I wondered if they knew.
They looked so happy, like in that moment, they were infinite. I wondered if they knew it wouldn't last for very long. If they did, they didn’t show it. They reveled in the moment. They were okay that something was going on now. Noisy children, dogs and laughter.
Human beings don’t fascinate me. At least they don’t anymore. We’re predictable creatures, all of the time.
I knew how this was going to end. I was too blind to accept it. Flickering images. Memories I should let go of are the ones I cling to the most.
Is it loneliness if you choose to be alone? Probably not. I’m choosing to be alone. I’m choosing to sit on this park bench and observe. I don’t observe because I’m fascinated. I observe because I want to see if the pattern changes.
I wonder if they know happiness doesn’t last forever. If they do, they don’t show it. They’re so consumed by the now. Maybe they do, but they choose to be happy anyway.
I want to smash the invisible walls I can’t see into oblivion. I want it to disappear. Sometimes I want to disappear, but this time I want it to. I think maybe today is the day for human interaction, to be fascinated again at the prospect of happiness, but then I think again, maybe it isn’t.
The sun is shining brightly, way too brightly because it’ll be gone in approximately four hours and return the next day. It’s too bright for something so determined to disappear in the evening. When I was younger, I used to think it was beautiful watching the sun rise and set because I knew it would be there tomorrow. Now I feel tricked because it disappears and thinks it can show up the next day.
It’s been 166 days since I had any proper form of human interaction. Maybe if I do the math, it’ll help. Maybe it’d be just another equation, except it isn’t. Approximately 5 and a half months since he left. 166 days since I ever felt so in love, never again.
If only they knew love doesn’t last forever. If they do, they don’t show it. Couples are on picnics together, looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. Just by looking at them, I can tell which is a first date and which isn’t.
The guy and the girl near the pond are on their first date. He’s shy, refuses to meet her eyes. I want to walk over there and tell him to look at her, that teenage girls like being looked at, but I don’t want to seem like a creep. Instead, my book is open in front of me just in case and I’m analyzing the situation in my head. The date probably won’t go well. I’m at least 85% sure. He’s way too nervous. She’s out of his league. They look like they’ve been best friends for a while. He’s way too deep in the friend zone to get out now.
Maybe if he knew he was stuck there, he’d give up. Maybe he does know, and he decides to give it a try because if he doesn’t, he’ll never know.
Beyond the gates of the park, pedestrians are crossing the street. People are bumping into each other, buying flowers and ice cream at different stands. It’s too hot for ice cream, it’ll melt and the flowers will wither in less than five days.
They have to know that. Yet they buy it anyway. Maybe they don’t care. They get to enjoy the cold feeling of the ice cream on their tongues on a hot day and the delicate flowers in their hands before they disappear, so what does it matter if they get to enjoy it only for right now.
Theo was right. You can be surrounded, but still feel alone.
Working is important. It’s good to be successful definitely and to be accomplished, but what good is it when you have no one to share your accomplishments with? He told me I would drive myself insane, but he never left. He stayed. He stayed until 166 days ago.
I want to be angry, but I’m not. I knew how it would end. I had prepared myself for the day he would leave, but clearly not enough.
I notice everything, even the smallest detail, but I don’t notice that the bench creaks. I don’t smell his cologne. I don’t see his sneakers until I look down.
“What are you writing?” he asks.
He doesn’t ask my name. His question doesn’t make sense, yet he’s so focused on asking me this, he hasn’t bothered to ask my name first. I want to ask him if he’s stupid because I’m not holding a pen, it’s a novel. I don’t ask if he’s stupid because he seems so sure of his question.
“Come again?” I ask him.
“What are you writing in your mind?” he asks this time.
He noticed me staring off into space. He noticed I wasn’t reading even though the pages were been flipped at the right time.
It’s such a dumb way to ask a question. He easily could have asked, “What are you thinking about?”
But if he had asked that way, I would have given a conventional answer. The conversation would have ended. I wouldn’t have been thinking about it so much. I wouldn’t have pyscho-analyzed the question the way I’m doing now.
I don’t want him to know I’m fascinated. I don’t want him to know that I’m glad he noticed me. I don’t want him to know no one has since 166 days ago. I want him to be fascinated. I don’t answer the question. Instead, I ask one of my own.
“Do you believe in love?”
He notices I didn’t answer his question, but he says nothing. He just goes with it. He wants to make conversation. First attempt in 166 days. This isn’t looking too bad.
“I believe in the idea of it. I don’t believe you end up with everyone you fall in love with. I definitely don’t believe it’s everything we think it is, but yes, I believe in it.”
At anyone, I think I would have rolled my eyes. I almost don’t remember Theo while I’m speaking to him. It’s a breath of fresh air. I feel refreshed, almost.
“Well, I don’t. I think we’re too selfish to know what genuine love is.” I do think that, at least most of the time. I’m not thinking it now, so I don’t know why I say it. The words hang in the air between us. I’m sure he thinks I’m a loon. I blew it.
I expect him to get up and move somewhere far from me. He doesn’t. He laughs. I know he’s laughing, but I’m not paying attention to the sound. I know he’s laughing because I see his mouth moving. I see his eyes twinkle. It illuminates his entire face and I know he’s laughing at me, but I smile. It’s too contagious.
“What about love at first sight?” he asks.
He enjoys asking dumb questions, I’m sure of it. If I don’t believe in love, does he expect me to believe in that?
“No,” I don’t believe in love at first sight. Maybe infatuation, but not love. You can’t love someone you know nothing about.
“Good, I don’t either.” That shocks me slightly. I wanted him to have a different opinion, maybe I wanted him to prove me wrong.
“I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I do believe in ‘Koi No Yokan’,” he says.
I’m fascinated now. If there was ever a doubt about that, it’s gone.
“It’s an untranslatable Japanese phrase. It’s basically the premonition of love. It’s the feeling when you first meet someone that you will inevitably fall in love with them.” When he says that, he looks directly at me with his eyes that look too dark to be brown. It’s the kind of beauty that turns one moment into a personal eternity.
When he’s done talking, my cheeks are hot. If he notices, he doesn’t say anything. I’m grateful that he doesn’t. ‘Koi No Yokan’. I know I’m going to remember that.
The park is becoming more crowded, but I’m not upset anymore. Maybe it’s good to live in the moment sometimes. Maybe everyone does have that voice that reminds them that things may not last very long, but they choose to ignore it. You don’t have to let it consume you. You don’t have to let your happiness revolve around one person either. I want to be happy. Even if it doesn’t last an eternity. Loving is important. Even if it doesn’t last an eternity. Because it’s short-lived doesn’t mean it never happened.
The teenagers are still laying on the picnic blanket. I thought they’d be gone by now. Their hands are entwined and her head is on his shoulder. She's still out of his league. Maybe they'll remember this ten years from now, or maybe they won't. For now, I’d say the date was a success.
The almost stranger who I’ve had the longest conversation with in 5 and a half months looks at me and smiles, “My name’s Sebastian.”
I smile too. “I’m Andrea.”