The Reading Playlist: Fine

In celebration of the birthday of my king, my queen, my inspiration, Kim Taeyeon, I decided to pick five of her songs and make a story out of it: The Reading Playlist. Consisting of five installments that will be published every Friday of March (and one in March 9), The Reading Playlist is a story of the first love and the first heartbreak of our youth.

The Reading Playlist:
Four Seasons
What Do I Call You
FineNow Playing
I’m The Greatest
I

Youtube | Spotify | Lyrics

I’m not fine. 

You no longer came to my house every morning. You no longer walked and rode with me to school. It has been like that for weeks. I didn’t know when you stopped but one day I realized I was alone. I realized something had changed.

But I was afraid to say anything. Afraid that you might go further away. Draw a line between us.

I’m not fine.

But I went to school every day. I smiled and laughed with you. You still talked to me but I noticed your responses were clipped and stiff. You cut our conversations quickly. I used to be the one who did that, with my awkwardness and my inability to talk with people, but you always did something to get the conversation going. 

I was the conversation killer, not you. And, definitely not on purpose.

But I ignored it. I shouldn’t have, right? 

I’m not fine. 

I realized I haven’t been for weeks. Something is wrong. Something is changing. And change always frightened me. But at the same time, I’m afraid to say anything… were you waiting for me to do so? So it would have been easier?

You no longer smiled at me, no longer laughed at my cringey jokes. You no longer had that dream-like haze in your eyes, the lopsided smile you had when you looked at me. I no longer had your attention.

One afternoon, you waited for me outside my last class. I thought we would go home together. It has been so long since we did that.

Instead, you held my hand and we cut through the hallways, climbed up the stairwell, and stepped out into the silence of the school rooftop. We spent many sunsets and evenings here, talking and laughing, staring at each other, sometimes eating if one of us managed to bring food. 

It was our secret place.

“Tristan,” I started but you cut me off.

“I want to break up with you.” Your eyes were cold. We stood a couple of feet away from each other. Was it winter already? The air was cold, colder than it had been that morning, and it bit, hard, painful. 

“W-what?” I stammered. Did I hear you correctly? Are you joking? I have always admired your sense of humor, but you’re not cruel to joke around like that.

“I’m sorry,” you sighed, “I think we should stop this. It’s not working anymore.”

“We could work it out.”

“No, not anymore.”

“What happened to us?”

“I don’t know.” 

“Why are you like this?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you enter this relationship without knowing anything?!” Anger was filling inside me. I was never angry. I was rarely angry. But when I’m angry, I’m washed into a blind rage. Something wicked starts to simmer inside me when I’m angry, something that, when unleashed, I’m scared of the wreckage it would leave.

But I simmer it down. It was easier than I thought it would be. You could never make me angry.

You didn’t answer. My chest was rising and falling. It was hard to breathe. I feel like you were choking me even though you were a few feet away from me. You never dared to touch me.

“I thought you loved me.” My voice came out ragged, barely a whisper. Accusing.

“I did.”

Did. The word felt like a punch. “Why stop?”

“I don’t know.”

“What did I do wrong?”

“It’s not you.”

“Then, what is it, Tristan? Is there a problem? Tell me. Tell me and we’ll do something about it. We always have done.” 

He shook his head, “I’m done.”

My lips parted in shock. I’m done as though what we had was simply a game, a chore, something that was done temporarily. 

“But I’m not.”

“You can’t exactly have a relationship by yourself, can you?”

I ignored you and stepped forward, “Tristan, tell me what is wrong?” 

“Nothing. It’s me.”

“It can’t be nothing, can it? When you’re stepping out of the relationship—our relationship.” I pulled your hands, they were limp in my grip. I held them tight, squeezed so hard that I may be actually hurting you but you showed no indication. That seemed to infuriate me. I squeezed harder as though squeezing the life out of it will return us to what we were. “Tell me why, Tristan. I’m confused, I don’t understand. What happened? What changed?”

“I don’t love you anymore.” My whole body stilled. Your eyes held mine when you said it, told in such confidence and firmness that I knew it was final and I could no longer do anything. That anything I would do would be hopeless. “I can no longer go on. We would only hurt each other. Better stop and free ourselves.”

“H-how? How can you not love me anymore? What did I do wrong? Tell me–”

“Nothing! I just fell out of love. There is nothing to be done.”

How is that even possible? With all the memories we shared, the pain and happiness, the trust and care we have for each other, how can you just fall out of love with me? How can you stop caring for someone? How can you tell you no longer loved that person? How can you say that as though love is a switch, that can easily be turned on and off. How is it possible that you said it so easily as though I were a thing and not a human being with feelings that had become attached to you—to us.

A whirlwind of questions of what, why and how simmered in my mind but it never escaped my lips. 

You pulled your hands out of my grasp. “I did love you and I thank you for all the memories, for all the love but our story ends here. I’m sorry.” You stepped forward and gave me a soft kiss on the cheek. You stared at me for a moment before you turned away and left me alone.

I’m not fine.

I’m alone again. Everything I’ve feared has come true. 

I’m not fine. Tears streamed down my face, unbidden but unstoppable. 

A scream escaped my lips as I crumpled into the hard cement of the rooftop. My whole body shook, from the sadness? Shock? Anger? I didn’t know. The words I wanted to say, to yell, turned into frustrated screams and hot blinding tears.

I’m not fine.

I didn’t know how but I managed to get home that night. I didn’t know how but I managed to sleep, stand, and go to school the next day. I was in autopilot, in survival mode. My brain had stopped processing what happened the day before, pushing away the emotions I was supposed to feel. I felt empty. I was at a loss. Nothing registered in my mind. I didn’t care. 

Until I saw you in a class we shared. You were laughing with your friends. And I felt something inside me twist with anger. How can you laugh and smile after what you’ve done while I’m left breaking down, trying to piece myself together? 

Trying to act like nothing ever happened because the world is still the same, because it didn’t care what happened to us? 

But the world is no longer the same.

The anger dissipated and I was reminded of the times we laughed together and smiled. My heart throbbed. I should be the one beside you. Laughing with you. Smiling with you. Locked in my little bubble where I would just simply stare at you and you would never notice me watching you, noticing every small thing you never realized you had.

Memories flooded in front of my eyes and a dam of emotions was unleashed inside me.

I ran out of the classroom, slamming the door behind me as though that would express how angry I was.

But in hindsight, I did that so you could have noticed I was there, that I saw you, that I wasn’t fine and that would catch your attention and you would follow me and maybe tell me everything had been wrong and it was all a mistake.

Of course, it was foolish. It was impossible. 

And so, I ran and ran across the hallway and out into the field. I didn’t care of the looks thrown at me by the bystanders. 

I was not fine.

Everything had changed.

There was no longer a we. You and I had changed. 

I was not fine. But I will be, I said to myself, because I’m forced to feel fine.

As a budding writer, leaving a feedback or any constructive criticism would tremendously help me improve my writing. Thank you so much!

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