The Honey Blues
Switching the lamp on and off, wasn’t as distracting as I’d imagined, on the contrary, it gave me more time to think. When I turned it on, the light bounced on to all what I thought were dark fears, and highlighted how much of a reality it really was. When I turned the switch off, the room with all hidden corners, made me feel so alone again.
Neither on or off, was satisfying.
So I stopped, and turned it off. Maybe I would fall asleep and wake up light and cheery again, but I didn’t even have my eyes closed for ten seconds. The phone rang. I opened my eyes wearily and stared at in awe, as if first noticing it. It sat on the floor a few steps away from me, with the same boring gray shade that I remember from middle school. The cords in a tangle mess, looking like a batch of stale curly fries. It rang until it finally went to voicemail.
“Cam, it’s Ben.” Now I eyed my phone evilly, hoping that one day my eyes would shoot laser beams out of them and burn everything and everyone I wanted. “I was just wondering when you were going to take the rest of your stuff with you, I just...there’s a bit of a clutter, and I just think it would be best-” I pulled the plug right off the wall and covered my eyes with my arms.
God, what an asshole. I let out a groan, that I fought so hard to keep in, loudly, I even raised my hands in horror. I couldn’t let him win, I had to get up and live my life, just like I’ve always had before him. So I got up from my lone mattress that lied flat on the floor, with only a long white t-shirt and gray shorts. I walked to the other corner of my loft, rummaged through some of my bags and picked up my laptop. As I sat cross legged with my back against the wall, I turned the thing on, and was surprised to see my screensaver was me kissing Ben on the cheek. My god, how disturbing. With slow fingers I finally managed to change it to the original settings. I started up Word, and watched as the the black thin line blinked on and off in the blank page.
Not so long ago, I wanted to be a writer. The thought consumed me every single day, I wrote and wrote, sometimes only stoping for bathroom breaks and food, hoping that someday I could write something that was truly beautiful. Something with heart, and something people could relate to. When I met Ben, I thought he’d be my never ending source of inspiration. At first he was. I wrote about him whenever I could, and about us, of what we had. Soon after we began to go steady, instead of writing consuming me, it was Ben. He was all that I experienced, and sadly, lived for. Now that was done with, and I was desperately trying to get back to my roots, but that spark I once had was not there.
I wasted three years with him, three essential years where I could’ve started a career, could have started a life. Now I had to start all over, and I didn’t even know how. What was I going to do with my life, what was out there that I could do? How do I approach things? How will my future look like?
This was the fourth day in my new apartment, and the fourth day I tried to write. Nothing came to me, there was nothing I could will myself to write, not even my thoughts did I write. It was like I was empty inside, waiting for something to happen, waiting for that light, but nothing, nothing ever happened.
I gave my self another twenty minutes, but of course just like yesterday, those minutes were wasted with what seemed to be my infatuation with my cursor. So I just closed my laptop.
I rested my head against the wall and took a deep breath. I observed the loft, it was a tiny place, all that I could afford, a small room that served as the bedroom and living room that boasted a ratty old mattress, a phone and a corner filled with my stuff. Then there was the small kitchen that seemed like it was stuck in the seventies, with pale wallpaper lining the walls. Besides the bathroom that was it, not my dream apartment, no that was what I had with Ben, but I liked it. Unassuming in it’s meekness, just like how I felt of myself sometimes. I blew my dark bangs out of my hair, and went to work, well I went to the bathroom and changed. I grabbed a couple of things from some boxes, worked my hands through my hair and embarked on a wonderful adventure full of empty thoughts and misguided aspirations...well that’s what the narrator in my head said anyways, in reality I just opened and closed my loft door. As I tried locking it with my key I heard somebody coming up the stairs, I hope it wasn’t the lady from yesterday, I wasn’t sociable and charming like Ben was, so I wanted to avoid her. I knew she’d take my quietness for an invitation to talk about the meaning of life. But the key got stuck and as I pulled and pulled, I heard the steps close to me.
“Do you need help with that?” I heard him say. I turned around and noticed what seemed to be my new neighbor since he had successfully opened the door to the apartment next to mine.
