Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chapter Three – Unfinished

The apartment was nearly empty.

John carefully stacked the numerous poly boxes on top of each other inside the bigger cardboard box which had been reinforced with packaging tape. Every window in the apartment was open, allowing the sun light in. A music CD player was running in one side of the house, two tiny black speakers unleashing the full musical impact of Josh Groban’s rendition of the Prayer. Seth was gathering the dvds and stuffing them into a black garbage bag. The bag had a large strip of brown masking tape upon which were written the words DVD MOVIES. Elaine was wearing a pair of rubber gloves and boots. In one hand, she held a bucket that was filled with the various toiletries and other bottles from the bathroom. In the other, she was gingerly holding a wet plastic bag that she had labeled THROW AWAY. Kimberly was outside with Jenny, setting up a small table and preparing some glasses of raspberry ice tea, and tuna sandwiches, for those who found the work making them hungry.

Gerald was in the bed room, still packing his more personal affects together, when Patricia knocked on his door.

“Hey,” he smiled at her and tried to maintain it, but it was clear that he wasn’t really that happy. It was clear that he felt torn about everything that was happening. Part of him did not want was was happening. But part of him knew it had to be done.

“Hey,” she raised both eyebrows upon seeing his half-hearted smile. She walked into the room, and sat down beside him, “We’ve discussed this.”

“I know,” he sighed, “Doesn’t make it easier.”

“No one ever said it would be,” Patricia admitted. Gerald reached up and touched her chin. He looked at her face and wished so much he could lean forward and kiss her. But he knew he couldn’t. Or rather, he shouldn’t.

“I am sure everything will work out for the best in due time,” she told him and took his hand into hers. She held his hand with both of her hands and brought it to her face. Gerald cupped her cheek and felt his eyes begin to grow misty.

“Don’t,” she told him, “Don’t or else we both will.”

It has been a few months since that fated day in the Coffebar Café when Patricia and Gerald (and in some ways, Kimberly, Elaine, Seth, John and Jenny) first met. From the odd starts and sudden curves that the two faced, things came to a much calmer pacing of events when the two found themselves finding one another once again in a small indie-film friendly café called Cinekape. There, the two discovered how much more complex and pronounced their feelings for one another truly were. And in the many months that followed, the two took their time to get to know each other. The two remained honest to one another, never hiding behind any pretenses or artificial expressions of happiness or interest. They promised to be who they were. And they promised to permit the other to be who they wanted to be.

And for many many months that followed, things worked out. Not perfectly, of course, for there were no such things as perfect relationships between two people; but they were wonderful months that were filled with true understanding, maintained commitments and honest emotional truth.

“I just cannot help but feel frustrated… why do I have to leave?” Gerald sighed as he spoke, unable to remain silent about his emotions, and in many ways it was something that Patricia always appreciated about Gerald. There was a clarity that he gave. Whereas in some relationships, there would be some unspoken game of guess how the other was feeling, Gerald did away with such pretenses and honestly spoke how he felt.

“You know you have to,” Patricia told him and sighed, “And you know I will not stand in the way of your dreams.” Patricia held him tighter and tried to keep from crying. She knew he knew how much she wanted him to stay. And she knew how much she was afraid of losing him, just as he was afraid of losing her, but she wanted him to reach for his dreams. And she wanted him to succeed. “You know you want to.”

“Funny how the world works out,” he muttered softly, “You got couples all over the world who can’t wait for a chance to break up and see other people. And they find all these hundreds of ways to complicate the lives of other people. Then you got people like us who have found one another amidst a sea of dissatisfied faces and players and abusers… and we have to.. have to-“

“Shh,” she held him closer and shushed him to be quiet, “We have discussed this already, Gerald. We know what this conversation is leading to. We know in the end, it boils down to you chasing after those dreams you have long hoped to reach. Just as I have my own dreams.”

“We have each other,” Gerald repeated, recalling what they always told one another, “We will not lose one another. So long as we choose not to.”

The two fell silent. They sat on the bed, Patricia leaning on Gerald’ side as he wrapped one arm around her shoulder and held her hands with his other hand. Gerald sighed and tried to relax. Patricia rubbed her hand against his chest, as if hoping to sooth his heart.

“I’m scared,” he told her.

“I’m scared too,” she admitted, “To be honest, I have always been scared. You have this effect on me, Gerald. You made me feel happy. Too happy. And it scares me.”

“I know what you mean,” Gerald told Patricia as she ran his hands through her hair, “This.. all this feels so new. So different. So comfortable. Yet frighteningly too comfortable. It feels like… everything fits. Like everything is how it was supposed to happen.”

