adjective | trü
being in accordance with the actual state of affairs
She leans on a pale pink wall of the apartment, staring at the outside rain as it pours mercilessly upon the tiny cars and the tiny buildings and the tiny people. She leans there with blank eyes and a blank face and tries to asses her blank marriage to a man she thought she loved twenty years ago.
She doesn’t love him anymore.
It’s not a hard conclusion to come to, and that’s what scares her the most. The fact that she doesn’t love him is so easy to think, so easy to say, so easy to conclude. It’s as easy as the lines of code rolling across her computer screen, the water that slips down her throat when she’s thirsty, the math homework that her sixteen year old daughter used to bring home from her elementary school years ago.
It’s just such an easy, plain, simple truth. And that terrifies her, because there’s simply no way she can fool herself into believing that she still loves him any longer.
She isn’t sure what she’s supposed to do. She doesn’t want to be with him anymore. Living with him is like living with a nuisance she forced to take care of out of duty. Their conversations are civil, but cold; there’s nothing within them, no trace of the love they used to share for each other.
She isn’t sure what she’s supposed to do: she just knows that she cannot end the marriage now, not while her daughter is a year away from college, not while her daughter is still smiling and laughing and working hard at school. Not while her daughter still thinks their marriage is fine.
(Little does she know, her daughter already knows the love is gone, and it was just as easy for her daughter to conclude.)
She thinks back to when he still loved her, when they first met, when he’d write her romantic poems on postcards and mail them to her across the country, when he’d raced after her train after meeting her, desperately trying to find her, when he’d take pictures of her constantly, trying to stamp down her fleeting beauty before it fled her youthful face.
And now, after moving to a new country, laboring through new degrees and s***ty Southern colleges, working late shifts at restaurants with illegal work permits, having a baby, raising that baby, and losing her fleeting beauty, here she was, staring at the endless lines of code on her computer, being sucked into the vortex of programming while her husband did the same thing, in another room of their little apartment. Here she was, trapped in a marriage she didn’t want with a daughter who needed that marriage to continue.
If only he wasn’t so f***ing stubborn, if only he had stayed the same, if only she had listened to her parents’ cautions and her friends’ warnings, if only she had seen his crude and unmannered way of living, if only he was more considerate about how she and her daughter felt about his revolting habit of spitting and his irrational hatred of being seen as weak or stupid…
There were a million “if onlys” she could mine from her marriage. Yet there was one jewel, one prized gem that would never show up in the endless cavern of bad habits and arguments that made up the marriage, no matter how much she clawed through the rubble, no matter how much she tried to forgive and forget: love. All traces of the ore of love had disintegrated through the years, and now she was left with nothing.
She drives in her car and cries.
She drives through the merciless rain that coats her car in layers of obscurity until she can hardly see the outside world. And as she drives, she cries, her heart-wrenching sobs mixing with the slashing sounds of the rain hitting her windshield.
She isn’t sure why she’s crying really, she just knows that she’s been crying way too much lately. She wonders if her sons can tell.
Her sons don’t care much for the marriage anymore; heck, one of them even told her to divorce him. “Why should you stay with him?” he had asked. “There’s no point.”
He was right. There wasn’t any point. There wasn’t any point at all. There wasn’t any point except the ridiculous hope deep within her aching, weeping heart that maybe, maybe things could return to what they were. Maybe her husband could come back from their home country and find a job here and live with them and maybe he could play ping-pong with her sons and ask them what their favorite subject was and maybe he could wrap an arm around her when she was crying like he used to and maybe, just maybe, he could love her again.
She hated those maybes, but she could never suppress them, especially when she glanced at her sons’ hardened faces and their solemn eyes, and heard their teachers complain about how silent they were in class. She could never steer herself away from what she felt was the reason her boys never had the confidence to speak: they had never had a true father in their lives.
For now, she only had two diffident sons, bouts of sobbing when her sons weren’t there to see it, and her attempts to be both the mother and the father of her family. But every so often, those maybes would cross her mind again, and she’d wonder.
He didn’t know what to say to her.
He could never figure out what to say to her, and it drove him insane.
He had never been particularly forward around anyone, and when it came to this girl, he was particularly diffident. He didn’t understand why his body reacted the way it did when he spotted her: his heart would beat double time, his hands would get all sweaty, and his voice would suddenly leap out of his throat and disappear completely. It was stupid, it was annoying, it was young love.
They had been in the same classes for a couple years now, and gradually, he came to admire her for a lot of little things. He liked the way her glossy hair wouldn’t sit straight, and she would always be patting it down when she was nervous. It reminded him of his own nervous tick: he would constantly run his fingers through his dark hair. He liked the way her eyes lit up in their advanced chemistry class during experiments, and the way she would bob her head without realizing it as she listened to music through her headphones.
