That was the only thing that emanated from every cell in his body, every beat of his heart. He embodied it, personified it, breathed it in and exhaled it out. He reveled in it, buried it into the souls of every person he met. Every chance he got. He didn’t care about anyone or anything; he didn’t care about himself. He was searching. He cherished nothing, believed in nothing, hoped for nothing. He was strong, physically, muscular and toned. He had a rugged beard that he seldom shaved, and a stone cold heart that he seldom acknowledged. He was ruthless and bold; he had no redeeming qualities. Not even one. He craved solitude, fed off of his need for madness and havoc. He was babel and fury. Drowning in a state of pandemonium he had chosen to dive into; he loved it though, the feeling it gave him. It was indescribable, until he met her. And then for the first time, after what seemed like an eternity… the chaos began to cease.
She was simple and complicated at the same time. She knew what she wanted, and fought tooth and nail to get it. She was moral; everyone knew how to act around her. She was treated with a form of respect that was akin to reverence. She was stoic in her presence, intimidating even. She was driven by faith, and motivated by uncertainty. There was nothing that could stop her, nothing that could stand in her way. She had dreams, ambitions and fear just like anyone else. The difference is she protected them, fought for them. She worked hard and never gave up.
He lived alone. He had no one who cared for him anymore; he had destroyed every real relationship in his life. He was a nomad, a lone ranger, a crow. He did not enjoy other people’s company; he no longer cared for niceties. Fake conversations and forced smiles. He had had his fare share of drama, of reckless actions and exaggerated emotions. He was broken and healed, experienced and lost. A paradoxical person. The one thing he could state with genuine certainty is that he knew what he wanted. He understood what he needed. He craved peace of mind; he needed the chaos to stop. His life was in pieces, small parts of a whole. He pondered this in his studio apartment. Every night.
She had just started a new job. She was on a payroll; her life was falling into place. She could see it, that picture in her mind of how it should be, how it could be, was slowly becoming tangible. It would be great, she would always tell herself and she believed it too. She was surrounded by family and friends. People she loved dearly. She was helpful and kind, self-sacrificing even for those she felt deserved her time. She cared for others deeply, but her circle was small. Filled with the ones she deemed to be worth the trouble, and worth the struggle it took to keep in touch. To keep a relationship alive. She was not alone, she was loved.
He had wanderlust. Never staying home all day, he had to leave, to explore and to attempt to understand the world around him. He needed to find a purpose. He had loved before, or so he thought. Looking back he realized that none of it was genuine, none of it was real. He was different now than he had been back then. Heartless and bleak, harming the ones who gave him all those chances he took for granted. He knew better now, but how could he prove that. No one would listen, but more so who did he have left to prove it to?
The future was planned in her mind. She would work for a few years, and then travel the world. After that she would find ‘the one’, marry him and maybe someday have children. It was that clear to her, as though obstacles were not an issue because she would know how to deal with them. Her life was peaceful. Or at least for the time being it was… for the time before he entered it that is.
His day was a mess. He had no direction, no actual cause for doing anything. He was random and spontaneous, untraceable. He would get up on one day, and then skip the next. He would drink a lot, and smoke when the winter came and the cold set in. Two beers and a joint, that was his ideal recipe for a high so seamless it lasted just long enough to make him forget the anarchy that surrounded him. He was not an alcoholic, nor an addict of any kind. But he knew what it took to escape reality, and that was maybe the only thing that terrified him.
She drank coffee, tea on calm days and lemon juice on Sundays. She had never touched a drink or had a puff of a cigarette. It was nothing religious, she just never felt inclined to. Never had the urge to try these things, 'maybe someday' she had always thought. That day was yet to come. She was too put together, and that was her flaw. She felt like she needed perfection, that one day if something didn’t work out it would tear everything else down with it. Her world, in all its exactness, was fragile.
It was a cold winter night. The coldest it had been in years, the darkness was austere and relentless. The air was foggy and piercing in its icy demeanor. They were late, very late. She had grabbed a coffee from the nearest café and was running to her car. He was attempting to chug down the remains of his beer as he struggled to find a cab, walking as fast as he could. They could see nothing and hear nothing. They crashed. She felt cold liquid across her neck and chest, he yelled at the feeling of intense heat dripping onto his gloveless hands.
He looked at her then, she was all he could see. She was beautiful, but not in that obvious way. She had wide brown eyes, and a perfectly petite nose. Delicate features he thought for such a fierce look on her face. Her hair was auburn and draped over a sheer grey coat. She wore a wool barrette and a necklace that had a single small, circular diamond sparkling in the center of her neck. He was intrigued.
She squinted at him then, he was staring at her. He was a complete disarray of features she thought. She didn’t know what to focus on first, his beard, his thick eyebrows, his long pitch-black coat or his thick black hair standing on end despite the wind blowing in all directions. She didn’t mind it though; to her surprise she thought it was interesting.
“F***, sorry about this. I was in a rush,” he really couldn’t think of anything better to say. Moreover, he had cursed… already.
“It’s fine, I was in a hurry to get to my car as well... My name is Emily,” she had no idea why she added this. He was a stranger.
“Dominic,” he replied instinctively putting out his hand to shake hers. She took it; after all she had gloves on so no coffee would get on her hands. She was trying to rationalize her actions.
“I’ll walk you to your car, it’s the least I can do I guess. If you don’t mind that is,” he offered without thinking. He wanted to extend their meet cute, for no reason whatsoever.
“Um sure, it’s this way,” she led the way and they began to talk. Small talk at first, she drove him home.
They went to coffee the next morning, and lunch the week after. Dinner after that. Their relationship escalated, grew out of nothing, they were uplifting to one another. A breath of fresh air. She finally let a small bit of disorder enter her life, and in fact nothing broke down or even shifted. He allowed her to bring him the peace he so desperately wanted. They looked back on that night and realized that it might have actually been the perfect storm.
This is an original story.
This piece was inspired by two things. Number 1 a person/experience in my life. Number 2 my favourite line - quoted below - from John Green's acclaimed novel Looking for Alaska. This remains, in my opinion, one of the best and most stripped down explanations for a complex unrequited love I have read to this day.