She storms into your existence and sets it ablaze.
You meet her at your brother’s housewarming. She’s a friend of a friend of a friend, she tells you, features taut and lips pursed, mouth set into a straight line. She’s a friend of a friend of a friend who met them in Alaska, and would you pass the Doritos, please, spicy chilli is her favourite flavour thank you very much. The small twinkle in her eye gives away her poor attempt at a straight face, but she refuses to let up on her little masquerade until she’s knocked a couple of Cosmopolitans back and swung down onto the sofa, when she admits that she’s actually on your brother’s course. You’d have never pegged her for a lawyer but apparently? Nobody does.
She says this with a giggle, her face burning with what she dismisses as Asian flush, and within a few seconds she’s moved on to more pegging question of whether you’re wearing a Homestuck shirt, because if you are you are totally her new best friend. By the end of the night you’ve traded numbers and exchanged names, and you find yourself falling asleep on the sofa she was lounging on, taking in the smell of her citrusy scent. The next day you go out for lunch, and then for dinner; you do that the next day as well, and the very next after that. The third night you find a goofy smile plastered onto your face and your hands laced in hers, and the thought that you owe your brother a fancy meal crosses your mind. That can wait though, you think as she starts dragging you down the streets, declaring that she wants ice cream and she’s going to get it now. Till you wake up from this trance.
She’s a whirlwind, she’s a flame, and soon you find yourself caught up in her flurry of chatter and escapades. The next week you meet up for coffee and she practically jumps into your arms, babbling about her sudden desire to go to some tea place that will probably cost her a bomb. But hey, she shrugs, it’s the start of the month, she can live on ramen for the last few days of March. Screw her pumpkin spiced latte; she could kill for a cup of passionfruit infusion right now. Yes, you’re going with her, and no, you have no say. Yes, of course she was kidding about that but no, she’s not too keen on the idea of sitting in the same goddamn Starbucks and ordering the same goddamn drink! One thing leads to another and by the evening you find yourself worn out, half-dead, and stuffed with as many cups of tea and sandwiches that she could shove down your throat. But you follow her to the local arcade and together you’re shooting zombies by the dozen, her energy still at peak levels as she screams expletives at the screen, watching blood splatter and heads explode.
You can’t help but wonder how she’s a live wire with a blazing streak, cherry pop rocks with a spicy twist, but hey, you dig it, you think with a grin as you manage to score a headshot. You sneak a sideways glance. She’s a manic explosion of tornadoes and thunderstorms, a fiery imp in her perpetual quest for adventure. She trips and slips over her own feet and throws caution to the wind, and seems to hold youth itself in the palm of her hand. But hey, it’s okay, she claims, you’re both only twenty after all, and what you have is time. You’ve got all the time in the world to learn and grow and get to know each other. And together you walk that passage- a month passes and then two, and it’s after three that your fascination turns to wonder.
Wonder at how she’ll grab your hand in public for hours on end but suddenly remind you that you’re not actually going out, at how she’ll cuddle with you in your bed but not ever be the one to text you first late at night. At how she once phoned you half-drunk when she was out at dinner with her friends, telling you that she’s never ever ever drinking again, but she might as well say she really likes you and that you’re only just the next best thing- but how she won’t kiss you yet, won’t let your lips touch hers because she’s saving it, she claims. Saving it for someone special.
You could be that someone special, you responded, telling her calmly that that comment could have been taken the completely wrong way. She frowns and tells you she wants to be sure before she does anything, and sometimes you can’t help but wonder whether there’s a romantic underneath all that, under the connoisseur and hedonist and aspiring traveller of the world. She’s got your name and hers scratched out on maps to places she wants to go, things she wants to do, but won’t even commit to the idea of going to the Law Ball as a couple because she’s not sure where this is going and whether the magic will fade. And you can’t help but observe: for someone who so claims to want to enjoy her existence, she certainly needs to learn how to rein in her fire, to live and let live!
But your attempt at telling her so results in her snapping back that you barely know her, that you could never fathom what she’s been through- though it’s nothing big or earth-shattering, she is quick to add, but you could never walk a mile in her shoes, trace her footsteps in the sand. You could never, never hope to know, even if she tried to explain, because she’s got to fight her own battles and she’ll get over this on her own. Yet in a few seconds she’s stringing together apology after apology, announcing that she was completely unreasonable, the world’s biggest bitch, and that you’re the sweetest guy for putting up with all this shit she’s thrown. She’s got to sort herself out, but she’ll be fine, and she’s thankful that you’ve given her all the space she needs, so she’d like to see you for dinner that night, her treat.
One moment she’s bursting with excitement and the next she’s raining on your parade. You now can’t help but wonder whether she’s doing it for her sake or yours when she leans in closer to you, takes a whiff of your shirt and squeezes your hand. You can’t help but wonder if her eyes are more tired and her laugh is more forced, but her grip is as strong, her voice is as loud as ever and she’s still charging full speed ahead, dragging you around in what she claims to be the city of her dreams. She’s just stressed, she says, stressed from finals and schoolwork and a future that’s unclear, even though you point out that she’s got qualifications galore and that anybody would be crazy not to hire her- but no matter what you say she’s stressed anyway, under some sort of mounting pressure that she’s thrust upon herself, but at the same time so restless, so bored, so filled with yearning with something more!
And one day, she gives you a call to tell you it’s over.
You aren’t quite sure whether you’re surprised.
It was for her sake all along, you realise right there and then- she wanted to hold on to you, wanted to feel for you as much as she did at the start, but you can’t keep fanning the flames if they refuse to burn. Part of you wants to confront her and ask where you went wrong, but you have a feeling that this is where you should leave it. No sense digging through the remnants for what is now ash. Besides, you have a feeling that she’s gone, gone- the last traces of her citrusy scent disappearing like the remnants of a hurricane, in search for someone, or perhaps something else to keep her occupied, in constant pursuit for the next great adventure.
Wei Yun enjoys the pursuit of writing in second person.
Image taken from here