Hello..i really hoped you guys liked the previous episode..sorry couldn’t go through the comments yet..will be responding to everyone by tonight [pinky promise ;)]
In the meantime, i hope you enjoy this update too 🙂
Link to the previous episode : Episode 7
Lots of Love,
I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to go to class. I definitely don’t want to go job hunting again. I don’t want to do anything but keep this pillow pulled over my eyes, because it’s creating a nice barrier between myself and every mirror in this apartment.
I don’t want to look in the mirror, because I’m scared I’ll see myself for who I really am this time. A girl with no morals or respect for other people’s relationships.
I can’t believe I kissed him last night.
I can’t believe he kissed me.
I can’t believe I broke into tears the second he pulled away from me and I saw the look on his face. I didn’t think it was possible to cram so much regret and sorrow into one expression. Seeing how much he regretted being in that moment with me was one of the biggest blows my heart has ever taken. It hurt worse than what Vikrant did to me. It hurt worse than what Kritika did to me.
But as much as it hurt seeing the regret on his face, it was nothing compared to the guilt and shame I felt when I thought of what I had done to Ananya. What he had done to Ananya.
I knew the moment he put his hand on my chest and moved closer to me that I should have flown off the bed and made him leave the room.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
The closer he moved and the longer we stared at each other, the more my body was consumed by need. It wasn’t a basic need, like a need for water when I’m thirsty or a need for food when I’m hungry. It was an insatiable need for relief. Relief from the want and desire that had been pent up for so long.
I never realized how powerful desire could be. It consumes every part of you, enhancing your senses by a million. When you’re in the moment, it enhances your sense of sight, and all you can do is focus on the person in front of you. It enhances your sense of smell, and suddenly, you’re aware of the fact that his hair has just been washed and his shirt is fresh out of the dryer. It enhances your sense of touch and makes your skin prickle and your fingertips tingle, and it leaves you craving to be touched. It enhances your sense of taste, and your mouth becomes hungry and wanting, and the only thing that can satisfy it is the relief of another mouth in search of the same.
But the sense my desire enhanced the most?
As soon as Lakshya placed the headphones in my ears and the music began to play, the hair on my arms rose, chills erupted from my skin, and it felt as if my heart rate slowly conformed to the beat of the song.
As much as Lakshya craved that sense, too, he couldn’t experience it. In that moment, all of his other senses combined failed to make up for the one sense he desired the most. He wanted to hear me just as much as I wanted him to hear me.
What happened between us didn’t happen because we were weak. Lakshya didn’t run his hand up my jaw and around to the back of my head simply because I was in front of him and he was in the mood to make out. He didn’t press his body against mine because he thinks I’m attractive and knew it would feel good. He didn’t part my lips with his because he enjoys kissing and knew he wouldn’t get caught.
Despite how hard we tried to fight it, all of those things happened between us because our feelings for each other are becoming so much stronger than our desire. Desire is easy to fight. Especially when the only weapon desire possesses is attraction.
It’s not so easy when you’re trying to win a war against the heart.
• • •
The house has been quiet since I woke up more than an hour ago. The more I lie here and allow myself to think about what happened, the less I want to face him. I know if we don’t get it over with, the confrontation will only be harder the longer we wait.
I reluctantly get dressed and head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. His bedroom is quiet, and he usually has late nights that result in late mornings, so I decide to let him sleep. I’ll wait it out in the living room. I hope Amit and Radhika are either occupied with each other in a bed somewhere or still asleep, because I don’t know if I can take either of them this morning.
I open the door and walk into the living room.
Turn around, Ragini. Turn around and go back to your room.
Lakshya is standing at the bar. However, it isn’t the sight of Lakshya that’s rendered me completely immobile. It’s the girl he has his arms around. It’s the girl he’s pressed against. It’s the girl he’s looking directly at, as if she’s the only thing that has, does, and will ever matter to him. It’s the girl who planted herself between me and my maybe someday.
Amit exits his bedroom and sees them standing together in the kitchen. “Hey, Ananya. I thought you weren’t coming for a couple more weeks.”
Ananya spins around at the sound of Amit’s voice. Lakshya’s eyes move from Ananya over to me. His body tenses, and he stands up straighter, putting a slight distance between the two of them.
I’m still immobile, or I’d be putting distance between myself and all three of them.
