All posts by Theya Catalan

Eclectic tastes and capricious passions. Spends her coffee dates alone.

Of A Painting

Ah, I haven’t been around here since what feels like an eternity. With exams catching up and newer avenues at college, I had little time to spare for the blog. But here, I’m back again! And this is a little poem that I wrote during the so-called break that I took. It’s an attempt at poetry after a long time. I’m looking forward to some feedback.

“an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
instead he could paint galaxies
on her sallow skin,
hurdled by a tone or two of olive,
caressing a silent picture of radiant starbeams
pressed against the little window.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
as her eyelids fluttered open to reveal harlot eyes,
soaking in his reflection in its translucence,
no dreams for the day,
only snapshots of wrinkled eyes and
a masterpiece underneath.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
so he rolled over to a corner which was darker;
quivering fingers pulled out a canvas,
and in a hurried stance,
overthrew the paint cans and brushes;
azure spread across the starbeams
gazing down on the floor.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he gulped,
as he picked up a brush,
and stretched a stroke,
like Hunter’s belt across the eclipsed sky,
and watched her watch him with awe,
and his fingers ran over the board,
combusting.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
drawing stars and skin,
against hushed moans,
as her body arched
under his fingertips,
revealing a hint of crimson string
from under white, warped sheets,
and he pulled away for a second,
to capture her lips,
drifting closer to the shivering skin down her throat,
needing, wanting;
more.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he saw the orange spreading across the purple sky,
and he heard her scintillating cries,
as her nails scraped against his hot skin,
breaths hitching, mingling, floating away,
and his hands found their way back to the masterpiece.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
yet he captured every word un-uttered, unsaid,
in the medley of iridescent colours
trickling down his brushes, slow and hesitant;
and beside him,
she gasped,
glimmering eyes staring into a rather colourful reflection,
and sighed.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he knew she’d be gone by the dawn;
wrapped in white,
she dragged herself across the room,
and stood next to the window;
a silhouette of voluptuous curves and beauty,
with tangled locks of hair shining grey,
and lips parting,
to say goodbye.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
only nodded,
pushing the canvas further into the darkness,
beads of sweat clinging to the ends of his hair,
hesitance painted across his face;
and she walked to him,
and knelt down,
nails clawing across his bare thighs,
and stole a lingering, last kiss.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he’d saved a shade a disastrous black;
when morning knocked and she was gone,
he pulled out the painting from mangled shadows,
and overturned the can of black paint
over the painting, once colourful and blue and grey,
and smiled.”

Image Credits- Internet

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Of Some Days and Others

..some days, she wants to fly. higher and away. beyond the skies. she wants to stand atop a hill, surrounded by gushing waterfalls and pink and purple sunsets and take flight and fly beyond several moons and suns. to a world of radiance. to a world of bright and happy. to a world so majestic and so beautiful. on days like those, she’s happy; a smile teases her face every now and then, curling her lips only slightly and yet, inside, she’s as happy as the world. she wants to soar. beyond and far. higher and away. and discover. some days, she feels like she’s invincible. some days, she feels like doing a little twirl and laughing out loud. some days, she’s filled with hope.

and some days, she feels sick and dead. tired. almost as if the the last drop of energy has been taken away from her and she’s cold and helpless. on days like those, she doesn’t want to fly. the sunsets and mirages don’t appeal to her. nor does the mosaic sky. she wants to curl up next to her window, covered in her blanket and drown a little deeper into the darkness of the day. by the solitary candle, she cries and lets the lone tear hide her wry smile and breaking heart. she feels like a person on the road, surrounded by buzzing landscapes of cars zooming right across her, and she stops and kneels down on the gravel and screams and yet, the world just walks by. some days, she’s broken. some days, she sits next to misted windows and talks to nobody. some days, she’s hopeless..to a point where she doesn’t want to keep going.

only, some days.

