What Could’ve Been

On Competing

“When I closed the door in your face, I did not feel relief”

When I closed the door in your face,
I did not feel relief.
I watched as you disappeared around the corner,
Vanishing in thin air like a puff of smoke,
Melting into the shadows never to be seen again.
Saying goodbye felt like changing the sheets or taking a shower,
But I did not say “Good Riddance”.

When I remember the memories we shared,
I do not feel happiness.
I watch, how our worlds used to revolve around each other,
Like tumbling leaves caught in a breeze,
Like how planets in orbit need each other’s pull,
How we laughed and made each other laugh
Melting into each other’s touch only to find, with great disappointment that time had run out
But I did not feel regret.

I still don’t.

I look back at our past and try so hard to only remember the happiness
To only remember how we made out in the back of the theatre,
How your eyes became saucers when you saw me
In a floral dress, tight-fitting at the waist,
Waiting for you to walk me to your place.

I try to remember the days we spent,
Green uniform, blue skies, and jigsaw puzzle hands that only fit each other,
Kissing you was like being able to breathe underwater,
Holding you was like holding on to the safest point on earth as it crumbled around me
Loving you was like loving the ocean.
Even when it tried to drown me.

I remember our good days.
Each day falls down from my lacrimal glands,
Becoming diamonds, pearls, aquamarines,
That I’d one day like to give away.
I remember the good days.
Before I realised that I was an actor in your play.

I remember being young and naive and excited over being in love.
So blinded by the fact that I have a boyfriend at last
That I was starting to ignore that I was always trying to impress you.
That we were competing to see who was better,
Who knew more
Who read more,
We were deadlocked,
Unable to pick up the pieces of our pride to surrender
But you made me pick up those pieces anyway.

Loving you was like loving an Artificial intelligence program
Made to one-up you every time you stated a fact.
I never really thought you wrote good poems,
I never really liked the stories you would write me as if you were trying to prove something.

The month before I broke up with you, we got back our exam results.
I scored the same as usual in Literature.
Top of the class,
Best score out of all.
And good overall results that I really should’ve expected,
But I’ve always been the sort of guy who had no confidence in myself whatsoever.

You wouldn’t even let me look at yours.
You wouldn’t speak to me after I told you how happy I was about it.
You just stared and weighed the choices you had, without really caring about me.

We had been competing for so long,
We had been deadlocked in this battle that I wasn’t even aware had been going on for so long,
That the one time that I won,
It was the one time it took for me to realise
That I had always been the winner.

You were always trying to prove that you were smarter,
You knew more than me,
Always more,
Always better.
You were always the better poet,
Always the better writer,
Always the one involved in big-looking projects.

And all that you said took a toll on me.
Because I was dumb and in love.
I believed you.

I believed that you were smarter than me,
So I tried so hard to be better
I tried so hard to reach the skies that I thought you had already reached,
I tried so hard to measure up.
When I was already there.

There is no shame in admitting to weakness
Or capability.

And when that day came.
When you refused to talk to me after the solid proof that I had won this meaningless and pointless competition,
You started to ignore me.

And for some reason that was when I started to realise,
Started to see,
Started to remove the blindfolds,
Started to move again.

You were a kite string,
And I was your kite.
It felt like you were keeping me to the ground,
Safe, and happy, protected from the outside world.
And yet,
The wind tugged at me,
Fate and destiny were calling and begging me to fly
Begging me to break free.
You kept me to the ground,
Unable to reach those blue, blue skies.

You were a mirror,
And I stood before you.
It felt like you were only showing me the truth,
Showing me all my curves and edges,
Showing me what I really was, who I really was,
And yet,
All you were showing me was the surface of what I am.
Merely skin and eyes and hair,
What did you truly value, when presented with this beauty?
What is it you truly loved when you first saw me?

You were a plant,
And I was the dirt.
You were so deeply rooted in me,
That I felt like we were one,
That you depended on me to hold you steady, hold you to the ground,
But your reach always wandered.
Deeper and deeper,
Further and further,
You began to search for others.
While all I could do was stay where I was.

‘What could’ve been’, for us,
Is not a viable option.
This is the truth of us,
The one true ending to this chapter of our lives,
There is no second route,
There is no ‘Good Ending’,
There is no ‘Bad Ending’.

This is not a game,
Not a dating simulator,
Not a strategy-based RPG.
Love is not a game for you to toy with and throw away once you get bored.

There is no Good Ending,
There is no Bad Ending.
Only Beginnings and Endings,
But you can choose how many times love begins and ends.
It could begin when you meet on Campus,
And end by the time you’re working.
It could begin with an accident,
A coincidence
A forced meeting
A blind date
A kiss on the railway tracks an hour after school ends…

And it could end any time,
And do take note, that ‘Never’ is a perfectly acceptable end date.

But for us, it ended when I realised that you weren’t right for me.

One day, I know you’d find somebody.
Someone who won’t text you too many times a day,
Someone who will call you out when you get too competitive
Someone who can tell, better than I can, when you’re lying.
Someone who doesn’t care enough about your opinion of their body to wear whatever the hell they want
Someone who isn’t me.

And one day, I will too.

But until then I bid you farewell.
I hope life treats you the way you deserve life to.
I am sorry that I cannot wish you well,
For I still bear, in the depths of my soul,
Some kind of resentment towards you for what you have done to me.
It is a part of me I hate,
But a part of me regardless.

As such
Thank you for everything.


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