“I’m about to leave,” Ananya says, and signs simultaneously, facing Amit. Lakshya steps away from her, then quickly breaks his gaze from mine and refocuses his attention on Ananya. “My grandfather was admitted to the hospital yesterday. I got here last night.” She turns and gives Lakshya a light peck on the lips, then heads for the front door. “It’s nothing serious, but I’m staying with him until they release him tomorrow.”
“Oh, man. Sorry about that,” Amit says. “But you’ll be here the weekend of my party, right?”
Ananya nods and takes a step back toward Lakshya. She circles her arms around his neck, and he wraps his arms around her waist—two simple movements that completely shatter entire sections of my heart.
He rests his mouth against hers and closes his eyes. He brings his hands to her face, then pulls back and leans in again to kiss her on the tip of her nose.
Ananya exits the apartment without ever having noticed that I was standing here. Lakshya closes the door behind her, turns around, and brings his eyes back to mine with an unreadable expression.
“What are we doing today?” Amit asks, moving his head back and forth between Lakshya and me. Neither of us breaks our stare to respond to him. After several seconds, Lakshya makes the slightest movement with his eyes, motioning toward his bedroom. He turns to Amit and signs something, and I walk back to my room.
It’s amazing how many reminders I’ve had to give my organs in the last three minutes that should be basic, common knowledge.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Beat, beat, pause. Beat, beat, pause.
I walk to the bathroom and head for Lakshya’s bedroom. It was obvious he wants to talk, and I still think confronting it now is better than waiting. It’s definitely better than not confronting it at all.
The journey across the bathroom is only a few feet and should take no longer than a few seconds, but I somehow stretch it out for five whole minutes. I place a nervous hand on his doorknob, then open it and walk into his room.
He’s walking in at the same time as I’m closing the door to the bathroom. We pause and stare at each other. These stare-downs are going to have to end, because my heart can’t take much more.
We both walk to his bed, but I pause before sitting down. I assume we’re about to do some serious talking, so I hold up my finger and turn to get my laptop out of my room.
He’s sitting on his bed with his laptop when I return, so I sit, lean against the headboard, and open mine. He hasn’t messaged me yet, so I type something to him first.
Me: Are you okay?
I hit send, and after he reads my question, he turns his face toward mine and appears slightly puzzled. He turns back to his computer and begins typing.
Lakshya: In what sense?
Me: All of them, I guess. I know it was probably difficult seeing Ananya after what happened between us, so I just wanted to know if you were okay.
Lakshya: I think I’m a little confused right now. Are you not pissed at me?
Me: Should I be?
Lakshya: Considering what happened last night, I would say so.
Me: I have no more of a right to be mad at you than you do to be mad at me. I’m not saying I’m not upset, but how will being mad at you help us work through this?
He reads my message and expels a huge breath, leaning his head back against the headboard. He closes his eyes for a moment before lifting his head and responding to me.
Lakshya: Ananya showed up last night an hour after I got back to my room. I was convinced you were going to barge in and tell her what a jerk I am for kissing you. Then, in the kitchen earlier, when I saw you standing outside your door, I was bracing myself.
Me: I would never tell her, Lakshya.
Lakshya: Thank you for that. So what now?
Me: I don’t know.
Lakshya: Can we not do the thing where we brush it under the rug and act like it never happened, because I don’t think that’s going to work with us. I have a lot I need to say, and I’m scared if I don’t say it right now, I’ll never say it.
Me: I have a lot to say, too.
Lakshya: You first.
Me: No, you first.
Lakshya: How about we go at the same time? When we’re both finished typing, we’ll hit send together.
I have no idea what he’s about to say to me, but I don’t let it influence what I need to say to him. I tell him exactly what I want him to know, then I pause and wait for him to finish typing. When he finally stops, we look at each other, and he nods, and we both hit enter.
Me: I think what happened between us happened for a lot of reasons. We’re obviously attracted to each other, we have a lot in common, and under any other circumstance, I honestly believe we’d be good for each other. I could see myself with you, Lakshya. You’re smart, talented, funny, compassionate, sincere, and a little bit evil, which I like. 😉 And last night—I can’t even describe it. It is by far the most I’ve ever felt while kissing someone. Although the feelings aren’t all good. There’s a lot of guilt mixed in there, too.
