Flash Fiction

Love Is Other People

By November 9, 2013 16 Comments

Millie Ho Girl Braids Illustration
“We are meant to be.”

You tell me this as you follow me up my building. I am sixteen and empty in the head. I cannot sit still and my words are loose. The man drinking on the stairwell is laughing at us, at our tongue-tied words and adolescent hesitance.

“We connect on a deeper level than anyone else.”

What connection?

“The kind that connects.”

How deep?

“Very deep.”

Here we go again. I stop just outside my apartment door and stare at the crack above it, wondering how—some meeting, some place, some time, some glance, some word, and you swam in my open net like a fish whose only ambition since inception was to be gutted with a spoon and rubbed raw with salt.

I look at you, and you look confused, because you think it is obvious if we are standing on the tail end of three weeks kissing and holding hands that I should see you as a lover and nothing other, but I am a fool who has asked the same question to too many people:

Why do you like me?

“We lived in the same building. I sometimes saw you in the elevator, under the stairs, or talking with older kids in the parking lot. And one day you talked to me.”

Why do you like me?

“I can’t believe you don’t remember. We met at Yonge and Finch, right outside the Korean restaurant where that haggard guy liked to cuss at the little kids. It was cold that day, and I asked you for a bus ticket.”

Why do you like me?

“We were in the same class in the same program in the same school for one whole year before you realized I read Sartre and that made me extra special.”

“Girls of the fatherless kind love people differently,” said the school counsellor. She looked at me like she was the engineer behind the blueprint of how the gears turn and pulleys pull in the female anatomy, but she was a pencil skirt mass-produced textbook worshiper, so what did she know?

“Love died in 1943,” my Philosophy teacher told me, and I grinned at him at the time but wanted to drill craters into the blackboard because there was nothing else he could teach me and the day after that you asked me,

“Do you know how much you’ve hurt me?”

You are standing in front of me and breaking apart. I look at the man passed out on the stairwell, someone’s father, someone’s husband, someone’s brother, someone’s lover, just lying there in a pool of his own puke, and then I look at you and I want to laugh and cry and turn you inside out.

Love is other people.

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