Learned

She met him at what should have been a culmination of her series of bad decisions.

He looked slicked by the bar counter sipping contemplatively on his glass, and she was numb enough to venture a rejection.

When they got over the trivialities, he started, “So what brought you here? You don’t seem like a regular.”

“Just, you know, learning how to forget,” she felt silly that she was still trying to sound profound. “Ah…what a coincidence,” his charming smile soured to a smirk. She could only trace the delectable curve of his lips, wondered how good it would taste.

Before she knew it, she was answering that inquiry. And, as soon as she caught her breath, she tried to recall who leaned in first and her own damn name. “Shall we?” After a way-too-casual car ride and a way-too-clumsy fumble of keys, she pressed herself into him. But there was no urgency but a slow burn igniting every futile touch and kiss to deny the agony and assumptions that they were worthless.

She forgot how many hours she spent scrolling through a woeful combination of whatever social media she wanted to torture herself with before he texted her two days later. She somehow agreed to meet again later that week. And, maybe again the week after…or maybe twice of thrice each week that followed. But, it wasn’t just for the thrill anymore: the series of clichés continued through chats in cafes and strolls by scenic places or a good drink or two. Some may even mistaken her for being in a relationship again, and she would laugh and contemplate the possibilities of two people both so recently broken being happy together. Naturally, she came to know more about him, that he had a happily engaged twin brother who live a couple of hours away, that he was a little too unsuspectingly talented to be human, and that he was only foul-mouthed when he was in a good mood. And whenever she watch him stubbornly bang pots and pans about despite his exhaustion to conjure some ridiculously delicious dinner just because she complained about the onsets of a cold or something, she wondered, perhaps this is what love is supposed to be. But, she was too afraid to bring up the concept: after all, they were supposed to learn how to forget.

It wasn’t until at least a few months later, on one of their typical weekend nights did he suddenly speak into the darkness of the bedroom. It was a quiet statement, “she tried to kill me,” she measured the silence ringing back and the comfort of his warmth that assured her that the bitch didn’t succeed. She felt like she should have more questions and things to say, but the moment demanded that she just wait. “She said that I wasn’t normal, and that it was only natural that it happened this way,” his voice lacked their usual resonance as he recited from a stone tablet locked away in the mausoleum of memories. The silence that followed was necessary, and she turned about in his arms so she could face him. “Funny thing is, I was fucking convinced by that for the longest time,” he finally met her eyes, those piercing greys softened by tender passion and profound fatigue. “That is, until…you. And whatever this is.” She felt bad for being happy because of his painful past, but she was. As morbid as this should be, she knew this was the moment she could start saying, “we.” As she leaned in to seal the promise, she could only try to stop the butterflies from escaping. And when he whispered the three words she thought she could never believe again, she did against her better judgement. She closed her eyes against his touch, and together, they learned instead to trust.

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