So as much as the thought of us being together makes sense, it also makes no sense whatsoever. I can’t leave a relationship with as much hurt as I did and expect to find happiness within a few short weeks. It’s too fast, and I still want to be on my own, no matter how right something might feel.
I don’t know where your head is, and honestly, I’m scared to hit enter on this message, because I want us to be on the same page. I want us to work together to try to push past whatever it is we’re feeling so we can continue to make music and be friends and pull ridiculous pranks on Amit. I’m not ready for that to end, but if my being here is too hard or makes you feel guilty when you’re with Ananya, I’ll leave. Just say the word, and I’ll go. Well, I guess you can’t really SAY the word. You could TYPE the word, and I’ll go. (Sorry for the lame joke at your expense, but there’s just too much seriousness going on right now.)
Lakshya: First and foremost, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I put you in that position. I’m sorry I couldn’t be stronger in that moment. I’m sorry I broke my promise to you about never becoming a Vikrant. But I’m mostly sorry for leaving you crying on your bed last night. Walking out and leaving that whole situation unresolved was the worst move I could have made.
I wanted to come back and talk to you, but when I finally worked up the courage, Ananya showed up. If I knew she was coming, I would have warned you. After what I did to you last night and then seeing the look on your face when you saw us together this morning, I knew it was one of the most hurtful things I could have done.
I have no idea what’s going through your head, but I have to say this, Ragini. No matter how I feel about you or how much I think we could work, I will never, ever leave her. I love her. I’ve loved her since the moment I met her, and I’ll love her until the moment I die.
But please don’t let that take away from how I feel about you. I never thought it was possible to have honest feelings for more than one person, but you’ve convinced me of how incredibly wrong I was. I’m not going to lie to myself and say I don’t care about you, and I’m definitely not going to lie to you. I just hope you understand where I’m coming from and that you will give us a chance to navigate through this, because I believe we can. If there are two people in this world capable of figuring out how to be friends, it’s us.
We read through each other’s messages. I read his more than once. I didn’t expect him to be so forthcoming and honest, especially about the fact that he cares about me. I never for one second expected him to contemplate leaving Ananya for me. That would be the worst outcome of all of this. If he left her and we attempted to build a relationship from that, it would never work. The entire relationship would be built on betrayal and deceit, and those two things have never made and will never make for a good foundation.
Lakshya: Wow. I’m impressed with us. We’re both so mature.
His comment makes me laugh.
Me: Yes, we are.
Lakshya: Ragini, I can’t tell you what your message just did for me. Seriously. I feel like the weight of all nine planets (because yes, Pluto will always be a planet to me) has been crushing my chest since the moment I walked away from you last night. But knowing that you don’t hate me and that you’re not mad and that you aren’t concocting an evil revenge scheme feels so damn good right now. Thank you for that.
Me: Hold on. I never said I wasn’t concocting an evil revenge scheme. 😉 Also, while we’re being so blunt, can I ask you a question?
Lakshya: What did I tell you about initiating a question with whether or not you can propose a question?
Me: Oh, my God, I can’t believe I ever kissed you. You’re so ANNOYING!
Lakshya. LOL. What’s your question?
Me: I’m concerned. We obviously have an issue with the fact that we’re attracted to each other. How do we get past that? I want to write music with you, but I also know that the few moments we’ve had that wouldn’t make Ananya very happy have all been while we’re writing music. I think I’m just too desirable when I’m being creative, and I want to know what I need to do to lessen my attractiveness. If that’s even possible.
Lakshya: Keep up the egotism. It’s very unattractive, and if it continues, I won’t even be able to look at you in a week’s time.
Me: Deal. But what do I do about my attraction to YOU? Tell me some personal flaws that I can engrave into my memory.
Lakshya: I sleep so late on Sundays I don’t even brush my teeth until Monday.
Me: That’s a start. I need a few more.
Lakshya: Let’s see. Once, when Amit and I were fifteen, I had a crush on a girl. Amit didn’t know I liked her, and he asked me if I would ask her out for him. I did, and she agreed, because apparently, she had a crush on Amit in return. I told him she said no.
Me: Lakshya! That’s terrible!
Lakshya: I know. I need a flaw from you now.
Me: When I was eight, we went to amusement park. I wanted an ice cream, and my parents wouldn’t buy me one because I was wearing a new shirt that they didn’t want me to get dirty. We were walking by a trash can, and there was a melted ice cream cone in it, so when my parents turned around, I picked it up and started eating it.
