Shani Andras finally understands how much it sucks to be a peripheral character.
I stood at the corner close to the end of the main bus line from the central station. It's pretty damn far from the downtown core, but it's the best spot because it's closest to the best electronics shop in the city. It's the best spot for a lonely dork like me.
My name is Shani Andras, but my name cannot explain the colour of my hair.
In a few minutes, I decided to enter the shop. I watched the proprietor from the counter as he fiddled with one of his latest gadgets released by the gaming industry. To me, it was just a peripheral.
Main Entry: 1pe/riph/er/al
1 : of, relating to, involving, or forming a periphery or surface part
2 a : of, relating to, affecting, or being part of the peripheral nervous system peripheral nerves peripheral neuritis b : of, relating to, or being blood in the systemic circulation peripheral lymphocytes
3 : of, relating to, or being the outer part of the field of vision good /peripheral/vision
4: AUXILIARY, SUPPLEMENTARY/peripheral/ equipment; /also/: of or relating to computer peripherals
Yeah, that's the one... 'Secondary' in other words...
He was so enthralled by it and it boggled me. It was just a peripheral. Not a primary object, like a game or a computer, just a peripheral. Peripherals are lame. And costly, in this case.
Peripherals don't mean a damn thing. In a story, peripheral characters are so stock, so static, and so incredibly pathetic. They're hardly important. Anything peripheral is the same thing. Predictable and semi-useless.
"This thing's amazing!" he told me with a gleam in his eyes,"Definitely a must-have."
"But it's just a peripheral," I stated matter-of-factly while he held his attention on the piece of bundled wiring and plastic,"Peripherals are secondary, that's why they're called peripherals. Look at books and films and their peripheral characters: secondary, static, not much to them. They're lame. They're plot devices without a purpose other than that."
"What about Boba Fett?"
"He says two words, then dies in the end... and no one really gives ashit."
"He talks in Episode Two and Three."
"But those movies suck."
"All right," he laughed, "You got me..."
I smiled at the young man as I peered at his cheese stained shirt.
"I guess peripherals /are /useless in the long run..."
At least he knows I'm right.
There is no morning sun. The elevator smells like piss today. The hobos must have gotten in again. The front door creaks as it opens and the cold, bitter air of a mid-January day hits me full force. I forgot the mail, but it's all the same thing: flyers and bills. How about letters from loved ones? Dream on. Loved ones? Let's not talk about that.
Treading through the snow was particularly difficult as I felt it resist my every step. It crunched like leaves in the fall. The cars honked as they shot small bursts of a semi frozen black substance right at my pants- newly washed pants, if I may add. Passing a newsstand I wonder to myself if there's anything worth reading. Some war happening probably, or someone known by some so-and-so died the other day, or some music artist said some lewd statements shocking the suburbanites out of their holes into a diarrhea-like burst of retaliatory words meaning absolutely nothing, herein, therefore, ergo, etcetera... Like that. See what I did there?
Words are about as meaningful to me as the slew of shit I write everyday. The kind of shit the people love, but only the totally cynical people understand the faux-pas of writing of such non-existent things.
Faux-pas... I wonder if that actually makes sense in French.
It was a large downtown skyscraper I was staring up at, so high; staring up at it almost induces vertigo. The doors are heavy. I open them to be greeted by a large lobby, high ceiling, dark marble walls, and a massive space. The plants in the corners of the room are large, well groomed, tropical looking plants. For some reason, whenever I walk into the lobby of that building, as lavish as it is, it reminds me of a hospital. I never did have good experiences there. It could be the identical grimace that everyone in that building seems to wear. That drooping frown with the sagging eyes, lids half shut, as though they never slept - as though they hated every waking moment they had because it meant their eyes couldn't shut long enough for them to dream real dreams again. Misery was the word.
I could hear the clicking of my shoes against the recently buffed floor. Isaw myself and it made me uncomfortable. Walking inside this building is probably the only time I keep my chin up. I hate looking at myself. I hate cleaning myself up. It's all a vicious cycle, you see.
