put a cigarette to her lips, and light it saying,
“I guess the real shame is the fragility of human consistency.”
She exhales and retorts with,
“Humans are bound to change though. It’s something we can’t afford to see as a shame because it’s a human condition. Maybe what the shame is, is the existence we are born into without choice of condition. We grow, and our perceptions widen. As time moves on and as we find ourselves in different situations, we all go through our own personal natural metamorphosis which is likely to contradict or drastically alter from previous natures of ours. Whether its’s our opinions and views, the way we carry ourselves, our character, habits, likes, dislikes, whatever it is, we change.”

A quietness follows. The burning candles flicker. She appears to be brooding over what she said with just as much regard as I am.  Raising herself to a standing position, water and bubbles stream down her slender form. She gives her light brown hair a backstroke, then drains the water and steps out of the bathtub. I stare at the areca as she carefully dries herself down next to me with fine grace. Placing the towel back, she loosely wraps herself in a bathrobe.

“Thanks for coming over, by the way. It’s been a pleasure,” she mentions with her back turned to me and her hand on the bathroom door. She opens it and light pierces through the dark of the room. I look up and see her silhouette.
“Wait. Before you head off, tell me what you meant by you used to think about us. When did you stop?” This utterance flows from my mouth half consciously.

“What I meant? Those were your words. Not mine.”
“What?” I have no clue what she means by this. She walks through the door and the beam of light slowly thins until it’s completely gone.

Now the room is pitch black. I can’t see a single thing. For some unknown reason, my shirt feels damp. I sat right on the edge, no water got on me, I say to myself confused. Feeling down my shirt, I realise it’s not just damp but in fact drenched. I begin to smell the distinct odour of blood. At this, my stomach sinks into itself, and my heart restarts its’ violent thumping, only much faster. What could have possibly happened, I’ve been sat right here. Questions hail in my mind as I try to stand up. My head throbs and spins that I can barely balance. My entire body feel weak, and it burns. Loud ringing in my ears. I clutch my stomach with one hand and feel around with the other in the darkness. I can’t see a thing.

“Cheers for blowing out those candles, I forget!” I hear her shout from another room. Candles? I didn’t blow out her candles. My brain throbs with more intensity at my puzzlement. I begin to feel myself slowly slipping into unconsciousness, too much blood is being lost. I fall to the ground with a thud. Then I try to call for her, but my voice and chest are too frail to produce any sound above a mumble. My breathing becomes lighter and more painful. Those were your words. Not mine. What? I think of death, but refuse the notion of it taking me in such an unexplained way. If only I could see, if only I had some light. Immobilised and dying, I give up, putting both of my arms across my stomach. I now feel a chill. I’m cold and wet.

*

I open my eyes and I am darkness. Turning myself over in my bed, I read the digital clock on the desk next to me. 04:22AM. I drop my head back onto the pillow and let out a sigh. My mouth is dry. And my t-shirt is cold and wet. I remove the covers and head to the bathroom. I’m soaked in sweat, what kind of dream was I having, I think to myself.  I place my t-shirt and night shorts inside the washing basket. Then I look at myself in the mirror, then to the bathtub, at which I pause curiously. Those were your words. Not mine. I begin to recall a bathtub having some significance to the dream I just woke from, but I can’t figure out why. The dream is gone from me now.

Unable to sleep I stay up trying to remember my dream. After some forced contemplation I recall very few details, but I at least remember who was in the bathtub. She was sat cosily in the tub, and I sat at its’ edge.

Why did I  dream of her though? I haven’t seen her in years. I don’t even think about her anymore. I used to all the time. She left a deep, deep impression me.
I guess though even though times and people change, the subconscious will always store away memories and desires that you once experienced. No matter how much you change, every once in a while, maybe a long while, the subconscious – through dreams or random recollections or whatever – will remind you of what you once were, once had, once lived.

Those were my words, not hers.

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Thanks for reading. Criticisms and feedback are very welcome. Some recent works in the drafts that needs editing, I promise I won’t always muse my love loss, haaa

Something Sweet, Something Tender (The Move)

“And that’s the last one.” I say, releasing a lengthy sigh of relief.
“Fantastic!” she says merrily. “Could I get you something to drink?”
I ask her for a glass of water. While she’s in the kitchen, my attention is caught by a box labelled ‘Vinyls’. I reach into the box and retrieve the vinyl record on top. A copy of Eric Dolphy’s ‘Out to Lunch!’

“Here you are.” she says, handing me a chilled glass of water.
“Thanks.” I gulp down half its contents.
“I’m making supper. It’ll be ready in a little while. You’re not in a rush, are you?”
I shake my head. “I’ve got time.” I say with a smile.
“Great. I know there’s not a lot to do, but feel free to rummage through whatever. Or have a look at the rest of the house if ya like. The garden’s pretty decent, too.”

The afternoon summer sun spills its rays through the Venetian blinds and smears a handsome orangey hue about the almost empty living room. All the room encompasses is two small mahogany sofas, a coffee table, and in one corner, a stockpile of hefty boxes filled with her belongings.

