What You Can’t Have
I was down to the last swig of the wine when I felt my stomach grumbling. Groaning, I stood up and walked towards the paper bag full of food. There were plenty of food there but nothing was good enough for me. I was looking for something that I couldn’t exactly specify.
God, this was torture! My vision wasn’t exactly my strongest suit right now. The earth felt like swirling and I couldn’t walk straight without tripping. But I was hungry. And no amount of headache could stop me right then.
My hands were busy looking for something—just anything that was good enough for me to eat—when I smelled something really good. I followed the smell until I was face to face with my neighbor’s house.
I was internally debating about what I should do. It’s not like I was exactly friends with him for me to eat his food. I was mean to the guy! But God, I was starving for whatever he was cooking!
So I sucked it up and pressed the doorbell.
“Missed me already?” he said while cocking his brows. And I just remembered why I shouldn’t have gone here.
I fought the urge to roll my eyes but I guess that when you’re kinda drunk, your self-control wasn’t that good.
“Back with the eye rolling again, I see.”
And as I was about to say my come back, my traitor of a stomach growled. Great! He gave me that teasing smile and then said, “Wanna eat with me? I made enough for two.”
Resisting was futile. I was hungry and he was willing to feed me so I went in. But as I was walking, my vision decided to betray me again so I almost fell down—if not for him catching me.
“Whoa, easy,” he said while both of his hands were on the side of my waist.
“Thanks,” I said as I tried to get back on my feet.
“You reek of wine,” he commented.
“I may be a little drunk,” I confessed.
He didn’t press on but he helped me walk until we reached the inside of his house. It looked OK on the outside but on the inside, it was so manly. The interior was mainly black and white and everything looked modern.
“You live here?”
He shook his head. “Yeah,” he said. “I don’t really feel like living in the city.”
I knew what he meant. I had been in Seattle for years already but still, somewhere inside me, it still didn’t feel like home… It was only Adam who made it feel like home.
And I was back at the start again. I missed him again.
“This tastes best with red wine but I figured water would be better for you,” he said as he placed a plate in front of me. The steak looked divine! This guy could cook! “Dig in,” he continued. He must have seen the look on my face.
He needed not to tell me twice. I began eating and it tasted better than it looked—and that was telling something! I tried to concentrate on eating but I could see him watching him. His face said that he was fascinated to see me eat. I would have totally freaked out that I was being watched while eating but his food was just amazing so I decided to let it go.
And I shouted at the guy—enough to last a week. I just decided to give it a rest.
“You won’t eat?” I managed to ask as I was eating. He still wasn’t touching his food.
He held the fork and knife. “I will.”
I shrugged as a response. I continued eating and finishing my vegetables but I still wasn’t full. God, when did I have such an appetite?
“Still hungry?” he asked and I shamefully nodded. He stood up and brought me another plate of steak and I said thanks. “So… since you’ve eaten my food, I think you owe me a story.”
I looked up. “What story?”
He shrugged. “Your story.”
“I don’t have a story.”
“You have… otherwise, you wouldn’t be here—looking bloody lonely.”
“I look lonely?”
He nodded. “If I had known any better, I’d say you’re suffering from that disease called heartache,” he said with such a shudder that for a while, I wondered if he was one of those guys who’re afraid of falling in love. “But I just met you.”
I began slicing the steak. “Why did you say that heartache’s a disease?” I asked just to divert attention. I wasn’t comfortable talking about Adam to him… it was a sore topic, still.
He gave me that knowing smile. “Diverting the topic, I see,” he said. “But to satisfy your curiosity, I just don’t think I’m one of the lucky ones who are capable of loving. But I’m really happy for those around me.”
“You don’t think you can ever love?” I asked—the sadness in my voice couldn’t be hidden. Even though I hated what was happening with Adam and I, still I didn’t regret all the times and memories we had created. Those times were the best time of my life. I wouldn’t trade them for anything else.
He shrugged. “Who knows?” And tried to smile but even those bright smile of his couldn’t hide the fact that he was hiding something else.
I knew this guy for less than a day but it felt like forever. Maybe it was because he was so talkative and he offered so many unsolicited information about himself but something about him was just so… intriguing.
“You. What’s your story?”
I reached for the bottle of wine and poured myself a drink. The dizziness from my previous binge drinking was starting to wear off and I was starting to remember the pain of knowing how I had to live with the fact that Adam’s ex fiancé would forever be in our lives.
