I had a girlfriend once.
Everytime I spent the weekend at her place, she had the exact same routine. She'd wake up sometime after six and before seven. She'd read till about seven thirty. She read everything; news, blogs, magazines...but sometimes she'd be in the middle of an excellent book and she'd wake up and read that. I often woke up to find her reading, tears silently streaming down her face as she got involved in a fictional tragedy.
She would get up at about seven thirty, pee, then brush her teeth. She would put on her running gear and go for a run. sometimes she was back after 10 minutes and sometimes after an hour, but she always went for a run. She'd wash her face, bring me a toothbrush with toothpaste on it and go and make breakfast. I'd brush my teeth and go and see what she was making. That was usually the first time we spoke.
She had speakers everywhere. She'd put on her present favorite album and it would play on repeat all day. really loudly. Then after breakfast, she would write. She was always in the middle of a story in her head. Sometimes, it was mundane and sometimes it was over the top. She was just always somewhere else. Sometimes she'd let me in by discussing her characters. 'Daniel cheated on Gabby, you know? I don't think she can take him back, even though she really wants to.' Then she would sigh. Her characters were always real to her, I could often not tell whether the person she was talking about was created or real.
Sometimes, she'd only write for 20 minutes and then come and find me. She would curl herself tightly as she could into me and take a nap. Or just start talking about something completely random. Or she would be quiet and let me speak about whatever I wanted. She was an amazing listener and she never got bored. Everyone's story was a story she could use.
In the evening, we would go somewhere. The cinema or dinner. She would always hold my hand, but she hardly spoke. She wasn't really a talker, so whenever I was with her, I wasn't a talker either.
I met someone that was a talker. It was different. We talked about everything. Sometimes I'd talk to her all through my lunch break and not even notice I hadn't eaten. We talked in the morning and in the middle of the night. She told me everything and I felt like a well had opened inside of me. I just had so much to say. In many ways, it was easy to spend all my time talking to someone else. The quiet weekends with my girlfriend became furious text-a-thons for me. I put a password on my phone, even though she never checked it and started waking up before her. I stopped taking naps with her and got irritated when she wandered from her writing to find me. If she noticed, she didn't say anything and that often irritated me. Everything irritated me during this time.
I got deeper and I started to get careless, or maybe I just didn't care about my girlfriend finding out. A message popped up on my phone during dinner. Damn iphones. 'I wish I you were here with me'. Her lack of reaction made me fall over myself trying to explain. She looked really sad. 'If she's what makes you happy, I wish you'd have just told me and left me alone.'
That broke my heart. Our relationship ended as silently as it had been.
My new girlfriend was fun. We did things. Talked about things. I think I loved her. I loved our relationship, it was fun, until it wasn't. We started running out of things to say and I longed for the silence. In the gaps, there was no intimacy there. If she wasn't talking, I didn't really know her. More and more, I thought of my old girlfriend.
I knew she hated when I left because she never looked back when she said bye. She didn't want me to see her crying. I knew she loved anything that tasted of honey and hated chocolate. I knew all the things that made her laugh and most of the things that made her cry. I knew she loved weddings, but hated the idea of marriage. I knew she found it hard to trust anyone and always felt like she never fit in with people. I know she hated literary fiction because it over stated simple things. I knew she loved unfinished endings, because it felt more like real life. I knew her.
It wasn't because of all the things she said, it was all the things she forced me to see by not saying anything.
I had a girlfriend once.
I think she may have been my soulmate.
This was first published on Naijastories.com and you can read it all at I had a Girlfriend Once by DamivD. If you love the work of the Naija Stories writers, support us by buying the website's first Anthology.
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