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Old 07-03-2016, 01:56 PM View Post #1 (Link) Ambivalence - Chapter 1
CookieDough (Offline)
Novice Writer
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Australia, Victoria, in a town where nothing good really happens
Posts: 17
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“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” A question in which women have been asking themselves since those very words were written upon a page to signify the endless journey of true love. In the case of Juliet and her Romeo, she had already found him, the man or boy that she would one day give her life for. Whereas nowadays, many of us are still searching for that one person, for our moment. The blissful moment at a party when he notices her for the first time and has at least, let’s say, six seconds to stare in endless wonder at her before she meets his eyes and shares in the amazement. Across the room full to the brim of strangers the two drown out the world, too caught up in the fantasy that, after gazing into each other’s eyes for a whole of thirty seconds, they are completely and passionately in love.

I would like to be able to say that my fantasy was as mind-blowingly beautiful as Juliet’s. That my Romeo was as blown away with me as I was with him but that wouldn’t be truthful. Truthfully, my Romeo and I were a little older, drunker and he was in love with someone else. Thinking about the bittersweet moment of allowing myself to see him in such a beautiful ray of light, that he and he alone could mend the parts of myself that I hated the most. It was a foolish fantasy, one I let myself believe in for the longest time.

For years, I thought I understood what it meant to love someone. To be in love with another person. I believed that I had a deeper understanding to those emotions because of Bennett. Maybe I did love him truly; maybe my affection for him was sincere. If things were different, maybe he might have truly loved me too, but we were young and stupid for thinking that we could label such mature and complicated emotions at that age. I know at the time, I really did love him; I loved myself when I was around him. It’s taken me years to fully grasp the concept of it but I understand now, that what I experienced with him, the love story we had written ourselves into, wasn’t the kind that ended with shared emotion and a happily ever after. A high school almost-maybe-kinda love. Something that could have been and quite possibly would have if the circumstances were different.

Here’s the thing, being seventeen is hard enough for some people without adding the stupidity of underage drinking and the Halloween party from hell. That’s when this mess truly started. Not when we accidently became friends in the eighth grade, not when he apologised for not talking to me for a year but on that fateful night of the Halloween party. That is when my unrequited affection showed its hideous face in the form of a beautiful seventeen year old, immature boy named Bennett.

****

I remember the room echoing with the sound of the ticking clock, and the way it filled me with immense strain. I looked between Liv and my sister, tried to ease the boiling emotions inside me. Liv definitely looked the part in her over-sized costume. The ripped and dyed wedding dress made her look like a zombie ex-wife back for revenge. Reminded me of The Corpse Bride. Anything to distract me from the ticking of the clock. I wanted time to go as fast as possible. The faster time went, the faster he would be there and we could go to the silly party that I was nervously biting my nails over. Halloween was my favourite time of the year, when all the ghouls and demons could come out to play. It was my chance to leave the house and experience a real teenage party while wearing a costume and being surrounded by people also in a disguise, pretending to be something they were not.

It took him a few hours but Bennett finally turned up. That was the moment, like in the movie when Leonardo looks romantically at Claire through the fish tank. Well, in my story it wasn’t a gorgeous actor playing the role of someone’s Romeo and it wasn’t a fish tank, it was my front porch. Nonetheless, this was the moment that I first felt it, and it went straight to my bones where I carried them with me like a disease. A split second and I saw him first. I opened the door and could feel him look at me, I could feel time stop. Everything went still, for a second. I turned away though, turned my back on my fish tank moment. His eyes made me shiver, the way he looked at me caused my hands to shake and I couldn’t explain it. It was the first time I noticed the bizarre affect he had over me.

The sensation only increased as we arrived at the party and I immediately started drinking. Not my finest hour, or hours but I was carried away with the buzz of the party and the laughing people. There were so many people there, looking at me. I didn’t want to spend the entire night hiding so I drank in hopes to find myself, to find some courage. The alcohol had the opposite effect over me. I did find courage but somewhere in the night, I can’t remember the exact moment it occurred but I lost myself, at least a part of me.

Without realising, I began watching him. Watched him dance like an idiot, talk to everyone like the social butterfly he was. Socialising came easily to him, and watching him was more intoxicating than the alcohol could ever be. One of Bennett’s bad habits and one of his less attractive qualities was the way he devoted his attention to numerous females with a flirtatious grin. I think I drank three whole bottles in the matter of minutes, one after the other, simply because I was watching him and he didn’t notice me. I felt like I needed it. I hated that feeling, more than I hated not being the centre of his world. The foul taste of needing something or someone was stuck at the back of my throat, an itch that could never truly be satisfied, not the way I wanted it to be. I didn’t understand that then, what I needed. I thought that I needed Bennett. And it was that thought that created a new and more unappealing version of myself.

In my mind I was telling myself to relax, to calm down a little. I was worked up, overly excited. The more I drank though, the more I lost my train of thought. After the first two hours, I couldn’t remember what I was feeling. All I knew was the bubbly feeling in the pit of my stomach and the way my thoughts swam peacefully through the alcohol.

Soon, the immediate thought to find Bennett ran away, hand in hand with my logical reasoning. But every so often, I would spot him standing alone, off away from the crowd of screaming drunken teens having the time of their lives. It made me think again, this is my chance. My feet had control of my actions; they were pulling me over to Bennett before I could command them to stop. He laughed at my drunken waddle, called it cute. I would have done almost anything to continue hearing him call me cute so I persistently looked like a fool in order to impress him, to make him laugh more. There was something about the way his smile made his whole face light up that caused this strange feeling of satisfaction within me, especially when it was a reaction to something I had done.

Our conversation lasted seconds, a few rushed sentences but oddly, it made my entire night. The alcohol pulsing through my body made it easier to feel joy. So I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Bennett because I was convinced that he was the reason I was overwhelmed with such happiness. A happiness that I believe he felt too.

It was two and a half hours into the party and I was up to my last drink, lucky number six. Bennett had placed our drinks safely in our shared tent so no one stole them. When Bennett went to get his next drink, he found me digging through the bag, completely lost and unsure of how to function by that point. Yet again, he laughed, a low chuckle which made my heart flutter. Taking the seat next to me, we sat knees touching, facing one another. I don’t remember but I think he asked about the level of fun I was having and then complimented my costume. Again. By this time, I was completely wasted and wasn’t sure of the difference between what really happened and what I imagined happened. This is why I had so much trouble recalling Bennett leaving a kiss on my cheek before taking his leave.

Partly dazed, I went about my party routine, making small drunk talk with a few people, giving intoxicated hugs and forced love out to others. Another hour passed and I was beginning to feel queasy. Grasping my sides, I let myself fall to the ground, next to my ex-wife-from-hell Liv. Our conversation had barely started when I added a little too much to the discussion. Instead of words, vomit streamed from my mouth, all over Liv. Both of us too drunk to really care and take notice. It happened a few more times until Liv went to gather water and mints. Feeling perfectly fine afterwards, I couldn’t understand why people were still crowding around me. Person after person, kneeling beside me, rubbing my back. I hardly knew these people, let alone needed their assistance. Though, I did like the attention. My vision was hazy and my mind a blur but for a while, I didn’t feel bad about myself, I felt like any other person and I craved the attention like any other girl my age, just without the insecurities I usually carried around in my metaphoric back pack. I enjoyed people making a fuss about me, although I would never express that need or enjoyment out loud and sober. Instead, I sat there, with an empty stomach, soaking up their consideration and concern and felt silently, yet loudly grateful.

One by one, they left, always leaving one behind to make sure I wasn’t going to pass out and die. Finally and without realising, Bennett made his way over. Placing his hand on my shoulder, gently rubbing circles into my skin with his thumb. By this time, I had gotten vomit over Liv, the bottom of her dress and now was chugging back water while chewing on breath mints. I didn’t think I looked very appealing but I didn’t really care. Bennett was near me, I could feel him and I couldn’t think about anything else in the world. He continued to ask me if I felt alright and I did. I didn’t feel sick;I didn’t even feel icky after vomiting like I did when I was sober. So I nodded along, telling him exactly how I was feeling in that moment as I couldn’t keep any truths to myself in that state. Then the most peculiar thing happened. I felt Bennett’s kiss again but this time it wasn’t my cheek. This time it was a real kiss, on the lips. Not that I could remember it clearly. I couldn’t remember the exact action of the kiss but I remember how I felt after it. I was trying to distinguish whether or not I imagined it, as I had done in the past.

Getting up, walking around and trying to take part in my usual party activities, after puking a few more times, the night was drawing to its end. It was one, maybe two o’clock in the morning, drama was let out everywhere and Bennett wanted an escape from the hectic chaos. Due to my new found obsession, I followed him like a lost puppy. That’s how I felt. Lost. When I wasn’t with him, it was like I wasn’t anywhere. I couldn’t fathom belonging anywhere if it wasn’t somewhere with him. We sat in the dim light of the bathroom while he let his feelings out, something he felt comfortable doing with me nowadays. I was glad he could. It was something we could share when many others couldn’t. Not with him. To me, Bennett was the kind of person that would do a million things for someone if it meant helping them but couldn’t manage to do a single thing for himself if he needed it. That’s the role I had embarked upon. That person to Bennett when Bennett couldn’t do it himself. I took great responsibility of that role in his life. Treasured it like a delicate flower that could lose its petals at any moment. Looking back on it now, I realise how naive I was, to truly believe that I was the only thing keeping him together, that he was this saint that I idealised and could do no wrong.

The sky was too beautiful and the night too sad, I wanted something to happen that would pull my dear friend out of his tragic state. In an attempt to lighten the mood, I jumped up without warning and started walking. My plan was to walk and start a spontaneous adventure but only slightly tipsy now, the dark scared me. Taking a few steps backwards, I let my fear be heard and soon Bennett acting as my knight in shining armour took hold of my hand and guided me through the darkness. We found a quiet place amongst the trees, the stones crunching beneath our feet. It was a sweet moment, and my brain chose then to remind myself of the kiss, of that uncertain event that took place earlier in the night. I could tell how drunk Bennett was and how he wasn’t even close to being in his right state of mind but standing there with him then, I didn’t really care. Standing before me was the boy I was convinced I loved and would have given almost anything in the world for him to love me back. And he made me believe he did. It happened again, another kiss, this time a longer, deeper kiss and this time, I could feel it. Leaving kisses along my neck, Bennett was distracting both himself and I until the questions arose within me.
“Why is this happening?”
As soon as the words crept out of my mouth, I regretted them. It was as if the words sobered Bennett up, awakening his rational thinking.
“I...I don’t know why. Seemed like the thing to do.” Those shattering words broke whatever tipsiness remained in my system as my magical night and unrealistic moments came crumbling down around me. I realised that everything that happened didn’t really happen, it was just a cruel and brutal fantasy and rather than leave me with the memories of the enchantment I experienced, they were torn and ripped from me. Leaving me with only bittersweet sadness. Choking back whatever I really felt and really wanted to say, I listened as Bennett continued to explain how I was always there for him, always listening. He told me that he was lonely and I was there when he needed it. To deepen my profound sorrows further, he added that it meant nothing and then spoke of the girl he liked, his ex. The one he really wanted to be with.

Instead of leaving like I should have, I sat there with him. Listening, as I always did. I listened to him talk about that girl and how much she meant to him all the while thinking about how much I wished I was that girl. I dreamed of the day when he would want me as much as that other girl. Reality stepped in and reminded me of who I was, who I will always be; a friend, a good listener, the one who is always there when he needs it, the second choice, but never his girl.

