I’ve frequently wondered why history tends to repeat itself. It’s because we never really want to take the risk of trying something truly new, but instead, we look for the familiar and try to improve upon it; maybe do things a little differently. Every action, every decision we make, comes with a price. We wish everything came with either a green light that encourages us to take a step forward or a red light that warns us to take a step back. If we think about it, though, we don’t really need an insight coming from the outside to guide us. The answer lies within ourselves. All we need to do is pause, reflect on our past, identify what we did right and what we did wrong and go from there.
Being creatures of habit, we constantly fall into the trap of making the same mistakes. That’s because we don’t always acknowledge them as being our fault and instead blame our shortcomings on someone else or even the universe which causes our brain to reinforce a sort of mistake pathway that we end up digging more and more into until the day we come to the full realization that we’re totally capable of making the right choices, leading our lives in the direction most favorable to us.
After hearing about my break-up with Warren, Ellen and Anders wanted to show compassion and solidarity by taking me out, but I suggested dinner at my place. They showed up with groceries and Ellen took charge of the cooking. While I helped with dinner, Anders browsed my book library, picking up certain books and going through them. As he went through one of the books, a small piece of paper fell out from inside of it and landed on the floor. My heart almost stopped to the sight of him grabbing it, immediately recognizing it as a photograph of Matthew I absentmindedly used as a bookmark. I watched as he solemnly gazed upon it, completely slack-jawed to the discovery. Oddly enough, I didn’t move nor pretended to notice. In my head however, I knew our friendship was over, and I wasn’t going to give him a lame explanation to justify what it meant. The picture spoke for itself. My whole life has been coming undone ever since my humiliation at Rose, and all I could think of at that point was that I wasn’t going to try and cover up my tracks anymore. What’s the point of explaining myself if people are only willing to understand from their level of perception?
As Anders disbelievingly walked up to me, photograph in hand, I could feel the rug being pulled from under me. I pretended not to notice him and carried on with slicing the watermelon. But when I heard him ask what the photograph meant, I couldn’t avoid looking at him, the truth manifesting itself on my face, and the look he gave me back was nothing short of withering. His calm demeanor had ardently switched to threatening and a quarrel started over the
fact I was romantically involved with Matthew and never bothered mentioning it to him and everybody else after the shooting. He went on to vehemently accuse me of being associated in the planning of Matt’s shooting spree, holding me accountable for all the victims’ death, pointing out Marshall’s, while continually slighting and pulling me into a corner while Ellen contemptuously stood there, incapable of speech or movement. All she managed to do was throw a few glances at me as she peeled and chopped potatoes and stirred them into a bowl. He tried to forcibly extract information regarding my history with Matt, and I repeatedly refused to engage any further in the conversation.
– “People like you are what’s wrong with the world,” Anders concluded before he moved over to Ellen and gave her a questionable look I understood as a sign he wanted her to back him up and take his stand.
When she didn’t, Anders stormed out of my apartment. That’s when she finally became mobile and rushed after him while I felt myself flying off the handle as a weird sensation of vertigo seemed to be taking hold of me. I felt like my mind was about to explode at any minute. I was clearly destined for a failed life characterized by unalloyed disasters coming at me one after the other, resulting in loss and complete detachments. I can’t even start to imagine what the situation would’ve been like had Warren been here. I would’ve been too embarrassed to look him in the eye if he was. He really did dodge a bullet with me. I would’ve saved myself a lot of trouble by disposing of the photograph, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so because it was the only reminder I had left of Matt.
I went inside my bedroom and rummaged through my closet for any other elements linking me to Matt. As I went through the mess in my closet, I found a little box; the box of mischiefs as I often liked to call it. Somehow, I’ve hoarded souvenirs from the crimes I’ve committed in the past as if they were trophies to be proud of. It contained Tye’s wallet I kept after I assaulted him, Heather’s newspaper article featuring her after she got bitten by the spider I freed in her bedroom, Paul’s condom which contained the sperm I used to frame him for rape, the court papers I received in the mail when Anita sued me years ago for embezzling her money, and so on. I never saw the harm in keeping them, but now I do. They’re hazardous. Keeping them was dangerous, so I immediately decided to get rid of them. I grabbed the garbage bag from the kitchen and disposed of everything, putting an end to this subconscious pattern of holding on to sinister, incriminating elements that seemed to do nothing but put me in deep trouble. Scouring deep in my closet, I came across a photo of me and Hilda back at Palmerston. Looking at it, I noticed how far I’ve come in terms of physical appearance. My facial features had hardened, my eyes have become narrow, my mouth bitter and my jaw more accentuated. It was not the Felix everyone recognized back then. The transformation was symbolic to the drastic decline my life has gone through since then.
