I wake up this morning to the sun splayed across my eyes, intrusively bright and digging into my nerves. It’s as if the light reawakens the headache and nausea that comes with a hangover. It is overly familiar and happens too often, that it mass-produces heaps upon heaps of contempt in my gut.
I groan in pain, and clumsily turn to the other side—the bedside table. A glass of water sits peacefully there. It waits for me to do something.
I scoff. Push myself to sit. The piercing headache rattles in me like an insistent bell and I hiss, half-blindly reaching for the water glass. The moment I carry it in my hand, a small note reveals itself under. It reads:
I keep telling you to stop knocking yourself out. But you’ll bear the consequences anyway, not me.
I left your keys and some painkillers near this note. Use them however, I don’t care.
Stupid. He is stupid.
“‘I don’t care’, he says,” I mutter to myself with a lilt of incredulous sarcasm, gulping down the pills and water furiously.
I now remember: I drank myself to sleep last night because I was mad at him. I forgot what the fight was about—we fought too many times—but I do remember his ego, his self-righteousness, the lack of consideration in his stupid words. It doesn’t fit him. It’s not supposed to fit him. He’s supposed to be more than that.
And above all, he’s supposed to stop me from leaving last night. That was how the script was supposed to be.
Such lack of consideration, devoid of mercy—he is supposed to be like this, I think. It makes it easier for the both of us if we resent each other. He will stay out of spite, I will make him angrier. Always a second more, always another inch of force, and the sole source of warmth will be our collision.
When we were younger, there was another source of warmth. Something tender, planted with the gardens where I’d find him hiding in. I was the only one who could find him. And when I did, he knew me by the sound and rhythm of my footsteps, and he would look up—an acknowledgement received to the heads-up I gave him—and his eyes would glitter, I think. And we would sit together, quiet, doing our own respective tasks.
Back then, our differences were an invitation to be curious. When we unsealed that envelope of thoughtfulness, it turned out to be a Pandora’s Box in disguise, revealing a scarlet letter inside.
I want nothing more than to see him crumble. He wants nothing more than to see me explode.
Good. Good. We really ought to break apart, innards and screams and all.
That night, as I work on my projects, the door swings open. I perk up a little, and the air shifts to make way for his presence.
“Let’s eat,” he quips. “I cooked, so you’re washing.” I click my tongue and weakly throw down my materials, tailing him to the dining room.
“My favorite,” I say to myself, taking in the food set on the table. “I haven’t had this in a while.” When I breathe out, a puff of cool, refreshing air embraces my chest.
He won’t meet my eyes. “Nobody asked.”
I kick the leg of his chair. “Shut up. You cooked my favorite.”
He glares at me. “And what about it?”
Every passing moment, it gets more difficult to speak. “...Why?”
He narrows his eyes in confusion. And when it dawns on him, he smiles smugly. “Because it’s unfortunate that I know your favorite meal, and that I know I cook it better than you.”
“No you don’t,” I say with utmost defiance, weakly slapping his arm. “and you never will!”
I find him in the living room soon after, reading a book. I silently set the tea set down, and pour us both a cup. If he thinks I can’t see him from where he’s peeking above his book, then he needs to do better.
He ends up closing the book anyway. His eyes are a little wider, as he stares at the jasmine tea swirling in his cup, and then at me.
“Shut up,” I snap at him, sipping from my own cup loudly. “Shut up.”
“What, it’s my favorite too!” I grit out.
He scoffs. “Lies. You never drink tea. I know that you only drink coffee and paint water.”
“You did not—”
I immediately surge forward and aim a punch at his arm. I find him crack a smile as he catches my wrists, while I forcefully try to wrench myself out of his grip.
In the end, I let my wrists stay where they are, and I stare at his hands. Because If I glance elsewhere, I will have to confront those eyes that look at me.
I let him clasp my wrists. For now, I do not turn back at him.