Picture Credits – Siddharth Mohanty

Of Almosts

..pulling her hand, to the tune of the rustling autumn breeze, he runs to the crooked, little wooden bench and they both sit. smelling the enticing taste of roasted apples that waltz past them. he almost says it, almost. the words are right at the tip. and almost out there. slowly slipping off the edge. staying a while. threatening to spill.

she tugs at his shirt and his eyes burn into hers as she looks up at him. her dark pupils gleam with curiosity as he studies her, gulping, lingering a while and slowly breathing out.

as the noises come closer, his breaths become more frantic. he pushes past the words threatening to flow out, dreams glistening in his radiant blue eyes that never fail to amaze her. they hold a sincerity, so profound that she can feel herself live the stories that his eyes hold.

“that’s all you wanted to tell me?” she mumbles, her eyes holding hope. she tastes hope. and anxiety. and fear. sweet and sour and a million things more.

and he almost says it, but doesn’t.

“yes, that’s it. it was nothing.”

isn’t there more? she wants to ask almost. but, doesn’t.

and he turns away and looks at the sun. purple and orange and darker tones. and she looks away and watches the sunset too. a sunset of a million hopes and the one story she was almost sure of. almost.

(Image credits – Siddharth Mohanty)

Of Things Left Unsaid

I looked at him, my eyes pricking with heavy tears. A blinding headache was slowly making it’s way, and I sat there with throbbing temples and an almost breaking heart.

“You- you’ll leave?” I spoke slowly, holding on to the slightest hope that he might just laugh it off and say that he’d been kidding.

He shrugged and looked at me.

“I have to,” he muttered.

“But-,” I shouted. He waited for me to say something but suddenly, I could find no words to fill in where I left.

“Say something?” he pleaded. “Please, anything. But just don’t sit silently.”

I nodded. Pushing myself up from the bench, I stood facing the withering autumn forest and the sunset that slowly approached. With every shade of orange that turned darker, I broke a little more inside, because time was flying by.

“I told you,” I whispered. “I told you not to apply for that freaking program because heck, I knew you’d get through. You’re a bloody genius! I knew you’d ace the exams and then you’d have to go! That is why I told you not to apply for it!”

“But,” he interrupted, “you had mentioned some other reason! You told me not to apply because you wanted us to apply for some other program!”

“I lied!” I spoke. “I lied. Would it have stopped you from applying had I said I didn’t want you to leave? That I was afraid of losing you? That I just can’t imagine a day without you? And that would have stopped you? No! We’re grown ups now! We’ve to take decisions for our own lives! And no, no matter how great a reason I’d have given you, you’d have left anyways! You do that! You leave!”

Falling back on the bench, I buried my face in my hands and cried. Shoulders heaving, my hair plastered against my cheeks in a mess of sweat and dirt, I cried because I knew he was leaving and that he’d never return back. What hurt even more was he didn’t even try to console. He had always been there to hold me when I cried. But today, even when he sat only inches away from me, somehow it seemed like he was so far away. Like he was slowly moving away from me.

“You’re being too immature,” he retorted.

I shook my head and between brimming tears, I laughed.

“See, I knew you’d say this!” I said, looking up at him and smiling. “There was a time when you were the immature one! And you’d come running to me for advice! And now, here you are, leaving in a couple of hours and I’m suddenly the immature one?”

Taking a deep breath, I continued.

“Yes, you’re probably thinking now as to why I’m acting like this. Things will be totally fine, won’t they? There’s phones and internet and Skype. Heck, what could even go wrong? But you don’t know my stories! I’ve been through a whole lot of situations like this! People change. They change. Time and place changes them. I know! I’ve changed. My old friends say so. And you’ll change too. I don’t want that. I don’t want you to leave.”

“But we’ll be fine!” he said.

“How?” I cried. “What about the Sundays? What about our plans? What about the parties? I can’t imagine a single one of them without you! But does it even matter to you? No! Because you’re going to a new place! There you’ll meet newer people, may be a few who are better than me. You’ll forget. And then one day, we’ll meet somewhere and there’ll be nothing to say! And no, no matter how many times you say me that is not going to happen with us, I’ll not believe you.”

