Short Story: The 30 Seconds Fall

I loved it when the sun rays tickled me, but he didn’t.

It made him close his eyes and repeatedly blink until the sun was kinder. I didn’t mind that because that’s when I hugged his eyes, that’s when I felt alive. I could hear his thoughts as long as he’s awake, so I liked it at night to rest. His morning thoughts were enthusiastic and energized, but at night, they tended to get doubtful and perplexed, lost even. For me, I’ve always been ecstatic in the morning and helpless at night; all I could do was wait for his eyelids to meet to hug him.

Who wakes up at 11 am on a Saturday?

That was his first thought today: negative! I don’t like waking up early on weekdays, let alone the weekend! He would say to himself. I thought about his call a couple of days ago with Salma. They had agreed to meet up that day at 11 for breakfast. He thought about the irony of breaking up with her at the end of that very same day while dragging his body out of bed, into the shower, and out of it, hoping he would feel better afterward. Slipping himself into comfy pajamas bothered him enough; what he felt inside was not as neat as he always looked.

As much as he detested being exposed, he hoped she could see through his neatness and calmness, he wished she could strip him naked from just one glance into his soul. She always teased him about his name, Hady, she would say, your name is the antonym of who you really are. Despite never showing explicit anger, Salma guessed it was in him, but did she know about all the other feelings that wrapped his lungs with sharp claws? It’s anxiety, not anger, considering that only I had my roots connected to his brain.

He always detected her whereabouts from her voice; its tone, pitch, roughness, depth, and thickness, they all contributed to one thing: knowing the true meaning behind the words she uttered because she was never good at choosing the right words.

If I had a voice, would he care about it just as much?

Had I had a voice, I would have tended to all the insecurities he had but never been taught how to heal or reveal. His unconscious, fierce blinks were used to hide nervousness, that’s when I felt of some use when I embraced him with all the other eyelashes next to and below me. That’s home; over his hazel eyes, protecting them from dust, oppressing their tears, and hiding their longness to be loved.

Picking up his phone, scrolling through their pictures, with hundreds of memories racing in his mind, might as well be fighting. Logically, they didn’t belong together, emotionally, he couldn’t survive without her. I could feel the tears being prisoned, suffocated, and frowned upon.

Damn these eyelashes of hers! Hady thought to himself.

If he could ask her for a kiss, it surely wouldn’t have been for her eyelashes, although that’s the one he craved the most. He had surely thought about pressing his lips against hers, to learn how they tasted like. Would it be coconut? That’s her hair’s smell, but still, more than anything, he longed to kiss her eyelids and eyelashes.

I was thrilled he had a thought like that running through the doors of his mind; someday, he might have noticed that he had beautiful eyelashes himself and that I was one of these dark black fine ones attached to his sun-burned eyelids. He might have realized that he smelled like pineapple, but does anyone know what they smell or taste like? They have to get close enough to someone, to hug, to dissolve into each other’s bodies so they would share what each of them tasted like, felt like.

The last time he saw Salma, he complimented her eyelashes, but I didn’t receive any recognition. I wish I could live on your eyelashes, he would say. Salma usually made it funny by talking about never giving up on her mascara. She used it to make her eyelashes voluminous and thick. She had light brown hair, but the mascara made her eyelashes black. He loved how they were golden under the sun, but that only happened when she was not wearing mascara. He told her that bluntly, cursing himself for not saying what was on his mind for real. Being called closed-minded for hating mascara was better than revealing his eyelashes-kiss-wishes.

After the separation, he didn’t take any days off from his work, not allowing himself to lay under his blankets and cry it out. Distraction was what he kept seeking, finding, and losing himself into.

But can anyone do so entirely? He had 30 seconds to walk from his building to his car before turning on the music player to his favorite music, not hers anymore. His true feelings emerge during these 30 seconds. He would skip his lunch break at work, so these 30 seconds won’t turn into 30 minutes. He detested the 30 seconds in the elevator, the 30 seconds he had to request coffee, the 30 seconds he looked away from his computer’s screen to rest his eyes. They were torturing his soul.

He might have snapped at one of his colleagues once or twice this week; that’s the only way he knew to interpret that his sorrowful chest is burning with rejection. It’s not easy for a man to feel that he’s unneeded and unworthy of being loved and on top of it, helpless to fix it.

He went to the balcony to drink the coffee his mother brewed for him. He usually drinks it in bed away from the sun, street noises, and people.

Why is he into the sun now? I thought to myself.

He put the coffee on the edge of the balcony’s fence, standing inside still, he pulled the orange bean bag from his room into the balcony right where the sun was cascading its rays, threw himself on it after closing the balcony’s door, and picked up the coffee. I waited for him to blink and start detesting the sun.

He blinked several times impassively as the sun moved and drew its rays on his eyes. He squeezed his eyes shut, and tears started pouring out of his eyes. Just like when he found out she’s into someone else, his mind was racing with thoughts that I couldn’t catch any of the mixed feelings he had. They were all fighting, each one aspired to take hold, but he oppressed them all. He can only sob here, under the sun, so they dry his tears before they’re engraved on his cheeks, with the noisy street nearby, so no one would recognize his sobbing from afar. He remembered how people would cry under the rain, all the cliche quotes he read about that, wishing he could share with them now that letting your tears out in the sun is way more meaningful, painful still.

It was suddenly all silent. I found myself on his cheek, all wet. I fell. I was detached from his eyes forever. 30 seconds; that’s only how long it took; that’s only how long it took for the sun to dry them out as well. At this moment, the sun-dried tears were my companions, and as soon as the sun roasted me, and as he adjusted himself on the bean bag. I fell on his chest. Where I was now was where he wanted her to be, over his deserted heart. I kept listening to his raising heartbeats like drums signaling the end of an internal war. The war that only tears could end, and I was the sacrifice. I hoped he would say anything now. I wondered if he would let out his gruff voice, or he would openly use his brittle one? but he was content just sitting there, hiding under the sun.

He took the first sip from his coffee like he wanted to wake up from what he had just been through. He got up, and I was blown away from his eye forever.

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