Falling in Love

Reads: 488  | Likes: 4  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The art is not falling in love, but finding your love all over again.

Submitted: May 26, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 26, 2019

A A A

A A A


Falling in Love

 

by 

 

I.D.B Parkes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling in Love.

 

We’ve know each other for as long as we can remember. In fact, there isn’t a memory that exists, where we haven’t been together. For this reason, it’s hard to know what it was that made us such a part of one another. 

When you are so young, you don’t ask questions. The rational mind that so often limits our experiences hasn’t taken over, so we tend to just feel things then, and if we feel good, we go with it, and if we feel bad, we just leave it all behind. 

For a long time then, our relationship simply existed. A no questions asked attachment, that merely was.

We’d spend long summers together playing in the woods or swimming in the lakes, and even longer winters locked away together listening to music and dreaming about what our life would become. 

The summers and winters came and went and over time our relationship changed, and this is where this story really begins. We were fifteen, and had just shared our first sexual experience. The experience awakened something in our minds, that we would spend the next twenty years trying to understand. 

Summer.

 

It was 1998. The summer had been hot, and the evenings even longer than they’d ever felt before. We lived in a small town, the sort where everyone knows your name and where secrets belong to the community rather than yourself. Our parents, were both of well considered stock, having worked in public service, their entire working lives. 

They were fair parents, whose ideals often gave way to making sure everyone around them was happy and an overwhelming desire to avoid conflict at all costs. In hindsight, it was this, just as much as our sexual encounter, that changed our world forever. 

 

Growing up in rural America, there was little for our parents to worry about. For the best part, they were pretty pleased that we’d made it to fifteen without causing them any real problems. That’s why, when that summer, we both started drinking beer, they were happy to turn a blind eye. 

It happened on the night of August 31. We’d been down to the lake for a swim and were sat on the rocks in the evening sun, looking out as it began to turn the sky red. We opened a beer and talked endlessly, as we’d done every night for every summer before. We’d talk about nothing and everything, but this night, feeling the effects of the hot sun, and the cold beer, the relationship changed. 

Our parents were out a local fundraiser for a family, whose house had burned down in a freak accident. They didn’t have any insurance, but the town vowed to get together and help them back on their feet. It was that sort of town.

Feeling sunkist and relaxed, we went to bed and took off our clothes. It wasn’t the first time we’d seen each other naked, but it was the first time like this.

Like any first time, it was awkward, but it was also intimate and there and then, it made us happy. 

We showered and by the time our parents returned, we were both back, safely tucked up in bed. As far as our parents were concerned  it was another satisfactory night, in their extremely satisfactory lives. 

 

Fall.

Waking up the next morning after a restless sleep, we felt like we had woken into a new world. Standing in front of the same mirrors we’d looked into every morning for our whole lives we saw different reflections looking back. The face and the body were the same, but something was entirely different. There was a sense of unease and a feeling a fallibility that we’d never experienced before. 

We returned to the lake again later that day. This time, there were no beers, and the sunset was veiled by some low clouds. The conversation like the sunset was hazy. It felt stunted and forced, so with a sense of disappointment and unease, we went home quietly and with more than a fleeting sense of sadness. 

As the summer began to fade away, the feeling of distance and unsettling unfamiliarity eased slightly, at least enough to enjoy what was left of the vacation. With two weeks still to go, we stopped hanging out exclusively, instead choosing to revel in the distraction of other people, who helped us to forget to questions boring into our minds. 

As the late summer group grew, it became apparent that our crew of small town teens, were congregating around a shared experience, founded by both a loss of innocence and an awakening of our own responsibility for our lives. Of course, this was never discussed though. The shared experience existed merely as an undertone, giving way instead to the superficial, angst driven conversations, designed to paint the picture of happiness that only the bravado of youth is foolish enough to believe. 

Looking back now, the faucet had been turned on and was stuck on open. With wild questions bouncing around our minds, we collectively turned to tried and tested means to survive and bury our emotional confusion. Keeping our parents at bay, was top of the playbook, and while the approach bore no subtlety, it more than served its purpose, at least for keeping the peace, anyway. 