They were both in band, they both loved chemistry, they were both intelligent, quiet students. They were both runners on the Track team, they were both passionate about music and reading novels. The similarities were obvious. And yet, they had never spoken more than a few words to each other.
He had always wanted to talk to her, to actually have a conversation with her, but his mouth shut itself up and his head shut down every time he tried. So he’d just walk past her, every single time.
He loved her.
He had loved her for five years now, but she had never returned his feelings.
She had labored through many relationships in the past five years, and he had been there with her every step of the way, from the initial stages of attraction, to the sweet little dates and the eventual heartbreak. He had helped her decide what to text, which outfit to wear, when to say “I love you”. And when the break ups occurred, he always drove over to her apartment, regardless of the weather, regardless of his own schedule. He’d bring a box of tissues and a bottle of wine and wrap an arm around her while she squeezed the tears out of her eyes.
It hurt to be with her, to watch her flirt and care and love and worry and cry, all for someone else. It hurt because she had never glanced at him the way she had stared at all her exes, before it all f***ed up. But he could never keep himself away, for there was something in her brilliant smile and her hearty laugh and her witty mind that plucked at the strings of his heart and kept him coming.
He had tried to date others, and see if his feelings would subside, but they never did, and those relationships ended swiftly and sourly. Eventually, he stopped trying. It wasn’t fair to the other women.
He figured he would stay with her, until his feelings subsided. And if they didn’t, well, he supposed he’d just have to hurt by her side for as long as he could. For that was love, wasn’t it? An endless cycle of hope and hurt.
She was in love with a woman.
She was in love with a woman, and she was terrified.
She had tried to deny it for months now. She had tried to convince herself that the odd spark she felt when the woman touched her shoulder amicably was simply the spark of friendship. The attraction she felt when the woman decided to wear a more flattering outfit to work was simply an appreciation for the woman’s beauty. The jealousy she felt when male coworkers scanned the woman’s body with their eyes or got too close was simply a friend looking out for their companion. Nothing more.
Yet there was something more, and when she suddenly felt the urge to kiss the woman on one of their lunch breaks, she knew she couldn’t play with her mind anymore.
She was in love with a woman.
This went against everything she had ever been fed by society and her family. For years she had held her mouth wide open as the world had poured the institution of heterosexuality deep into her throat. Her friends were straight, her parents were straight, her grandparents were straight, her neighbors were straight, everyone was f***ing straight! And everyone expected her to marry a man and throw a fancy wedding and produce a bunch of chubby-faced babies and live happily ever after, whatever that even meant.
But heterosexual or not, feelings were feelings. She was in love with a woman and she was done denying it.
There’s a boy at her school.
There’s a boy at her school, and she… well, she’s confused.
After years of suffering through her parents’ screaming and sobbing and later, moving from one house to the other, back and forth, she has told herself again and again that the stupid concept the world calls “love” (yeah, that thing that all the princesses get and all the teen movie protagonists get and all the world seems to think is one huge f***ing deal) is a load of bullshit.
At least that’s what she thought. For a long time too.
Until this boy, this very boy, this boy who isn’t even all that attractive, isn’t even anything all that special, comes waltzing into her life with that smile on his face. She never understood what force possessed him when he simply decided to talk to her, to actually strike up a conversation with boring, split-family her.
That conversation turned into a friendship, and that friendship turned into… well, she doesn’t know really. And that’s part of the reason why she’s confused.
The other reason is more complicated.
She never knew she could feel this way. Well, she doesn’t really know what “this way” is, exactly. All she knows is, just the mention of his name makes the corner of her mouth arch up in a secret smile. Just the mention of his name makes her picture his tilted grin and that tiny dimple on his right cheek. Just the mention of his name triggers her thoughts of their late night texting and his corny jokes and his favorite color and the way his eyes would sparkle when he listened to the songs she’d show him and why his favorite book was “Hamlet” and how he knew “Hamlet” wasn’t technically a book but still, it was clearly the best written text the world had ever seen!
She doesn’t understand it. She doesn’t understand this feeling, so she wants to hate it, she so desperately wants to hate it… but she finds that she can’t.
What is this feeling? Could it be she’s feeling… god forbid, that dreaded four-letter word…
She wants to deny it, but she finds that she can’t.
So when this boy, this very boy asks her how she feels about him honestly, she can’t help but reply with:
“I think… I think I’m falling in love with you.”
And when he smiles that smile at her words, she can’t help but wonder if the world isn’t all that wrong. Maybe that thing that princesses get and teen movie protagonists get and the world thinks is such a big deal isn’t so impossible. Maybe, just maybe, love is real...