I was deeply engraved with that fault— disowning the 'hurt' of a relationship. Indeed. I had always thought that everything would be all right. On top of it are still my ego and pride.
"You don't understand things, Max," murmured my girlfriend, holding the cup of milk tea in her hand tightly. "I might not be the perfect science to explain such, but when I know one is not meant for me, it should really be cut off."
"Why?" My voice had the trace of deeply anchored anxiety. I couldn't digest the idea of having her not by my side. "Why are you saying this... out of a sudden?"
That rainy afternoon of complete grievance, I was talking with Catherine Minerva, my lover. She was the prettiest woman I'd known, and every time she was at an uneasy position, I would try my best to calm her. Her uncertainty, however, was the biggest enemy of our relationship.
"Don't you love me?" I raised a question. A hint of disappointment was fueling within. "Where did I go wrong?"
Intransigent, she just let that momentum of awkwardness continue.
"Just tell me," I dared her, "I'm ready to free you anytime, Cath, but leaving me without a right reason is not anything acceptable."
That was a lie. I wouldn't free her. I just wanted her reasons, so I could counter them.
"You and I." She pointed her finger between us, alternately. "We don't work at all. This relationship is complete crap."
She avoided reasoning.
"Sorry, Max." She whispered. "It is of need. I'll leave now."
She stood quickly and went out of the café. It looked easy for her to do.
"Can't we talk about this—"
I tried to stop her, but the approach was too late.
"Can't we fix this?" I ran outside, but before I could even hold her by the wrist, she already rode a taxi. "Minerva!"
The world was too absurd not to let me have her hand. Since that moment, I thought of my life as ruined as a bedraggled cloth. After she went away, I couldn't recognize myself as if the only light in the dark hallway had died.
Minerva was my everything.
I ruined my life because of her.
Drinking alcohol became a trend in my sensations like it was a needing of my soul. Many have told me to stop this silly alcoholism, but I didn't listen to them. Among everyone, the only one who did make me stop was Tan.
He was just my roommate, but he had an impact to my life as if I had known him for a long time. His words were always mean yet meaningful.
"I know that you are sad, but you don't need to do this." He told me as he supported my drunken walking. That night, we were in the dormitory hallway. "Maximilien Terregosa, can't you do something else in your life than to get drunk over a woman who has left you already?"
He opened our dormitory room and gently guided me into my bed.
"Take care of your head," he warned, putting my head into the feathered pillow that I just borrowed this morning.
"Tan," I called him. In extreme anguish, tears began to escape as my words were bleeding deep. I could feel it poisoning my speech. "I don't know why this is happening to me. Yesterday, we were laughing, but the next day, she just confronted me that she wanted a break-up. It was too illogical. I could have held her closer, to beg her to stay. But no words came out of that wise mouth of hers.
"She knew I was smart. Then... Then, she just exited as if nothing was there and everything was mended. It wasn't. It truly wasn't mended. It hurts."
Trying to listen to my complaints, Tan just kept himself quiet.
"I don't want her to vanish by my sight! I can't free space in my heart, for she has filled it all this time!"
Ignoring my pitiful situation, Tan grabbed the pillow away. "You're loathsome," he complained. "I just washed this pillow, and you would cry on this."
He threw the pillow into the upper bunk, where he slept just directly above me.
He walked into the sink to prepare himself for tonight's sleep.
"Won't you give me any advice?" I demanded, but he didn't dare to look at me. "Tan?" I called him once more.
He just brushed his teeth while looking at me. I found no significant sympathy in his face as if mine situation was nothing.
"Advising?" He repeated. "I'll be giving advice, but I don't even have a lover among seven billion people on this planet, then will I be advising? You ask."
Confused, I just stared at him. "What?"
"Eh!" He punched my shoulder. "Do you even hear me?"
"There are seven billion people on Earth, and you are crying on just a lady who didn't do anything good on you?" He emphasized. "Yours is a laughable situation, Max! I don't want to be associated with your comedy. The only thing you should be doing, in fact, is surrendering her to wherever life might brought her into. If she dies, then she dies. Just assure the piece of survival for yourself."
He climbed into his upper bunk bed and turned the light bulb off. "Sleep well. Don't jerk off, for I might wake up in an earthquake." He told me. "A drill in the morning isn't my vibe."
I just laughed because of what he just said. "Silence yourself. You're the one jerking off every morning!"
"Stop lying to yourself, again, Max."
That night was memorable.
I thought of the world in a larger picture.
Tan opened my eyes that Minerva isn't the only girl in the population, but life is a long script to seek more words to be interested in— until you find the perfect one.
Since then, I have stopped my insane self. I tried to look forward. And, I am very grateful until now that Tan brought me into that stage.
When days seemed brighter along with the current of life, I started to be productive. I cleaned the room, prepared breakfast, and made sure of my requirements. It became a routine of my changes— moving on and becoming happier day by day.
"Something changed?" Tan said as he woke up from his bed.
He had no upper clothes on, so I threw a shirt that I just washed yesternight.
"I prepared a breakfast," I told him, taking off the cooking apron and arranging the plates.
We sat at a table and ate some bacon and fried eggs. It is just now that I've hunger like this.
"You are improving," he murmured. "I hope that continues."
"What should continue?"
"A feeling that you don't need to become sad for a person," he described, "and a feeling that you don't need to get drunk in a world that has many people who can love you better.
"If you can't forget the past, how will the people who can truly love you get into your heart? That's, actually, really unfair for them."
I just chuckled, and from my seat, I messed up his hair.
"Where can I find that person?" I muttered. "Even you, you don't have a girlfriend, Tan. Where do we find those girls meant for us?"
"I don't need one. I am part of those people who can't love." He whispered. "I can't love."
"I can't love." He repeated. "Love is something that I'll never have."
"Is that a metaphor?"
"Nothing seems a metaphor for a fact-sounding idea,"
"Is this the part I should be giving a 'lol'?"
"Silly, this isn't a joke."
Tan became the best of friends with all the moral and academic support that he provided. We had fun more often because I always stayed in the dorm. We've gone outside and met different people. Trips, foods, and games became our little brotherhood foundation. But that recovery changed when Minerva returned.
It was a cloudy Tuesday in the same place, mood, and music. The café was like holding a burial with its plain, dead silence among the customers but serenaded by the soft ballad song from the radio.
"Max," she called me in that feminine, being-devouring voice. "Can we go back to the way it used to be?"
"What do you mean?" I asked her back. "What's the past?"
"You already know it," she murmured, "the old relationship—"
I quickly pulled an envelope from my bag. This thing contained everything kept as wrath within me.
"What's that?" Her curiosity began to show. She took the envelope and opened it. Her eyes widened when she saw the printed photos.
"You broke up with me for a rich man." I pointed. "Now, you have returned because that animal already abandoned you?"
Outside the glass, I saw Tan. There was a rise of a smile across his face.
"Tan," I mentioned.
"I'm sorry to tell you that," she tried to steal my attention. "But, I was too dazzled by the money. I was late to realize..."
Holding a well-packed bento box, Tan walked across the street happily.
"I realized it too late that I still love you, Max." Minerva continued, but my attention wasn't fully on her.
Tan stopped walking when he found me with Minerva sitting at a table in the corner. Shocked, he looked at each of us. He held the bento box tightly and ran away.
I didn't dare to chase him.
I didn't dare to move.
Maybe because I still love Minerva, or because I am a coward to face what Tan feels.
After all those days that I stayed with Tan, I realized why he mentioned that he couldn't love. It is of the fact that he is different.
It is of the fact that he is never accepted.
Exhausted, I went back into the dormitory room and noticed the odd arrangement of things. The imperfect darkness of the room seemed partly lighted by the contrast of the window's pale lights.
As I stepped inside the room's preamble, a hanging rope shocked me as it centered the view of the room.
"Tan!" I shouted as he was about to put his head inside the knot.
I immediately pushed him off the stool, and he fell off it. I prevented him from moving through towering over him.
"Let go of me!" He resisted.
"What the fuck are you doing?" I complained. "Are you sanely thinking?"
I noticed his eyes had swollen. He seemed to be crying all this time.
"I have to die!" He shouted at the top of his voice.
"Why? Why, Tan!?" I told him. "You have more dreams to chase!"
"How can I live for being an island myself!" He pointed out. "How can I live without having someone to love and to accept me?"
I stopped because of what he just said.
"In the seven billion population of mankind, you found the woman who can truly love you, Max!" He objected. "And how about me? I don't have anyone to give me such warmth! The world has kept me to be like this, and I'm not a lucky person like you!"
"And just because of that, you'll commit suicide?" I punched his face due to anger. "Do you want me to kill you by my own hands?"
He didn't look at me. His silence continued to haunt my curiosity.
"Answer me, Tan—"
"Max, I have been admiring you long ago," he murmured. "Do you think in this kind of world, I will have a chance to you? I can't knock on your heart."
He stood from the floor. Then, I freed him from my grip.
"Max," he called. "Many could pity me, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm stupid. I want to curse into that God and every homophobic person I know. In this world, you, Tan, can freely love all the women you want to. But how about me? I am not as free as you. More of a slave. More of stereotype chains. I'll forever stay someone hungering the impossible thing of queer life."
After that busy afternoon, Tan called for his parents in the province. He asked for a quick dropout and a transfer into another regional university.
His things were packed and transferred back to his place. He didn't let me know about his departure. All I knew was that I lost him.
Years shredded like sand in an hourglass. I graduated from college, worked in a private company, started re-dating Minerva, and was married.
My life became like any other bachelor's.
But Tan's life is different.
I learned the news that he committed suicide.
He died without achieving his dreams.
He died without having a chance to the kind of love he wanted.
And the most hurtful of all these facts was that I wasn't there to save him.
I was too late.
Tan was there when I needed him in my break-ups, but when he needed me in his silent hurting, I wasn't there to provide comfort. It wasn't my responsibility to make him feel better, but it made me feel grief.