The basis for this approach centred around the cessation of communication with our parents. A beautifully simple technique that meant we didn’t have to open up about the world no longer making sense, and our parents could live in the comfortable knowledge that they wouldn’t have to answer any difficult questions, and therefore maintain the perfect illusion of contentment. 

The only problem with the tactic, now that we look back on it, was that it was the time in our lives where we needed to talk the most, and not just with our friends, about idle shit, but with the people we trusted the most about the things that were truly important. We all spent that time in our lives quietly surpassing the inner turmoil, that would shape the most import ant years of our lives. And if we’d known then, what we know now, could have saved a huge amount of heartache and pain. 

 

Fifteen to eighteen, saw more sexual encounters, infinitely more beers and the continued suppression of communication, but the drink and the sex had worked. We had all become righteous and invincible. The decisions we made were all of our own, and no matter what anyone thought, we were ‘right’ and ‘just’. But the things we believed then, were more often than not, found at the bottom of a beer can, or if we were feeling particularly philosophical, at the end of a joint. We tricked ourselves into believing complex constructions of the world, that reflected a wild sense of knowledge and self worth, and the damage we all did to one another was immeasurable. 

We’d bully the weak to become more powerful. We’d say what we thought people wanted to hear, not what they needed to know, for fear of rejection or upset. But the worst thing we did, beyond all of this, was to project our idea of love onto things, ahead of feeling our love, and so many times destroyed the very relationships that sustained us.

That’s what happened with our relationship you see. We were seriously popular (or so we thought), so we bullied, but in doing so lost respect for one another. We lied to each other to get our own way, but by doing this, lost all sense of ourselves and created personalities that were based in myth and misgiving. But again, what was worse of all, was that we told each other that we loved one another, but we didn’t really know what love was. We just did it because we really wanted to feel love, but really, were doing everything we could to push it away. 

 

We had so many opportunities back then to be honest, to show our vulnerabilities and to be kind. But somehow, we chose to create a culture that valued the wrong things, and that took us all so long to get over. So long in fact, that it’s almost pointless now to think about it, and certainly too far on to go back and say sorry. 

 

 

 

Winter.

 

Shortly after our eighteenth birthdays we lost touch with each other. We left our small town to go to college, where we soon re-invented ourselves in the worst possible way, by creating the model of what we thought ourselves to be, not the version of ourselves that we truly were. 

Re-inventing ourselves based on an honest understanding of our vulnerabilities is admirable, however, the re-imagining we did then was beyond reproach. Back then, our re-invention was about taking everything we’d learned about our ability to manipulate our surroundings and creating a story for ourselves to live out an extra-ordinary lie. And we did this without anyone having the slightest suspicion, that we’d abandoned our principles to become an ill founded construction of what we believed ourselves to be. 

As with any good lie though, we had to be good at remembering every little detail, because if we didn’t the speed at which our lives could unravel was nothing short of astonishing. 

We enjoyed our first year at college. We met so many new and exciting people. We thought the same way and believed in the same things, and all got swept away in the storm of each others lies. 

College was an entire community of people who had invented what they thought was the best possible version of themselves, and tested it out on each other., As acting went, it was unsurpassed. Externally, it was a group of people who merrily got drunk, had sex and occasionally learned something that they would only ever need to know to pass an exam. Internally though, the picture couldn’t have been more different. More confusion, more turmoil, but in the depths of this, one ray of hope.

As the lies unravelled, which of course, they all did in the end, our vulnerabilities were exposed, and in the case of the most enlightened, even explored. 

 

We both found ourselves with other people at college and simultaneously experienced the elation of someone delighting in the artistry of our construction, shortly followed by the emphatic breakdown of our stories that could no longer be maintained. 

We saw each other the summer after our respective epiphanies, and in unison, said ‘sorry’.  Out of the milieu of college life, and sat on the rock by the lake, we allowed ourselves a moment of fallibility, but rather it making us happy, it only served to highlight what could have been. 