Lakshya: Yeah, that’s pretty gross. But you were only eight. That does NOT count as a flaw, Ragini. God work with me here.
Me: I like the smell of puppy breath.
Lakshya: Better. I can’t hear my own farts, so sometimes I’ll forget that other people can hear them.
Me: Oh, my God. Yes, this is the type of thing that definitely sheds a different light on you. I think I’ll be good for a while.
Lakshya: One more from you, and then I think we’ll be equally repulsed.
Me: A few days ago, when I was getting off the cab, I noticed Kritika’s car was gone. I used my extra key to let myself into her apartment, because I needed a few things I had forgotten. Before I left, I opened all her bottles of liquor and spit in them.
Lakshya: For real?
I nod, because I’m too ashamed to type the word yes.
Lakshya: Okay. I think we’re good. Meet me here at eight tonight, and we’ll see if we can navigate through a song. If we need to take breaks from the music every now and then in order to replenish our repulsiveness with a few more flaws, just let me know.
I close my laptop and begin to slide off the bed, but he grabs my wrist. I turn around, and he’s looking at me with a serious expression. He leans over and grabs a pen, then picks up my hand and writes: Thank you.
I press my lips together and nod. He releases my hand, and I walk back to my room, attempting to ignore the fact that all the repulsive details in the world couldn’t stop my heart from reacting to that simple gesture. I look down at my chest.
Hey, heart. Are you listening? You and I are officially at war.
As soon as she’s out of my bedroom and the door shuts behind her, I close my eyes and exhale.
I’m thankful that she isn’t angry. I’m thankful that she isn’t vindictive. I’m thankful that she’s reasonable.
I’m also thankful that she appears to have more willpower than I do, because whenever I’m around her, I’ve never felt so weak.
Not much has changed in the way we practice together, other than the fact that we practice five feet apart from each other. We’ve completed a couple of songs since “the kiss,” and although the first night was a little awkward, we seem to have found our groove. We haven’t talked about the kiss, and we haven’t talked about Ananya, and we haven’t discussed why he plays on the floor and why I write alone on the bed. There’s no reason to discuss it, because we’re both very aware of all of it.
The fact that we’ve admitted our attraction to each other doesn’t seem to have eliminated it the way we’d hoped. For me, it’s like a huge elephant in the room. It feels as if it takes up so much space when I’m with him that it presses me against the wall, squeezing the last traces of breath out of me. I keep telling myself it’ll get better, but it’s been almost two weeks since the kiss, and it hasn’t gotten easier at all.
Luckily, I have two interviews next week, and if I get hired, at least it’ll get me out of the house more. Amit and Radhika both work and go to college, so they’re not here a whole lot. Lakshya works from home, so the fact that we’re both here alone the majority of the day is always at the front of my mind.
Out of all the hours in the day, though, the hour I hate the most is when Lakshya is in the shower. Which means I really hate this hour, since that’s where he is right now. I hate where my thoughts go when I know he’s one wall away from me, completely unclothed.
I hear the water turn off and the shower curtain slide open, and I squeeze my eyes shut, trying once again not to picture him. This would probably be a good time of day to turn on some music to drown out my thoughts.
As soon as the door closes between the bathroom and his bedroom, there’s a knock at the front door. I gladly jump off the bed and head toward the living room to get my mind off the fact that I know Lakshya is in his room getting dressed right now.
I don’t even bother looking through the peephole, which is a very bad oversight on my part. I swing open the door to find Vikrant standing sheepishly at the top of the stairs. He eyes me, his expression apologetic and nervous. My heart drops to my stomach at the mere sight of him. It’s been weeks since I last laid eyes on him. I was beginning to forget what he looked like.
His dark hair is longer since I last saw him, and it reminds me that I’m always the one to schedule his hair appointments. The fact that he hasn’t even bothered to make his own appointment makes him that much more pathetic to me.
“Should I give Kritika the number for your barber? Your hair looks awful.”
The mention of Kritika’s name makes him grimace. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m not jumping back into his arms that’s causing that regretful expression on his face.
“You look good,” he says, capping his words off with a smile.
“I am good,” I say, not sure if I’m lying to him or not.
He runs a free hand over his jaw and turns away from me, appearing to regret the fact that he’s here.
How is he here? How does he even know where I live?
“How did you know where to find me?” I ask, tilting my head in curiosity.