The rest of the things were a blur. All I remember was him standing up and muttering a goodbye while I got into my car and cried. He left. He never called me once. And I never did too. It was surprising because never had I thought I’d get over him so quickly. It felt strange. It felt bad. But somewhere, it felt better.

Then one day, we met again. He had come back to the town during his vacations and we ran into each other at the ice cream parlour.

“Hey,” he greeted me.

“Hi,” I smiled back.

Then, both of us turned away and placed our orders.

“How have you been?” he asked.

“I’ve been great,” I replied. I lied again. Somehow, even though I had convinced myself that I had gotten over losing my best friend, it hurt ten times more, standing in front of him, seeing him all changed.

“And you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he muttered. “I’ve changed.”

“We all do,” I smiled. “When are you leaving? I thought if you’re in town for the next couple of days, we could may be hang out?”

“I’m not going back,” he said.

“But it’s only been three months!”

“I’m not going back.”

“Why?”

“Because, I don’t want to. Yes, we’re grown ups, but I don’t want to go anywhere without you. There’ll always be better chances in life. But this place, you people, you’re worth every missed chance. I’m back. I’m back for you,” he said. “And no, there’s never going to be a moment when we meet somewhere and have nothing to say.”

Over melted scoops of butterscotch ice cream and heartbreaks, we talked like there’s never going to be a tomorrow.

Of Heartbreaks

It felt cold. Almost numb and unfeeling.
There he stood, chatting away with my friend, staring down at her with a shine in his eyes I’d never seen. And to a corner, I stood, clutching the straps of my bag, biting my lips and looking down at my worn out red sneakers.

I heard them laugh. I watched them hold each other’s hand. And somewhere in that moment, a silent tear slipped down my cheek. Why, wasn’t it the very same guy I had been pining for since the last month, dreaming like a typical teenager, falling trap to his charms. How did I miss out the fact that every time he talked to me, his eyes never met mine, for he kept looking for somebody else? How did I not see the tiny little hints my friend left with me to tell him, and yet I hopelessly fell in love with somebody who could never love me?

Bringing a hand to my cheek, in the pretext of wiping my nose, I wiped away the stray tear and smiled.

“Why are you standing there?” he called, his voice so happy that it made me cringe.

“Yes! Come here, you idiot!” she called too.

A part of me kept breaking and the other part silently picked up the pieces. I felt like turning around and walking away, but I knew I’d cry. So, I walked closer to them and flashed them a grin that hurt me so much to tell.

“See,” she proudly declared, “She is the reason why we both are together now! Had she not helped, I’d have never met an amazing person like you.”

He looked up and laughed, his knees slightly bending and his hands in his pockets. I fell in love with that too.

“Well, there’s always this angel,” he gave me a grateful smile and I smiled back.

With each smile I managed to put up that was not so real, a part of me withered away and I realized it would never be the same.

“Seriously, you’ve been such a great friend to both of us! We can never think of ways to thank you enough,” he said again.

I shook my head and despite myself, I laughed.

“You’re making this so awkward! You both are in love with each other! So, celebrate! I’ll leave you alone now,” I said and the corners of my lips quivered. “I’ll meet you people tomorrow.”

Ten minutes later, I sat on the empty tennis court, clutching my jacket tight and breathing in too deep. It felt numb. I wanted to cry, but I only managed to cough.

Somebody came around and hugged me close.

“How does it feel?”

“Like shattered pieces of glass that can never be put back.”

Of Sad Days

I wanted to write something happy today – something about finding rainbows beyond a cloud; about mirthful summers and early springs; about happiness. I wanted to write happy things and be happy.