Patricia fell silent. Gerald could almost sense her thoughts. * Everything other than this trip you are taking. This trip to study in the United States. * Patricia looked up at Gerald and saw him frowning. She ran her hands on his face, whispering at him to stop frowning. To not feel that bad about things. To accept that there are things we have to accept and embrace. And there are things we have to do, or else we will live the rest of our lives regretting not doing so.

“What if we only have one chance at this,” Gerald suddenly spoke up, voicing out a fear he had long denied to exist, “What if we’re giving up something that finally does make sense in this world? What if we’re being fools and giving that up?”

“Do you remember what you told me when you first admitted you we’re falling for me?” Patricia asked Gerald. Gerald remained silent. Though he remembered what he said, he was not sure how to think that moment. All he knew was that he felt like he was taking too foolish a gamble. One that could cost them everything.

“I told you I that I needed to tell you something. I told you that I was skydiving. I felt like I was skydiving without a parachute.”

Patricia smiled when Gerald smiled at the memory. She held him closer, “You were falling.”

“Yeah,” he admitted to her again, “And I still find myself doing so every day.”

“Then we have nothing to fear,” she told him, “because we’ve been falling for months now and we never worried about what happens when we hit the ground. We just have to remind ourselves that ultimately, it is our choices to make. Our choices to decide how long we keep skydiving. How long we allow hold on to each other. And when we start jumping off planes again.”

Gerald smiled and began to cry. Patricia pressed her hands against his eyes and kissed his forehead, then wiped away the tears and looked at him straight in the eyes, “We’ve survived each other. How can the world be any worse a challenge?” He grinned, finding Patricia’s words true. Dealing with the world was far easier. One can always just ignore it. The environment giving you hell? Then move. The distance too large between lovers? Then travel. There was always a solution to dealing with the world.

And when it came to dealing with the heart. There was always a choice. Ultimately, everyone always has a choice.

Gerald looked through the many photographs of him and Patricia that they had taken and found himself still finding it hard to believe that they have known each other for such a short amount of time. She picked a photo of the two of them climbing trees and laughed as she looked at the picture, “I’m still wearing my lucky socks!”

“Check this one,” Gerald picked up a photo that had him in a mock shocked expression in a restaurant. Patricia took a few seconds to recognize it, “The one where the table next to us suddenly started talking about that old children’s show who had a host who looked like you!”

“Yeah,” Gerald was laughing and slid through the other photos until he found the series of photos of him and Patricia simply making fools of themselves in front of a camera. “This was at that coffee place. Remember the kids outside the window who were making fun of us, but we didn’t care. As far as we were concerned we were happy.”

Patricia lifted a picture and told Gerald, “I want to keep this.”

It was a picture of the two of them. It was taken while they were walking by one of Patricia’s friends. Gerald was walking with a backpack on his back. Patricia had a bag too, and they were both oblivious to the world around them.

A moment of silence crossed over them again. Gerald realized he had something he had to say. He gathered the pictures up, piled them on one side, then took Patricia’s hands into his.

“I know this sounds cliché and all that, but you do make me really wish I could be a better person. You make me wish I could have a better job. Have more time. Be more free. Afford more things to give you. Or to treat you out with. You’ve changed me in some ways. In many ways. And sometimes it scares me to know how much there were things about me that I used to be defiantly certain of as part of my identity. How there were things about me which I would never betray or give up for someone else. And now, these very things are things that I find myself at times wishing I could simply wake up and be rid off one day. I wish I was less complicated. For you,” Gerald held Patricia closer and kissed her cheek. Patricia felt her tears fall. Gerald leaned close and kissed her eyes, then wiped way the tears with his right hand. She looked at him, tried to smile, but instead wrapped her arms around him and simply held him tight.

“I can’t lose you, Patricia,” Gerald whispered to her, “But since I can’t take you with me, I promise you. When I can. I shall come back for you. To take you with me. Or if you rather, when that time comes, to stay with you.”

Patricia simply closed her eyes, held him tight and knew somehow, deep inside, Gerald already knew the answer. They held each other for a very long time. Long enough for the bright morning sunlight cast upon the windows to fade as the sun set and the moon rose to the sky. Long enough for John, Seth, Elaine, Kimberly and Jenny to big them good night and promise to come back tomorrow to help for the packing of everything else. Long enough for the cd player to finally run out of power as the batteries died, and the apartment fell silent save the sound of two hearts almost breaking.

And still.

It did not feel long enough.

But it was definitely not the last time they would ever find themselves taking another jump together. That , they knew absolutely, for certain.


- the end -




* *



Skydiving is a work of fiction.
But the inspiration behind it, and the love that fuelled its writing is definitely not.
This novel is dedicated to my Panda Bear, Isha,
my parents
and to God, who makes all things possible.


Word Count = 2,108
Previous Count = 48,133
Total Count = 50,241 of 50,000

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6:04 PM  

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