“Am I required to have a story?”
“Everyone has a story to share,” he said and then placed one of his hands under his chin. “Why are you here?”
“Alone?” he asked. “Not buying it. Where’s the husband?”
“You know you’re so curious for a guy, right?”
“Well, my mum’s a psychiatrist so I guess I got this from her. I spent my growing years being psychoanalyzed,” he said and I cringed. “It’s all good. Thankfully it didn’t f uck me up like how she did my father,” he continued with laughter.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I still said. I couldn’t imagine growing up like that. And here was I thinking I got the worst parents because I was judged my whole life—Zach was here telling me how his mom psychoanalyzed him. For some twisted reason, I felt better.
“It’s fine. My dad loves my mum even though she’s crazy. That’s prolly the reason why I find it hard to fall in love. I just can’t imagine being that whipped and blinded,” he said. “Anyway, going back. Why are you here? Alone?”
I sighed and finished another glass of wine before I gathered the courage to even begin.
“I’ll ask you a question first,” I said and he nodded. “Did you ever have a girlfriend?”
“Hypothetically, if you’re married, would you still stay in touch with your ex-girlfriend? The one you almost married?” I asked him.
I waited. And got scared. It was like I was reliving the experience over and over again. I hated this part of myself—the one who couldn’t let go. Because no matter how hard I tried, it was still there.
I was still haunted.
“What do you want to hear?” he asked.
I didn’t respond.
“I learned from my job that there are always two sides in every story and that we always choose just one side. And that side becomes our truth.” He stopped. “So, which is your truth?”
Silence began to engulf me. His every word was like knife slicing into my core. I wanted to listen and to walk away all at the same time. I knew he was right. The truth was right in front of me and it was as excruciating as I could possibly imagine.
I sat there as he slapped me with the truth that I tried so hard to ignore.
“I could still be friends with her since I almost married her, that means I care about her. I see nothing wrong with being friends with your ex… but that’s only my opinion.”
My throat felt dry. I was beginning to get sober from all his words.
“But of course my wife is always my priority. If she feels threatened by some woman I used to love, I’d back off. She’s my priority so her feelings come first,” he said and looked at me. “If your husband can’t understand that, maybe you’re too awesome for him.”
“I’m awesome, by the way. We’re meant to be,” he kidded and I laughed a little. And smiled a bit. “But seriously, just talk it out. I’ve seen enough divorce in my work and it’s just maddening how people think marriage is some disposable shit they throw once they’re tired of it.”
“What’s your work?” I asked him.
“Zachary James, Attorney at Law.”
“You’re a lawyer?!” I asked, surprised.
“Hey, I’m offended! Why is that so surprising?” he asked while faking a hurt. This guy, really!
I waved my hand no. “I mean, wow you’re a lawyer. I’ve always wanted to become one,” I said with a small smile.
“Then you should be one. What’s your work?”
I shook my head. “Nothing.”
“And… you’re surviving how?”
“My husband’s filthy rich,” I said with a giggle and then downed another glass of wine. “I guess I’m a trophy wife.”
“Not to offend you, but you’re not that pretty to become a trophy wife.”
I glared at him and he laughed.
“Kidding. Pretty’s too subtle a word; I prefer beautiful,” he said and I felt my cheeks heating up. I just poured myself another glass to distract the both of us.
I stood up and began saying my thanks and goodbye. I was becoming too comfortable and even in my drunken state, I knew my limit. I was a married woman and no matter how much I hated Adam and his ex, I didn’t want to disrespect him in any way.
“I better get going,” I said.
“Let me help you,” he offered but I was quick to decline.
“I’m good,” I replied. I began walking but was having a hard time since the world decided to become a blurry mess.
“You sure?” he called. “You look like an idiot trying to walk straight but failing miserably. It’s entertaining to watch but I’m quite worried,” he called from behind me.
“I’m OK!” I shouted.
Once I reached the gate to the house I was staying at, I turned around and saw him still watching me. I waved to signal that I was alright. He waved back.
“Thank you!” I shouted again.
“Anytime!” he replied.
I got inside and then reached for my phone. I didn’t know if it was the wine or the talk or because people kept on telling me to communicate with Adam and to talk it out but I just found myself dialing his number.
“I wanna go home,” I said to him and cried my heart out.