There was just something about us—about him.
Perhaps it was the way he could catch me from crumbling into the bedlam I had stitched around my own crust and bones. Perhaps it was his patience for elucidating the labyrinth that is myself—my mind, my personality, my fears, my pride, and everything that made me the person I am. Perhaps it was the way he could see the water in my eyes consequenced by my own impetuous mistakes, or the way he could hear the unsaid. I was the wild one in the relationship. Spontaneous. Independent. Needing my own space and freedom. He, on the other hand, was the grounded one—always. Reliant. Private. Wanting stability. Wishing for more time together. Amidst the madness of my struggles and the screeching of my inner demons, he was the one who kept me sane.
When we first got together, we were mad—
First time blatantly going against the rules.
As city kids, our date nights were evenings when we stayed in school, thinking that we had the whole place to ourselves. I’d jump from benches to benches all through the hallways and tread on the walls with my arms stretched out as I put one foot in front of another. I’d climb onto the highest balconies to overlook the city, sinking into my pool of thoughts as I took in the scenery. He was always chasing behind me, telling me to stop whenever I was about to take a risk, yelling at me when I climbed too high, and pulling me back onto the ground when I joked about jumping off—just to see if I can fly. It was during those nights when he became the first person to ever “see” me—through the facade I carried, the walls I built, the masks I wore, and the lies that had became an essential part of me. It was in those moments when he saw the fledgling behind the hard-shell created by pain, stigma, and tradition: the freespirit who refused to be caged and longed to feel the breeze.
Our camping trips, though, was another story. We substituted our rooftop tête-à-têtes with post-twilight adventures. There were nights when we simply laid on the grass and stargazed for hours, enjoying the presence of each other, and nights when we took on forest expeditions around midnight—when he revealed that he was scared of the dark as I laughed at him, quickening my footsteps and forcing him to walk in the dark alone. And then there were the most memorable instance: when he cornered me and forced me to talk to him when he sensed something was wrong. As moonlight trickled through the bamboo leaves and landed on my face, he saw the rawest side of me: the restless chameleon that had excelled in adapting to changes and was always ready to run, choosing to flight instead of fight.
But our relationship was twisted.
We were two con men and two master manipulators. It was the first time we had ever met another mind who shared the same twisted, calculating, manipulative thoughts—perhaps that was why it was so easy for us to open up and to admit those dirty truths we dare not tell another soul. But that also led to the buildup of our downfall.
A lie here. A twisted truth there.
What was supposed to be love turned into a long con, playing upon the simplest mortal frailties: greed and desperation. Jealousy and rage. What was supposed to be companionship turned into one mind game after another: two twisted intellects battling out, holding on just to see who’s smarter and stronger—or perhaps to see who breaks first.
And at times I wonder, was that why I couldn’t bring myself to leave?