I’ve caught hold of it now, but if it’s anything like what happened before, it will slip away before I can even cry out for it to come back. It feels like a shimmering light, even though I know that makes know sense. But it’s not as if I can see it from the outside with my own eyes. Instead, I feel it inside my mind, knowing that each moment further into the future makes the light dim, bit by bit, until it will end up collapsing in on itself to be replaced by a vacuum of darkness.
Or something like that.
I didn’t mean to seem so gloomy. It’s just the way I am, and the sooner people would realize that, the better off they would be when they ask me why I don’t share the light with them.
Because of course she had to say yes, or otherwise I would have felt just as awful as I do now. If she had said no, I would have asked Why, and Can I . . . ? and What if . . . ? and a bunch of other questions that would’ve exploded us apart. But she said Yes. In a clear, calm voice zapped of emotion. Made me wonder what the hell was wrong with my proposal presentation style, seeing as how the other guys I know, when they’ve gone down on one knee, they’ve brought their significant others to tears, even sobs. Which might be overdoing things, but at least that’d be better than all this sheer lack of drama.
It still rings in my ears.
Even though it wasn’t how I wanted her to say it, I didn’t mind. Or, to put it a different way, my mind didn’t mind, because I still felt a spurt of joy, all that dopamine rushing to my brain out of my control. Totally biological. Then even as we went our separate ways—because our ice cream was melting and there wasn’t anything else to do that afternoon—I still couldn’t believe how lucky I am. A cliché, I know. How everyone must feel when they hear that one word, but like I said, there was nothing could do as all those hormones coursed through my systems.
As I unlocked my apartment, I closed my eyes because inside my head I could see a blinding light, and I didn’t want to lose sight. Because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to see her again. I’d known the light before. An old friend, except it’s more of a frenemy. The day I got my diploma, then four years later when I got another diploma, then two-and-a-half years later when I received yet another. Each time the light came.
But each time I let it spill out, seaming from my skull. Others knew. They congratulated me. I wondered if they were honestly glad for me, for what I’d accomplished, of if they were just relieved that I had shared the light with them.
This time, though, I won’t let a particle of the light out. Besides her and me, no one can know. We won’t send invitations. We can’t. I’ll tell her that. If anyone gets a word of the word she said to me, then the light will flood from my head and the curse will start all over again, my life plunging into something horrible, horrible because I won’t know what it is until it hits me. If that makes sense.
I hate it. The light. I wish it never came. I wouldn’t feel happy for anything, but I wouldn’t have this terror, either, and on any day, I’d exchange the happiness and light to rid myself of the terror. Sometimes I can’t tell the light apart from the terror, and that’s what’s happening now. I’m shaking, I’m holding my head, I’m visualizing her texting all her friends, her thumbs flashing over her phone’s virtual keyboard, and I’m wondering if it’s the fear causing this or the joy.
To stop the fear, I have to let the light out. But as soon as I release the smallest part of the light, the fear will takeover, and the bad unknown things will start to arrive. The longer I hoard the light, though, the longer the fear lies in my head.
Which is why, now, I sit in my apartment’s bathroom and hold my head. Not splitting my hairs. Just cradling my brains to see how long I can stay this way. I have an idea. To escape. Beside me sits my phone, and I turn it on. I head over to Snapchat and find her—she’s at the top, of course, as she should be.
“What if you said No?”