But there’s a storm raining down upon my heart. Inside, I’m wrecking; breaking into several pieces. But does anybody realize that? No. I hide it all behind a sheer pretence. I laugh. I giggle. I look around at people. When tears prick at my eyes, I blink away. But on particularly lonely moments, when the streetlights no longer shine brightly, I sit down on the pavement and I cry my heart out.

There’s a storm raining down upon my heart. It’s been long since I saw the sunshine last. I’m waiting for the rays to break through the darkness and enter my house. I want to believe that yes, it’ll be there…soon. I want to write happy things until then – about hope. But there’s a storm razing inside me, shattering every hope of mine. So, until the dawn arrives, I sit and write another sad story about a sad day.

Of Childhood and Notebooks

I remember a time, back when I was barely twelve, and we lived in a small house with breaking mosaic patterned tiles, Mom never bought us those ruled notebooks. Instead, she’d buy us sheets of plain, white paper and stitch them up to make it look like a notebook.

I was always fascinated with those hardbound or paperback notebooks, though, for they had pictures of superheroes and superstars and unicorns on them. But Mom never bought us those. All I had were sheets of bright, crisp paper divided into two halves, with a taut white string holding the pages together.

With time, I learnt to make it look better. I’d paste little stickers on it or cut out pictures from magazines and old newspapers and decorate the front page with them. But no matter how much I tried, the cover page of my notebook was never as glossy or gorgeous as the ones they sold in shops. But I never gave up. I started sketching and drawing on the front page to make it look the way I wanted it to be. Often, somebody in school would stop by, steal a glance at my weird, little notebook and ask me if I had designed it. A part of me would be scared to answer because there’d always be this lingering fear in my mind whether it’d be laughed upon or appreciated. My friends would compliment me and shove their notebooks into my hand and ask me to design one for them.

Over the years, plain notebooks without factory-made cover pages didn’t bother me anymore.

Even when I had a chance to buy myself those notebooks I had once envied, it didn’t feel that great as it was supposed to. Rather, the notebooks felt too ordinary when I pulled them out from my bag and saw the rest of the class of forty students pull out the same kind of notebook too. That is when I realized how beautiful those barren, plain notebooks that Mom brought for us, were. My designs on it were unique. Yes, there was no cellophane covering on it, so whenever it rained, I had to go back home, tear away the cover page and make another one, but it was all worth. For they stood out. Stood out from the rest.

Over the years, many other things changed too. Mom stopped buying us those sheets of paper and instead bought us those hardbound, ruled notebooks. I didn’t draw on them. They looked too perfect already. The cover pages were waterproof. So I didn’t have to bother when it rained. In fact, I never bothered at all. I let them lie on the study table, collecting dust. The other notebooks carried a piece of me in them. I’d keep them locked up in cupboards like they were some hidden treasure. And my heart would swell in pride every time somebody would praise them.

I don’t know why I suddenly remembered about them. The thought arrived like a little flash of memory, bringing along with, a fountain of nostalgia.

Years have gone by. I’ve moved on from those “weird”, little notebooks to factory-made, custom designed notebooks to spiral bound ones and more. But I haven’t moved on from those memories. Be it the awkward squirming on seeing a friend pull out a proper notebook to waiting for the class to look at the teacher so that I could pull out my notebook without becoming a laughing stock to garnering appreciation for the same doodles, it’s been a crazy little ride.

A part of me wants to go back in time and find my treasure cove. I want to call Mom up and ask her if they sell those loose sheets of paper anymore. But I know the answer, they don’t. Just like me, they’ve moved on to better technology and better ways. Mom probably wouldn’t make me those notebooks if I asked her to. She is too busy. Yet, a part of me wants that and only that.

It makes me wonder of how we remember so much about the things we shouldn’t have bothered to remember. Perhaps, it is because though the moment had seemed very insignificant once upon a time, it made us into the person we are today. The miles we’ve come; the miles we’ve yet to conquer, we owe it to these tiny, beautiful memories.