So I enter the elevator and I am suddenly surrounded by my own image. Mirrors. Mirrors all over. I guess it's a reflection of the overall vanity that plagues our society... Puns... That was a pun. Nice. I didn't even mean to put that there (bullshit).
Too bad puns are just so...
... such a...
The elevator doors opened and I had finally arrived to the workplace. I had to hand another pile of lies to the editor, all for the mob to gobble up.
The editor, Athrun Zala- half challenged and generally only half conscious. He's about as clever as a parrot, and somehow, just like a parrot, he fascinated many around him, especially women. Of all the people they could be interested in, they're interested in a pseudo-human parrot that only mimics human character and intelligence, forming hollow words that just don't mean anything. What about me? I can form fully developed ideas and opinions, real and human, with tone and inflection, containing words, sentences, and phrases, paragraphs, with punctuations like periods, exclamation points, and even... question marks?
But it's never me.
"Hey, what's goin' on...?" Zala, that idiot of an editor started. Ididn't care. All the things he said were meaningless. I stared at him. He's used to it by now. When I first met him he used to flinch in discomfort as Isearched his face for some assurance that he was just another smiling idiot. I'm not a wizard or anything like that. I can't really find anything. Ijust saw that little something about him that gave him the substance that made him so likeable, but why did God give charisma and substance to a bumbling dolt like him. He was a brainless, band-wagonning idiot.
"...Handing this in. Read it..." I finally replied. I didn't want to talk. I don't like the smell of bullshit (I grew up on a farm, around that sort of thing - I didn't like it then, I certainly don't now). I was tired of the scenery. I walked out. Coffee was what I needed and I needed it soon.
I walked out Zala's office and headed for the elevator as the smell of cheap coffee wafted past me. I needed my coffee. Not that cheap office shit. I want something nice.
I pressed 'down' on the wall and waited for the elevator to arrive as Istared at myself in the glint of the golden doors of the elevator with much displeasure. I stared at my own scowl, the wrinkles generated from the lack of real, sincere smiles evident on the corners of my lips. I was unshaven today, small stubbles protruding from the skin across my jaw and beneath my nose. My eyes were droopy and dark underneath and my hair was strewn unceremoniously to one side. I stared some more until I could feel the relief of watching as the doors opened. I entered, realizing that Athrun Zala was now trying to follow.
"Hey, wait up, I'll go with you. You're goin' to the... hey hold the door!" The elevator door cut him off as it dinged, in its loud, annoying way. It was pretty satisfying, to be honest. Goodbye, Athrun.
The coffee shop that I liked was so damn far. I traversed scenes of white and battled the black slush that hindered my every step, threatening me, telling me that each step I could take could very well have me slip, fall, and die.
All the motorists continued honking as though that ridiculous noise meant the person in front of them would go faster, while on the side people walked, apathetic as usual, oblivious to the pace that a rueful piece of work such as Iwould take in the lament of my heartbreaking, and somehow staggering genius.
Main Entry: hu/bris
Etymology: Greek hybris
: exaggerated pride or self-confidence
So I decided to take a different route, perhaps not so different but at least I was in a less hectic situation. I took a residential road: quiet and lonely. It felt deserted; then again it was winter and barely 11:30 am: no one's home. The sky was grey as though I was hurled into a picture made in the early years of film... less King Kong, more Citizen Kane. The wind stopped but the small tears in my coat let the chilled air in. That frigid air; it's the only thing that doesn't hesitate to brush up against me...
... God, when did I become so sullen?
"Excuse me!" I heard, loud, breaking me out of the daze generated by the weeklong funk born of ennui (nice word, asshole).
Then it hit me- in the literal sense. I slipped onto a patch of ice followed through by a series of conveniently placed stacks of snow creating what Iimagine to have been an image of an incredibly clumsy stumble; I land face first and end up face down in a pile of snow leading me to believe that today was the day I was scheduled to get my head crushed by a garbage truck or something.
