Playing Stories — Chapter 49: The World Tonight

Chapter 49: The World Tonight
from the 1997 album “Flaming Pie” by Paul McCartney
delivered to Emily at 18:56, 27 September 2019

Caught you praying to the voice inside you
I saw you swaying there…

Q: What did you think the first time you saw Morgan?

Thomas: Honestly? I can’t remember that occasion. She used to say that we were in a language class together, and she was sitting in the corners all the time, but the teacher just ignored her. Which is ridiculous, come on — I’d have seen her, for sure. But the first time I saw her? Probably from the entrance of Melview Hall, walking across the square towards me. Yeah, I wasn’t looking at her at the time, because Laura was with her, and… well you know Laura. Nobody looks at anyone else when she’s around.

Morgan: Wait, what? Is this going to be… you know, a public thing? I thought that this was only a psychology experiment…

Q: Indeed it is, and rest assured that everything will be kept completely confidential unless you agree to publish.

M: Really? I don’t know… I think I first met Thomas outside a café back in uni…

Q: Any further information?

M: Well… it was a bit cold that day. First day of autumn. Oh, he had this really weird cardigan on. He’d just gotten this really silly haircut, you know, and he was standing with friends when Laura and I went up to them. We said hi, and you couldn’t help looking at his weird hair that was flying off to the right, kind of like a Boris but just all to one side. It was just so weird.

T: Like you wouldn’t think that she was a pretty girl, she always stood off to the side, she always let her friends take the spotlight whenever she was around. So it took me quite some time to even realize that there was somebody else next to Laura… of course that changed over time, I found Laura just a bit too much…

Q: Oh really?

T: Yeah, she had everybody running after her. Not my type, to be honest.

Q: Hmmm. Yeah, some people do have that tendency…

M: I suppose he was striking, but not exactly the sort of person you fall for immediately.

Q: What changed, then?

T: Well, the trip, wasn’t it? We were going to Europe together, we found each other on the same train. It wasn’t even gonna be a couples trip or whatever they call it these days, but we’d just broken up with our girlfriends and we needed company. I was worried that it was gonna be a rebound thing, you know, that we were simply lashing out for somebody to love. Then it happened, and we found out that each other wasn’t like that. We really did care for each other, worry about the other and tell each other our secrets. We weren’t synchronized, of course, but since when has every couple been perfectly in sync?

M: Are you sure this is not going to go out? It’s just that… well, you know, there’s a lot of stuff I’ve been thinking…

Q: Whatever you want to be on the record is up to you.

M: Oh… well… it was just the days and the nights. Gosh, now that I think about it, we spent so much time together… climbing the Eiffel Tower, chatting on the train, night walks down the cobblestones of Germany… that was what changed. We spent time together, we got to know each other. And I kind of did fall in love with him.

Q: Did?

T: Oh yeah… when we broke it off, it was about something that had plagued her for a long time. Her “inability to form connections with people” or something. Like she thought it was gonna be a lifelong curse. Which is ridiculous, come on, it’s on me if I decide to get hurt by friendship or love.

M: I just didn’t want to hurt people, you know? Like it ended badly with Laura, and I knew that we just wouldn’t work out well together. Best cut your losses when they’re still small.

T: Don’t get me wrong, she can love whomsoever she wants to love and if she feels she’s not in the zone, then who am I to blame her? We had a good couple of weeks, and that’s all that I can ask for. But I wish she’d have told me about this, you know? Her way of leaving a situation is fine, I get it, she feels shy around people she doesn’t trust. But we’d shared a room and gotten into each other’s secrets for so long! Who else do you trust if you… anyway. Reckless. Just reckless.

M: I mean, it’s not as if I regret spending those couple of weeks. We laughed a lot, we cried a lot. But… seriously, why am I even saying this? Like, it was just a two-week thing. We only saw each other once back in England. People do it all the time, right? Holiday flings we don’t mean…

Q: You really think so?

M: … I don’t know, to be honest.

Q: Don’t you ever think that you could have just talked it out then, told each other what you were thinking though?

M: You know, I sometimes wish I did.

T: What’s the use of saying all that anyway? She left me. Can’t fault her doing that, can I? She can do whatever she likes with her life, I’m not gonna stop my life for her if she doesn’t find me worth the time.

Q: It’s like, don’t spend time crying over things you can’t control, right?

T: Exactly… that’s actually quite a good way of putting it, thanks.

Q: It’s nothing… so how long has it been since you’ve seen Morgan?

M: I think it’s been a month… six weeks since I left Berlin? We met in a pasta shop a couple of weeks ago… honestly, I’ve forgotten about it. I don’t really think about him a lot these days, and to be honest — well, he’s got that everyman look, and that messy hair and the beard… everyone’s wearing that kind of hairstyle these days, and sometimes I mistake a person in the street for him. An easy mistake to make… I’m not seeing him everywhere, I promise.

T: God, I have no idea… it’s been what, ten days? Two weeks? I wish I knew how she was doing though. I know that exes shouldn’t be texting, so I haven’t, but you kind of wonder.

Q: That’s a phase everyone goes through, of course…

T: It’s not just a phase, is it though? It’s a battle. A battle where you try to purge every single memory of that person you have out of you, every minute you spent with them, every secret that’s now tainted with their shadows. Every place you went with them, now forever stored in your brain and refusing to budge. Like I know it’s possible, but it’s just so damn hard, you know? You think you’ve done it, you’ve cleared every single scrap of them out of you, and then you go out and face the world, and the second — the very second — you do that, the dam breaks and everything comes back. God, I hate that feeling sometimes. They always say, “make new memories”. Easy to say, hard to accomplish.

M: Not really, actually. I do think that there is a phase, of course, but I just think I’m cursed with one of those short emotional memories? Like I can get really mad at someone, but give it a couple of hours — maybe overnight — and I’m as good as new. (long silence)

Q: Did that happen with Thomas though?

M: I don’t know… like, I just don’t know how to feel with all of this, okay? I wish I didn’t have to go through life, trying to decide which of my memories should be entangled from a person who probably could read me better than my friends and lovers combined, or who’s managed to pry me open further than I thought was possible… I do think about him. A lot. And I guess if he’s doing the same for me — but no. We can’t go back now.

Q: Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to admit that your brain was wrong and that your heart was right.

M: … seriously, who even are you?

T: You really do have the funniest way of putting things…

Q: Hey, I’m just asking the questions. I know how to put things poetically, and you wouldn’t believe the people I’ve seen. Anyway, I guess we’re done here, and you can go soon… just one more thing. Do you ever feel like tying up loose ends with each other?

M/T: What do you mean?

Q: Like, if you ever met each other in the street. Had a chance to actually sit down together and talk. Not with a stranger like me, but like actually face-to-face… do you ever think about what you’d say?

M: (after a long silence) I do, actually. All the time.

T: Definitely. All the time.

Thought I’d finish off the two of them. Seems a bit of a waste to leave loose ends hanging. I still can’t decide whether we should leave it at that and give it a happy ending, actually… I know you like your stories realistic, but can’t we just give them the non-awkward hug they actually deserve?


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