Of Once-Upon-A-Times

She was elated that day. Happy, cheerful with an infectious mirth plastered over her face. She skipped down the stairs, swinging her arms; twirled around on the road, laughing really hard. Nothing could spoil her mood that day, she knew. She couldn’t wait to get back home and pick up her phone and tell people about how happy she was.

She was sad. Utterly, painfully sad. Only barely she kept herself from breaking down in front of the class of sixty students that sat in the little room. Her eyes welled up and her hands shook every time the lump in her throat became too hard to swallow. She couldn’t wait to get back home and find a shoulder to cry on.

She reached home and plopped herself back on her bed, still smiling and picked up her phone. Scrolling through the contacts, she bit her lips as she wondered who to call to. Sure she had a lot of friends in her list. But she wanted to call a particular someone and tell her how happy she was. Her fingers hovered a while above the one name she had tried to forget for the past few months and her lips twisted into a frown. Suddenly, she was no longer happy. An almost sheering pain jolted through her body as the painful realization dawned upon her that she couldn’t call that person up. While one part of her desperately wanted to give it a try and see if things worked out fine, the other part of her was scared. Scared that she would end up as a blocked contact. So, silently wiping the little tear that trickled down her cheek, she put away her phone and sighed.

She reached home and gasped for air. Never in her life had she felt so broken and so disastrous. There was only one person who knew how to calm her down and how to give her the courage to face another dawn. But, were they even talking anymore? Clutching the armrest of her leather couch, she coughed and broke down. A part of her wanted to leave her a message. Just to know if she cared enough to reply back. But what if she didn’t? She didn’t think she could take that kind of pain again, anymore.

Both of them cried to sleep that night, each thinking about the other. They missed the times they laughed over the phone; and ate till they choked. They remembered the times they promised each other how they’d forgive no matter what and how they’ll be friends forever. And oh, how they cried when they realized forever had just been a sincere lie.

Each one of them made a silent wish before they drifted to sleep…to go back to best friends they had once been.

Once upon a time.

Of Sad, Lonely Days

Curled up in the bed, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, clutching the pillow, she peeked out from the duvet and looked out of the window.

Drops of rain lazily trickled down the frosted windows, blurring the world outside. Only flashes of red taillights were all she could see.

Sighing, she buried her face into her hair again, smelling the faint aroma of her shampoo and for a moment, her eyes fluttered close. The very next moment, she woke up, fumbling for her phone under the sheets; found it, and sighed again as she stared at the screen.

Wasn’t anybody bothered, she wondered. Would anybody ask for her if she disappeared the other day?

Curled up in the bed, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, she waited a little longer. Up until another dawn.

But there were no calls. There were no voice messages.

Curled up in the bed, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, all she wished for was somebody to whisper her words of joy; somebody to call her up and ask her how she was; somebody to tell her that they are there and that she is not alone.

But the evening sky merged into inky darkness and darkness faded to give place to the sunshine and yet, her phone never rang. Nobody called her up to tell her that they’ve got her back. Nobody called, bothered about her. Nobody called.

Curled up in the bed, now in a pool of her tears, her face plastered against the mess of her own hair, she waited only to realize she was all alone. So, she stood up, and went out for work, sad and tired..

Of A-Table-For-One

He had been asked to manage the reception counter for the day. Sitting lazily at the plywood desk, he answered the calls from excited, impatient people, asking for table reservations and the special menu for the night. He hated the task. He was better off serving customers in his oversized T-shirt and his brother’s baseball cap. Somehow, the tightly fitted blue shirt with its crisp collars and intricately tailored black pants made him feel suffocated and out of place.

The evening was setting in and the buzz of crowds could be heard outside.

Pulling up his plastered smile, he greeted the first people who entered – an elderly couple with greying hair and wrinkled smiles. They walked to his desk and peered at the laminated sheet of paper displaying the reservation list. Then, the woman smiled and pointed at the sheet to draw his attention.

