Playing Stories — Chapter 46: The Other Side of the Sun

Chapter 46: The Other Side of the Sun
from the 1979 album “Night Rains” by Janis Ian
received 12:49, 4 August 2019

Tired of living here in the middle of a mixed emotion
Might as well be living on the other side of the sun…

Dear Thomas,

I know you’re angry. I know that you’ll come charging to wherever I am right now when you wake up in the morning and find only an empty bed. Don’t try it, please — I can’t stop you from doing that, but please hear me out before you come into my life once more — at least, not before I’m ready for everything. And don’t blame yourself that I’m gone — you always do that, making things seem like your fault. It’s not your problem, okay? It’s really just my own decision to leave and go back to the UK early. You had nothing to do with it.

Okay, that’s a lie. Let me back up.

When I got on the train, I really didn’t expect company. It was just gonna be me, sitting around in Paris and looking for stuff to do. And yes, maybe I was hoping that Laura and I could patch things up, get back to being friends. I don’t really know now, everything from two weeks ago just seems awfully hazy. But then you were there and I thought, heck, if he’s going to be around in Paris for some time, I might as well make the best of it.

You know what happened next. We met, we got on the train together, we both realized that we’d lost someone we loved. I lied to you, and you decided to believe me anyway. Time and time again you threw yourself into knee-deep trouble — why did I stay behind to help you out of it? But I stayed, and you stayed, and we kept on making mistakes.

And it’s not like I didn’t feel comfortable making mistakes around you: God, the things we’ve been through in the past two weeks. It’s just that — when we’d finished, after we’d kissed and then went to bed together, I found myself thinking about Laura again. I thought about how cruel she was — God, she was a manipulative bitch wasn’t she… always playing the victim, always thinking that she could take me back just with her natural self and a few sweet words. I know that all sounds bad, right — like I’m still pining over her. I’m not. I don’t miss her that much… well, maybe a little, but I promise you that you won’t find me in Paris. I should be back on my way to London by the time you read this, maybe even getting off at Heathrow. You might find me at the Globe. Just please don’t come over here yet.

The thing is: I can’t go through that again. I don’t want to go through that again, even when you’re nothing like Laura and everything feels fine right now. We’d get on each other’s nerves in the end — you would be bored when we run out of places to explore, and I’d just be too neurotic for you. Then we’d fall apart and go through all that shit we had with Layla and Laura once again and what would be the point of that? Maybe it’s just me that’s worrying about all that. And yeah, maybe you’ll find someone who suits you better down the road. But when I think about all the fun we could be having — and then not having it because I’m not giving it my all — then it’s just not fair. I can’t do it yet.

Thing is, when I came along with you to Germany, to Munich and Neuschwanstein, I never really thought that we’d be boyfriend and girlfriend. It was just going to be a little trip that we did, going places and finding things to do. But then we started talking to each other, and we started to trying to find each other in the darkness of our own souls. And something told me that I was falling back into the same grooves again — believing in a version of you that didn’t exist. It was all too good to be true.

But I didn’t listen to it, that is, until you took me to Berlin.

When you said that you were doing this for me, that you’d never done this even with Layla, it was like a grenade exploding under my feet. You smiled and believed that you were falling in love with that perfect somebody, or maybe that person who you thought didn’t mind your past and who would always be there for you when you found yourself in trouble. I believed that too, for a while. I was happy here in Berlin — I swear on it, you did your best and you pulled it off. But after we finished and we went walking along the Spree, going back to all those places — it was just so cold. Not you, of course, but the world itself: something in the way I looked at everything around me just felt different, more distant. Everybody was laughing, having a good time — but I never felt like I could be part of that. The night before that, I’d thought that I could finally be a part of the world, that it’d accept me after years of being left out. Nothing like that the next morning, not even a jot of it. And I thought: did last night really happen? Was it all just something I dreamed up in the heat of the night? You asked me why I was squeezing your hand so hard when we were walking down the Ku-damm — I wanted to cling to something, to some sort of memory of that night. It felt so unreal, everything that was happening around me so far away and inaccessible. A night that left the bitterest aftertaste.

Yeah, I know what you’re going to say — I’m overthinking, you love me all the same, who cares about my history. That’s the thing, though. I know that you mean well, but it’s not about you at all… I don’t know whether I love you as a result of me trying to find someone to attach myself too (same for you too, really — maybe I’m just a rebound from Layla for you) or if there’s any other reason we’re fooling ourselves into this. But the fact that I’m still thinking about whether this thing between is genuine — well, it’s probably a sign. That it’s just something that is gonna pass.

Christ, I’m rambling on, ain’t I? The point is: I just want to get myself in order, and maybe I can never do that. But you deserve to be with someone who, you know, doesn’t mope about all the time, doesn’t have to drag you down with all her little insecurities. And I think — I’ve been thinking — I don’t want to throw myself into another situation like that again. I know that you’d say differently. That’s why I left. Because I knew you’d try to convince me and that I might actually believe in them. And then I’d be stuck in this farce of a charade that’s my own little world.

Please don’t look for me. I’m fine, I’ve survived all these years. Laura might not be there as a crutch, but I can manage. And I’ll still look out for you whenever I have the time. I look at you, slumbering on the bed like that, your mouth slightly open, your face a picture of bliss. It hurts, you know? I’ve thought so many times while writing this letter that I could try to stay, that we might be able to work it out. Then the voice returns, and I know I have to do this. I have to cut these ties while I still can, while you won’t miss me much and everything. Shame, really. You’re still cute even in the early morning light, lowing away like a pregnant heifer. I’ll be sorry to have left you without saying goodbye — I just thought it would be better if I wasn’t around to see your disappointment. Oh, I know you’ll be disappointed — but you were gonna be disappointed anyway, what with all my problems. Better early than late, better me than everyone else.

Maybe we’ll find each other again somewhere down the line — I really doubt it though. I’m just not ready yet, and you don’t have to give me time. I still like you a lot, Thomas. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done. But I guess you can do without me.

All the best,

Look, Quentin… I’ve been thinking about this for some time and I have something to tell you — it’s not going to work. I look at you and I think that there’s so much that we don’t know about each other — where we come from, our deepest secrets. Nothing. I can’t handle this, and neither can you. We might as well call it quits while we still can.

Best wishes for your happiness,

P. S. Oh, ye of little faith. Did you actually believe everything I said up there?

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