I see the split-second shift of his eyes as they glance across the courtyard toward Kritika’s apartment. It’s obvious he doesn’t want me to notice what’s going on in his mind, because it would only shed light on the fact that he’s still visiting Kritika on a regular basis.
“Can we talk?” he asks, his voice void of the confidence I’ve always known him to have.
“If I let you in and convince you it’s over, will you promise to stop texting me?”
He barely nods his head, so I step aside, and he walks into the living room. I walk to the dining-room table and pull out a chair, making it obvious that he’s not making himself comfortable by sitting on the couch. He walks toward the table as his eyes work their way around the room, more than likely in search of information on who lives here with me.
He grips the back of the chair and pulls it out slowly while his eyes focus on a pair of Lakshya’s shoes tucked beside the couch. I like that he noticed them.
“Are you living here now?” he asks, his voice tight and controlled.
“For now,” I say, my voice even more controlled. I’m proud of myself for keeping calm, because I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t hurt to see him. I gave him two years of my life, and all the things I felt for him can’t just be cut off at once. Feelings take time to disappear, so they’re still here. They’re just mixed and swirled together with a hell of a lot of hatred now. It’s confusing to feel this way when I see him, because I never thought I could dislike the man in front of me. I never thought he would betray me the way he did.
“Do you think that’s safe? Just moving in with some strange guy you barely know?” He’s eyeing me disapprovingly as he takes his seat, as if he has the right to judge any part of my life.
“You and Kritika didn’t leave me much choice, did you? I found myself screwed over and homeless on my birthday. If anything, I would think you should be congratulating me for handling it all so well. You sure as hell can’t sit here and judge me.”
He huffs, then leans forward over the table and closes his eyes, pressing the palms of his hands against his forehead. “Ragini, please. I didn’t come here to fight or make excuses. I came here to tell you how sorry I am.”
If there’s one thing I’d like to hear from him, it’s an apology. If there are two things I’d like to hear, it’s an apology followed by a good-bye.
“Well, you’re here now,” I say quietly. “Have at it. Tell me how sorry you are.” My voice isn’t confident anymore. In fact, I want to punch myself, because it sounds really sad and heartbroken, and that’s the last thing I want him to think I feel.
“I’m sorry, Ragini,” he says, spitting the words out fast and desperately. “I’m so, so sorry. I know it won’t make it better, but things have always been different between Kritika and me. We’ve known each other for years, and I know it’s not an excuse, but our relationship was s*xual before you even met us. But that’s all it was. It was just s*x, and once you were in the picture, neither of us could figure out how to just put a stop to something that had been going on between us for years. I know this doesn’t make sense, but what I had with her was completely separate from what I had with you. I love you. If you’ll just give me one more chance to prove myself, I’ll never speak to Kritika again.”
My heart is pounding as hard as it was the moment I found out they were sleeping together. I’m inhaling controlled breaths in an effort not to climb across the table and beat the shit out of him. I’m also clenching my fists in an effort not to climb across the table and kiss him. I would never take him back, but my head is so damned confused right now, because I miss what we had so much. It was simple and good, and my heart never ached the way it’s been aching these past few weeks.
What’s confusing me the most is the fact that my heart hasn’t been aching like this because I can’t be with Vikrant. It’s aching because I can’t be with Lakshya.
I realize as I’m sitting here that I’m more upset that Lakshya came into my life than I am that Vikrant left it. How screwed up is that?
Before I can respond, Lakshya’s bedroom door opens, and he walks out. He’s in jeans and nothing else, and I tense from the way my body responds to his presence. However, I love the fact that Vikrant is about to turn around and witness Lakshya looking like this.
Lakshya pauses just feet from the table when he sees Vikrant sitting across from me. He glances from Vikrant to me, just as Vikrant turns to see who I’m looking at. I can see the concern wash over Lakshya’s face, along with a flash of anger. He eyes me hard, and I know exactly what’s going through his head right now. He’s wondering what the hell Vikrant is doing here, just as I am. I nod in reassurance, letting Lakshya know I’m fine. I shift my eyes to his bedroom and silently tell him that Vikrant and I need privacy.
Lakshya doesn’t move. He doesn’t like that I just told him to go back to his bedroom. From the looks of it, he doesn’t really trust Vikrant alone with me. Maybe it’s the fact that he wouldn’t be able to hear me if I needed him to return for any reason. Whatever it is, I just made him completely uncomfortable with my request. Regardless, he nods and turns back toward his room, but not before eyeing Vikrant with a warning shot.