“This way, ma’am,” he replied with a polite smile, pushing open the huge oak doors to walk into the dimly lit room with its huge chandeliers and slow music. The forks and plates had been neatly arranged over the red chequered table clothes.

Walking out from the room to his desk, he felt the transition of the aromas. The other room had been smelling of the mystic roses while the waiting lounge smelled of lavender and his own, cheap deodorant.

People started filling in, some being escorted inside while some sat back in the plush leather couches, flipping through journals and waiting. The night had set in. The music in the hall was louder. And amidst the clink and clank of cutlery, he could hear the roar of lightning outside.

But it didn’t intrude the excitement of passionate souls. They ate their dinner, staring at the misted windows and murmuring and smiling all the same. They talked and for some reason, they were happy. While, he was not.

People had started moving out too. By the time the clock had struck nine, the crowd was dwindling. Perhaps it was the rain or maybe, they had other plans, the hall wasn’t as crowded as the other Saturday nights. There were no more calls. All the people in the waiting lounge had been accommodated. He took the time to lay back in his seat and breathe out.

Just then, there was an irritating creak as the door opened and a girl, drenched in rain, clutching her beige overcoat tight, walked inside. Her sneakers dragged, screeched against the marble floors in a painfully slow stance. A mess of wet hair, with trails of dirty rain water running down her cheeks, she was everything he had never seen.

“May I help you, ma’am?” he asked in a slightly irritated tone, mentally wondering if she had entered by mistake, perhaps seeking for shelter.

“Uh,” she stood in front if the desk, her eyes wandering. For one fleeting second, she peered into the hall through the slight opening of the doors and then sighed.

“Table for one,” she muttered.

“One?” he croaked, his voice embarrassingly loud and rude. It took him a moment to gather himself. Then, he spoke again. “If you’re waiting for someone, it’s all right. There’s not much of a crowd today. So you may as well ask for a table for two.”

“One,” she said.

A strange curiosity gripped him. Why one? Didn’t she have a family? Perhaps a circle of friends? Or maybe one old friend she wanted to catch up with on that Christmas night?

Despite the mental outburst of questions, he tore away a piece of paper from the notepad and set it on the table.

“Your name, ma’am?”

She took the pen from him and scribbled her name hurriedly.

“This way,” he spoke and pushed open the doors for the umpteenth time that night to lead her in. He spotted that one empty corner in the room where the lights were not too bright and the music not so loud. Often after the people would’ve left, the boys would huddle there and sing their miseries with bottles of whisky or rum. He was afraid that the table perhaps smelled of rotten bread and alcohol, but then she had asked for a single seater and that was the only one in there.

Yet, somewhere, he didn’t want her to sit there. That corner felt cold and lonely. The flowers were limp. The candles had burnt out.

As he pulled out the chair for her to sit, he couldn’t help but ask, “Will you be okay here?”

She smiled. A painful smile. He could recognize those. Hadn’t he smiled those almost every dawn?

“I’ll be more than fine.”

“And what do you want to order?”

“A cake. A big, chocolate cake. Maybe it could’ve those little flowers on it and lots of ice cream?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but a cake? A full cake?”

“Yes,” she snapped. “It’s my birthday! Am I not allowed to celebrate my birthday with a cake?”

“Indeed, ma’am,” he replied in a timid tone and scribbled her order on a piece of paper. “Anything else?”

“And can you just let me know if you see my group of friends arriving?” she said, almost hastily.

“But ma’am, you only told you are expecting nobody?”

She pretended not to here and pulled out her phone. Taking it as his cue to walk away, he slipped into the kitchen and passed the note to the cook.

“Who orders a full cake for one person?” the hefty man guffawed, but got down to work, nevertheless.

Though she had asked him to keep a check, he didn’t. For deep inside his heart, he knew she was living an illusion. He could see through her pretence. She was broken. She wasn’t happy. She was expecting people who’d never come. She was sitting in silence, yet her lips curled into a smile every now and then as if she was really happy. Even in the faint light, he could see her glimmering eyes. He could hear her breath hitching. He could see her trying to hold herself back when she was on the verge of breaking down.

