It was a chilly day, as expected from Edinburgh's weather, but the sun was uncharacteristically shining as well. The unexpected good weather encouraged people to go out in the streets ; it was more crowded than usual with most people opting for shopping hot spots since Christmas was very close.
They chose the park instead; they were outsiders who didn't celebrate Christmas. The greenery of Holyrood park was glossier than usual. They met at the usual place, the spot of grass at the back of Arthur's seat, right across from the lake. Birds were fluttering next to them, landing every now and then to drink from the lake.
They both lied on the grass; he was lying on his back and looking at the sky, she was lying on her side, looking at him.
"You know what the problem is," she said rhetorically, but he didn't catch on and replied absentmindedly, "what? " he was still looking at the sky. He had become used to her philosophical pondering and he liked to listen to her trying to analyze all of life's little details. However, sometimes, he didn't feel like participating in the conversation and opted to just listen. This was one of those times.
She smiled as she looked at him, a strand of his hair was out of its place, ruffled by the grass. She resisted the urge to set it back in its place, it would entail touching him, "When it comes to choosing between you and me, I will always choose myself. "
At hearing her words, he snapped out of his blissful trance and faced her, lying on his side, his left hand supporting his head, his right hand next to her left hand on the grass. Their hands were so near, that any ardent movement would lead them to touch. She backed her hand a little, bringing it closer to her body. He pursued it by bring his own hand closer. Her heart beat rose and her face looked flushed. He stopped and then looked up to her.
"You're just saying that," he replied with a hint of cynicism. It was his habit to provoke her into responding; he derived pleasure from it.
"No, I mean it," she said decisively, "I value myself too much."
"No, you love me too much." he responded, still trying to provoke her. She was surprised by his response. She had never used this word(love) with him; she had never used it with anyone, not even her parents. She was a believer that actions spoke louder than words; one can say a lot of things, but never mean them. She was aware that the conversation had taken a serious overtone. He had been trying to get her to admit her love for weeks, not that he wasn't sure of it, but his ego demanded it.
"I do value you dearly, but I value other things as well, maybe even more dearly," she replied, skillfully dodging the subject. At that, he stood up and walked to the edge of the lake. She sat up, her brown hair brushing the grass as she did so. She crossed her legs and watched him. He still stood at the edge, facing the lake, the sun illuminated his figure. He was a meticulous dresser; his clothes were of a perfect fit, accentuating his athletic physique. He wasn't one of those bulky, giant figures, but his muscles complemented his medium height figure perfectly. She was aware of the silence; it seemed as if the whole park stood still. She could hear him breathing heavily, his hands in his pocket, as he still stared at the lake. She prayed for noise. He turned around and looked at her sitting there. The hue of his sweater, a deep maroon, against his olive skin and his flecked honey-colored eyes distracted her. While the collar of his black shirt, worn underneath the sweater, brought attention to his sculpted face. He wasn't an Adonis of modern men; his features looked normal, but they were greatly accentuated and incised so that he seemed to be sculpted by one of the Renaissance master sculptures of Italy. The one feature that stood out was his eyes; they were honey-colored and flecked with random pieces of deep green; they reminded her of amber.
"I don't know if I can play this game any longer," he said
"What game?" she asked.
"The one you're playing right now. I know that you're afraid, but I would like you to trust me."
"I do trust you. I trust you with my life," she said, sincerely.
"But not your heart," he quickly replied.
He was met with silence. He stared at her for a while, but then he turned around and started walking by the side of the lake. She contemplated whether she should go after him or not. She didn't want to lose him, but at the same time she needed to be her own self, and her greatest fear was of losing herself into him. She wanted to go running after him, but logic stopped her. She had to be reasonable, she had to distance herself no matter how hard it seemed or how cruel she it made her be. She was about to gather her stuff and leave, when she saw him heading towards her. She had stood up. His strides were determined and hurried, he seemed to be driven by something other than his usual self. The look upon his face was new to her; she had never seen it before. It was a cross between anger and fear; she couldn't quite pinpoint it. Before she could determine what it was he meant, he grabbed her by the waist and kissed her full on the mouth. During the 9 months they hung out together, she was careful about their proximity, never being too near to him, or giving him the chance to get closer. She was always aware of where she is standing or sitting and their handshakes were always fleeting. He knew her limits and respected them. As soon as she became aware of what was happening, she pushed him with all her might, so that he fell on the ground. She waited for him to stand up and then she slapped him on the face. It left a huge red mark on his face.
"What do you think this is? A crappy romance novel? How dare you do something like that?" she shouted, her face red with anger.
"I was trying to make a point," he said, rubbing his throbbing face.
"You're stupid," she said and then she turned around and left. He ran after her.
"OK. I am sorry. I just didn't know what to do," he explained apologetically, "I really don't know what to do to prove to you that you don't need to fear my effect on you. You will never be lost, I won't let you."
"Have you been watching romance movies lately? Because you're becoming really cheesy." she said.
"I am trying new methods to deal with you."
"I prefer your old ones."
"Ok. Old way it is," he said cheerfully, "want to grab some lunch?"
"Sure. I am hungry," she replied.
They walked towards their favorite cafe in silence.
"You sit on the bench outside and I will go get the food. What do you want?" he said."Surprise me!" she replied coyly; for the past three years she has been the one to suggest the food and he would love every suggestion of hers, making her his official food-chooser, as he dubbed it. This time it was his turn. He smiled and went to stand in line, as usual the cafe was packed and the line was excruciatingly long. He stood in line, every now and then looking at her. She got his iPod out of her bag and listened to the playlist he had named after her; a playlist he kept for emergencies, he said, as they don't share the same music taste. The first song to play was Billie Holiday's "I'm a fool to want you." She listened to the soft, anticipating and greatly longing opening music, and then when Billie started to sing, she instinctively looked at him. He was looking in his wallet and getting cash out. As she softly sang "time and time again I said I'd leave you", he looked at her and started making funny faces. She laughed. He laughed at her laughter; a viciously sweet cycle. She stared at oblivion as the song ended with Billie's sad realization, "I can't get along without you." At that point she realized her conundrum, she realized that he had been right all along; she did love him too much. She would easily choose him every time and she couldn't get along without him. She was the fool.
The fool who wanted him.
Merry Christmas all and a greatly Joyous New Year :)