a whole lot of maybes.

isnt it lonely here?

his voice pierces through the murkiness. i blink, and find myself standing. the room is empty, save for a bed and a nightstand. the spring sun's rays are light, like a caress. pleasant warmth against my skin. comforting, almost like someone pressing themselves against me, lending me their strength.

he stands in front of the door. figure softly shaded, eyes staring through me. it is not an accusatory glare, but neither is it a gentle gaze. it is rigidly neutral, and strangely understanding.

a sudden gust of wind makes the balcony windows rattle. startled, i jump, and he laughs. crinkly, warm overtones, with a hint of amusement. a friend, then. i smile and nod.

coffee? he walks assuredly into the kitchen. the cupboard doors creak open and shut, with the fresh, acidic smell of coffee beans swirling in its air. he glances back and gives me a smile. he knows its a pointless question.

he lays two cups on the kitchen table. i know you don't like them instant, so i bought them just for you. he murmurs, busying himself with teaspoons of sugar and servings of fresh milk. i move forward to help him, but he merely pauses for a second to point at the bed, before resuming his coffee-making. and so i sit there blinking, sour notes of arabica dancing on my nose, musing myself with... with what? no thoughts, head empty. i realise for the first time that i can't think properly here. wherever here is.

his face... his face looks familiar, but is strangely blurry. like a smear of wet paint across the periphery of my vision whenever i try to look in his direction. and when i try locking eyes with him, my vision falters. no, falter is the wrong word. his face just blips in and out of reality. thats all i know how to describe it. but not in a horror movie kind of way. i know i know him. from somewhere, forever ago. a familiar kind of warmth envelops me whenever we meet each other's gaze.

hasnt it been lonely?

there it is. that question again. he's stirring the cups now, his fingers agitating the surface in swift, rhythmic flicks. his eyes look inquisitively into mine. he already knows the answer. of course it has been. it always has been.

he breathes a sigh and walks over, quiet footfalls echoing lightly in this empty white space. i squint harder in an attempt to force his face into focus, but to no avail. there's something amiss about this place, and i can't even seem to remember how i came to be here at all, but it feels homely and safe. it reminds me of my very first room when i was just a child, with traces of happy innocence and blissful ignorance suffusing the space like stray, bioluminescent fireflies in the night.

the coffee cup is hot to the touch, and i wince as i take a sip. it tastes... familiar. not in the oh, i've drank this brew before kind of familiar, but something deeper, like i have lived through this entire scene of sipping this cuppa in a room so glaringly white and radiant that my eyes took more than a while to adjust to its glare kind of familiar. just like a reel of film ripped out of my repository of memories, almost as if i were existing in a permanent state of deja vu.

the light switch stays off

the darkness is murky, indistinct, thick. it wraps itself around your body like a heavy, invisible serpent, threatening to squeeze you dry of any last remaining drop of goodness and happiness that you have left within your emaciated veins. and you stare off into the distance, into the other room that is just as dark as the one you are huddling in, glassy-eyed. staring at something far off, unfocused and indistinct. there are shapes lurking around you, around this empty and silent house that stands atop a hill of all of your accumulated regret. the shapes seem to sneer, their faces a pale grey of fuzzy features that seem to crackle and shift along to the faint ticking coming from a clock that hides within the blackness. like grey television static that is always changing, yet seemingly staying the same. trapped in this room, in the exact same fetal position, frozen in space and time, encased within black ice that eats away at your mind bite by bite every passing, waking moment. the serpent winds it way through into your mouth, its cold scales slithering across your heart. you cannot even bring yourself to shudder. all you can do is wait. wait for someone to barge through the door, to claw through the choking ocean of obsidian and yank you out of this emptiness.

but you dont think you can hold out for much longer. //

i had a dream. that all of us went on one last big trip together. us 4 best friends on the holiday of our life. —– was the designated driver, and we drove through a thick forest of pines and over sheets of snow that piled up and stretched on and on as far as the eye could see. we were in a winter wonderland, that christmas eve. and at the end, we reached the small mountain town at its base. we had one big log cabin all to ourselves, and the rest of the day was spent making a christmas feast fit for for a king. and after our big meal, we busted out the alcohol and talked through the night. the fireplace was generously lit with firewood that crackled and gave off a homey, comforting scent of crushed pine. the night deepened, and a light snow began to fall. faint yellow luminescence gave our slowly darkening cabin a mellow glow. it was warm and cozy and so full of love. we laughed and sang and talked all about ourselves and each other, of our memories together, of how much love there was in our lives. 4 best friends sharing one last trip together. and at the end of it all, as the clock struck midnight, we ushered in a white christmas. wrapped up in cozy blankets, surrounded by the ones who were there for each other, through it all. surrounded by warmth and love. and then i woke up. and it hurts because i know itll never happen. itll never be this perfect, this life. the loneliness hurts. happiness sometimes never even does.

god, i wish i didnt.