****

That’s the story of how I noticed and fell for my Romeo, although he treated me like his Rosaline. His old love. His back up for when he couldn’t have his Juliet. I was standing there, ready to die for him and he barely saw me. The worst part of all of this, in my opinion was the fact that Bennett had made me a promise and broke it that night. He promised to never kiss me if there weren’t any of those true feelings. Never, he promised, I wouldn’t do that to my best friend, he told me. I will never see him as anything but a liar now, a liar and a thief. For he had stolen my first kiss. It wasn’t often you saw a seventeen year old who had never kissed anyone in her whole lifetime. But I, despite what many people had mocked me about, wanted to wait because I had a plan. I truly wanted to only kiss one person for the rest of my life. That it was something special that should only be shared between sole mates. I had never even wanted to kiss anyone before Bennett. After Halloween,I knew how ridiculous my dreams were. How unrealistic that goal was. Kissing and things like that came so easily to Bennett. There I was, thinking he understood me and knew me better than anyone else, but really only wanted to use me to feel better about himself. The whole situation made me feel dirty. And rotten.

Rage and pain filled the corners of my heart but no matter how enraged or wounded it made me, I never did anything about it. Out of fear I would lose Bennett all together. I honestly believed that having Bennett like that was enough, despite my romantic feelings for him. I thought I could push them aside and continue our friendship the way we always had. Much to my surprise, I was mistaken. Regardless of my many efforts to forget about the kiss…kisses, and how hard I fought to forget how the butterflies made me want to puke every time he hugged me, I wasn’t able to dismiss any of it. Every time I looked at him, I had flashes of Halloween play through my mind. Still able to feel where his lips touched my skin, I couldn’t shake him off of me. And it was disgusting. Feeling ashamed that I let myself be one of those girls, someone who was okay with being treated as if she were unimportant. I didn’t want to be weak anymore. I wanted to find strength, to find courage to stand up for myself and not back down to make room for other people’s feelings and beliefs.

Seeing him broke me. Being near him tore me apart. Not talking to him hurt me. Ignoring him felt like I was betraying him. It was embarrassing for me, to be desperately invested in someone who I never once dated. It had to stop, I thought, in order for me to focus on something, on anything else. It had become worse than an obsession, it eventually took over my life, replaced any other feeling I carried. I hated it. I almost hated him, I convinced myself I did hate him but then I realised that I was just hurt that he didn’t like me as much as I liked him.

Things got too hard and my only solution was drastic. I figured in order to get my life back on track and actually make something of myself that didn’t revolve around Bennett, I had to leave. There was no way I could stay and continue living like that. Because it wasn’t living. It was struggling. And I was tired of struggling. I pushed through until we graduated from High School. The night before my mother and I left to move to another city, I remember burning my journal. A journal that contained every moment, every encounter I had shared with Bennett. Amongst the pages in that book held not only descriptions of the Halloween party, but all the other times that Bennett felt lonely and needed someone to lean on for a while. A total of seven kisses. On seven different occasions from the Halloween party to the day we graduated, he had let his own personal needs be ahead of me and our friendship. Included in my quest to throw away that part of me and my life, I burnt my journal, hoping that the less I had to remind me of him, the less I would feel about him.

The next day, we left. No goodbyes, no notice. Just, one day we were there and the next we weren’t. I knew that if I had spoken to Bennett, just once, I would have remained in this endless, lifeless cycle of torture. Instead of allowing myself to be dragged back into the life of Bennett, I cut all ties with him. No more communicating through text, no more internet conversations, no more personal visits. We stopped talking all together. And we haven’t spoken since.

I said goodbye to my Romeo. I threw away my entire life because I was scared. Scared of everything. I wanted to be in love, I wanted to experience the love story from the books, to be a part of the films. I wanted passionate, I wanted dramatic. I wanted raw, unedited perfection. I still want that. But I wanted it with Bennett. I remember crying over him for weeks. Soaking my pillow with pathetic tears that was wasted on a boy who didn’t see me. I wish that he could have seen me. Five years later and I still find myself thinking about ‘what if’. I try to remind myself that if it were meant to be, it would have been. I imagine one day, we might meet again and I might get the chance to tell him that I loved him once upon a time. That he was my first love. I have this picture in my mind of him trying to win me over, telling me that he was a fool for not seeing me sooner. That he did truly love me. My reply would be simple. You’re too late, Bennett. You had your chance and you blew it. I’ve moved on. Ha, that will be the day. Can you imagine it? The day I, Elise rejects Bennett. That will be the day.
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