Beautiful: Fiction by Kalyee Srithnam

I meet you when you are 17, and I am older. I am your nurse. You shiver, bleeding. I take care of you. I think how pathetic you look lying there, helpless and feverish. But something about you intrigues me, despite my better judgment. Maybe it is the way you look at me with those sad eyes, or maybe it is the way you whisper my name when I tuck you in at night. Whatever it is, I am drawn to you. You are a boy.

Years pass, and you are at a party. Amelissa, Steven, Jerry, Caroline, John, Kat, Alison and I are all there. The champagne flows. You and I talk. Do you remember me? I don’t ask. We kiss. It is perfect, in the moment.

The party is a blur of loud music, flashing lights and drunken laughter. I look around the room. Where am I? Is this life? These moments of pleasure that will leave me feeling empty and alone? I dance and drink.

I realize that the title of this story is, indeed, ironic. There is nothing beautiful about this story. It is just a collection of fleeting moments, strung together by a desperate attempt to feel something. And yet, I am drawn to you.

The party ends, you and I stumble out into the night, laughing hollowly and kissing each other goodbye. We promise to see each other again. You turn to me, suddenly you are sad, and you say some things, describe some images, filled with pain, but drunkenly, incoherently. I hug you and tell you that I understand, even though I don’t. I walk home alone.

Weeks, months, the memory of our chance reunion lingers. A dream, a connection in the midst of chaos.

Finally, I send a message: “It’s me.”

After five weeks, you reply. Our electronic conversations meander through a fog. Do you remember me, from years ago? I don’t ask. I wonder. I don’t ask.

I’m busy. You’re busy. After months, we meet in a coffee shop, and the spark from the party flickers.

“Some mysteries are better left unsolved,” you say. You come home with me, spend the afternoon in my bed, leave as dusk falls. Your nakedness lingers on my skin. I dress, drink wine, look out the window at the darkness, at the street that you must have walked down when you left me.

Six months, a year. The uncertainty persists, the superficiality of our encounter lingers, casts shadows. The story we continued that night at the party remains a riddle.

Two years later, I send you a message. “Some stories are ambiguous, beautiful.” And you don’t reply.

^^^

Kalyee Srithnam is a 26-year-old writer, columnist, sometime-model and erudite chocolate fiend, who loves unicorns and writing content that helps people feel seen. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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