 

Returning to college after this, saw new groups created, with those post epiphany, knuckling down to get their degrees, and those still pre-enlightenment carrying on ‘living the dream’, or so they thought. 

We once saw one of those guys a couple of years after graduating. He had a receding hairline, a beer gut, and illusions of grandeur borne out of his job managing the student bar, that had been witness to so many of his conquests. He still had no degree, but he couldn’t begin to tell us just how many friends, he had. 

 

It’s funny, we both left college with no real friends. We’d invested so much time in living out the lie we’d created for ourselves, that by the time it all came crashing down, we’d run out of time to show anyone who we had actually become. And so the realisation that we were getting mediocre degrees, from a mediocre colleges, and only had huge debts to show for it, truly hit home. 

That summer, returning home once more, we bumped into one of the kids that we used to bully. Neither of us had thought about them since we’d gone to college, but not only had they turned out to be beautiful, they’d gone to a great university and passed with flying colours. They took pride in telling us that they were starting a job in New York and asked how we were doing. We looked tired, and over it all, but we lied and said things were swell. They wished us luck and said goodbye. 

That night, we had sex, drank beer and sat and listened to music. We felt nothing. At least before, we’d been sad, now we were just empty. 

 

After that night we left town and moved to the city. This time instead of a ready made community, we found ourselves alone. No job, no friends, just us. Lost souls, wishing we’d lived our best life, rather than the one we’d created. 

The city is a lonely place to be when we realise we have nothing. In spite of its many possibilities, and unimaginable amount of people, all wishing for the same connection, a mental block descends, preventing us approaching anyone. We find ourselves unable to engage in conversation or even smiling at the person that catches your eye on the train. Instead we walk alone. Our heads down, our thoughts firmly trapped in our minds, with no hope of ever being let out. 

And as we wander amongst the crowd, we are aware of having never been so disconnected. From those summer evenings spent swimming in the lake, to the winters evenings spent reading and listening to records, the connection we once had has been lost. And lost for what? A sense of belonging? A longing to be something we are not? All utterly hopeless dreams. Yet here we are now, alone, broken, but still, in the very depths of our souls, full of hope that one day, we will turn the corner and find each other once again. 

 

 

Spring. 

 

As we found jobs and establish friendships, a faint glimmer of light cut through the darkness, and gradually, hope was replaced with belief. This was unintentional. Indeed it only really happened when we stopped thinking about ourselves or even about others. It happened in fact, when we stopped thinking at all, and just started being. 

We lived like this for years. Mastering a world without agendas, in which we became the reflections of those around us. Learning about ourselves through their eyes, and accepting exactly who we were. For good, and bad, we gave ourselves over to judgement and the understanding that vulnerability, far from being a weakness, is one of the greatest strengths we possess. In this moment, we let self awareness take over the contrived picture of ourselves and let our innermost characters, simply exist. Almost like re-capturing the essence of our childhoods and the innocence that we’d lost all those years ago, before we analysed ourselves, before we broke ourselves down and became something we were not, or even wanted to be. 

The emotional mire we found ourselves in, was in hindsight, created only by us, as we attempted to understand and forge our place in the world. Ands this was our mistake. When we were young we didn’t try to understand, we didn’t need to. If we felt aggrieved we said it. If we felt hurt, we cried. And if we were happy, we laughed. It was only our minds, and then our foolish actions, that took every moment and transformed it into anything but the truth.

 

Another ten years would pass before we would see each other again. In this time we bore our souls to others and found ourselves being stripped bare. Emotions so deep, we never thought we’d emerge again. But every time, we did. And every time, we did, we felt stronger and closer to ourselves than we’d been since all those years before. 

We met in the woods, where we used to walk for hours, and did just that. We talked without intent, but with ease and lightness. Twenty years of weight, stripped away. A return to innocence. And as we walked, and as we talked, we began again to fall in love. 

 

 

 

 

The End.


© Copyright 2020 i.d.b parkes. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories