The Damkeeper and the Baker

The dull ache that had made itself home in my chest was heavier than usual. With every breath and exhalation it tightened a bit more, constricting itself, adjusting its dense body and making itself a little more comfortable in the nook surrounding my heart. It was alive and it grew, just the same way any ‘thing’ that was alive grew. It needed the same essential ingredients for its survival, which I, though unwilling was bound to keep feeding. I convinced myself I could, at times, hear its hoarse rattling breathing when i stilled my own. It came from deep within; a low grumble, a tremor that I could feel like a shudder through my bones. Slight it may have been, but ever present. It had become a part of my existence, a weight I had to bear with every waking moment. The ache in my chest was like a living lump of coal that I had swallowed years ago that had lodged itself inside me, getting heavier and heavier as the days passed tethered to my heart and living off my grief.

What was the word for a form of love that was willingly given, but not returned? Like a cupcake freshly baked and warm out of the oven, it was made of chocolate with gooey melted chunks of rich goodness inside. It was decorated with a swirl of pink strawberry cream with a casual handful of sprinkles thrown on top. The baker had made these with her heart full, each one a little insight into what was felt inside, for someone. At first, he had taken them gladly, he had savored the warmth and gave smiles in payment. That was enough, at first. His smiles sent sunshine into the darkest of places and sent molten gold bubbling to the surface. His smiles spread smiles to her face, and those moments were enough to keep her heart full. But as time went by, the smiles slowly turned into passing comments; conversation which once flowed easily and smoothly like a river of crystal clear water downstream over the ease of polished smooth boulders allowing transparency into the depths underneath, had slowed down to a trickle of muddy water in damp, cold, wet sand and a desperate thirst hanging in the air. It was as if he had built a wall, a dam, across the river.

She had seen him carrying the bricks but had refused to believe he would ever complete it. ‘I’ had refused to believe that he wanted to, I wanted to believe that his indifference was only skin deep, and that he was good inside to appreciate a person who cared for him so much. Reassurance in our friendship was not something I ever received. And the smiles that never came anymore were replaced by silence. I could not bake any more cupcakes, when I didn’t know whether he even liked them anymore. Maybe the chocolate was too rich, or the cream was too sweet or just that maybe, he had had too many to eat these past few months.

I could only speculate the reasons, though they kept me up at night. The silence was deafening, and in a moment like this is when the Ache had creeped in. It had come silently, one night, starting off as a little cold pebble picked up from he riverbed as the water had started receding. I hadn’t thought too much of it at first, the hope that things will get better was still too fresh and continued to bake. The pebble had found itself a place inside me, and as the months went by, and though the cakes went unreceived, I never even knew if he took a bite out of the last ones I had sent. The pebble had grown, become harder and coarser inside, a living thing with its tail wrapped around my heart. It was heavy, an overwhelming weight in my chest, aching for its thirst to be quenched.

But the dam seemed shut, its walls even too hight to climb and peek over, and there was nothing I could do but sit on its shores and wait until a time when the Damkeeper might let his walls down, quietly longing for a small piece of cake because after all, the cake had been a small yet secret indulgence in his life. I didn’t know if that day would ever come, it was all but a fantasy in my mind, a wishful dream that he even felt the slightest bit of affection for my being. He acknowledged my existence, yes, but I could be nothing more than a face in a crowded bar with whom he nods the cordial hello, or passes a quick amicable hug. But his attention lasts only a few minutes as if he on purpose moves on to the next person in passing. Politeness, should not be mistaken for kindness?

Boyfriends with Girlfriends.

Why do you fall in love with every new man you find interesting? And why do you only find interesting the men who do not, or could not, give you anything in return?

Ones who made excuses when you asked them to spend time with you, between the ‘yeah, sure lets hang soon’s and ‘oh sorry, i’m busy’s, you never knew if any of these responses were real or just conversation fillers that bought you extra time, to delay the inevitable conclusion to our relationships.

You always started with a spark with these men, an initial attraction, your eyes locked for a split second that felt like forever and a fire stirred inside your stomach as you gazed in embrace. The spark lasted for a few weeks, maybe a month at most, while you broke down the barriers through casual exchange in texts because you did not believe in sexual intimacy without a connection. The text talking was what you were most comfortable with, it allowed for distance, without letting down any of your barriers. You could control what you said, gave you space to plan your sentences. But eventually the cracks start to appear, after a few real-life meetings you start to get attached, form a fictional relationship with this person, formulating made up scenarios and ideals of what could be possible. You let on too much, you go from being interesting and ‘fun’ to talk to, to being slightly needy and too comfortable.

This is the moment these men raise their ears to the sounds of my text beeping, alert in the forest like a wary deer, they stand still in the shadows hoping they won’t be seen by my searching eyes. They moment I get too close they make a run for it, escape. Sometimes gradually, slowly cutting down their responses to one word answers, until eventually you get me to admit that it’s not going to happen anymore.

And this is when I want them the most, my aching heart has been set alight with smouldering embers, quietly turning the remains of my heart to a blackened char. The less you want me, the more I want you. The less attention you pay me, the more I need to be seen. To be heard, and my grip grows slightly tighter with every passing day because I do not want to lose the possibility of all the things I had imagined for us, what we could have done, could have said, could have seen and felt if he disappeared.

You had a connection, yes, but it was fleeting, never meant to last. Why? It may not have been the right time, or place in the cosmos. These men always had other distractions, they were not looking directly at you, their attention was elsewhere with someone else. You were just temporary, something interesting to talk to for a moment and pretty to look at that made them feel good about themselves, while they wiled their time away on their others. It was unfair. And yet it happened every single time, over and over again like an old clock that would not stop ticking in place, stuck in its minute little loop.

They were all in love with someone else. And here I was once again stuck inside the broken clock where time stood still.

The Blue Fairy is not coming.

What is the rational amount of time and energy a person should spend in the pursuit of someone who may or may not be interested in return?

Wherever you go, you carry around a little effigy in your pocket, it sometimes sits on your shoulder, sometimes peeks out the front of your jacket pocket, sits beside you while you sip your coffee and pour hollandaise on your eggs. It sits on your table, and on those mornings where your heart has sunk to your stomach, where you are left alone with the expanding feeling of quiet loneliness, you stare at it sitting there and you face the reality that this figurine is not and never will be real. It is but a clump of cloth and wool and drumsticks in the shape of ‘somebody’, to which you have attached all the little trinkets and charms you have collected along the way; memories and moments over time, sewn, glued and pinned in the hope your little soft doll, would be visited by the Blue Fairy one moonlit night and turn it into a real person.

You know that fairy tales don’t come true, not in this reality, and yet you continue to nurse and keep this puppet close to your heart because it has become your lifeline; your float that keeps you from drowning in the thunderous ocean that is heartache. Yet you hold on, you nurture the idea of the ‘somebody’ transitioning from beyond the veil, where you can’t touch them, flirting in and out of sight to finally stepping through the curtain into your reality.

However, no matter how hard the candle of hope burns you cannot turn a blind eye to the true fact that your doll is nothing more than a statue. It had no feelings to return, no glint in its eye that expressed emotions, no words to respond with to your proclamations of grand future plans. It stared on back at you, ever present, yet ungiving.

Beep. Beep. The texts were all that you received from beyond the veil, casual friendly messages in response to your prying inquisitions. You wondered whether you should break the line, but you didn’t want to drown either. Friendship was better than having no ship to be tethered to, in this ocean you feared so intensely, you thought. He was real, yet he lived in another reality, which despite your attempts to reach his dimension, was not possible. Yet, you hoped, and continued with each passing day to keep the candle burning so he may find his way through with the Blue Fairy’s help, from wherever his world was to yours. So you may one day wake up not next to a doll but to the ‘somebody’ with his arms around you and his long hair all tangled up in your own, to say a real good morning in return.

But, how much longer should you continue to keep your secret made up figure of cotton and wool and one-dimensional emotions, before something or nothing ever happens?

 

Uploading Attachments

NETWORK CONNECTION ERROR.

The server is not responding. Uploads have failed to attach. System failure, malfunction alert, operating system crashing…

REBOOT.

. . .

Restarting your machine may take longer than expected, after all yours is a complex sentient machine. You have to process the data loss and re-evaluate the update.

You may not have realized at the time you began your connection that it was something you wanted to be a lasting feeling. You thought then, that it was just a mutual ‘coalition’ with an air of breezy romance coupled with flirtatious passing comments. Nonetheless, aura of new relationships never fails to excite you; though you may deep in your heart know that you do not have the patience to nurse this long and grueling process, so it may not even pass the initial stage of stolen glances, flurried touches, and butterflies tingling in your stomach, you still find yourself utterly disappointed when you realize the attachment you had been trying to upload has failed.

