In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.” The title of this post and the first answer in this story is taken from a conversation in “Castle” season something. Stuck in my head for ages. And for a good reason, too.
Like a bolt out of the blue, the question startled me. Especially when it came from someone whom I expect to boast about the topic.
I beg your pardon?
I turned to see the young woman looking at me from the couch by the fireplace. She didn’t seem to be drunk (which is good), but on the other hand didn’t seem to be fully awake either (which is… I dunno how to react to this). Early 20s on a whim, I presumed, from the fact that she’s cradling a cup of coffee with rather hazy eyes. In a cheap bed-and-breakfast in the town. At 11 pm. That, and a closed thick novel on the table. She raised her eyebrows and repeated the question.
How do you know you’re in love?
There was a moment of confusion in my head. So I didn’t hear wrong.
For reasons unknown I brushed of the first question a normal person should’ve asked to a stranger with an even stranger question (f*ck it, I’m on holiday). Instead, I took a deep breath and thought for a good five seconds. My jaw dropped a bit but no words got out.
You look lost.
Yes. And what caused that, I wonder? I cleared my throat and walked across the room to sit on the recliner next to her. The smell of good old long black soothed me immediately. Good job on crumbling down my guard. Kind of hard trying to avoid sounding like a total idiot – or worse, a sceptic – to someone who reminded me of that dreamy blonde girl in Harry Potter.
There’s no right answer to it, don’t you think?
She shrugged. I’m not looking for a right answer. I’m looking for any answer.
All songs make sense.
Like… being sappy?
You… think about them all the time?
You have butterflies when you see them.
But my boss has that kind of effect too. Pretty sure it’s not love.
Logic doesn’t work.
What do you mean?
Because you’ll do anything in order to be with them.
Like buying a plane ticket at 4 in the morning just to surprise them with a coffee and toast.
Is that what you did today? How did it turn out?
As expected, not worth it. What about you?
I don’t know.
I don’t know whether I’ve been in love or not.
If I knew, I wouldn’t ask any random people in any random lodging, would I?
How old are you?
You know it’s kind of like a taboo asking it to a girl.
I don’t know you, you don’t know me… Most people would ask for a name.
So you’re not most people.
I’m saying that it’s impossible for someone your age to not boast like you know about the topic more than Shakespeare. That’s what most people do. I grinned as she burst out laughing. Well, at least she’s not mad.
I still think Romeo and Juliet is a screwed-up thing.
Because both of them committed suicide.
Because they can’t live without each other, right? Isn’t that what love is all about?
You don’t think they’re being selfish?
I rolled my eyes. And here I thought you don’t know how it feels to be in love.
It’s technical. Bear with me.
I watched her sip the coffee, still wondering why anyone would have caffeine in the middle of the night when they have nothing to do. Maybe she still had things to do afterward. Maybe she’s just crazy like that. Maybe I was just being judgmental.
Love is… illogical. I stopped for a bit. You’d do things that you normally won’t do. You’d be happier seeing them happy even if you aren’t. You’d hate to see them cry. You’d make decisions so bad you’ll question them later. You’d realise that the overrated song lyrics do make sense. You’d probably suffer, but you’d be happy most of the time.
She chuckled. Being in love brings out the masochism in people, does it?
Why, are you suffering because of someone right now?
He’s dense. I’m proud. That’s the end of it.
Then you’re not in love.
Because logic is still there.
Are you saying being in love makes people stupid?
So you’re being stupid right now.
…you know it’s a taboo saying that to any person you just met.
I don’t know you, you don’t know me. Most people think so, but we’re not most people now, aren’t we?
Well, I’ll be off.
It is kinda late.
See you around?
See you around.
She shot me a smile and stood up, picked up her book and left the common room. I gave a small nod in courtesy. That wasn’t the last time I set eyes on her. That was, however, the last time I set eyes on her without thinking that getting on a plane at 4 am that morning did have its merit – coming to an answer for her very question in the first place.