I feel someone tug at my sleeve, and I hear a slight tearing sound from that same sleeve. The seams were being pulled apart as the person pulled, frantically, as though worried, but the movements I could feel were careless and erratic. The frequency of the tugs annoyed me as it forced me to get up unless I wanted to buy another coat- which I really don't. I could feel the rip in my already tattered coat grow as I heard the seams pop.
I got up, facing away, running my fingers through my wet hair. I could taste the grit of the road in my mouth, not to mention the feeling the dirt grinding against my teeth. I spat onto the ground and what I produced was a slimy, viscous, black substance. I spat again, this time it was tinted red. A small speck of white could be seen in its centre (Is that a fucking tooth?). I must have hit the concrete.
My chin was aching and the stinging sensation shot through my jaw to the back of my head. It was a bearable pain, but the muscles in my jaw burned like it hasn't burned since I got my wisdom teeth removed. Just recently, I removed a molar.
"Hey, um, you alright?" I heard from behind me. It was a strangely soothing voice; it was the voice of a woman.
"I'm really sorry... um... hide me okay? There are some guys and they..." she said as I heard the bushes behind me rattle as though a violent wind had blown through in an instant.
"Hide me," the voice whispered, imploring in such a childish way that my heart was wrenched one way, then the other. I decided to help her, not out of sympathy, but curiosity. Helping a stranger that I haven't seen yet-this is about as interesting as it gets.
I turn around to face my assaulter's pursuers. The glare from the snow blinded me as I squinted to see into the distance. I could see the shape of two burly looking gentlemen. As they got closer I could see that they weren't the most homely looking people, in fact, their expressions were as hostile as apair of angry Rottweiler. The two were wearing very similar outfits; the only variant is the colour of the shirt they wore under their leather coats. One wore a red dress shirt, the other, smaller one, wore a green one, tucked in, both matched with black jeans.
The larger one, standing about six feet and four inches, turned away and fixed himself on his cell phone, apparently texting someone. The smaller one, at the height of five foot five inches, wearing the green shirt ran up to me. He had a scowl on his face that made him look constipated, as his lips were twisted out of shape. His nose was scrunched as though he had been stuck smelling his large friend's pungent laundry all day. His eyebrows were bushy and unkempt, stray hairs pointing out in all different directions. His face was moist, greasy looking, because of the sweat and effort he seemed to make in running my direction.
"You seen... a woman run 'ere?" he slurred, out of breath, with acough in the middle.
"... That way," I pointed, away from where I knew she was.
He gave me a look of displeasure and squinted at me as if to say that I must have been lying. To be honest, I think it's just because he wasn't respectable whatsoever. I hate people with Napoleon complexes.
The large one closed his phone and advanced toward me. He looked at me with a scrutinizing eye, cold and blue as they were.
"We're usually down at the sports bar up on the main street. If you see her, you tell us, /capiche?/" He said with a serious tone, staring at me.
I couldn't help but laugh. When I laugh, I laugh hard.
"I'm sorry..." a snort, "'/Capiche'/?" I laughed full force now, tears running in my eyes that the world around me blurred gradually. Blurred, yes, but my perception was not yet askew. I wasn't intoxicated, but close, I will admit. I just thought finding such a stock character walking around in my life was so... so... delightful.
His face then turned that shade of red (that made him look a little more constipated than his little friend). His veins popped out of his forehead and neck, as he barred his teeth at me. I laughed gleefully still. It really was funny though.
"You..." I started. Next thing I knew I could feel a certain warm, crimson liquid leaking from my nose. I was on the ground again, as I was before, but this time I could see the sun... kinda. Through the clouds, I mean. Well, at least I could make out its shape. Winners can't be choosers. And at least I was comfortable. I close my eyes as the light blinds me. Now where is that garbage truck that was destined to squish me today?
