Saturday, April 16, 2011

Life (An Interactive Story) Part 2

jdomawa © 2011* All Rights Reserved

Let’s have a thought experiment. This is a story I am writing that will be dependent upon your responses. It is fictional in all aspects, lets lay that down first. So that means IT IS NOT REAL! I know that we harbor the voyeuristic desire to see the life of others for public consumption but this is not based on reality. It’s a complete work of fiction and must be treated as such.

Here’s how it works: I write small chapters where the main hero has a predicament at the end. You comment about what you want the character to do and based on the highest votes, I’ll write the next chapter and then so on until we get to complete the story. (Race to five votes should do it). Give me time to finish the next chapters and then the voting starts again.

CHAPTER 1 - 2 : The Meeting

I watched her fidget in her seat. There is nothing more unnerving than the realization that you have shunned someone and watch her reactions to it. You want to make it easier. As a gentleman, or at least that part of you that’s still a gentleman, one of your greatest fears is to make a woman cry. Despite what men may tell you, hurting a woman is the worst thing a man can do. Your manhood suffers and you end up losing something in the process: something which is hard to regain.

We are strangers and she is better off, I tell myself. Someone out there is better for her… and yes, we do tell ourselves that. We desire women to be happy and when we know that we can’t be that man for her, we hope that she finds someone better (unfortunately, in most cases, she doesn’t). Maybe that would be that man engaging her in a conversation, although, as I watched the man gesticulate, I realized that he was into her for something entirely different.

She didn’t look at me. I saw her force herself into discoursing with her suitor.

So you don’t want me, she’s saying, I don’t need you. See, I can have any man I want.

The tragedy is we both know what could not be uttered. She is hurt by my turning down her invitation. Who wouldn’t be? Rejection, even something mental like what just transpired is a painful thing. It makes you question your self-worth and this in turn becomes doubt that makes you wonder what you lack that merited the act. It’s agonizing. Particularly if you are the woman.

It took all my willpower not to stand up. I felt her pain and empathized with it. I consoled myself that I would be doing her a great favor by not initiating something that might bring her more pain in the future. Yup -

I am an asshole!

Who am I kidding? It’s a lame excuse made by a fool and a coward. And I’m a friggin’ coward.

I gulped my drink to the bottom. Since men cannot vent at all, we drown our sorrows in the embrace of spirits. Yet we all know that it is a temporary fix. It’s a false façade that hides the hurt inside. I motioned for another drink. I hated myself.

Hated my guts for not being brave enough to initiate something which might be the means to my salvation. After all, she just might be that woman who will rescue me from this glutted existence I’m currently living. She just might be that spark.
Or this meeting might just be a meeting. That I’ve read too much into subtle gestures that were never there in the first place and she would just stare at me and then laugh at my perception that she was into me. Maybe my mind is just playing tricks.

Who am I kidding?

I swallowed the bitter beer, welcoming its harsh bite as it raced to my stomach.

I felt her eyes on me. I didn’t meet it. There was a hard question in that stare. I didn’t know the answer. I chose the only thing I could do. I feigned ignorance and focused on my drink. I tried to clear my mind into a daze. Sometimes, the best way to weasel out of a sticky situation is to bury your head in the sand and hope that the world would pass you by.
It never works.

I felt a warm body beside me, heard the dull thud of a beer bottle against the wooden table and a whiff of lavender as someone sat across me on my table.

It really never works…

I cleared my vision. Dark brown smiling eyes tinged with just a hint of agony held my gaze. They bored into me and I felt right then that I was laid bare for all the world to see. I squirmed under that scrutiny. I dropped my gaze and managed a weak smile.

She didn’t speak. I could see her slender fingers cradling her drink as I lowered my gaze. I settled on that. Her willowy digits were capped in some sort of red nail polish. They were cut short and a bit frayed at the edges, indicative of a clerical job. Staring at them made me wonder how warm they would be if I held them.

Jesus! I’m freaky.

I looked up to tell her that she’s making a mistake going for me and promptly found my words frozen on my throat.
Just a hint of moisture glistened in her eyes barely covering the reproof which lingered there. What can you do to that?
‘Hi.’ You can only say that one dumb word and hope that she wouldn’t pour her drink over your head.

Her eyes settled on my outstretched arms. A smile formed on her lips and her hands clasped mine. Fragile soft digits, warm to the touch. My heart lurched to my throat. I reflexively withdrew my hand as if scalded. She giggled, a cute sound that gurgled from her throat like a brook in early spring.

I smiled sheepishly.

‘Mimi.’ She stated.

‘Mark.’ I answered. An awkward silence followed. After all, we really don’t know each other. Save for that connection, we had nothing else to go on.

This was not what I wanted at all. Two hours ago, I was merely looking for a quiet escape from the doldrums that occupied my days. This was something much more than what I bargained for. I was at a loss.

‘You are with your friends?’ I asked. A stupid question, really. Of course she is with friends. Anyone with half a mind can obviously get the same conclusion. But, conversations between strangers usually start with dumb questions like this. Observations posed as question.

She laughed. A nice laugh.

“Workmates.” She offered. I nodded. The rule of conversations is that you must always answer a question with another question. That way, the words will continue to flow. She didn’t give me a question, leaving me to grope uncomfortably for another question to grease the wheels of our conversations.

“Oh.” I said and sipped my drink. ‘Oh’ is how you give yourself time to think.

“Where do you work?” I asked the next logical question.

She took a sip of her own drink, smiling all the while. She knows this conversation game and probably found humor in the fact that we were playing it when it was all too obvious that it wasn’t necessary. I smiled at the thought.

“We work at the bank on top of the road.” She’s a banker. But still I realize, she still didn’t ask me a question.

“I’m with the Health Department.” I volunteered. My job is to file documents in a dank room in the basement of the oldest building in the city. Where the ventilation is so bad and humidity is stifling. I wanted to add.

‘Oh.’ That’s her ‘oh’ moment. Was she thinking of my probable salary? Probably. That’s always the question. While I maybe wearing a ‘barong’ and slacks with spic leather shoes, I wore them in a haphazard nature that bespoke of my station in life. For the first time in a long time, I felt terribly insecure. I wanted to give a good impression.

Well, too late for that. I chuckled my insecurities.

I ribbed myself for thinking myself that. After all, this thing happening between us could be something transient. It was not as if we are going to get married. Here we are, two strangers in a bar, taking our first tentative steps into something that might never be ‘something’ in the end.

My eyes settled once more on her hands cradling her drink. Strong gentle hands.

I belatedly realized that her glass was nearly empty.


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