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Sunday, September 4, 2011

follies



He felt her even before he saw her, it had always had been like that between them and it always brought the unbidden thought to the forefront of his mind if only I met her first. But he hadn't and any such thoughts were disloyal, seeds of betrayal that if watered by constant reminder would only germinate into treachery.


He looked up into the sky though he didn't have to, it was one of those nights when the sky opened up and let all of her children splatter into the ground, let them become fat splats of water and wet. It was exactly the kind of night for what was about to happen he could feel that too. He knew that this was the kind of sky, the kind of weather that the gods chose for reckonings. He stood there for a while letting his hair get wet, letting the water soak through to his bones. He had always been a fan of duality and it struck him as fitting that his body should feel as uncomfortable as he knew he was about to.


She was waiting for him on the ledge, wet too, her face streaked with rainwater or so he told himself. Anyone who cared too could see that the rains had curved a track into her face too close to the track that tears took for that to be any kind of coincidence. She gave a brave smile when she saw him, a heart-warming smile but the true tragedy at times like this was that nothing was ok. The most beautiful smiles tinged by tears, framed by sadness arere still beautiful but a kind of beauty that was terrible to behold, a kind of beauty that held you in its grasp and at the same time made you feel just as bad as the bearer of the smile, that was the smile she flashed him as simultaneously a flash of lightning illuminated her emptiness.

He gave it a heartbeat, he gave it another. Then he said
“its far too cold for us to stay out here long, please come in.”
“thanks I thought you would never ask.”

they entered and with the practised avoidance of people who have had to evade a lot of the things they really wanted to say they talked about everything else. They laughed and had stiff drinks to fight away the cold and the wet.


But he knew why she was here, she was here because his best friend was a bastard and he had met her first. She was here because now she had to know, she was past inkling suspicions and female intuition, now she had to know beyond the shadow of a doubt. She was here because she wanted to know if this was it for them. She was here because she was a castaway on a ship bound for destruction, she could feel the ship being tossed this way and that and the deck was slipping below her feet, she knew this. She also knew that this was her best chance at escape but she couldn't do it alone, she didn't even feel like she ccould do it. She couldn't trust herself to swim and the ocean of life that surrounded her was black and inky. It stretched for miles and she was sure she would sink if she tried to swim  alone. A rickety ship with a horrible captain was better then the treacherous waves she could glimpse ready to take her away. But she had to find out if there was something else waiting, a ship, a beacon, another swimmer, a hand in the darkness ready to take her away from all of this.


Of course he knew that his bastard of a friend was cheating, of course he had. The friend always knew and he knew what it had been doing to her. He had watched her getting torn apart by paranoia and the secret knowledge that she could not bear to trust since she wanted to be rational. He also knew he had lied to her plenty of times, not directly but did that really matter when each truth he held back was a cause of her going back to a place where she would be hurt again and again. But this friendship he had with the bastard went back longer than he could remember, it was a friendship that had risen out of the mists of the first memories of childhood fully formed by the time he had spoken his first word, fully cemented by the first real footfall they had both had. He was poison to the women in his life but noone was perfect and when he searched his soul he knew that there had never been a truer friend to him. There had not been a hint of betrayal. In that relationship he was the bastard, he was the coveter but he couldn't help it. Since he had first seen Shara he had known it was going to be a problem, well he hadn't really he hadn't expected this thing to last nearly as long as it had. He had expected this relationship between her and the bastard, (the other bastard really) to fade away in no time at all. And with it he saw all his treacherous thoughts going away. But that had not happened, instead they had gotten closer, all three of them and the bastard had taken a very long time to revert to his old habits. in the meantime he and Shara had become friends. Friends who could talk for hours and laugh for days. He had hooked up with some of her friends, more of a protective mechanism on his part, just cos he didn't want the chance of a deeper relationship to foster but that hadn't worked at all. Instead he became the bastard to all of them. All of Shara's friends could see what he really wanted and couldn't stand it and so they melted away, not just from his life but her's too till he was one of the few remaining confidants she had. And what a confidant burdened with buried feelings of lust and more, owing more loyalty to he that she would complain about than he ever could to her. It tore him.

And now right before him stood a chance. If he could be brave, not brave, disloyal enough to take it. He could tell her that her fears were well founded, he could tell her that and then he could hold her in his arms now and for as long as the storm lasted. She would say yes,he knew, he could tell that the feelings he felt weren't one way.

And the storm outside raged on.

“I need to know,” Shara began “I need to know if he has been unfaithful.”
she looked in his eyes, all his life he had thought that stupid American insistence about not being able to lie while looking in someone's eye was bullshit but right now... Right now he could feel her insistence, her hope, her pleas for the truth from one of the men in her life, he could see she didn't care which one, whoever was truer would have her. And he could see all this in her eyes, he felt the lies and the well practised lies freezing in his throat.

“please...”

emotions swirled around him, his head and heart. His body trembled as his soul shook. Another flash of lightning outside. This was one of those moments. Honour or happiness? But he knew there was no real honour in protecting his friend or stealing Shara and he felt there could not really be happiness when he had to make a choice like this. Everywhere he looked he was lost. But the bastard was not here right now, "better a bird with a bush" he remembered someone had once corrupted that wise old saying. And he could see Shara's eyes, feel her breath, sense her uncertainty and he knew what to do.



Better a bird with a bush... it was the bastard had coined that saying but he had never stuck to its truth, his friend had found it funny but never acted on it, how could he. For his friend it had always been better a bud than a bird. He took a deep breath and prepared to say the word that would determine a large chunk of his life.

As he said it the thunder roared around them, drowning out his words.

“I'm sorry I didn’t hear that...”