C10H14N2, the sequel.

Prompt from here.
A recorded rant for those who are still in search for love in a hopeless place.


A man smokes a cigarette on the pavement outside his office in Paris

‘Your room reeks.’
‘I know, sorry.’
‘I thought you don’t smoke?’
‘I don’t.’
‘Ah. Must be your clothes. You met him, didn’t you?’
‘Yes, but this… this is not because of him.’
‘What? How do you know?’
‘I can only tolerate one type of cig. Not this one.’
‘That’s… romantic.’

The conversation rang like a fire drill inside my head ever since I had it.

Adults and kiddos, ladies and gents and everyone in between, let’s face this now: we live in an era where romance is not about whispering sweet words into someone’s ear, nor about throwing rocks at someone’s window in the middle of the night, and least of all about taking poisons just because you both come from families in dispute (oops).

Are we saying goodbye to good old chivalries?
I don’t think so. Not completely.

People still do that. It’s just that some people started to get different ideas of what romance is. Some think it’s about a simple good morning text. Some think it’s about sparing 20 minutes for a coffee in the middle of work. My friend, apparently, thinks the fact that I can only tolerate one type of cigarette a part of romance.

Me? I’m inexperienced. That was what he told me.

And no – we’re not talking about what you might think it is. It’s simply a matter of knowing if someone was right for you or not (yes, I can hear you clearly – you, the one who shouted “LAME!” by the back).

He said that I might like him because I don’t know what’s good for me and what’s not.
Personally speaking? I do. He just doesn’t know about how I refer to him as potato chips to my peers.

Why chips? you asked. Why not… cupcakes?
Well, it doesn’t have to be chips, really. It can be MSG. It can be a bucket of fried chicken. It can be that extra slice of cake. When I write I prefer to use the term LSD 25 – which is not 100% accurate but hey! Let’s not get technical here. If it’s too much for you, though, let’s get this straight. What do they have in common?

Potato chips. MSG. Fried chicken. Cake. LSD 25.
You know it’s not good for you, but once you discovered how good it tastes you just keep adding more and more of it to the suggested dose.
A bit of it? It’s recreational. A lot of it? It’s suicidal.

Well, what do you know – maybe taking in a lot of those chips is also considered as romance by that friend of mine. Isn’t it a bit like Shakespearean time? Slowly killing yourself for something you thought is love, all the while being plain stupid – because it’s voluntary.

One quick question before I end this pointless rant though.
The idea of romance: will you let this guilty pleasure kill you?

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How do you know you’re in love?

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.

I blinked.
She smiled.

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?
That’s… obsessive.

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 what?

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.

What?
I don’t know whether I’ve been in love or not.

…what?
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.

Why?
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?

Kind of.
Figures.

Why, are you suffering because of someone right now?
Kind of.

Why?
He’s dense. I’m proud. That’s the end of it.

Then you’re not in love.
Why?

Because logic is still there.
Are you saying being in love makes people stupid?

Sometimes.
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?

Good point.
I know.

Well…
Well, I’ll be off.

It is kinda late.
Yep.

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.

Weekly Writing Challenge: DNA Analysis

Prompt from here.

‘Good morning.’

She looked up just in time that familiar face showed up in the office after what seemed like ages. An obligatory smile grew on her face as she nodded along with the rest of the team members, low muttering of sleepy ‘good morning’s creeping in the air. A good way to start the day.
It’s why she liked it when someone greets the whole team in the morning.
That was what she thought.

He sat down across her and set down his belongings – the usual brown postman bag and the tumbler filled with… Arabica blend? Whatever it was, she was grateful for it. The smell of good coffee had never disappointed anyone.
It’s the only reason she liked having the owner of the good old coffee around.
That was what she thought.

Progression of work was very slow when he wasn’t around. He was the synapse of everyone else, connecting every neuron of ideas and mishaps. Nobody else could do it naturally the way he does it. The office lightens up when he was around. When people are happy, they work faster.
It’s why she liked it whenever he visited.
That was what she thought.

Evening. The night fell, and stars blinked. Too poetic for her liking, but that’s how people described it. Almost-empty office. Nothing but the sound of mouses clicking and keyboards tapping. She sighed as he bid the others goodbye. It will be another month before he would make her job easier.
It’s why her heart sank when the door closed after him.
That was what she thought.

