FICTION : Breathless by R.Didraj
I stood there at the airport, waiting to say my goodbyes. I wore her favorite shirt, a checkered dark green one that made me look more innocent than I was. She was too busy worrying about her boarding pass that she failed to realize that these few minutes is all we have left. We were never going to meet again. This was it. It’s a strange feeling to know before-hand which exact moment is going to define a relationship. I kept searching in her eyes if she had any hint of sadness or a moment of hesitation to leave me behind. I was dying to tell her that I couldn’t breathe. She had become very important to me. Perhaps too important that I might not function properly if she wasn’t nearby. Just like air.
‘Hey rowdy!’ she cried, snapping me out of my downward spiral. ‘I sent you this month’s rent, did you get it?’
‘Yeah. I got it.’ I replied, without even checking. She had been my roommate for almost two years and she always paid first.
‘I am so nervous. What am I going to do in Canada?’ she asked me.
‘Really? You studied for months to get admission there. You are telling me you studied for no reason?’
‘Why do you make fun of everything that I do? You know exactly what I implied.’
I simply nodded at her. She often talks like an English professor ever since she took her IELTS. The truth was that I was incredibly proud of her. I am happy that she is going away and trying to make something for herself. I was not thrilled about the fact that my life was going to be empty for a considerable amount of time.
‘I better check in sooner. I am scared that I will get cold feet and never board the plane if I stand here for too long.’ She told me.
‘Why is that?’
‘Well, it’s overwhelming to leave my parents here and go to a country that is a thousand miles away. I am going to miss them.’
‘What?’ she shot back.
‘I mean, I understand why you would miss them.’ I corrected it. My heart was jumping in leaps and bounds.
I was too embarrassed to admit I had feelings for her. I was secretly praying that she would leave before she figured it out. She was extremely smart, even for her own good. Love had made her dumb and she had made bad choices in the past. Perhaps that is exactly why we didn’t become anything more. I don’t think she has fully recovered from her emotional trauma, even after all these years. Even after watching FRIENDS on a loop and waking me up every other day in the dead of night because she wanted to know why men are trash.
I started counting the seconds before I was going to lose her. 48 seconds. It felt like a lifetime. The world was moving slowly as if I had some super power. As long as I can remember, the only superpower I have is getting hurt in a wide variety of ways. Do I tell her? Do I tell her that she is taking my breath along with her? Is that something she would be worried about? It felt like déjà vu. I had been in this situation; I had taken the leap and I had gotten shot. I know how this will end up if I open my mouth.
Then I thought about air. How it is everywhere. You never really appreciate it until it’s gone, do you? Even if you are a hollow bottle, you still have air inside. Love is like that in many ways. You always have room to love someone. Perhaps it’s too late for us. I felt like time was a vacuum machine that kept taking out the air little by little until there was nothing left. I was standing on a pavement alongside one of the most loving people I have ever met and still, I shivered in the cold and lonely expanse of space.
‘Acha, I will go. Take care you!’ she told me, completely unaware of the castles tumbling down inside my heart.
‘You too.’ I replied, forced to keep quiet for the sake of integrity.
She turned around and started walking. Do I grab her hand? If it’s meant to be, it will be, right? Most people describe falling in love with their partner as breathtaking. I understand why. Air gets out of their lungs and does not return for a split second. They realize they cannot live without them. For me, it happened when she was walking away. I gasped as my chest became heavy.
‘Hey wait!’ I cried, like a desperate child who didn’t know how to speak.
She turned around and shook her head. ‘What is it?’
‘I think I will regret not telling you this.’
She stood still. Her jet-black hair waving for the breeze.
‘Did you feel out of breath when we were together?’
‘What?’ she chuckled, ‘what do you mean?’
‘Did you feel like you were high up in the mountain when you thought about leaving?’
She hesitated to answer. She knew exactly what I meant but still for the sake of keeping it simple, she appeared confused.
‘High up in the mountains? You mean scared? I don’t get you.’
‘No. Top of the mountain is running out of air.’
Her shoulders dropped as if she heard the worst news possible before leaving the country. She placed her bag on the floor and stepped towards me.
‘Just tell me what it is. You know I don’t like drama.’
‘I think two years is a long time to not fall in love with someone like you. I know you don’t feel the same way but I needed to let it out.’
She kneaded her fingers and looked down. I waited for her response like a drowning man in the ocean.
‘I don’t think anyone is worth loving. We need to take care of ourselves. I had a great time because I knew if we ended up together, we might hurt each other. It is not worth it.’
‘Have a good trip,’ I said and started walking. One half of me was expecting her to stop me and the other half wanting to run away as fast as possible.
An air bubble in your brain can cause brain damage or heart attack. Air leaking from a pressure chamber can cause an explosion. Air escaping your tires can cause a devastating crash. I kept wondering how I would react if we were to swap bodies. If someone loved me so much, would I tell them it is not worth it? Perhaps she was kind to not hurt me more than necessary.
‘So you would just walk away like that? You can’t say something like that and walk away!’ she cried.
I could see her getting mad. A smile appeared on my face.
‘You said it is not worth it!’ I replied.
‘Why don’t you prove me wrong!’ she said.
Just like that, like a newborn from a mother’s womb, I started breathing again. I shook my head in disbelief. Did I accomplish the impossible? What just happened?
‘Okay, I will come to Canada. We will start from there?’ I extended my hands.
She shook my hands and then waited for a hug. I couldn’t help but smile at how emotional she had become within a span of a few seconds. I hugged her tight. She was my person. She always was my person. She was my air.
About the writer :
Didraj is an aspiring writer who is currently sitting on a few unpublished novels and an ever growing TBR. He loves spending time in competitive gaming and buying way more chocolates than necessary.