The tables were empty by now. People had left. Paid their bills. Had their food. And they had walked out, happy.

And then, there was her who didn’t know whether to stay or to leave. She wasn’t bothered about the cake. The rain didn’t matter. The people she was waiting for, did, but they had still not arrived.

“Ma’am,” he spoke, placing the little cake in front of her, dressed with chocolate florets and berries. She gave him a little smile and looked back at her phone again. “And ma’am? Your friends aren’t here yet.”

That made her lose it. Turning away, she took a deep breath but ended up coughing and crying.

“Ma’am?” hesitantly, he put his hand on her shoulder. “Hey, are you okay?”

“I wasn’t even expecting them,” she spoke in muffled tones. “Why would they be? I’ve visited them umpteen times. Been there when they needed someone. Talked to them for hours when they were down. But is that enough?”

She refused to look at him. So kneeling down, he offered her the crisp, white handkerchief that had been tucked inside his breast pocket.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered.

“No!” she laughed. “Why are you apologizing? It’s not even your fault! I’m just expecting a lot too much from people.”

He expected her to push him away but she didn’t protest. Instead, she continued speaking.

“I remember their birthdays. Be it New Year’s Eve or summer breaks, no matter how busy I am, I bake them a cake. I make them cute little videos. I send them handmade collages wishing them. I do everything that they never bother to do. But now I wonder, why I ever did so? Why did I ever take so much pain to bake cakes and cookies? To ping everyone in our friends’ circle and ask them to make cute birthday videos so that I can compile them into a movie? To travel miles to meet them, to be with them? When I’m here, empty and sad and there’s not a single one of them around?”

Though her voice kept breaking, he could feel the pain in her words. He could understand how lonely she felt.

“It’s Christmas. They have plans. They just forgot my birthday. No big deal. They’ve been doing this for years. I don’t get the sweet cards. I don’t get the midnight calls. I don’t get those long text messages. It is as if my place in their lives is not that significant at all. It’s more like they are important for me, but I’m not for them. I woke up late in the morning. I checked my phone, thinking about the hundred messages in my inbox, but there were hardly any wishing me a birthday. I waited for them to call, waited till late afternoon. I looked out at every random car on the road, secretly wishing for them to come over to my house and surprise me. Did I hope for too much?”

He kept quiet. He couldn’t form words. He didn’t know her. She didn’t know him. Yet, it surprised him of how loneliness made people bare their soul out to strangers. She clung to him like an old friend. She didn’t mind him seeing her messy hair and puffy eyes. All she needed at that moment was someone to be there. Someone beside her, so that she didn’t feel as lonely as she already was.

“Table for one,” she huffed. “It sounds like a dialogue from a bad movie.”

“It doesn’t,” he replied. “It speaks to me about a lot many things. I can understand.”

“Everyone says so.”

He nodded. Indeed, she was right. No matter how much he tried, he would never understand her pain. He would never feel the same. His story was different. So was hers.

“Happy birthday,” he said.

“Happy, indeed,” she mumbled and turned around to the table again.

“Why the cake?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s obvious you didn’t want the cake.”

She pulled out her phone and turned on the camera.

“I’ll just take a picture and save it. So tomorrow when they do remember, I’ll show them this and make up a story of how great my birthday was and how much I enjoyed!”

Hours later, the staff had left and so had the cook. He quietly locked the doors and walked out into the dark, empty street and slowly trudged along the sidewalks.

Minutes later, he stood in front of a dilapidated house with a broken sheet of asbestos acting as the roof. Opening the old, tin gate, he stepped into the darkness, hoping for the one voice he knew would be never there. Yet, he smiled. In his head, he heard his little brother’s voice and it was enough delusion to make him live through the night.

Two people spent that one winter night, lonely, sad and empty.