I went down to the back of my building and threw the bag in the dumpster, then headed back upstairs. Back in my apartment, Ellen resumed preparing dinner. She regrettably said Anders won’t be joining us, and I couldn’t make sense of what was going on. I didn’t expect her to be back and assured her that I wouldn’t be bothered if she decided to leave as well, and all she did was shrug and tell me that she had no doubt I was still a good person. I helped her carry through with dinner in complete silence. When we sat down at the table, I couldn’t help but stare at Anders’ empty plate, so she took it off the table and saddled two portions of steak inside my plate. The food tasted good, but since my stomach had flipped, I had lost my appetite, and annoyingly picked at the remaining portion until I snapped and violently smashed the plate onto the wall. Doing that took the edge off, but only briefly. Ellen got up, cleaned the mess, and suggested we go out for a bit. I wasn’t really in a position to reject the idea. I was lucky she was still there when everyone else was gone.
The first hour had us both driving all over the city with no apparent destination in mind. My head was resting on the window as I watched the flickering headlights of the cars driving past us in the total gray haze. Ellen kept to herself. She messed with the radio quite a bit before sticking to an unknown electro-pop-dance-music band. Next thing I know we’re both aimlessly strolling down the streets of Uptown, before heading to our favorite low-key bar, Foxes. Inside, the ambiance was the same. But I wasn’t. Our favorite bartender made our drinks, and we automatically headed to the dance floor.
Ellen sensually moved her body and made a continuous, reassuring eye contact with me throughout the night to make sure I felt at ease. I made sure to reciprocate and smile although I was frowning inside. Going through life, I’ve desperately tried to grapple the reason behind my existence. Last night, things were once again put into perspective, and for the first time, I’ve decided to take the time to process who I am and where my life was going. My brain eventually gave out after the third drink, wiping off all the existential, obsessive thoughts and endless rhetorical questions roaming around inside of it. Ellen and I gradually got closer and closer to each other. She wrapped her arms around my neck and I reciprocated by shyly putting my hands on her waist. The loud beats of the music transformed into an echoed, stretched out sound as I felt her fingers slide down from the back of my head to my neck, then up my cheeks. Her pupils dilated in the dimly-lit room as she built-up the courage to reach in for a stolen kiss, her neatly manicured nails harmlessly digging into my face as her voluptuous lips covered my entire mouth. We held both our breaths as we both embraced every second of the moment. I don’t think I’ve felt that self-aware during a kiss before. After it was over, Ellen moved away to get a clear view of my reaction. I don’t think I had one. Looking back at her, it finally dawned on me that she had broken the cycle of misconceptions I’ve created for myself regarding women by sticking around when everyone else was gone. I was standing in front of a woman who thrived to make me feel better and accepted me for who I was. Ellen had changed my theory that women were untrustworthy and brutal which gave me hope. In the light of the incident, she remained optimistic and proved that the perception she had of me couldn’t be fazed, and that our bond couldn’t be desolated. For a second, I looked at her and felt a tremendous amount of relief, but it wasn’t long before I was in doubt again. I was mainly concerned about her ethical and moral codes. I couldn’t understand how my relationship with Matt didn’t even flinch an inch. The man almost shot her to death. It didn’t make sense that she didn’t even try to ask me one single question. Anyone in their right mind would be curious as to how I knew Matt and what our relationship was like. I was daunted by her ability to passively look past things as if they didn’t matter or happen. As much as I hated losing Anders, his reaction was valid and predictable. Ellen’s total lack of involvement and emotional distress as well as the way she stood in the kitchen, unmoving and without any clear reaction struck me as insensitive. Although she seemed to function like a normal human being, I couldn’t help but suspect the presence of a behavioral problem within her. It was only in hindsight that I realized how she never showed any temper tantrums, aggression or defiance which I found abnormal not to mention a little bit unsettling, especially under such circumstances.
I was suddenly scared of her. I stepped away from the dance floor and rushed outside for fresh air, and she followed. Outside, I looked at her but not even one word would come out so I forced myself and told her I couldn’t see her anymore. It was then that she responded and said something so poignant and true it will forever echo in my head:
“People leave you all the time, and that’s so damaging that all you see now is, things like this, they don’t work. Friendships and relationships end badly. Your family isn’t here for you. You’re alone. And although you like being alone, part of you is petrified of it.”
It’s like I’ve chosen those words. I’ve never said them to myself, but they definitely rang true. I looked at her and didn’t respond, but apparently the look I gave her said it all. She backed off, her hand slowly leaving mine. I could feel her fingertips hanging on to the edges of mine as if she didn’t want to let go. But she did. And I’m glad she did. I’m an unbearable person to be with. She’d be doing herself a favor by totally erasing my existence from her life.