You find yourself questioning whether you acted too fast, if you made your move too soon? You obsess in spiraling roundabouts of confusion whether it was your inability to wait, to delay the inevitable climactic encounter that would ultimately impact, either with smiles or with sadness, the course of the continuation of your relationship. You look behind you at the road taken, and you are certain that it was not just your own conviction, but rather a reciprocated eagerness to partake in the kairos. So how could it be your fault that the server was not responding. Clearly there had been some kind of unforeseen malfunction, an underlying unmentioned dormant virus, laying beneath the surface waiting for the opportune moment to make itself shown, crashing the server completely.

The virus now had complete hold of the server, there was no way through its firewalls so high that you could not find a way to reach in and reconnect. No matter how you tried, the virus just kept sending in advanced defense mechanisms, the walls got higher, thicker and more and more distant until all connection to the server flatlined.

Your attachments, now fell crashing down. The crash caused more damage to the operating system than expected. You stand there at the foot of its pile of broken feelings, watching the integrity of the system failing around you, pieces falling out of the very floor you stand on, the sky slowly blacking out pixel by pixel, rejection and regret filling in those empty black squares one after another until you are wholly consumed by its sticky dark glue of self-depreciation.

You also understand that though you may have entered into this chaotic simulation with mild intention, a subconscious urge for a fulfilling human connection, had found some eager feeling ready to formulate themselves into a solid program, and you may have developed a sense of blind hope in a glimpse of a possible future. Yet now, while you struggle in the solitary confinement of your own mind, you stare at your demons in the eye facing the dark shadow of what might have been. They ask you why you are just SO unlucky in love? What is it about you that makes you crave a deep affection so profoundly and yet despise the process of its creation so intensely? You wonder whether to blame only yourself in the mistakes of your past relationships, or were your choices mere reflections of an effect after a cause out of the world around you.

Your next step is to upgrade your system, with a stronger antivirus protection, and solid core stability. This update may take months or maybe years to fully complete. Yet you must decide whether updating to an abstinence program would benefit the system’s capacity for forming real personal connections in the future? and would it be worth it in the end?

Kismet?

We walk, we wander through the streets of a busy market intersection, hundreds of people around us, each oblivious to each other. We live two completely separate lives, for now… But through the crowd, the throng of people pushing and shoving, shouting their way to the fishmongers and shoe-salesmen, we bump into each other. In this chaotic jumble of faces and voices, we stop and feel something. It could be something as simple as a touch, with our eyes, for even that touch is felt right deep within our souls, if you let it…

The noise in the streets is drowning, the colours and shapes fleeting and inconsistent, blurry figures roam around us in misshapen forms as they roam around leaving trails of their purpose behind. Some weave their paths towards certain intention, and the others leave behind hints of forgotten commitment. We stand in there, somewhere between the two, somehow, we might possibly stray paths and kismet.

You are but an ideal to the imaginary void i need to fill. A solid reality to the fantasy that I have created within my mind, the perfect stranger to meet the mystery that is me. You may be the one person yet unknowing, of any past, previous, prior history of mine. A refreshing breath of fresh air to inhale. A new surface to explore, to discover how one touch might spark tingles down my spine, one kiss could make my knees weak, or even just a glance in my direction might make my heart race a thousand times faster. It could be kismet that our eyes meet across the street and I soak up your soul like dry earth on a rainy day.

I don’t know who you are, yet. But you seem familiar to me somehow, the thought of who we may be together brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my cheeks. I see you across the street and my impulse, my urge is to run to your arms, with the faintest hope that you will catch me. I seek your gaze, looking over the river of people cascading between us, standing on my tiptoes making every effort to not drown. I swim across, stroke after stroke, against the current reaching ever so slowly.

I don’t know who you are, yet. You may be someone looking elsewhere, trying to catch someone else’s eye in the crowd. You may be holding the hand of another woman, happily. You may be moving in with her, you may be marrying her. And all the fantastical possibilities of who we could be or could have been are getting washed away in this river of people, leaving me stranded on a lonely rock in its middle. I stand there, still awaiting a moment when the throb of the flow lets up, to cross that river and face you. You may still be there on the other side, and we finally say hello. Or you could be another face from the crowd of wandering eyes awaiting to catch a glancing pair to meet.

I don’t know who you are yet, but I am waiting to know you…