Vikrant faces me again, but his expression is no longer apologetic.
“What the hell was that?” he asks, his voice dripping in jealousy.
“That was Lakshya,” I reply firmly. “I believe the two of you have already met.”
“Are the two of you . . . like . . . ?”
Before I answer him, Lakshya walks back into the room with his laptop and heads straight to the couch. He drops down onto the sofa, eyeing Vikrant the entire time while he opens his laptop and props his feet up on the coffee table in front of him.
The fact that Lakshya refuses to leave me alone with Vikrant pleases me way too much.
“Not that it’s any of your business,” I say, “but no, we aren’t dating. He has a girlfriend.”
Vikrant returns his attention to me and laughs under his breath. I have no idea what he just found funny, but it pisses me off. I fold my arms while I glare at him and lean back against my seat.
Vikrant leans forward and looks straight into my eyes. “Please tell me you see the irony in this, Ragini.”
I shake my head, absolutely not seeing any irony in this situation.
My lack of comprehension makes him laugh again. “I’m trying to explain to you that what happened between Kritika and me was strictly physical. It meant nothing to either of us, but you won’t even try to understand my side of it. Yet you’re practically eye-f**king your roommate who happens to be in love with another woman, and you don’t see the hypocrisy in your actions? You can’t tell me you haven’t slept with him in the two months you’ve been here. How can you not see that what the two of you are doing isn’t any different from what Kritika and I did? You can’t justify your own actions without forgiving mine.”
I’m trying to keep my jaw off the floor. I’m trying to keep my anger subdued. I’m trying to keep myself from reaching across this table and punching him square between his accusing eyes, but I’ve learned the hard way that punching isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I allow myself several moments to calm down before I respond. I glance at Lakshya, who is still eyeing me. He knows by the look on my face that Vikrant just crossed the line. Lakshya’s hands are gripping the screen of his laptop, prepared to shove it aside if I need him.
I don’t need him. I’ve got this.
I square up with Vikrant, pulling my gaze off Lakshya and focusing on the eyes I so desperately want to rip out of Vikrant’s head.
“Lakshya has an amazing girlfriend who doesn’t deserve to be cheated on, and luckily for her, he’s the type of guy who realizes her worth. With that said, you’re wrong about the fact that I’m sleeping with him, because I’m not. We both know how unfair it would be to his girlfriend, so we don’t act on our attraction. You should take note that simply because a girl makes your dick hard, that doesn’t mean you have to go shove it inside her!”
I push myself away from the table at the same time as Lakshya sets his laptop aside and stands.
“Go, Vikrant. Just go,” I say, unable to look at him for another second. The simple fact that he thought he had Lakshya pegged as being anything like him pisses me off, and he’d be smart to leave.
He stands up and walks straight to the door. He opens it and leaves without even looking back. I’m not sure if his exit was so simple because he finally understands that I’m not willing to take him back or if it’s because Lakshya looked as if he was about to kick his ass.
I have a good feeling I won’t be hearing from Vikrant anymore.
I’m still staring at the door when my phone sounds off. I take it out of my pocket and turn to Lakshya. He’s holding his phone, looking at me with concern.
Lakshya: Why was he here?
Me: He wanted to talk.
Lakshya: Did you know he was coming over?
I look up at Lakshya after reading his text, and for the first time, I notice his jaw is tense and he doesn’t look very happy. I’d almost label his reaction as slightly jealous, but I don’t want to admit that.
Lakshya: Why did you let him in?
Me: I wanted to hear him apologize.
Lakshya: Did he?
Lakshya: Don’t let him in here again.
Me: I wasn’t planning on it. BTW, you’re kind of being a jerk right now.
He glances up at me and shrugs.
Lakshya: It’s my apartment, and I don’t want him here. Don’t let him in again.
I don’t like his attitude right now, and to be honest, the fact that he just referred to this as his apartment doesn’t sit right with me. It feels like a low blow to remind me that I’m at his mercy. I don’t bother responding. In fact, I toss the phone onto the couch so he can’t text me, and I head toward my room.
