This Crowd

This Crowd

A Story by A.B
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a flash fiction

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I hate it. I hate it all. This crowd, these lights, this glamour, it’s so fake, I can almost peel it. The displays and the colors, and above all the people. The chattering, the clattering, the toneless music. Everyone is hypnotized by all the price tags and the shine. I can’t hear their words, or their breath, I’m wondering, are they made of stone? but I hear their chests and shoulders bragging about what they bought, what they will and silently whining about what they can never buy.

   

It becomes hard to breathe, calm down it’s okay, it’s worth it. Yes nothing is worth this pressure and discomfort, unless it's something from Nike. Where the hell is the store, was it on the third floor or the fourth? 


This crowd reminds me of you, the possibility that I might bump into you, what will happen then? What will I do? Will I pretend that I didn’t see you, or maybe you would pretend so. A better scenario, we both pretend. Please don’t even think about saying hello, I might just turn around and leave you, or maybe smile, drop a tear and say hello back. Would I say hello back? I really have to get out of here as soon as possible. I look down, to avoid the faces, hoping I could as well avoid the sounds of this crowd, this memories. 



***


It’s almost 8 am in the morning, we meet in the same place we first met, that coffee shop by the nile, the same foggy morning, the same hour, the same place, the same people but everything is different. I’d been thinking, what would happen when I see you again? The first time after 8 months, after the tragic break up. I was almost sure I would break into tears, that's what I always do, I cry. My hands will shake and I will be dying to say how much I miss you. But nothing happened . . . emptiness happened.  


Strange. Where did the heartbeats go? The butterflies? Instead, it was all replaced by akward smiles and irrelevant stories about friends getting married, our jobs and what’s left of our everyday lives. You were hardly looking me in the eye, why is that? and I was hardly listening to what you’re saying, I know why, I just stopped listening to you. 


I didn't want to notice your apathetic eyes, your dull hair, your shoes that didn't match what you're wearing, or your hesitant tone of voice. I didn't want to feel the coldness of the weather and the irritation of my dry hands, or the weight of this old ignorance and disability. I wanted to miss you.  


I tried to get it back, and recall the happy moments, the rain, the picnics, that morning in the fog, that look you gave me as if I’m the only one on earth. How dare you give me that look now? as if nothing has changed. I bet you believed I’ve been rolling over and over in my own corner waiting for you. How dare you? 


Cut the nonsense. 


“So what happened? what made you change your mind?” I asked and you were shocked, I knew you didn’t see it coming that way, not that direct. You started your talk with silence, then words came out. I wished you’d remained silent, I wished I hadn’t asked and I wished I hadn’t come. I remembered when you used to talk to me about God, no, about your God, a God I would never choose to worship. So, did you realize anything? I thought you did, that’s why I came. But your words are void of any meaning or honesty.In shame, you were covering your face with with pride that refuses to admit that you were wrong about it. I wanted you to look me in the eye, to stop talking and . . .to say something. 


***


Why is this coming to me now, I need some music, where are my headphones, and where is the hell is the store for God’s sake? The mixture of smells and sounds is forming a cloud of junk over my chest, it’s becoming even harder to breath. The buzz is intense, and the lights are just too loud


Forget about it, erase this memory. Think of something happy. I think about my grandfather, how much I miss him. I think that I will meet my best friend tomorrow after a long break, I think of blueberry cupcakes, coffee, cinnamon, my favorite song, my favorite line from my favorite book: ‘And Mary found a smooth round stone, as small as the world and as big as alone'. . . alone


***


Two weeks later, a Thursday, 6 pm, at Starbucks. Wasn’t this the same place we first . . . Damn it! Why did I ask to meet here, and why is everything just the same? The same road, the same traffic jam. I remember that day, I was so late, I got out of the taxi and I started running . . . to you. You were there in this green pullover and a smile on your face that I just can’t get myself to forget. 


“Were you running?”

“Yes!” I said, panting and smiling, certain, nervous and happy.  


This time, I’m not running. 


You went to get the coffee, and I waited. A question hit my mind: Why am I here? this doesn’t feel right. I couldn't get my hands out of my pocket, I couldn't stop my legs from shaking and I couldn't get my eyes to look at you. I forced a look, I forced a smile and I wanted to leave. 


So, again . . . “What Happened, I simply want to know what happened.” I said.

“Why are you asking what happened? what does it have to do with anything?” 


Why am I asking what happened . . . Well, you see, I’ve been waiting for this. When you’d come back, but now I realize that I’ve been waiting for something bigger, the moment you realize a truth we fought for, a truth I thought we were fighting for. 


“Can I say it?” you said, I knew what you wanted to say, and for the first time I didn't want to hear it . . . from you. You were waiting for me to say it too, a look of disappointment on your face pinched my heart and I knew I would be suffering from this look for days, weeks, months. 


“Say something” you said, rubbing your hands, provoked by my silent storm. 

“I don’t know what to say, I think I need to be alone for a while”. More disappointment, more forced smiles. 


***


Here is the store, finally. This is definitely a good idea. I love Nike, I love this sweatshirt, I don’t need it, it’s damn expensive. I'm buying it. 


I’m out of the store, and there it is, again, this crowd. Women in mini skirts followed by men, women in black veils following men. Sales people in kiosks trying to fixate a smile, hoping they might be able to sell it. Children and parents enjoying artificial taste and artificial fun. Screaming ugliness. Since when did I start hating people that much? how do they manage to create such deep meaninglessness?  


A voice in my head tells me it’s done. I know, I just ended it myself, I am eliminating all the memories. Don’t eliminate, embrace, embrace the mistake and forgive. I’m kicking them out of my mind. Don’t kick them out, just let go. Why didn’t I turn on my ipod, where are my headphones? Oh, they are on. 


I'm still walking, crawling. I know somewhere around the corner, after that glass window display, behind the wall, there is an open door. I can't wait, and I’m out. 


Breathe.


A wind blow surprises my face and plays with my hair, I surrender to the winter wind. Winter has been cruel this year, it’s not as cold as I love it to be, but today, it is. At least It's cold enough to freeze this flow of memories, and cool down this rage. I thought I’m abandoned even by my favorite season, but not today. The moon is here and It’s a crescent tonight, my beloved moon, always changing shapes and colors and times of visits, always on the right time. I thank the moon and celebrate the fact that I've never shared it’s company with anyone.


In the taxi someone's talking on the radio about patience and good signs. And a new memory forms at the moment. The memory of you fading away, with the music, with the wind and the humble moonlight. The memory of me letting go this anger and frustration at least for tonight. The memory of checking my face in the mirror, making sure there are no more tears, because I’m almost home . . . almost. 

© 2015 A.B


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Added on January 27, 2015
Last Updated on February 16, 2015
Tags: love, memory, crowd

Author

A.B
A.B

CRAZY Cairo, some deserted place!!, Egypt



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