“Uhm,” I gave it a last pull, but it didn’t come out. “I think so.” He smiled and walked over to my door, gave the knob a good shimmy and handed back my key.
“It just needs a little bit of love.”
“Oh I see.” I told him as I took back my key from him. “And here I was thinking it was just old and malfunctioning.”
I took the pause to look him over, in what I hoped was subtlety. He had enough brown hair to call it shaggy and pale blue eyes, that crinkled when he smiled. He was tall and slim, and seemed to be lazily put together.
“I suppose. My name is Camilla, I guess I’m your new neighbor?” I said and stuck out my palm for a handshake, which he took carefully.
“Yeah I guess you are. My name’s Javier, but call me Javi please.”
“Ok I will." I replied, but I had somwhere I had to go, so an awkward end to small talk was all I could give him. "So I’ll see you later Javi.” I told him moving around him quickly going down the stairs, to where the city greeted me.
It was a beautiful day out, sunny and warm, clouds as bright white as possible, and the sky that screamed out with happiness. It wasn’t matching my mood like I wanted it to.
I spent the day walking around and taking the metro everywhere, just wandering around, hoping to get the courage to go to what now is labeled as Ben’s apartment. I never did get those guts, so I went back to my apartment. When I finally got my door to open, Javi came out of his, wearing the same as before, just like when I left.
“Hi. What’s up.” I told him trying to sound cool, I never was, so this felt unnatural.
“Just wondering if you wanted to grab lunch, there’s this good Thai place down the street.”
“Uhm I'm not sure, I don't really know you so if I'm being honest right now, I would be naive to think you were just trying to be nice."
"It's a bit weird, spontaneous, sure, but I am trying to be nice, do you have any complaints about me so far?" He asked.
"No, not yet. "
"Besides it'll be my treat, just want to get to know you and all."
"Fine, you won, I love food, especially if it’s free so sure.” I closed my door back and finally was able to lock it in my first try.
“I guess you would want to get to know me as well.”
“And why do you think that?” I asked him curiously as we walked down the stairs.
“What if I’m a serial killer or something?” He said with a quipped lip.
“Huh, true. I doubt you’d kill me though, killing your next door neighbor would be too obvious.” He laughed and agreed.
When we arrived at the place called Thai House, I realized that this was one of those places that had a cult following. We were seated near the back close to the kitchen, where we were given some privacy and ordered some lunch specials. Our drinks were first to arrive which were place promptly before us, I ordered the ever delicious thai tea with boba and Javi, the green tea with boba. Ben hated tea, was the first thing that came to mind, and the fact he would never step into one of these places.
“So what do you do?” He asked as he watched me from where he was sitting in front of me.
“This is embarrassing but nothing, actually.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t have a job, I graduated college, received my bachelors degree on Writing and all thoes bell and whistles that come with it, but I haven't done anything with it. I just moved in with my boyfriend, well ex, right after graduation so we traveled around together. So I guess you can say I'm still pending. You?”
“I work at a non profit nearby.”
He chuckled and said, “Yeah it’s pretty awesome.”
"Is it as rewarding as it seems?"
"Definitely, we help out the community, talk to amazing people, the only downside is that sometimes I don't get the check in the mail."I smiled up to him and drank some of my tea, munching happily on the bobas. “So what do you want to do?” He asked.
“I wanted to be a writer for a long time, but I just can’t write anymore. I don’t think I ever will now, I sit by computer and I don't know, I'm just not connecting, like there's nothing for me to say." I shrugged. "I don't know, at one point I tried being a good girlfriend but that got me nowhere as you can see.”
“So what happened with your ex? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“He cheated on me, broke up with me, and told me to move out, simply put.”
“Yeah well...what can I do?” I shrugged and looked at the people around us eating. Everyone smiled as they made outlandish gestures and ate their food. For a second I felt like I was in a silent movie where I was told to act happy but was unable to do.
“You have a nice smile, Camilla.” He said after a while and as he drank some of his own tea. I smiled even wider and pressed the cup closer to my mouth to hide it.
"Thanks." I said quietley.