the fresh scent of rain hangs in the air. summer's first shower. you're here beside me, placing one foot in front of the other, both hands in your jean pockets. white starchy shirt, baggy trousers. humming a tune that i faintly recognise. moon river. a tad bit lower pitched than how the original one went. a faint smile flits across my lips.

its a strangely quiet summer night, especially considering that it's a friday. then again, this part of the city is usually untouched by the noisy nightlife and boisterous crowds that seems to plague all big cities. a pocket of silence. untouched. an empty road where we can walk on, save for the occasional car that purrs past. you make a big fuss of diving toward the side of the road every time that happens. i laugh the first time you do it, and strangely enough, the next few times too. i guess even i have the capacity to change.

the first few drops come slowly. you hold your hand out to do a rain check, right as a drop lands on your glasses. its an amusing sight, to say the least. uncharacteristic of me, i break out into a laugh, and you grin back.

and then the rain comes on in full force.

taking refuge in a nearby bus stop, wearily inspecting our wet clothes. summer is definitely here, alright. in the warm flourescent light, you offer me tissues as you talk about your future.

“to be able to say 'i'm home!', and take off my shoes, wash my hands and face and sink into a chair.” you're staring off into the distance, far off into the night. i notice a new pimple on the ridge of your nose, right where your glasses rest.

“i'd build a bookcase, and fill it with books, and once it's full i'll build another one, and another one.” your eyes gleam in this fragile summer night. a few moths flutter around the gentle glow of the shelter's light.

“i'd be able to do whatever i wanted in that little house of mine.”

i smile. your words suffuse my body with a strange kind of gentle warmth, even as the slightly chilly summer rain showers on the rest of the city, washing away the remnants of the past few months from my mind.

our tiny pocket of warmth and light.

“then, i'll be there to say 'welcome home', if you'd like.”

i could see your eyes widening by just a fraction, right before you break into biggest smile i've seen you show and pull me into your arms.

to me, forever ago

so maybe you're tired of waiting around. tired of waiting for your life to finally begin. but you're stuck in a cycle of self hatred, stuck in stasis. all roads lead to Rome, but your mind keeps lying to you. whispering in your ear that you're going around in circles, that the loop will never end no matter how much you try. so you bleed yourself dry in the privacy of a chatroom full of strangers, with only the taste of your own tinny blood to keep you company. every night you fall apart, unravel at the seams, only to pick up the pieces when the morning breaks. an imperfect attempt at patching your broken self up. and it cuts like a dull knife when you see everyone else around you moving forward with such confidence, shining brightly in their own little moments. creating a youth full of memories.

but maybe just this once, trust that the present you can make the right choice. that there is hope in the future. and even as emotions, people and the bitter, honeyed layers of familiarity you've wrapped yourself in fades away and falls apart, as they inevitably will, you will continually find strength in the little victories and small triumphs of life. that everyone grows at their own pace, and there's nothing wrong with taking just a little bit more time to find yourself. after all, we've still got a long way to go. it'll all make sense when you're older.

at least, i hope.

but im so scared of getting old.

bees, one

the music is loud. theyre blaring that one beabadoobee song through the cheap stereo system. its tinny and sounds an octave higher than usual. must be the alcohol. probably, right? she finds it mildly amusing. for someone so antisocial to be in such a situation, again no less, is an achievement in and of itself. oh well, at least they have good taste in music.

you dont seem to be enjoying yourself, he shouts a near-scream into her ears. she winces and takes another sip. the plastic cup feels flimsy in her hands, and she nearly crushes it as someone bumps into her.

i am, dont you worry, she smiles a half-smile, knowing that the boredom in her eyes is barely visible in the dim fairy lights of the flat. turning away to pour herself more vodka, the only way she can possibly stand the god forsaken volume of this party, she stares wistfully out of the balcony window. the night sky is obscured by sweaty bodies talking, drinking, laughing.

she sighs. the night is young, and here she is wasting a perfectly good saturday night on booze and... and what? she is too easily swayed, she curses silently. aware that she is not completely there anymore, she downs the rest of cup and stumbles out onto the balcony. relief in the form of a light breeze and the lazy quiet of a weekend night washes over her. she smiles and closes her eyes. the two constants at parties seems to be alcohol and balconies. this isnt the first time shes had to put a glass barrier between herself and a whole horde of wasted teens before, and it clearly isnt going to be the last either. trust her best friend to have to be in THAT college party phase that all lonely, horny teenagers inevitably go through.

she is in the midst of tipsily sorting through what she could possibly put together out of their starved fridge for supper when a soft cough and the bitter smell of tobacco interrupts her thoughts. oh boy. her horoscope today DID say something about meeting “someone unpleasant at someplace equally so”, and the stars have rarely been wrong before. disregarding the self-fulfilment aspect of such fortune-telling bullshit, of course, does she really believe in it?? even she has had doubts. but then again, it gives her a satisfying sense of control in her daily routine, so she really cant complain.

lowkey dreading having to reject the advances of yet another tipsy fuckboy, she sighs and gives the loudest WHAT she could muster.