I feel a familiar tugging at my coat, this time it was more frantic than before. It's the same sleeve, but this time, I don't feel the need to rise. Ifelt even more seams pop as the tugging continued, but instead of stopping, Iheard a rip, followed by my arm dropping limp on the ground. I must have an original style going now, one sleeve on a on a patchy, worn-down trench coat that smelled like a musty attic. I'm all about the vagrant styles.
I pushed myself off the ground and stood up. I was covered in a slushy substance, marks of black guck and dirt marking me from every which way, not to mention the dark red blood that now stained my white shirt. I wiped away the remnants of the now semi-clotted blood from my face. Now with only one sleeve, I needed that coffee more than ever.
I turned to meet this mysterious girl who seemed to find it necessary to physically assault me, then use me to hide her from a couple of greasy looking clods, followed quickly by the swift ruin of my favourite coat (then again, Idon't really have a choice as to what my favourite things are since I don't have much to begin with). I suppose it was alright, she did make my day a little more interesting than usual; only a little.
"Are you alright?" she asked timidly as she held her left wrist.
What's with the pink hair?
"Yeah. I'm fine."
I shouldn't talk. My hair is green.
She then looked at me, held my face and examined me. I peered into her and was somehow intrigued by her lack of fear of human contact; very warm- doesn't exactly seem like a hardened urbanite.
She glanced at me apologetically and looked away quickly. She slowly handed me my sleeve, as though shrinking away, she inched back in embarrassment.
"Forget it," I said, cutting her off, "but, you owe me acoffee."
Her face instantly appeared to brighten, from a slight frown to a smile. She had a kindness to her.
I took my coat off, folded it and slung it on my arm, suddenly feeling the winter chill settle on my shoulders. I nodded slightly to her as she tilted her head and smiled. We continued down the road, weaving through alleyways and side roads as we made our way to the coffee shop. The sky was still grey, but the snow was glowing, the glare blinding me with what little light it could reflect. I watched the smoke of my breath extend past my face as I exhaled. Ifascinated myself with it as I watched it dissipate.
I wanted to steal a glance at her, to look at her face. I was terrified to do it. It confused me, and I didn't know what it meant, but I knew it wasn't out of fear of her glancing back but maybe... maybe...
What did she see when she looked at me?
I didn't know what this all meant, but I couldn't stop thinking of that question she asked:
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah... I'm, uh... Fine."
I'm also very smooth.
Hah. 'Are you alright'? Of all things, why those words? Why not be mystified by something intelligent and impossibly profound, or a conversation pertaining to purpose, of life, some faith or hope, unreal as they are. Why not something about religion, or logic, or aesthetics, or something not so goddamn simple? Of all things, why these words, the words anyone could have asked?
I guess maybe it's because they were the words that anyone could have said, but she said them first. Those stupid words - they didn't mean a damn thing, but then again they could mean the world.
We arrived at the coffee shop and the door rang as we opened it. We found atable in the far corner, and we were surrounded by windows. The tables glinted deceptively. The surfaces looked smooth and clean, but were actually sticky and rather slimy. Her eyes fluttered and she turned her attention to the window where the street was visible through the grimy glass.
The waitress, Miriallia, it said on the tag, arrived and I motioned for two of my regular coffees. They knew me well enough there so few words had to be exchanged.
"I'm Lacus," she said suddenly, quietly and almost to a whisper. Out of the last morsel of courtesy I figured I had, I introduced myself as well.
Then, unexpectedly, as she peered out the window she ducked under the table. I could feel a tug at my pant leg. Did she want me to lose the pants too? I looked under the table to see what she was trying to tell me.
"Please, can we go to your place? Those guys are there again, across the street, look," she said. I peered out and what a coincidence it was. There they were, standing greasy, peering every which way, and looking for Lacus no doubt.
I looked at Miriallia, who I saw almost every week, and nodded to her, as she raised her eyebrows inquisitively. As fast as I could manage to go, Igrabbed Lacus' hand and raced to the back room beside where Miriallia was. We dashed through the kitchen, stock rooms and traversed the locked doors until Ifound the backdoor. I kicked it open as we dashed through the 'aromatic'alleyway on the way back to my apartment.
