Tiny Stories – Always With Me

Always With Me


“Take it!” She yelled, flailing her arms around, and pulling funny faces as I pointed the camera at her.

I hold that photo in my hand now. A reminder. A terrible heartache. That’s what it is to me. A tear drops onto it… not this again, I curse to myself, shoving the photo of her back into the drawer from where it came, from which it always comes. I slam it shut, wanting to forcibly rid it from my past, to erase it from existence altogether. But it’s the one thing I have left of her, and I cannot. No matter how much I try, I know it will always be with me. Always there pinching at little parts, reminding me of my shortcomings, of my utter failures.

Slowly I pull on some jeans and a t-shirt. Heading to the bathroom, I don’t bother to shave, not today. Instead, I stare at myself with contempt in the mirror, wondering how I have become my reflection, pondering how my life has turned into this.

I tell myself it was her, I tell myself everything is because of her. And yet, I know I’m lying, the biggest lie of all time. Because everything was me. Absolutely all of it. This is a realisation that’s all too hard to admit. So, I cast it from my thought and try to push on.

Sipping cheap instant coffee, I stare out of the apartment’s window, and across the city. This place used to be my whole world. I had a good job, a happy life… a great life. I used to be respected. I used to respect myself. Now what am I? Something else entirely… I live in contempt of everything, cynicism filling every orifice of my being. And for what? For her?

I muse, peering into the windows of the coffee shop we used to visit on the cold mornings. The coffee was to die for there, not like the rat piss I drink at the moment. However, the coffee was not the best part, her smile was, her eyes were, her everything… Nothing else ever managed to come close. All those places we used to go, we used to enjoy, are now off-limits. To step through their doors would be more harrowing nostalgia than I could endure. But I can at least look, and I can at least imagine. My mind returning to those moments. Back to the bliss that I felt for every second of every day. I see her sitting there, across from me, sipping a cappuccino, wiping away the froth from her top lip…

I shake my head… No! I can’t go back there. I can’t let it all flood into me. It is a scary thought. Of all that returning, incapacitating me like it has done so many times over the past year. And for what? Nothing changes afterwards… nothing ever changes in this stagnant existence I have passively come to accept, come to bear.

I glance over to the door where my suit hangs, creases spreading across it, in dire need of a wash and iron. Going to work on days like these seems so monumental, so unachievable. It is enough effort to just open my eyes and peer into this world that has left me behind.

So, I don’t. I close the blinds, blocking out the city. Blocking out the images of her on street corners, and in windows of shops I know too well. Her eyes, always staring at me, perpetually demanding to know why things went so wrong. Why things ended as they did.

Sitting in bed, cradling my knees, I look into the next day, and the next, and the next – for something that resembles change, maybe even happiness. Yet, all I see is her face, her beautiful face.

I don’t know… I don’t know anything… How can I change? How can I manage…

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