At that moment our plates arrived and the waitress with a lovely smile placed them on the table and fared us a good meal. We didn’t touch our food for a couple of minutes, we just sat watching each other quietly. It wasn’t awkward in any way, it was just like we were meant to do this, just sit here and look to one another. “It looks great.” I told him without glancing down to the food.
“Yeah it does.” He replied without breaking away.
“It tastes great too.”
“Yeah. Amazing, not as spicy as I thought.” he answered and burst out laughing, and with such a contagious laugh, I laughed too.
After we finished our meal we went back to our apartments, no kiss, no hug just a smile as goodbyes. It was different as if we didn’t need to do anything special, it just felt right to end the day mysteriously.
Once inside with my notebook open to a blank page I twirled my pen around my fingers not knowing what to do with it, so I scribbled and drew third dimensional squares. I took a break, came back and drew some more squares. Took a nap, read a book, watched some tv, and wrote my name eleven times on the paper. This was not looking good at all, maybe one day I'll forget my name and then what would I write? So I threw the notebook to the side and slept on the cold floor, feeling like my whole life ended.
The next week I sat on the floor with a cold bowl of ramen and my laptop on my thighs. It was open to a blank page on word like usual. I ended up writing I love cats, ten times when until I heard a knock on the door.
“I have this plan, I want to go to Little Tokyo and hold a heist, maybe force everyone to dance the Macarena, or something like that. Want to join me?” Javi asked as soon as I opened the door to where he stood with arms across his chest. He wore a black snug leather jacket, with regular jeans, but there was something that was not just regular about him. Something rather, exciting.
“Sounds like your standing up against conformity.”
“I’m a radical, so are you in?”
“I’m in.” I grabbed my messenger bag and made our way to the metro station, talking endlessly about the process in which a movie was classified as foreign in the Academy Awards.
“What about English movies, aren’t they foreign?” I asked curiously. “Why can’t a Canadian movie be nominated for Best Picture and an English one can? I think we’re being a little bit unfair towards our neighbors.”
“Who knows? The Academy are just a bunch of-”
“Bunch of what? Conformists?”
“Oh so now you’re fucking around with me?” He asked as he stopped on top of the second floor by the escalator.
“What did I say?” I replied as I giggled.
“My heist is not a joke. All my life I’ve wanted to witness mobs of people dancing the Macarena.”
“As in, a long life dream? Because I have dream also, it might invole you.” I told him as I got closer to him. I was able to smell his scent, something between musk and coconut.
“Really?.” He whispered. I grabbed his hands and massaged his knuckles. Wordlessly we stepped onto the escalator and went down. He was a step lower and faced me, still holding each other’s hands. I looked away for a second and saw the train.
“Shit.” I said. “Go! Go!” He turned around and noticed the train and quickly stepped off the remaining steps. “We’re still on the opposite side! Come this way!” We ran to the stairs that connected to the platform as we helplessly watched people board the train from the corner of our eyes. “No, no, no.” Our pace accelerated and we sprinted, but as soon as we arrived to the bottom of the stairs the train left. “Shit, no.” I looked over to Javi and he crouched down laughing as he held on to his stomach. I began laughing too. “So close.” I said in between giggles.
“We ran so fast.” He said and we both slumped to the ground with laughter. “But look, only ten minutes for the next one.” And we began to laugh even more.
When we arrived to Little Tokyo we put our arms around each other, just out of instinct I suppose.
We went to an arcade and played air hockey, I won of course, and after played against some high school kids, and we won. We also played some other arcade games in there, not really knowing what we were supposed to be doing. Inside a Sanrio store, I about died, and ended up buying a Chococat plush toy as souvenir. But the best thing about the trip was the wishing tree in the middle of the square. It was a tree that hung many tiny pieces of paper in colorful strings around the branches. Many people came solely for this, to wish something special and hope that one day it would come true, a great sense of hope.
“Let’s make a wish.” I suggested. I grabbed a pen from inside my bag, and two pieces of paper and strings from the side. "Maybe you can wish yourself a better apartment."
“You live there too, you know. So what are you writing?"
“I’m not going to say anything!” I said and pressed the paper to my chest. “What are you going to write?”