I forgot myself as I held her hand in the dash, but I didn't mind. It felt good not to be alone. It was still a dreary day when we arrived at my apartment, though. The elevators still smelled bad, and the walls of the hallways were still not quite maintained, with the wallpaper peeling at the corners. My door was still plain.
I opened the door to my cell and let her in. Papers were strewn everywhere -from the coffee table, the dinner table, to the work table- and the dishes in my small kitchen were all in the sink, unwashed. Pizza boxes could be found everywhere- on the tables, the floor, the couch. I didn't have time to clean. Ididn't know how to cook.
"This is it..." I said to her with a slight squeak, embarrassed at my disgusting lifestyle.
She simply smiled and sat on the couch, staring in the direction of the dinner table and motioned me to sit with her. I sat and she looked at me pensively. Her blue eyes had a surreal glow, and her stare seemed to reach far. She had something on her mind, as though there was a constant motion, agesture, an emotion she conveyed, never endingly.
What emotion could last that long? She stared as though there was something more to see than the constant grey that set in the lives of people - that eternal cement that people buried themselves alive in.
But she glowed like it hadn't corrupted her, as though the reality of the world still hadn't began to fester in her, as though that cancer still hasn't been awoken, let alone existed.
"Why were they chasing you?"
"I owed them for saying some mean things... why else?" she said with a slight giggle, "and... thanks again," she added timidly as was her custom.
"I'm not from this city you know," she continued, "I'm from alittle ways south, not so far from here, I suppose. I came up here because I'm looking for, well, something, you know? It's important, so... I needed to come by and look. It's not here anymore though. Well, I've been traveling a lot, and well... I'm short on money. That's kinda why those guys... were... well, you know. Lots of extortionists in the world..."
No wonder her gaze seemed so distant. It was as though her eyes searched tirelessly for whatever it was that she searched for.
God, she's pretty.
"So what do you do for a living?" I asked dully. I figured that because of her greasy company she was a lowly, lazy, bum who just happened to be the first lowly, lazy, bum that I felt a strange endearment to.
"I'm, um, trying to be a writer. I'm not very good, and well, I've tried really hard, but nothing's paid off. I wanted to try it because... well, Ijust wanted to try it, you know? It feels so real... but I fail... all the time."
"I'm a writer," I said with a kind of lethargy (Still trying to be smooth).
"Can you help me then?" She said, suddenly filled with energy.
"Help with what?"
"I want to write you a nice story," she smirked, "and since you're a writer, you can help me, right, and to top it all off, I'm writing it just for you."
Are you staying over?
Fair trade? Sure, fair trade my ass. Sure it's all mine, but when you're smiling that innocent smile of yours, I stand here knowing that whatever it is you're looking for is something you will never find. It's kind of sad really. The world isn't like that. We give and give but we will never receive and this is something you have to figure out yourself.
Whatever you're looking for, you probably won't find it. Whatever you're looking for, it's not going to be waiting. It's probably just a memory. The only reason it exists is because you won't let go. I don't know what it is, but the only way to understand anything other than your idealistic bullshit is to give it up. You can write something real then. Until then, it's all Disney and fairytales. There's no prince charming (After all the promises, my princess wasn't waiting for me).
Please, stay with me a while...
Let go already. Life's got a love affair with irony so let go. Understand that there's nothing else out there for anyone. It's all purposeless nonsense, and we go through the gestures anyway because we don't want to think it was all for nothing.
Just let go...
... Let go like I did.
I could hear the hail patter against the glass in the morning. My back ached at its base as I slept on the couch. I gave Lacus the bed for the time being. Isat up and realized that she had made me breakfast. She was already sitting in front of the computer, typing away. The keyboard clicked gleefully at that incredible pace she typed. I decided to leave her to her own devices, helping only when asked.
There's a stranger living in my house with me.