Those little things couldn’t matter.
They couldn’t change her.
They couldn’t affect her.
They couldn’t shape her.
That was what she thought.

[Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write] + [Daily Prompt: Life Line]

Prompts from here and here.
Celebrating my 100th post woot!


The girl gaped at him.
A lock of her brunette hair fell over her eyes like a thousand times before.
Still no sign of it being a good news or a bad news, he waited.

Five seconds.
Ten seconds.
One minute.

Silence filled the room that was usually filled with noise.
For an odd moment, he took the time to be grateful for the atmosphere.
Everyone else had gone home.
Everyone except them.
At least that way nobody could see him stand rooted on the spot, sweating bullets like he had a fever.

‘Are you well, child?’

His eyes jerked open at the concerned voice from the seat right next to him. The afternoon sun penetrating the thick airplane window hit his face at once, making him wince. He heard a chuckle. Silently cursing his temporary blindness, he blinked a few times and glanced aside to see a rather old lady smiling at him. Why, he must’ve fallen asleep during take-off.

He shot the old lady a dry smile. ‘Sorry to disturb you,’ he croaked, shifting in his narrow and stiff seat. He had always hated long flights, especially the “affordable” ones paid by the hellhole of a company he worked for.

But the old lady waved her hand dismissively. ‘Nonsense,’ she replied, turning her head back to whatever book she was in the middle of. ‘Bad dream, eh?’

This time, he chuckled. ‘Not necessarily.’

She brushed the stray lock off her face in sudden nerve.
‘If – if this is your idea of a joke-‘

His jaw dropped at her reaction, some kind of lump in his throat almost choking him. He did wish for any reaction, but it sounded like the worst the universe could slap him with at that moment.

‘Do you see me laughing?’

Her hand flew up to cover her mouth. ‘Sor-‘
‘Don’t say sorry,’ he cut in, ‘please.’
She fell silent.

He waited patiently.
Just like the last few months.

He saw her pondering for a few moments before closing the book and extending her hand, showing a wrinkled palm and fingers under his nose. He merely stared at it. What exactly-?

‘Don’t be scared, boy, I’m not a lunatic.’ She laughed. ‘Let me read your palm.’

He raised his eyebrow. And she said she wasn’t a what?

‘Come on,’ she insisted, ‘we still have four hours and Santiago is going home soon.’ – he glanced at the cover of her book. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Ah. At least he got the drift. – ‘Might as well pass the time doing something productive, yes?’

Wishing she wouldn’t charge him for anything later, he lifted his hand reluctantly and let her run her finger on his palm lines, muttering inaudible things.

After a few ‘ha’s and a couple more ‘hmmm’s, she looked up and tapped the back of his hand fondly, pushing it back to his lap. Funny how he only knew the old lady for a few seconds, yet she oozed the aura of that weird-yet-kind grandma everyone had in one’s family.

The man of twenty-four wasn’t a believer – not in God, not in superstition, and especially not in things he couldn’t see the logic in. Like palmistry. He made his own way through everything, and being quite a known businessman in such a young age gave him the confidence of an older man in his profession. But the nice old lady didn’t seem to mean any harm… so he decided to play along and entertain her.

‘Well?’ he grinned, expecting her to lecture him about his long life line or anything that others had told him before.

‘Such an impatient soul!’ She exclaimed, picking up her book once again and turned a page as if nothings happened. Her twinkling eyes didn’t leave his mischievous ones. ‘You don’t really believe in this kind of things, do you?’

He shrugged lightly. ‘Doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear what you have to say about a life you’ve only seen through a puzzle of life lines and money lines or what’s-its, does it?’

After what seemed like ages, she finally leaned back against the wall and slowly asked, ‘Why now?’

He sighed in relieve at the lack of the word “no”. He shook his head. ‘I’m not saying it has to be now.’

Of all people, he should know that it wasn’t as easy as anyone else would’ve thought. He was young. She was a year younger than him. No matter how good they were in what they do, still there would be a long way for both of them. He knew her priority, and she knew his. Mere romance wouldn’t be enough to feed anyone in reality. Being realists that they were, they knew better than to act recklessly and put everything they had in their work. Which is why her question didn’t surprise him.

‘This is more like a… future plan.’ He explained, trying to make sense of everything. ‘You know that stupid future plan sheet we have to update every month? The one where we have to think and write every single point we need to do to achieve it?’ He nodded at the said sheets stuck on every employee’s cubicle partition. ‘It’s the same, isn’t it?’