All he did, was shrug and began scribbling things in the paper. I did the same except I leaned my paper against the bark and wrote my wish. To find inspiration, and have the courage to write again. When I was done Javi watched me, so I stared back until I decided to just tie the string on the the paper and then to the tree.
We roamed around for a while after too, but finally went home after having too many moshi balls.
The red blinking light on my voice mail blared annoyingly as I walked in. I knew who it was instantly, but I still pressed the button to listen.
“Cam, I’m serious about your stuff. I called you last week and you didn’t call back, if you don’t show up tomorrow, I'm just warning you, Thursday all your stuff will be in the trash.” End of call and no goodbye.
The next morning I finally, after a lot of arguing with myself, decided to go back to Ben’s. I had to, I wasn’t going to let all my stuff just be thrown away like that, I wasn’t that weak. Outside of the apartments Javi walked with his hands in his pockets carrying a backpack which looked as if he was coming from work.
“Hey, want to catch dinner or something? I'm feeling a bit like Peruvian.”
“I can’t right now; I have to get some stuff from my ex’s, which sounds like I'm self inflicting, but I just have to pick up some of my stuff.”
“Want me to come with you?”
“No, it’s alright. I can do this.”
“Okay, but maybe we can have drinks when you get back?”
“Oh god yes, that sounds good. I will be needing many drinks after I come back, so yes I would love to.” I replied to him, he smiled and said alright.
When I arrived at my old apartment I noticed Lucy, the girl Ben cheated on me with, she was dressed in a tight fitting dress with her hair down, waves all across her back. I touched my hair instinctively, suddenly worrying about the value of my hair. That’s what living with Ben did to me, he made me second guess myself.
I waved at the doorman, Mr. Torres, like I always did when I arrived and went up the elevator. I was the one who had chosen this place, when Ben and I decided to move in together I picked out the place, told Ben about it and set up a meeting. At the time I was getting jobs doing freelance and doing some other side work but Ben insisted that I stay home and not work. And I listened. It was fun at first, since Ben was a business man, he traveled and I went along sometimes, but then he stopped inviting me, it was a sign.
The elevator stopped at seven, and I got out, I almost let it go, but if I didn’t do this now, I wouldn't do it later. The hallway was beautiful with huge open windows where you could see the skyline perfectly just like the inside of the apartments, sometimes I’d just pull up a chair to watch it. For the first time ever, I knocked, which was weird to say the least, I always had keys.
“Did you forget your keys?” Ben asked as he opened the door. His button up shirt was open and rumpled, his jeans unbuttoned, but his short blonde hair was still the same; cropped. “Oh Cam, it’s you.”
“Yeah, me.” I said with heavy breath. “I uh, got your message...”
“God finally! It’s been two weeks since you left, Cam.”
“I know, two long weeks.” I stepped inside, and observed the place. The room was still decorated the way I’d designed it but there were swatches of fabric and paint on the floor so I figured, not for long. I also noticed all the pictures of both him and Lucy everywhere. Yes, only took him two weeks to forget all about me. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay, just get your stuff. It’s inside the closet.” I walked inside the bedroom, and in a heartbreaking scene, saw the sheets unmade, and all their underwear on the floor, but that wasn’t the worse part. When I opened my old closet door, I was shocked to see Lucy’s things all in there, she had moved in.
I got my box of things and sat on the floor to check them, just to see if everything was there. It wasn’t a lot that I’d left behind, some books, clothing, miscellaneous stuff mostly but I still stuck my hand in to see what I would get. I retrieved and old polaroid of Ben and I. We looked so happy, but it was just a lie, I had truly loved him, but now I know the feeling was not mutual. We lied on the bed, white fluffy pillows around us, our hair messy, and big smiles. I closed my eyes. I had given up my life for him. I had dropped everything and jumped when he told me to. I was so naive, I was so blinded, and now I was hurting like nothing before.
“Cam, I need to do some things, so if you wouldn’t mind...” He called out. I took a long breath, stood up and grabbed my box. “There you are, I need to do some-”
“I heard you.”
“Oh. Okay well Cam make sure you got all your stuff so you won’t-”
“Two weeks Ben? Two fucking weeks! It took you two fucking weeks to have her move in and change everything that took me so long to create?”