When I reach my bedroom door, my emotions catch up with me. I’m not sure if it’s seeing Vikrant again and having all of those hurtful feelings resurface or if it’s the fact that Lakshya is being an asshole. Whatever it is, the tears begin to well in my eyes, and I hate that I’m letting either of them get to me in the first place.
Lakshya grabs my shoulder and turns me around to face him, but I keep my eyes trained on the wall behind him. I don’t even want to look him in the eye. He puts my phone back in my hand, wanting me to read whatever he just texted, but I still don’t want to. I throw the phone toward the couch again, but he intercepts it, then tries to force it back into my hand. I take it this time, but I press the power button down until the phone shuts off, and then I toss it onto the couch again. I look him in the eye now, and his expression is angry. He takes two steps toward the coffee table, grabs a pen out of the drawer, and walks back to me. He takes my hand, but I pull it from him, still not wanting to know what he has to say to me. I’ve had enough apologies for tonight. I try to turn away from him, but he grabs my arm and presses it against the door, holding it forcefully while he writes on it. When he’s finished writing, I pull my arm away and watch as he tosses his pen onto the couch, then walks back to his bedroom. I look down at my arm.
Let him in next time if he’s really what you want.
My barrier completely breaks. Reading his angry words depletes me of whatever strength I had left to hold back my tears. I rush through my bedroom door and straight into the bathroom. I turn on the faucet and squirt soap into my hands, then begin scrubbing his words off my arm while I cry. I don’t even look up when the door to his bedroom opens, but I see him out of my peripheral vision as he closes the door behind him and slowly walks toward me. I’m still scrubbing the ink off my arm and sniffling back the tears when he reaches across me for the soap.
He dispenses some onto the palm of his hand, then wraps his fingers around my wrist. The tenderness in his touch lashes out and scars my heart. He runs the soap up my wrist where the words begin and lathers my skin as I drop my other hand away and grip the edge of the sink, allowing him to wash his words away.
He massages his thumbs into the words, rubbing them away with the water.
I’m still staring down at my arm, but I can feel his gaze directly on me. I’m aware of the exaggerated breaths I have to take in now that he’s next to me, so I attempt to slow them down until there are no longer traces of ink on my skin.
He grabs a hand towel and dries my arm, then releases me. I bring my arm to my chest and hold it with my other hand, not knowing what move to make now. I finally bring my eyes to meet his, and I instantaneously forget why I’m even upset with him in the first place.
His expression is reassuring and apologetic and maybe even a little longing. He turns and walks out of the bathroom, then returns seconds later with my phone. He powers it on and hands it to me while he leans against the counter, still looking at me regretfully.
Lakshya: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean what I said. I thought maybe you were entertaining the thought of accepting his apology, and it upset me. You deserve better than him.
Me: He showed up unannounced. I would never take him back, Lakshya. I was just hoping an apology from him would help me move on from the betrayal a little quicker.
Lakshya: Did it help at all?
Me: Not really. I feel even more pissed than before he showed up.
As Lakshya reads my text, I notice the tension ease in his expression. His reaction to my situation with Vikrant borders on jealousy, and I hate that this makes me feel good. I hate that every time something Lakshya-related makes me feel good, it’s immediately followed up with guilt. Why do things between the two of us have to be so complicated?
I wish we could keep things simple, but I have no idea how to do that.
Lakshya: Let’s go write an angry song about him. That might help.
He looks at me with a sly grin, and it makes my insides swirl and melt. Then I freeze just as fast from the guilt of those feelings.
For once, it would be nice not to be consumed with shame.
I nod and follow him to his room.
I’m sitting on the floor again. It’s not the most comfortable place to play, but it’s much better than being on the bed next to her. I can never seem to focus on the actual music when I’m in her personal space and she’s in mine.
She requested that I play one of the songs I used to play when I sat out on my balcony to practice, so we’ve been working through it. She’s lying on her stomach, writing on her notepad. Erasing and writing, erasing and writing. I’m sitting here on the floor, not even playing. I’ve played the song enough for her to know the melody by now, so I’m just waiting while I watch her.
I love how she focuses so intently on the lyrics, as if she’s in her own world and I’m just a lucky observer. Every now and then, she’ll tuck the hair behind her ear that keeps spilling in front of her face. My favorite thing to watch her do is erase her words. Every time the eraser meets the paper, she pulls her top lip in with her bottom teeth and chews on it.