The rest of the day was a blur. She wrote and wrote, and did so swiftly. I, on the other hand, had done nothing. I ate, and sat, and waited. It was the end of the day now. If I could see the sun, it would be setting.
I read what she had written. It was an unfinished story consisting of seven parts so far. It was too long to be a short story, and too short to be a novel, so I guess it remains at... story?
It was a decent story I suppose. I hated it in an adoring sort of way (How the hell did I manage that?). It was a romance, and I hated romance. By the looks of things (just like any other formulaic romance) Lacus (Did she really name that character after herself?) and Kira (I wonder...) were going to overcome all odds. Lacus would find her beloved Kira; they'd elope and live the American dream: to drive a German luxury car, own a Japanese computer, smoke Cuban cigars, drink African coffee, eat in high class foreign restaurants while living with their many children on the French Riviera in their Victorian home with their Scandinavian friends and South East Asian maids. Well, the story wasn't really written that way, but its all speculation. That's the way it always happens normally. Especially in chick flicks. Although I thought all that, I'll admit it had a way with the heart strings. Perhaps it was the uncertainty in the action, as though she didn't know what was to truly happen to the pair.
The chapter she left off at was called 'Six Words I wanted you to hear'. This boggled me, so I decided to ask.
"So... what are the six words?" I wondered where she wanted to take this.
She looked at me, frowning, trying to figure out why, it seemed. She didn't seem to know either, and I knew her well enough to know that she had a free mind that seemed somewhat scattered, yet thoughtful.
She finally looked up at me from the couch and smiled at me vibrantly,"I don't know, really... but I will eventually," she said.
Did it only take six to make you love him?
I decided to take us out for lunch the day after. I barely knew her and she lived in my house, temporarily, yes, but out of social graces, this was the right thing to do. She wasn't paying rent and therefore wasn't a tenant, which therefore means that we are friends... I think. Friends ought to know each other.
I took her to the Il Gatto Cafe where I always sat around when I wasn't working on anything. We sat in the most secluded corner of the room. The walls were red, and the lights were dim, making the restaurant have a somehow cozy mood. The tables were dark, probably a darkly stained oak- shiny, smooth, and clean. We ate silently.
After our meal I decided to talk. Ask some questions about her, and possibly tell her about myself, although I really had nothing to say about myself. She had such an air about her that boggled me completely. The first person Icouldn't read. She was definitely not a peripheral character.
"Lacus, what is it that you're looking for?" I asked so eagerly. Igulped as I waited for her response, hoping in my timid mind that I didn't manage to offend her in some way. I was being uncharacteristically nosy.
"I'm looking for someone," she said suddenly snapping me out of my anxiety, "he disappeared one day, said he had to leave. Then he ran... somewhere, and every once in a while I got a letter. Then one day the letters just stopped. It's been about four years since the last letter, and seven years since he left. He was a writer too. Just like you..."
"Is his name Kira?" I tried to continue, "... like in your story?"
She stared at the table. I asked nothing more.
For the rest of the day she wrote her story extending some of the prior chapters, but never finishing. She wrote her story tirelessly- her story for me as she would say regularly with that happy smile. I sat with her for hours at atime as she talked about her home, her dog, her mother, but not once had she mentioned him. Whoever he was, he was important to her, and the thought irritated me slightly. Who the hell was he and what the hell are the six words?
I couldn't understand why I felt so different around her. I felt I needed to know more about her. Even as I thought this I looked at her and realized she was looking at me. She looked at me, frowning, with such confused eyes all of asudden. She needed to tell me something and she wanted to do so to lessen the burden that she seemed to have been bearing for a long time. I knew it had something to do with him. It irritated me.
"I used to be a painter, you know," she looked at me with an almost sad expression, "I used to enjoy it so much, but I wanted to write, although, I couldn't ever write anything well enough to get a real writing job."
"So then why did you even try becoming a writer?" I said in such ascrutinizing manner that I kicked myself for saying that. I put myself at risk of looking insensitive. I had terrible experiences with that, after all, borderline xenophobes don't usually know how to handle people.
