You’d like to think you’ll gain a new perspective about the world when you’re lying in bed with a man you love who doesn’t love you back dry humping on top of you, but you don’t. The world stays the same in its uncaring agony. You wrap your arms loosely around his neck and try to pretend he does care. Somewhere at the back of your mind you know that’s pathetic, but what’s new in that?
Nothing has changed. The room is dark, the curtains block out the dying rays of the sun outside. There are no sounds except the almost rhythmic and mostly frantic creaking of the bed, and suddenly you’re disgusted at yourself. You didn’t know it then, but you loved him since the day he first spoke to you, both of you sixteen and in a new school, him with his maroon bag that looked like it needed washing. No, that’s not right. You, little rebellious unloved you, you knew you could never love anyone, let alone him. Romance was for losers, after all, and falling for your friend was the lamest story in the book. But you loved him. Reluctantly, shamefully and almost inevitably. God, you loved him inevitably. From across the classroom, from the other end of the phone, the other side of the country. You loved him with miles and miles between you, always.
So this lack of distance now is perhaps the only thing new in the room. The weight of him on you, your hips propped up against his. You want to tell him to stop because you’re dry as a bone and starting to feel slightly pathetic about yourself, but his skin is warm against yours, and it has been months, if not years, since you felt such warmth against your body. So you stay. And let him continue. And when he kisses you, you feel nothing. He clearly does, you know because you can feel it between your legs, and suddenly it’s all very funny, the irony of this. Of all of it. Of how he always had to feel the opposite of what you did.
One day, many years ago, both of you, eighteen and drunk on newly found freedom, had fallen asleep on the same bed. You woke up with an arm around your stomach that you were too sleepy to register. But then something changed, the air in the room, the spin of the earth, or perhaps just sleep-addled teenage hormones, because he caught your hand and slipped his fingers between yours. Sleep left you as if you’d been slapped: did adrenaline rush do that to a person? You didn’t know, but you knew you were safe with miles between you, so you freed your hand as he pretended to sleep and got up and left. And when dawn broke, and all your friends woke up, you convinced yourself it was a dream. He played along with his silence until years later, both of you, twenty-two and drunk by the weight of the world, kissed on his balcony, completely unprompted. You told him then, that you loved him, and he told you he wanted to fuck you. You kissed him still, despite knowing that; you kissed him drunk, and a day later, you kissed him sober. He kissed you drunk, and a day later, he kissed you sober, knowing you loved him and he did not.
Now, with both of you completely sober, he abruptly gets up and leaves to go finish in the bathroom. You lie in bed, your skin prickling against the cold; it’s winter, and most of your clothes are on the floor, and his skin isn’t there anymore for you to borrow warmth from. You lie in bed, and you want to cry, but you can’t. Because the sadness hasn’t crept in yet — it will, hours and days and months later. For now, you embrace yourself against the cold and ask yourself why you haven’t gotten up and gotten dressed yet. Get up and get dressed, you tell yourself. Get up, get dressed and leave. Leave first before he does.
But you don’t move. You recall that one incident in school that you claim to be the moment you first noticed him. An incident you’re sure no one remembers because nothing about it was significant; you simply watched him be kind to someone he did not know, someone he had no need to be kind to. You, little rebellious unloved you, weren’t used to seeing people be kind without expecting anything in return. Years later, you keep reminding yourself that is why you love him: because he’s kind.
And when he walks out of the bathroom, starts getting dressed and asks you to leave without looking at you, you realise, with an ache in your chest that you’ll feel hours, days and months later, that he has always been kind to everyone else, except you.
Upasa is a writer and poet from Assam, currently pursuing a Master’s in Economics from South Asian University. She writes silly novellas on online platforms about people falling in love, performs spoken word poetry in front of strangers, and occasionally plays the uke and sings horribly for the people she loves. She’s a blahcksheep because she’s grown up convinced she’s been born in the wrong reality and now, at the age of 23, is struggling to find her place in this world armed with sadgurl playlists, a little imagination and pockets full of her friends’ laughter.