I hate that it’s my favorite thing to watch her do, because it shouldn’t be. It triggers all these what-ifs in my head, and my mind begins imagining things it shouldn’t be imagining. I begin to picture myself lying next to her on the bed while she writes. I imagine her lip being tucked in while I’m just inches from her, looking down on the words she’s written. I imagine her glancing up at me, noticing what she’s doing to me with her small, innocent gestures. I imagine her rolling onto her back, welcoming me to create secrets with her that’ll never leave this room.
I close my eyes, wanting to do whatever I can to stop the thoughts. They make me feel just as guilty as if I were to act on them. Sort of similar to how I felt a couple of hours ago when I thought there was a chance she was getting back together with Vikrant.
I was pissed.
I was jealous.
I was having thoughts and feelings I knew I shouldn’t be having, and it was scaring the shit out of me. I’ve never had an issue with jealousy until now, and I don’t like the person it’s turning me into. Especially when the jealousy I’m feeling has nothing to do with the girl I’m in an actual relationship with.
I flinch when something hits me on the forehead. I immediately open my eyes and look at Ragini. She’s on the bed, laughing, pointing at my phone. I pick it up and read her text.
Ragini: Are you falling asleep? We aren’t finished.
Me: No. Just thinking.
She moves over on the bed to make more room and pats the spot next to her.
Ragini: Come think right here so you can read these. I have most of the lyrics down, but I’m hung up on the chorus. I’m not sure what you want.
We haven’t openly discussed the fact that we don’t write on the bed together anymore. She’s focused on the lyrics, though, so I need to pull my shit together and focus on them, too. I set my guitar down and pull myself up, then walk to the bed and lie beside her. I take the notebook out of her hands and pull it in front of me to read what she’s written so far.
She smells good.
I try to block off my senses somehow, but I know it’s a wasted effort. Instead, I focus on the words she’s written, quickly impressed at how effortlessly they come to her.
After reading what she’s written, I hand her back the notebook and pick up my phone. I’m confused about the lyrics, because they aren’t at all what I was expecting. I’m not sure I like them.
Me: I thought we were writing an angry song about Vikrant.
She shrugs, then begins texting me back.
Ragini: I tried. The subject of Vikrant doesn’t really inspire me anymore. You don’t have to use them if you don’t like them. I can try something different.
I stare at her text, not sure how to respond. I don’t like the lyrics, but not because they aren’t good. It’s because the words she’s written down make me think she’s somehow able to read my mind.
Me: I love them.
She smiles and says, “Thank you.” She flips onto her back, and I catch myself appreciating this moment and this night and her low-cut dress way more than I probably should. When my eyes make their way back to hers, she’s watching me, plainly aware of what’s going through my head. Eyes don’t lie, unfortunately.
When neither of us breaks our gaze, I’m forced to swallow the huge lump in my throat.
Don’t get yourself in trouble, Lakshya.
Thank God she sits up when she does.
Ragini: I’m not sure where you want the chorus to come in. This song is a little more upbeat than the ones I’m used to. I’ve written three different ones, but I don’t like how any of them sound. I’m stuck.
Me: Let me watch you sing it one more time.
I roll off the bed and grab the guitar, then take it back to the bed but sit on the edge this time. We turn to face each other, and I play while she sings. When we make it to the chorus, she stops singing and shrugs, letting me know this is where she’s stuck. I take her notebook and read the lyrics over a few times. I glance up at her without being too obvious about it and write the first thing that comes to mind.
I pause from writing and look up at her again, feeling every bit of the words in this chorus. I think we both know the words we write have to do with each other, but that doesn’t seem to stop us at all. If we keep having moments like these with words that are way too honest, we’ll both end up in trouble. I quickly look back down at the paper as more lyrics begin to enter my head.
I refuse to look up at her again while I write. I keep my mind focused on the words that somehow seem to flow from my fingertips every time we’re together. I don’t question what’s inspiring me or what they mean.
I don’t question it . . . because it’s obvious.
But it’s art. Art is just an expression. An expression isn’t the same as an act, as much as it sometimes feels that way. Writing lyrics isn’t the same as directly informing someone of your feelings.
I keep my eyes on the paper and continue to write the words I honestly wish I didn’t feel.
The second I’m finished writing, I’m so worked up I don’t allow myself to witness her reaction to the words. I quickly hand her back the notebook and pull my guitar around and begin playing so she can work through the chorus.