“Cam,” He said and I put down my box on the coffee table.
“Ben shut up! I’m talking. No, you know what-I’m venting! You are such an asshole, a douche bag, a Brad Pitt wannabe! You are as exciting as a potato! Yeah I said it, who cares about the type of material your tie is made up of, it’s just a tie! And you cheated on me! What the fuck? You cheated on me, with Lucy your co worker! I should be the one throwing you out! You have no class, Ben you used me up and-”
“Cam, calm down-”
“And who ever said you could call me Cam! I hate Cam! Cam is as bad as Ben! And news flash, I loved you, Ben. I gave you everything I had, I changed for you, I worshipped the ground you walked on, and you just dump me, without ever an explanation for what you did? Without apologizing. You never said sorry.”
“Cam, I don’t know what to say.”
“Oh my fucking god!” I walked over to where he was and stood on my tip toes so I could look him straight in the eyes. “I left my dream for you, Ben. I left everything for you! And you throw me away just like that.”
“I liked Lucy,” I slapped him hard, right across that stupid face of his. “Well I liked slapping you.” I walked over to the coffee table that I picked out, and pulled the box close to me. “I hope you stay a lackey for the rest of your life, you prick.” I stalked my way over to the door, but before I left said, “I hope one day you realize what a self centered jerk you really are, and that in life you can’t do that to people.” And left. I rode the elevator alone, and with tears in my eyes, but like always waved at Mr. Torres.
I took the metro back, still angry, and still a head full of worries. Three years out the window. Being alone at twenty five was not something that bothered me, I actually saw myself that way sometimes, somehow thinking it’d give me more material to work with, what bothered me was the fact that I was twenty five, with no money, no job, and empty. Fucking empty.
When I arrived at my door, I saw a yellow Post It note in my door, Got us some drinks and movies knock on my door when you’re ready.
After I set my things down and wiped away my eyes, I was ready, it didn’t take long to realize that. I knocked a couple of times, he came with goodies at hand and off we went to drink. We sat in my mattress with the tv directly in front of us, just drinking for a while, letting the alcohol sink in first.
“So how did it go?” He asked as I pressed play and sat directly in front of him cross legged.
“Like coffee. Bitter.” And so I told him everything, each detail was met by his steady eyes, and sometimes I would just pause so I could just meet him with the same kind of stare. At some lulls in the story, we would stay completely quiet and unmoving, yet both questioning and answering each other with our eyes. “Javi what do I do now?” I asked at the end.
“I don’t know. Take it a day at a time.”
“How old are you?”
“Does it get better?”
“What?” He asked as a Mexican movie played in the background.
“Life.” I said hopelessly and leaned my back against the mattress, he then did the same.
“No. Well, a little. You become more secure and confident about things.”
“At what age was that?” I asked and he chuckled.
“I don’t have an exact age.”
I turned my head sideways to look at him, and he did the same. His eyes looked at mine with soft intensity, like he was trying to comfort me in ways. I wanted the comfort. I turned my whole body sideways and touched his hair. His hair was soft around my fingers, so I twirled my fingers around them. He pressed his fingers on my cheeks, warm and kind, a touch that felt like he was trying to memorize the texture of my skin and comfort me at the same time. After a while, I leaned into him and held him tightly, his head atop mine and his arms around my waist.
“You’ll sort it out, I promise.” He whispered against my hair, and we fell asleep like that.
In the morning we woke up with groggily faces, and hungry stomachs. We ate pancakes that he made, and as we ate, we made faces at each other, just like we were ten again. We had a mini food fight where I managed to hit him in the eyes with a syrup covered piece, but we ended up cleaning it all up after a few minutes.
By my door, we held hands. Our fingers twirled around together, and our stares the same with curiosity.
“Meet me for dinner?” He asked.
“Yes.” I responded.
He pulled me in close by the hands, his lips falling happily upon mine. Soft and sweet, just like honey, and a bit sticky. His tongue teased it’s way inside my mouth, carrying a little feistiness, and I tried to match his enthusiastic with speed, slow and wanting. We pressed our foreheads together and whispered goodbye.