"I loved to write, but... I couldn't. I could paint and draw, but the words... I wanted to write, and I needed the words to be right," she said as her eyes searched me, begging me to understand. They failed as I examined them, flickering away as the tears welled up around her piercing blue eyes, "He used to tell me these stories, and he wrote such beautiful things to me, Iwanted to do that for him, too... so he could understand."
I cringed at the repeated mention of her former lover, the man she made clear to me as the person she made chase for relentlessly- the reason why she got herself into trouble, the reason why she risked everything. She was still after him and she didn't have to tell me for me to know.
"I just wanted to understand... I wanted him to understand."
We sat in silence staring at nothing special - I sat staring at our hands. Iran my thumb across the table to feel the grain while I observed the patterns ingrained the wood. We sat and we stared- I looked out the window and stared at the gnarled roots and branches of the old tree. I stared at the sky which refused to break open, even for a moment. I watched the sky and saw the birds that weren't there; as I sat, staring blankly, hoping we'd never speak of this again.
She stood up, and without words, she laid herself down on the couch and slept.
Can't we be lonely together?
I left the apartment to shake off the uneasiness from my system. I've never had such a blurred sense of conviction. I don't understand why I care, and really, I don't see why I should and yet I do. There didn't seem to be any way to sate that feeling - whatever it was. Was I jealous? It didn't matter whether I was or not, either way, there was nothing here for us. I sat at a park bench for what seemed like hours, looking absentmindedly at the snow-covered rooftops of the side stands outside the ominous skyscrapers. It was cold out and Iforgot my one-sleeved coat at the apartment. The sun still wouldn't shine.
I wandered back to my apartment and I entered to find that Lacus was gone, along with most of her belongings. The only thing left was the remnants of the story she had written for me. If I read it as anyone else, I'd probably say that it was crap, but she wrote it for me. It's my shit to deal with too. It was still unfinished. She left off at the chapter she titled 'Six Words Iwanted you to hear'. She never even started it.
I found a note in my bedroom, it was her handwriting. A short note, but to the point:
I'm sorry but I have to leave. Thank you so much for everything. Maybe I'll see you again one day. I'm taking the train to the west. He's there.
Thank you so much.
The only thing I could think about at that point was Lacus - that idiot. Why would you go off like that? I ran to my dresser and got the only coat I had -my tattered, one-sleeved coat. I tore it off the hanger at such a speed that many other articles of clothing had been pulled out and hurled to the floor. Iput it on, grabbed her papers, her stories, and whatever else I thought she might need. I don't remember what I had put into my satchel, but I was placing things absentmindedly into it. I ran to the elevators, pressed the down button and stood waiting as I tapped my foot against the floor. The clicking was anuisance. What time is it? The elevator took too long, so I ran down the stairs, sprinting, losing my footing every once in a while and bracing myself against the walls as I listened to the echo of my lumbering steps. I opened the final door and ran to the side of the street and hailed the first taxi I saw traverse the traffic of the main intersection watching it speed and swerve along the side of the road until it reached me. I jumped in, slamming the door; breathless.
"The train station," I almost yelled at the driver.
The gentleman, who had thick dreadlocks and purple tinted sunglasses, nodded, no words said, and we sped away.
I looked out the window at the rush of the city. The oblivious nature of people was apparent to me still, and for the first time I understood what it was that I thought was wrong with people. They believed in something. It scared me to believe, because it's the one and only thing that I can't be sure about, but even if I knew they were wrong, perhaps there was a grain of truth to the lies they told themselves. Maybe even if all the things in the world that they believed in weren't real, they were the things that meant more than reality.
I never prayed before, and I didn't understand why I should. I didn't know who I was praying to, and I didn't know if whoever it was even existed. I never believed religion, I never believed in believing, and I always thought that misery was punishment for existence. Maybe I'm too blind to understand what the world was supposed to be, but it couldn't be this, not this - so please...
