Faded and Forgotten
We’d been in contact the last few weeks. It turned out we had a holiday to Bali planned at the same time, but would only cross paths for one night.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see him or not. I didn’t want to meet up, only to end up like a lovesick puppy and ache for however long it took for the pain to subside, again having to accept the situation for what it is – nothing. But I knew too well that if I didn’t see him, I’d regret it. He already knew how hopelessly in love with him I was anyway, so what did I have to lose?
Oh that’s right, my very existence. Because that’s what happens every time he walks away from me – my entire world feels like it’s been swept from under my feet; the life gets sucked out of me and all I know goes with it.
In the end, my heart won the battle. I went to meet him with the slightest hope that maybe he had turned into a complete dickhead and I would miraculously realise, wake up to myself and leave laughing at the hours I’d wasted dreaming of the life I envisioned for us together.
For 40 minutes, I walked in scorching heat along Kuta Beach. Just like that, four years since I’d seen him last, there he was standing on the side of the road, just as smoking hot as I remembered with washboard abs and the best butt you ever did see. As soon as I spotted him, everything I’d ever felt the seven years I’ve known him came right back and smacked me in the face so hard I stopped breathing.
Immediately, I turned on my heels took a step away, genuinely considering taking the 40-minute walk right back to where I had just come from. He will break you, warned my head. You’ll be a shattered, smashed mess for weeks. But halfway through my second step, I just froze and stared at the waves crashing on the shore in front of me, completely numb.
He saw me anyway and chased me down. “Little K!” he said, the only person who ever calls me that. I could feel my body trembling, and desperately hoped I wouldn’t trip over my words and sound like a complete idiot.
For the rest of the day, we scooted around Bali, my hands accidentally feeling those abs at the slightest bump. We drank beer in the pool flirting nervously, and sat on the beach chatting at sunset eating corn and hysterically laughing while we picked husks from one another’s teeth. We retold the memories we have of each other and I – hoping his hand on my thigh would never leave and trying to hold his gaze – thought about how I’ve never felt the way he makes me feel.
I took a camera-roll worth of mental images, knowing deep in my heart this would be the last time I ever saw him. We showered together and had intoxicating afternoon sex in his hotel room; we ate Mexican for dinner, sharing our love of chilli, and danced in a nightclub until I found myself on the side of a dark street alone, drunk and vulnerable.
Fast forward six hours and I was in his hotel room. I broke in because that’s what crazy lovesick people do. Well, I didn’t really break in. I went to reception, said his name, paid a deposit and they gave me a key. Then I stumbled to bed.
He came back at midnight, kissed me and disappeared; just like that, he was gone again.
I woke up in a king-sized bed alone, with the sun shining on the empty white bedsheets beside me. It was a beautiful sight in comparison to the knife that was twisting through my heart and into my soul, drawing tears out and soaking the part of the bed he was supposed to be laying in. But his arms weren’t wrapped around me, and I wasn’t floating on Cloud 9.
Through my tears, I did start to get concerned about his whereabouts. I had images of him in a hospital bed or a jail cell, images of him occupying the bed of a prettier girl – but deep down, I knew it was just him: a disappearing act. I’m in love with a disappearing act.
6, 7, 8 o’clock am rolled over and I cried, completely numb, because I knew for certain he didn’t feel the way I did and wasn’t coming back for me. I drank all the tea and coffee the room had to offer, and wondered what I was still doing there. I should’ve done a runner at the very wake of sunrise, but I waited, hoping that he would come back for me.
Being surrounded by his belongings was making me completely irrational. I could smell him on his shirts, in his aftershave, on the towel he had used and the sheets he had imprinted. I stayed and imagined the morning that could have been, the sex and breakfast in-bed while his fingers drew circles across my skin. If I waited, he would see how much he means to me – surely he could feel it too?
But I knew that this was it. This was the way it would always be between us, and this was the closest I’d ever be to being part of his life ever again.
My brain was pulsating with thoughts of being a lonely old cat lady, still in love with a disappearing act in her 90s. In the end, I had no tears left. I closed the door behind me on a chapter I hoped would end with my feelings for him, faded and forgotten. I handed in the key with my dignity, jumped on a scooter and rode away. My heart was creeping up into in my throat, and the further I went from his hotel, the more I wanted the ground to suck me up and take my excruciating pain away. Thoughts of where he was continued to spin around my head. Had he picked up someone else?
Hours later, my phone beeped with an apologetic message: a lame explanation about his night’s events and words I desperately wanted to hear, but in the end meant nothing.
“I was hoping you would still be here. I need a cuddle.”
He flew back to Australia that night, and I got on with my Bali holiday promising to never again allow him to dictate my feelings.
Forgotten he may never be, but faded I’ll have to live with.
Cover by Roberto Nickson