That’s the thing about this city: it is always alive. It is like a long winding creature, always moving, always breathing, its heart always beating rapidly, fueled by the oxygen of our hopes, dreams and expectations.
Our lives entangle and separate, but the city never stops for anyone. Everyone is a part of this city, and the city is a part of everyone. It is always a looming presence, sometimes a comfort, sometimes a luxury.
I sometimes wish I were as alive as the city. Maybe then people would stay, just for the joy of listening to my heartbeat, just to feel my warm moist skin under theirs, just to be with me for one more moment.
But I lie alone in my stuffy apartment all day and all night. The others spend it in the company of the lights, in the company of darkness, in the company of each other. Their breaths mingle and their bodies entwine. They become one with each other, while I am still alone.
I used to have that, once upon a time. The lights were still as bright. But now they seem to laugh at me, their brightness only blinding me and reminding of what I don’t have. Once upon a time, they illuminated the other body, they played witness to my pleasure. The darkness was a welcome guest, but the lights still made us feel like we weren’t alone.
Now it doesn’t do anything but remind me of the opposite.
He left a few days back, with his dusty shoes and shirts, taking my hazy memories and chipped pieces of my heart with him. His emerald eyes had lost their shine and his face was red with exhaustion.
Before he left, she had left. Her shock of ruby hair still haunts me when I close my eyes, her small shrewd fingers and her teeth biting at her lip stifling a moan when I was inside her. She had left with chapped lips and bloodshot eyes, her hair still tousled from the night before. The lights had been brightest that night, the darkness the most infinite.
Bottles of liquids that promise ecstasy are flung around with no care in the world, their sticky remains still littering the floors and the scars of the pieces that had lodged into the soles of my feet still a visible reminder of the ones who had abandoned me.
I hope they are lying awake in their beds, their fingers carefully caressing the imprint of the place my body used to lie. I hope they go to the roofs of their stuffy apartments and scream until their throats are raw and the lights blinked in tune with the emotions in their voice. I hope they throw their bottles in their apartments and wish that I were there to pick them up.
I hope they still remember who I am. I hope that the city reminds them.
The windows are always a crack open. To let in some polluted air, the sounds of the vehicles, and scraps of conversation that the wind carries to me.
I have watched people interact with each other through a misty window in the confines of my apartment, and I have no difficulty in interpreting their body language. But there are some grey areas. The moment when she slaps him to the moment her lips are on his are non-distinguishable and impossible to predict. Calmly spoken words can turn into a brawl, a gaze can turn into a tight embrace and a conversation can turn into a confession of love.
The city has seen everything happen, and yet it patiently waits for more. It has seen the relationships that have fallen apart with a few words spoken on impulse, it has seen the relationships that have formed by the simple touch of a hand, and it has seen the mistakes that we make and continue to make. It remains even when we crumble. It envelopes you in a familiar haven of polluted air and too-bright lights and too-black darkness and holds you close.
I have always sought comfort in other people, in the heat of their bodies, in the sweet taste of their tongues in my mouth, in their sweat and their every word. I have sought company for as long as I can remember, and I have gotten it every time.
But it is never enough.
Everyone always has something that turns me off immediately. The emerald eyes drew me in and kept me there until the hands became more intrusive than pleasurable. The ruby hair that still colours my dreams were enough to hold on to her until she pressed her lips so tightly to mine that I couldn’t breathe for fear of letting go.
The city makes me happy.
It doesn’t ask for anything and still gives everything. It stays when the others leave. It makes no promises and never breaks them. It makes the others cry when they see something that brings them to thoughts of me. They curse their fate and the city smiles, having made me happy. It doesn’t try to match our emotions; it has its own. It never lets you down.
People, at least the people I have been with, have done nothing but let me down. They have done nothing but hurt me and taken my heart and left me with nothing but dizzying memories. They have given me the pleasure I wanted, but not the comfort I needed. They didn’t stay as long I wanted them to. They were always scared of me, and I of them. They always left in the same fashion, hurriedly and gasping for breath, looking behind at me and begging for me to ask them to stay. But I never did, and I never will, no matter how much I want them to.
It is a matter of principle. I will never beg, especially to those who can bring me on my knees with a simple glance. They must stay of their own will, not because they pity me or feel bad if they don’t.
All I want is love. This city knows that.
Maybe the city knows when I will find it.