We reached the train station and I heard the bells and whistles of a train making its departure sounding. I threw the money at the driver as I grabbed the satchel and ran out, not even taking the change; however much it was that I was owed. I ran up the steps, slipping on almost every one, using my right hand as another leg to balance myself in the haste of the situation. I burst through the heavy doors as I was swarmed by the blitz of homecomings
I charged through the mass of people clogging the hallways and entrances, spilling through what seemed like a maze of such architectural genius - but for once I wished this 'genius' was a bit plainer in their planning. I ran, bumping through a myriad of bystanders earning a 'Hey, what the hell?' from a few of them.
I finally reached the platform; I knew the train she was taking, I took it once, a long time ago. This was it, it was already moving, rumbling awkwardly on the tracks and I couldn't let it leave. I ran to the train till I found myself running alongside it as it picked up speed. I ran and ran as I searched the windows, watching for a glimpse. I would see her, I knew I would. I ran as I prepared to jump onto the train and stowaway somehow and surprise her with my sudden spontaneity, slipping every once in a while on the snow and slush in front of and either side of me. I would run. I would run and I would find her, and I would lose that doubt. I'd have to put up with her ridiculous statements that idealists always make, and all her stupid stories, and I'd have take her for another coffee. There's nothing else I want to do now. I can't lose the fire.
I lost balance and faltered.
I didn't see her. I couldn't find her in that sea of people. I won't ever see her again, but I knew that because I failed, she would find what she looked for - she would find him.
I lay on the ground as I watched as the train disappeared into the distance, as it bellowed away to the horizons I would never see, hearing the thunderous sounds that signaled its departure that I always wanted to hear because in hearing it, it meant that she wasn't far yet; that she wouldn't have slipped away from me yet. Of course, it faded and all I could hear again was the chirping and bustling of the city populace.
I lie on station floor staring through the skylights at the sun that refused to fight the clouds that loomed ever so tenderly. I pushed myself off the ground, unable to believe what just transpired and began gathering the belongings that were hers. I piled the papers that I brought with me - the papers that gave me a reason to follow her. I found Lacus' story again and the chapter she never finished. The page read at the top 'Six Words I wanted you to hear'.
"Six words, huh?" I muttered to myself as I stared at the paper with the most solemn reverence for what she had written, for me. I thought as Istared, imagining all the reasons why I chased after her. I never understood why I did, and I don't think she ever truly understood why she chased after him either. She would never finish the story for me and she left that last goddamned chapter; what the hell were they... 'Six words...'
"I love you, you stupid bitch."
I guess that's all I need to say.
I closed the satchel, leaving the abandoned sentiment to be picked up by the wind. It blew across the tracks that took her to him. I stood up, and walked away from the din of the station that rang through my ears.
"'I will paint for you, that starry, starry sky,' Lacus whispered..."
I sat on the curb beside the electronics shop across town. My shirt was dirty from my fall. I wiped my face with my remaining sleeve. It was about 6 in the morning now and I had been sitting here all night as I took a bus from the train station. I looked up at the stars and the glimpse of light from the impending sunrise.
Today was the day I found out that I was a peripheral character. I kept going on and on about it too. God. If you can't spot the asshole in a crowd, it's probably you. That applies here too. I should've looked harder.
Peripherals are a tragic thing. Peripherals are secondary. We're static, and lame, with nothing special to us - so I guess I'm doomed to forever be the lonely, jaded, hateful, dull, depressed, angry motherfucker that I am. And Lacus - she probably found that guy she's in love with. She's definitely the main character of this book, or this game, or this story, or this film, or whatever this is supposed to be (a sick joke?). And here I am, secondary, auxiliary, supplementary, useful only as a plot device at one point in the big picture that is Lacus' story. I'm simply to be neglected by the author, discarded - bound within the pages, but forgotten within the binding.
I wish she didn't have to leave me behind...
Written by Shani Andras of the Alliance Press
Edited by Athrun Zala
Special thank you to Merriam-Webster Dictionary
And you, wherever you are...