I was introduced to her two days ago. She works for the same company as me, but I’d never met her until then, as she’s much further up the employee hierarchy than myself. The company produces high-quality household furniture and products, and sells them to luxury brands. I began working there almost four months ago as a Sales Administrator. She, on the other hand, is one of the supervisors, and is in the process of moving out of her old apartment to this one. My supervisor, Hector, was helping her with the heavy lifting and transporting, but could no longer do so when his sister was hospitalised two days earlier. I’m sorry to bail out on you like this so suddenly, but hey, you know what? he said, I’ve got someone on my team – a youthful and pleasant fella who I’m sure wouldn’t mind giving you a hand. I’ll introduce you to him at the end of his shift.

She asked extremely politely and even said she would pay me; I couldn’t bring myself to say no – I had no reason to, even. And besides, I find her very beautiful. She must be in her early thirties but she could pass for twenty-five. Clear skin glazed with a natural tan, a longish but nicely chiselled face, silky black hair trickling down to her shoulders, and a comely build. Her eyes are an unmissable stark green. Gorgeous, beguiling eyes. She has this pleasantly jubilant air about her. She immediately appealed to me when I was first introduced to her.

The smell of her cooking begins to waft in from the kitchen like a friendly ghost, and only is it then when I realise how hungry I really am. She opens up a box and pulls out a painting of a tiger crouched majestically by a tree. Her eyes slowly pan around the room as she looks for a suitable place to hang the painting.

Once the food is cooked, she serves us both and invites me to the table. The kitchen is on the small side, and she has all her furniture installed already. A little but very opulent, contemporary-style dinner table rests in one corner with two matching chairs.

Grilled bonito, spiced potatoes with peppers and caramelised onions. It tastes just as good as it looks. “Feel free to help yourself to more if you’d like. I know how much boys your age eat. Besides, I’ve made you lift my heavy stuff all day, you must be starved.” she says.

“This,” I confess to her. “is delicious!” She laughs and thanks me.
“Oh! How could I forget?” she says suddenly, rising to her feet. “Drinks.” she pulls out a bottle of red wine from the fridge and pours us a glass each, then places the bottle on the dinner table.

A brief silence dawdles between us.
“So, Lance, right? – Tell me about yourself! You know, other than that you work for HCS, too.” she says, then laughs a little. I’ve never been any good at answering this question. For a moment I feel to lie about some things to try make myself sound like a remotely interesting character, but I don’t.
“Well, I’m 20 years old. Dropped out of university after my first year.”
“Really? What course were you doing?”
“I was doing Law in Journalism.”
“Journalism, eh? How come you dropped out, wasn’t for you?” she sips at her wine.
“Nah. Far too much law involved. I don’t know what I was expecting, really.” I guess I just wanted to do a course which made me sound somewhat clever, I almost say aloud. She lets out a small, monosyllabic laugh and says nothing.
“After that, I managed to hitch a job in a Turkish restaurant, but I got fired within two months of working there.” No, I didn’t get fired, I quit. That’s basically what I am, a quitter. When things get a little hectic or heavy, I run away and find something else to give up on. Again, I don’t say this out loud (for fairly obvious reasons).

“Oh, darn. That’s a shame.” she utters whilst covering her mouth, chews, then says, “Then?”
“Then I did virtually nothing for a few months. I tried to learn how to play the flute. My uncle owns one. But I was no good at it, and I figured what’s the point of learning to play with no one to play to, you know?” I take in a mouthful.
She smiles. “You shouldn’t have quit! I would’ve listen to you play. I like the flute. It’s relaxing.”
“I guess so.” I say, glass in hand. “I also started teaching myself Spanish.”
“Ooh, no way!” she interjects with a degree of elation. “Teach me some, too.”
“Uhm–”
“Wait, let me guess – you gave up on that, too, right?” she laughs.

Her turn. She tells me about her fairly ordinary upbringing, and how she moved to New Zealand and lived with her sister for a year after she’d finished university. I hated it, so I came back, she says. Everything’s all different over there but in a subtle way. If I’m gonna go live abroad, I would prefer a tremendous change, so that way I could adjust to the difference in culture, climate, language and such. Somewhere I could basically start over. In New Zealand, though, I wasn’t quite sure what I was meant to adjust to or how to react to anything. It was like being invited to the house of a friend of a friend. Weird, I know. I can’t explain it all that well.

We sit at the dining table for a while longer, drinking wine and sharing a conversation about nothing in particular. We talk about various things; work, family, TV, books and life in general. It comes to a little after nine in the evening yet still the pair of us have not moved from the table. She gyrates the remaining sip or two of wine in her glass and says, “I’d better stop myself there if I’m going to be driving you home.”
I laugh a little. Peering at my watch, I tell her I can catch a taxi back. “It’s not far from here, and on a Thursday evening it shouldn’t be expensive. It’ll spare you the inconvenience of having to get out, too.”
“No, no, no! It’s no problem at all. Besides, I owe you.”