NON FICTION: Deconstructed

Breaking Up

I swung the door open and extended my arms. “Hey,” I said.

“Hi,” she said, walking past me, straight up to my room.

Trouble.

I went up after her. “Is there something you wanna say?”

Tears streaked her cheeks when she said, “I don’t think we can walk this path anymore.”

That’s it? Just like that?

Wasn’t I the one?

Well fuck you too!

Can’t say I didn’t know this was coming.

Having a barrage of feelings all at once was a little disorienting. And I’d never know if my next action would be one I’d regret for the rest of my life.

#

That’s it?

It was three years back. She had shaven her head, which helped me notice her in the crowd. I walked towards her and introduced myself.

“Hey, didn’t I used to cut your hair for you?”

“Yeah! Stuart! How are you?”

“Out of a job, I guess, with hairstyles like that.”

“Yeah, I had it shaven last month.”

“Really? I couldn’t tell.”

One thing led to another — I mean this cliché in its most literal form ever — and we ended up enjoying each other’s company enough to want to see each other everyday. We went out for drinks, and before I knew it, I was staying over at her place. It’s hard to say when we got together. Everything passed by so quickly we didn’t even have an anniversary date.

Things were good.

#

Wasn’t I the one?

We lolled on the couch reading, when she suddenly asked, “Babe. What do you think our life would be like if we were married?”

I snorted. “The same? Isn’t it a little to early to talk about marriage?”

“I was just asking.”

“Yeah well we’d probably live our lives doing what we’re doing now.”

“That’s it?”

“What do you mean that’s it?” I asked. “You think marriage is going to magically turn us into a dream couple?”

She slammed her book shut. “You know, I don’t know why I even bother—”

“Bother spoiling a perfectly good day?”

She stared at me for a moment. “You know, I think I’m just going to chill at Pyramid.”

“Babe. No — I’m sorry, hey, come back.”

“You never think of the future!” she said. “You never talk about plans. About us. You’re just content living day to day, aren’t you?”

“It’s not that — look. Let’s get you feeling better.” I hugged her. “I’m sorry, okay? I do have plans for us, I really do. Don’t go to Pyramid. Please?”

“No! I’m sick and tired —”

“Not sick and tired of Stuart’s Party Pasta I bet!”

“Shut up. I just hate it when —”

“Party Pasta.”

“Stop it!” she smiled. “You never —”

“Delicious Party Pasta.”

She put her hands on her hips and exhaled through her nose.

“Here,” I said. “Let me cook you up an awesome lunch, and we can talk about this great future we’re going to have.”

“Fine,” she said. After a pause: “I really love you, you know? Can’t imagine spending my life with anybody else.”

I kissed her on the forehead and walked into the kitchen.

“And babe?” she said. “Anything but Stuart’s Party Pasta.”

#

Well fuck you too!

We were in the shopping mall looking at fitness equipment when she spotted Moo Cow, her favourite ice-cream store. I got caught up surveying the price of foam rollers that I walked up to the stall much later. She was already getting her ice-cream amidst small talk with the cashier.

“So, where’s your boyfriend?” he asked while motioning over the top of his head.

I expected to be introduced, but she said, “Oh. He’s… busy.” She collected her cup as she saw me coming, and left.

“What was that about?” I asked.

“Oh nothing. I come here a lot, so I know the guy —”

“I know, but, where’s your boyfriend?” I asked.

She sighed. “People are quick to assume when they just see me with a friend.”

“Oh now that makes sense. So when the mamak guy asked ‘mana kawan botak,’ he meant your boyfriend as well?” Suddenly the gesture made much more sense.

“Look,” she said. “People simply think things, okay? What can I do if they want to call him my boyfriend?”

“Fine,” I said. “Fine. Let’s just go watch our movie.”

But deep inside, things were far from fine.

#

Can’t say I didn’t know this was coming.

“Wanna go for my friend’s housewarming this weekend?”

“Aw, babe,” she said. “I’m not really feeling up to it. Why don’t you go?”

“But you never hangout with my friends. Most of them still think I’m still single.”

“So? Why would you want to pigeon-hole what we have? Do you think that putting a label on it makes it any more special? Look, what we share is between us, and us alone. Who cares about anything else?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’d be nice if my girlfriend acknowledged that she was with me once in a while.”

“There you go again, always limiting things with labels.”

“Fine. I’ll go on my own.”

“I’m sorry. I just don’t really feel like going.”

“No, it’s okay,” I said. “By the way, I was thinking about climbing next Saturday. Wanna come?”

“Ah, I got weekend classes to teach for a few months.”

“So I can only see you on Mondays?”

She shrugged. “That’s my only free day.”

“But I work on Mondays.”

“Well—”

“And I haven’t spent time with you for ages!”

“I’m sorry.”

#

When she dropped the bomb on me, I wasn’t sure how to feel. Maybe there was something I could’ve done to salvage the situation, or maybe we could’ve worked out some sort of damage control.

But this isn’t Hollywood, and love isn’t something you magically earn by bursting through the cathedral doors right before her marriage with a convenient beau.

This was love in real life, both of which I have no proficiency in.

So I said, “Well, okay, I guess.” I couldn’t tell if I had reached my disappointment quota, or if I’d grown jaded over another bad relationship.

She cried some more, but I wasn’t exactly sure over what.

“We’ve had a good run,” I said.

“We did,” she said between sobs. “I—I’m just gonna pack my stuff.”

And as she dragged her clothes and favourite pair of shoes to her car, I waved the last wave I’d ever give her. Four years of memories deconstructed in four minutes, and an eternity of picking up the pieces after.

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