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Nonversation

A melody resonated in my dead quiet apartment.

As my phone’s persistent ringing didn’t seem to quell, I was obliged to grab the device.

Ah, London is calling. I felt compelled to answer; I owed him that at least.

I swallowed and deeply inhaled the sweet aroma that lingered in the air.

Once I had mustered enough courage, I gingerly accepted the call.

“Hello?” I voiced out with an already decaying assurance.

“Hi, Rae. It’s me, he said.

Somehow, he managed to abound of serenity. I was marvelled.

If I endeavoured to mirror him, it would be an unavertable debacle.

“Yes, I know.”

“… So, how have you been?” London spoke after musing for a moment.

This—all of this—felt wrong, incorrect; it felt like a mistake to pretend we were friends after all this time.

I knew I couldn’t play the part.

And this question he asked almost sounded like a quip to rub salt into the wound. But I was wholly aware that it wasn’t.

This wasn’t London. No, it was the image—the persona—I made of the man who obliterated my heart.

London was good. Better than this.

“I’ve been…”

Shattered, wretched, a wistful mess.

“Fine, I’ve been just fine,” I completed in an utter lie.

“Really? I’m so glad. I was worried, you know?”

I could’ve bet that he raked his fingers through his platinum blond locks right then.

“Worrying about me isn’t a duty of yours anymore,” I spilled my thoughts out and immediately regretted it.

My teeth sunk in my bottom lip. I could hear London breathe out from the other side.

I was still as goddamn disappointing as before, wasn’t I?

Momentarily, I hoped he’d realize that contacting me was a horrendous mistake. But then, I caught myself hoping he wouldn’t.

Before he could reply, I spoke again.

“Sorry, London. I’m being unnecessarily austere. I didn’t mean that. I’m touched to still be one of your concerns,” I corrected myself, even though it wouldn’t ever erase the things I’ve said—now or back then.

London sighed.

“You’re not just a mere concern, Rae. We are friends. Friends, they take care of each other,” he said ruefully.

I clenched my teeth to keep myself grounded. This was an apology. I know it was.

It wasn’t a: “I’m sorry for discarding your love and scarpering like a coward because I couldn’t bear the sight of you.” But hey, I’ll take it.

I fathomed his remorse. And I forgave him ages ago.

“Thanks…”

He smiled, I was sure that he did. From the sound of the short breath he let out, I knew I couldn’t be wrong.

“What about you? How’s Paris? Like you imagined?” I asked.

The sun was awakening; I could see mellow shades of pink reviving the eigengrau of dawn from my bed.

Most of my apartment’s walls were windows to the soul of Berlin. I could contemplate it all in its rawness from up here and melt into it.

“It’s gorgeous. Breathtaking, really,” London said.

He sounded so in love.

I could easily picture the days when I would have given anything for him to speak about me this way. Or even for him to just think it.

A wave of doubt stirred the vast sea of my heart. Were these days really gone? Had I really moved on? Or did I lure myself into believing that?

“I’m happy you’re enjoying yourself.”

Without me. Enjoying himself without me, I was tempted to add. But I didn’t.

It was not the moment; it wouldn’t ever be the moment to dive back into the past.

Yet, it still miffed me that he seemed so forgetful. All those memories—it’s like they vanished, blown away by the cold breeze of time.

Did he remember? Yammering all those nights away, sneaking out to go dance in an empty parking lot, and gradually falling for each other.

He liked me back once. His dread of engagement was stronger, though. When fear got the best of him, he moved away without a warning and didn’t bother calling until now.

He fled my love like the flea. That hurt me a lot. It took me a while to get a move on, and now that I had turned over a new leaf, here he was.

“What time is it in Berlin right now?” London warily asked.

He must have heard the stiffness of my voice. I was about to answer, but a boulder was moored in my throat.

I never told him I was in Berlin. When he left, I was in Perth.

“London…”

“What is it?”

“How come you know that I’m in Berlin?”

There was a pause. Perhaps, he required a moment to fish out the right words.

“After I left, I spent weeks regretting it. I wanted to come back, but it was clear that you didn’t want to be anywhere near me after what I did. So I spoke with Alicia. She was mad at first, enraged actually. Eventually, she agreed to let me know how—and where— you were,” he explained, not even embarrassed.

A beam made its way to my lips.

“You’re damn lucky to have a sister as great as Alicia,” I stated.

My gaze traipsed on the high buildings coloured of gold by the sunrise.

“That I am. Truly,” London leisurely spoke, taking time to roll each word off his tongue.

There was a silence. The only sound that tickled my ear was his deep breaths. Combined with the spectacle of Berlin waking up, it was delightful.

“It’s 5. In Berlin, 5 AM,” I said.

“Wait, really? I must pass for such a bastard to be calling you this early.”

“Well… Kind of?”

“Oh, God. I’m so sorry, Rae. Were you sleeping? I really didn’t know we were in the same time zone,” he apologized, his voice faltering for the first time in the call.

I pressed my lips together to retain a chortle. I was just playing with him.

“I’m kidding, London. I was awake already. Though, I have no idea why the hell you were as well.”

From what I can recall, London was never an early bird like me.

“To be honest, I’m a little, tiny, bit tipsy,” he confessed.

“Wild night?”

“More like a harsh one. Missing your first love and ex-best friend isn’t easy on the morale, you should know.”

“I do.”

I released a quaking exhale.

“Can I ask you something?” I muttered, nervous in advance.

“Sure.”

“Why did you only decide to call now? I mean, you’ve had 2 years to do so.”

My fingers twiddled with the rim of my blanket.

“Even though I have to admit that alcohol helped a little, realizing that I was still in love with you is what gave me the courage to dial your number.”

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