Short Story | Fiction

Patience Doesn’t Count

It’s almost 4:00AM again. I still can’t sleep.

I checked my mobile notifications for the umpteenth time, hoping that somehow, your name would be there somewhere. Your name that hasn’t shown up for quite a while, except in random conversations with friends, when I’m lost in thought and my heart takes over, when I wake up crying from a vague dream that I knew was about you.

When will I see you again? Will we ever talk again? 

I knew I had to wait. I needed to wait, even if waiting hurts. Like that pain you get from holding on to something for so long; even when it’s not that heavy, your hands and fingers go numb— and after a while, it becomes an unbearable burden, even if it’s just an unsent letter, a faded photograph, a mobile phone with an empty inbox except for that old conversation we had that I just couldn’t delete.

How long has it been? I used to count the minutes since we last talked. The hours since I last saw you. The days since you smiled at me, because of me. For me. Watching the clock numerals as they change, hoping with each second that you would contact me first. And I wonder, sadly wonder, why we have so few memories together yet there’s so much to remember about you. Countless stimuli that trigger reminders, my longing staining every experience into a painful curiosity of where you are now and what you’re doing and who you are with and why am I feeling this way.

I tried counting sheep, but instead of getting sleepy— I found myself more awake, smiling stupidly at the image of you trying to chase and catch each sheep, and hugging them.

“Forget her,” Mario told me, his voice no longer hiding how exasperated he was at hearing me lament again. “She’s not worth it, Andrew.” I nodded, half-hearing his concern. She’s not worth it, the words echoed intrusively inside. What if it’s me who’s not worthy of her?

I found myself thinking what I would say, do, if we ever suddenly meet again: should I get angry at her, for making me wait so long? How unfair she had been? Did she even bother to think about me? Why should I hate thee instead? Let me count the ways…

But I did not only wanted to hate you. I needed to hate you, so I won’t have to wait anymore. To wait so impatiently without being sure if the time will ever come: that we’d laugh together again, share stories without a care of how the night flies away, or simply spend time in silence together because sometimes, many times, words don’t count anymore. I have to hate you, so I can stop counting the teardrops when I secretly watch cheesy/cheap romance movies, or count the photographs that by chance we’re both part of— thankful for how few they are, and at the same time, regretful for how more there could and should have been.

Until you trespassed into my life when I heard from you again. Without warning.

“Are you available tonight?” she said. Just like that. As if all those long years of silence apart didn’t happen.

After a long minute of trying to compose the best response, I typed: “Heya, Kara.”

And after abandoning logic and self-respect, I replied: “Yes.”

“Great! How are you?” Kara said.

I was not okay. Then I was. Then you. Here. Now. I’m not okay again. But it’s okay. I am so okay because. I frantically tried to hold back. Don’t scare her away.

I counted to ten to calm myself. Didn’t work. Not that it mattered. I was happy. And confused. Maybe it’s because I’m happy that I’m in confusion. We talked like old friends— because after all this time, that never changed between us: friendship, with a little bit of one-sided love. I was tempted to throw at her all my collected frustrations, all my vented accusations; I even had a list, but I forget where I kept it.

But before I was ready, she was gone again. Just another blinking cursor in the dark digital sky— and me, backreading everything, hoping that somewhere in the nebulous randomness of our conversation, there’s a constellation of thoughts assuring me that there was a point to it all. I hesitantly typed some words carefully… and just like a shooting star: CTRL+A, DELETE.

A few minutes passed. I couldn’t think of anything else. My mind was blank, but maybe so was my heart: at least it didn’t feel as heavy anymore.

When will I see you again? Will we ever talk again?

I smiled to myself, and started counting again.

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