She raised her eyebrows, obviously confused about where he was getting at. He chuckled, trying to ignore the stupidly noisy heartbeats resonating in his chest.

‘Well, in my future plan, what I asked of you a few minutes ago is the first thing on my to-do list. And your answer would determine my next step.’

The old lady rolled her eyes. ‘Good point. How about I just tell you about your health, then?’

‘I’m perfectly healthy.’

‘Ah, but in where we’re going, there would be a moment when you’re not going to be perfectly healthy.’

He frowned. ‘What, I’m going to catch a cold in a tropical city?’

‘No, silly boy!’ She laughed. ‘But you will have that moment of… well, you could say it feels like a cold. Like… a fever. Cold sweat, tachycardia, and dry throat… You’ll probably think your life lies in what comes after, but don’t worry. You will be just fine, because what comes next is relieve. Something you prayed for will happen, and you’ll be perfectly healthy again within minutes.’

She burst out laughing at the inside-joke analogy, her cheeks a shade darker. He chuckled, the tip of his fingers already cold as ice even though he was sweating in pure nerve, in the same time hoping it was a good sign. He could’ve sworn other people in his shoes would’ve had a massive heart attack and die on what happened next, but he wouldn’t be him if he reacted like everyone else does.

‘So I’m going to have a fever for a few moments… and it’ll go away just like that?’

‘Not just like that, of course! Someone will play a big part in healing you from the temporary illness, but it doesn’t mean that person is a doctor.’

‘…you saw all that from a bunch of lines on my palm?’

‘No,’ she smiled, ‘I saw all that from the little velvet box in your other hand.’

The young girl didn’t stop laughing for quite some time, but once she did, his fever and the lump in his throat went away – because the only words that mattered to him escaped her lips just like that.

‘Why, I’m going to approve your future plan and say yes,’ she grinned, ‘yes, you idiot. Now go ahead and plan your next step.’

He grinned.
Maybe being a believer for that one time is not too bad.

Daily Prompt: Feed Your Senses

Prompt from here.
For one of the only two smokers in my life I actually like to have around.

I’ve always hated the smell of cigarette smoke.
I
t reeks of desperation; of people running away or people looking for a distraction. It reeks of weakness – something I don’t approve in most people.

Yet in the old car I drove that warm afternoon, it was the only scent I sensed from the person sitting right to me.

I glanced aside at the tall figure wrapped in a loose tee, looking very much different than how I usually see him. He looked his age without the why-so-serious blazer and shirt. The new haircut suited him better. Taking a deep breath, I looked back at the empty road with an obligatory smile.

‘You don’t look like a person who smoked.’

It wasn’t really a proper thing you can comment on someone you just knew for less than a month, but he was in my car – and my car doesn’t usually transport smokers. I just need a reason. Providing he could give me a good one, I should be able to handle it for another while. But he merely laughed a little.

‘Why?’

From the corner of my eye, I realised he was looking the other way. Apparently the asphalt and the pots of dying greens were more interesting than my comment.

I shrugged. ‘You look more like a good and healthy kind of guy.’

He chuckled, this time propping his elbow on the windowsill and turned to look at me. I kept my eyes on the road. No reply still, but he seemed to be thinking of one. I allowed him some time, but even after fifteen minutes there was no explanation.

He hadn’t given me any reason up until now.

I’ve always hated the smell of cigarette smoke.
It reeks of desperation; of people running away or people looking for a distraction. It reeks of weakness – something I don’t approve in most people.

Yet I find myself sitting in the driver’s seat, tolerating the now-all-too-familiar scent from the seat next to me every now and then – all the while questioning myself why I let this one in.

Daily Prompt: I Want to Know What Love Is

Prompt from here.

Love is ©mk17design

Love is ©mk17design

You know it’s love when the boyfriend is a Spanish team hardcore supporter and the girlfriend is an Italian team hardcore supporter, yet they watch a Spain vs Italy football match next to each other.

Daily Prompt: The Satisfaction of a List

Prompt from here.

Listing up some of the things I fancy in someone just because I’m in that kind of mood.

  1. smart
  2. artsy hobbies
  3. fluently speaks foreign language
  4. kind
  5. passionate in what he does
  6. about my age
  7. …not my nationality (what can I say…)
  8. fun
  9. dresses up nice
  10. treats me like a woman even when I don’t act like one