Fire Escape

Fire Escape

I knew her when she was a little girl. Apart from others, she was. Away from me, she was. But the Others were drawn to her, to her unique, yet mysterious nature. They sought her admiration. It was the unwritten law of hierarchy that you admire someone, just for the sake of admiring. I chose that unreasonable, frustrating, fascinating and lonely girl. Damned were the rocks she threw at me, damned were the words she threw at me. She found pleasure in my displeasure, happiness in my unhappiness.

I was a man of virtue. But not of strength. Father was ruthless at that time, he was ruthless in his silence. What did I do to him? Wasn’t I good enough? I tried every night “Wanna play ball, papa?” but he didn’t flinch, on the lucky days he grunted. But that was it, a shadow always managed to cloak his face from expression. His eyes were constantly elsewhere. Always dark. Except on the days when he wasn’t silent, my mother’s screams were always covering his voice. His silence then became a luxury I never saw the light of. Mother always said that those we love the most always manage to hurt us. I wonder if that was what she always told herself on those nights. Thirty years later I still try to shake the constant feeling that I was actually an orphan, in search of a papa.

I found an escape in The girl. When I saw her for the first time she was alone, keeping to herself and scribbling something on someone’s copybook. She looked at me and a chill went through my spine. Dark brown eyes, framed with silky black hair tore my soul into pieces. I was surprised, it showed I still had a soul left. I thought papa took it away when he took mama away with him in the house fire. Mama couldn’t bear seeing Father go, he left another woman to be with her after all. But he always managed to remind her of that. Every.Night.

Grandma took me in, but the silence was like a spider, doing its web around my heart. The girl invaded my mind then. The same night when I missed mama I thought of another world, where The Girl and I loved each other, where she loved me because I was important, because I mattered, and because I was worthy to be loved. I felt a little less alone then.

We were never friends though, I was too busy loving her in my dreams. It was a rule to never tell her, else my dream would shatter, and I’d be left with nothing. She had her life, and I had ours.

Years later I decided to let go, it was grandma who told me so. “Why hold on to something that doesn’t bring you anything, sweetheart?”. I tried to man up and tell The Girl everything. At this moment, a straight line separated reality from fiction. She changed, transformed into that harmless being that was a stranger to my feelings. She became an ordinary, yet pure creature, which I no longer love.

It was my suffering that kept my love alive. I couldn’t understand it at first, but then I saw it. I saw its logic. Absolute love generates absolute hate, and average love generates average hate. It took me twenty two years and half to realize that the only reason she mattered so much is because she made me feel alive when I was surrounded by death. I stayed away from her to be hurt on purpose. I needed to bleed to know I still had blood running through my veins. As a child, imagination was my escape when the window wasn’t enough.

And that’s where it hit me.

I saw in her indifference a papa that was never mine in the first place.

He was Hers.

I took Her papa away when I set Him on fire.


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