for as long as she could remember, she loved observing eyes. the colour didn't matter, and neither did the shape nor the size. not even the person attached to the eyes mattered to her. she was a purist, and also, troublingly, a perfectionist.

eyes were the windows to the soul, she was dead certain. and after years and years of staring at eyes, during casual conversations, parent-teacher meetings, project presentations, and everything else in between, she was well-versed in reading the information that lies in them. the whites that sometimes have flecks of red and tendrils of crimson tell of anxiety, anger or sadness. but the irises held what the subconscious desired the most. one look into your eyes, and she could tell your deepest desire. it was magically ridiculous. but it worked, as all her friends vehemently maintained. it was crazy. for all that anyone knew, she was a witch in disguise. and, of course, everyone knew.

and that was why she fell in love with the boy. his eyes were the most beautiful she had ever laid hers on. if you had ever seen pictures of nebulas in space, that was exactly how his irises looked like. they were expanses of superhot gas that were frozen in time in the melanin of his iris. rainbows of refraction seemed to shimmer in his vision. a kaleidoscope of supernatural colour danced around his face. she loved him as much as she loved looking into his eyes.

and yet it hurt so much to look into them, for she knew that, for him, she could never compare to her. ever.

the first and last time i ever told you i loved you was the first time we went to a concert together. it was one of those intimate, small scale events, held in a quiet bar-turned-gig venues around the outskirts of the city. the night was airy, the drinks cooly refreshing, small hits of alcohol gently blurring the senses. their set was surprisingly extravagant for such a small band, with multicoloured diodes scattering a confetti of colours across the room. it was a local indie rock band, playing many of their favourite hometown hits. but their last song for the evening was a new one, something about “love and loss”. typical, or so i thought.

but then the guitar solo came on. the two of us bathed in the warm afterglow of the dimming stage lights. light-headed, slightly woozy, you were pressed against me. your hands clutching my jacket, mouth curled up into the slightest of smiles. everything in the universe seemed to have aligned perfectly. i felt a kind of happiness that id never experienced before. you smell nice, i think i must have murmured, leaning my head against yours. and as we swayed along to the ebb and flow of the echoing music, everything else seemed to slip away, leaving only the two of us there, sharing a moment that i could only wish would last forever.

as the final few notes lingered in the air, with my heart bursting at its seams, i leaned in and whispered i love you.

and you looked up at me, eyes wide and gleaming, and said that you loved them too.

you sit in your room at 5am in the morning, listening to the rain patter against your faded windows. the very first rays of dawn are peeping through the blinders. in your hands is your switch, joycons dirty from years of use. sweat stains and fingerprint smudges. matt plastic, black against your blue bedsheets. a square beacon of light. kk slider's trademark morning song murmurs a quiet tune through the shitty speakers. marshal is still up at this time, sitting on the bench, admiring the stars. you click A, and he comments on how surprised he is to find you still awake. he's worried for your health. he's worried you aren't getting enough sleep. he gives you a gift, a pair of sunglasses. you smile in spite of the cold. it isn't very cold anyways, you have a blanket and a hoodie on. but it is cold. you click R and select the happy reaction. marshal returns the favour. you're happy that at least someone cared. even if it was just a game. you're happy. you tell yourself that youre happy.

youre happy.

you lie back on your pillow, arms outstretched. after a while, you grab your eevee plushie and close your wet eyes.

how long more do you have to wait, you wonder. the rain gets steadily louder, as the morning stretches on languidly.

loneliness is killing you, but you don't know how to fix it.

she double clicked the spotify icon and smiled at me. it was a strange kind of night, where the silence didnt feel all that lonely and the darkness didnt feel all that depressing. in fact, it was a peaceful kind of quiet, the kind of tranquillity that one experiences when you are finally back in your own room after a long business trip abroad.

“this is one of my favourites.” she scrolled through her many playlists, all named after her past loves. cat names, dog names, boys and girls. i recognised them all. after all, we made most of these playlists together. she settled on one that merely said My Playlist #57 and double clicked on a song.

as her stereo speakers hummed out the first notes of her breakup song, she closed her eyes and fidgeted with her bracelet. our bracelet. her body moved along to the slight notes that seemed to hang in the midnight air, suspended.

what am i to you? she opened her eyes and stared into mine. the voice wasnt hers, but it was almost as if she had asked it.

tell me darling true, “music is amazing isnt it?” she smiled. “this particular song reminds me of new york.” bathed in the warm glow of her lamplight, her softly shaded face wore a look of tired sadness. “and of him.” a look i hadnt seen in a long time.

her lips moved along to the song. her tears came unexpectedly, and yet i sat there beside her, unable to move a muscle.

“why am i so unlucky with love?” she murmured. another breakup. this one came unexpectedly, when it was supposedly going so well too. i held her hand, as we both stared off wistfully into the night. she clutched it tighter, wordlessly thanking me for being here for her. just like this, since forever and always.

it was our usual saturday night. the usual place, the usual time. the only difference was the music.

except that it wasnt.

the last few notes of the song lingered. i sat there, wishing so badly that she wasnt singing the words, but asking me that question instead.