You’ve hardly said a word since you’ve been back. As the odd-shapes of carbon flicker, they reflect upon your face in all its pale glory. You’ve seen the world, you tell me. And you haven’t moved a foot. The wines are sipped, and the quiet clattering of cutlery perform sonatas with clamouring, excited and hushed whispers of everyone present. Perhaps, the sofa makes you uncomfortable. A bit? No?

Is it me?

Your ivory skin and brown freckles once had a history of culture attached to them, and I loved how they used to end up, curled in my lap like that on wet Sundays. But now, I can’t seem to place it, but now…they speak of revolt once, then reluctant disdain, then revolt again. I try (a little too hard, maybe) to remind you of all the jokes we shared- even going through the times when I laughed just to please you. You smile alright, I’m not complaining. But you rob me of any pleasure by smiling in that cold, hard way. The longest silence of our…my…life ensues. We had this before, but then we looked at each other. But now you’re busy, trying hard to decode the sonata being performed as each new song is played on the piano. As some rather kind soul begins to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, you blink and look at me for the first time.

I pause. You know it’s my favourite song, are you goi…

You’re not the only one, you tell me, in a dead-pan voice. I stare back, not even remotely wanting to know what you mean. Your voice grows harsher, then softer and finally colder with every word as you tell me it was me who made you believe I was the only one out there. You made me believe you’re one of a kind, you tell me, almost leaning over me from across the sofa. Your arm jerks as you emphasize that last sentence, causing the wine to tip over from your glass. But when I went out there, Magic…no, don’t look away, listen to me now Magic…but when I went out there, into the real world, there were so many of you around. And it just makes me angry. You’re no find, and I’m no find. You’re a coincidence, and I’m none. You’re out there! You’re…everywhere I go and you’re in everyone.

I push a lock of hair behind my ear as I gulp the applause from the piano down. Isn’t…isn’t that love? I suggest to him, not wanting to look into those burning eyes. He pauses for just a microsecond, or maybe he never did. He lets out an angry chuckle and exclaims You didn’t leave ANYONE Magic! You found a place in everyone and you deceived me. You’re nothing but words filled in a vessel. The atmosphere suddenly drops to a silence. I smooth my skirt and look at my shoes.

She comes and sits next to him. What’s that? I hear him ask, with a charming smile. Ah, Realitee. That’s a nice name. I like how it rolls off the tongue. I hope there aren’t too many of you around, ha ha. She looks a little flustered at that remark, but they soon catch the train back to infatuated conversation in time. As you exchange numbers and proceed to get your coats, I cannot help but wonder. If you saw me everywhere, and that brought you pain, wait till you love Realitee. I hear she’s one hell of a drama-queen. And then perhaps, at the next party, it will be her sitting on this couch, desperately trying to tell you its called love, not deception.

So we’re just repeated hits and misses then?

Shruti Rao