Campers, I’m too tired to write a blog post, so I’m going to post a short (short) story that I wrote some time ago. 😊
She isn’t a pretty crier.
And Alison knows that she isn’t; there have been occasions when her flatmates are out and she’s been crying, and of course she’s looked at herself in the mirror as she cries, for a couple of minutes at best. It’s one of those things she had always been curious about, and now she knows.
She isn’t a pretty crier and she’s never cried in front of Dean before. And he’s looking at her like he doesn’t know what to do with her, because she’s ugly crying everywhere and he hasn’t yet been subjected to this kind of emotion, especially from her. Everything’s different when it comes to her. So now they’re both sitting there, and they both know she isn’t a pretty crier, but neither is thinking it because there are more pressing matters to be thought of.
She wipes her eyes with her sleeve, but it doesn’t do anything but make her eyelash catch on a piece of sleep, so now she is puffy and gooey eyed, and Dean doesn’t know whether to tell her this or just leave it, because she obviously has a lot of other things to think about in this moment, but it’s distracting him and he kind of hopes it doesn’t happen again.
He doesn’t hug her, he just keeps looking as she takes a deep breath in – maybe this is the time the tears finally slow down – before letting it out again as more tears spill over every part of her eye. Not just the corner, delicately, but all over, so the shiny tears create a sort of mask over her whole upper face. Alison is now shiny and puffy and red and sad and Dean is at a loss.
He didn’t even know it was possible for someone to cry this much without slowing, stopping, or at least speaking through it. Not that she could’ve spoken if she had wanted to; the sobs were getting caught in her throat and coming out all awkward, so it wasn’t really ideal for Alison at all.
Maybe tomorrow, when she had slept off her cry-headache, she would feel better about reaching this milestone. The milestone-of-crying-in-front-of-boyfriend. But it didn’t feel much like a milestone because she didn’t know if tomorrow he would be her boyfriend anymore.
It seemed like a small thing, but her chest hurt and her lungs ached and she wanted more air but she couldn’t get any, because everything was finally coming out and not leaving her much room to get anything in. So she gasps a few times and lets out some small wails (small) and doesn’t meet his eye. Not that she could have; her eyes are all squinty from crying so much. Dean has never seen her this squinty either, not even when she was laughing so much her eyes went narrow and crinkly in the corners. He sighs. Not even then. Which means he has done something detrimental to her to make her eyes go so tiny, like thin raisins.
Dean puts his hand up to his head before letting it drop again. It’s a gesture of loss, but he doesn’t want Alison to know he feels at a loss because that might make her feel worse. So he sits there instead and prays it’ll end soon. Not in a bad way as in I-don’t want-to-be-here, but because he feels sorry for her. It must hurt, after all, having all of those tears inside. And now they’re coming out and what if they don’t stop because she’s continuously hurting, so it turns into a never-ending stream of sad water drops?
She isn’t a pretty crier, but Dean still finds her intriguingly beautiful. He can’t stop looking at her, just because her vulnerability is giving her a softness he’s never recognised within her before. and to think such pain could cause such invitation.
It was only last week that she had something funny to him. Not funny as in made-Dean-laugh, funny as in Dean-wasn’t-expecting-that. She had said, and she had looked comfortable and warm whilst she had said it, that if she ever broke up with him, she would be crying and he wouldn’t.
Maybe this is what she meant. Maybe it was a symbol of what was coming; a break up that wasn’t wanted but had to happen nonetheless. And she was doing it but she didn’t want to because she liked him a whole lot and in this moment Dean knew that more than anything else in the world.
It was a fact. If there was a list of facts, it would look something like this:
- The world is round
- The sun shines every day
- No one can live forever
- Jack Johnson is a lyrical genius
- Alison likes Dean a whole lot
There was no room for doubt on this list. It was final, and no one could change anything on it.
“If I ever broke up with you, I would be crying and you wouldn’t.” Alison had said, and she was wearing her blue cardigan and her hair was tied up and she was smiling in a sleepy way, though her eyes were bright. Bright and wondrous promptly passed through Dean’s mind, but he didn’t know how she would take that, so he didn’t say it out loud.
That was the thing; there were so many words in his head, but he was never able to let them out smoothly. He wanted to call her beautiful and what came out was you have a nice personality. He was trying to work on it, but it seemed the more he worked on it the weirder he acted. So he let it be and regretted often.
He had complimented her, of course, and she had always awakened when he did, like something in her burst into life by his words.
“What do you mean?” He asked, and he nearly complimented her but didn’t because he didn’t really know how, and it wasn’t the appropriate time to because she was being all serious and talking about her feelings, and though he knew she would always appreciate a compliment, he felt awkward and shy so he kept it inside and told her she was pretty with his eyes.
She didn’t know he was saying that and pondered the question. She was good at pondering the things he said, and she was good at responding. Really good. She was so good at talking and she didn’t even know. She said the right things at the right time and made things make sense, and he really appreciated that in her because she made sense of the confusion inside of him. She made things feel okay when she explained them, and he wanted to listen to her talk always.
“I like you more than you like me.” She said, and she stated it so simply, like it was an easy matter of fact, like she was saying thank you to a waiter. That’s how she said things; a small fact that wasn’t a big deal even though it mattered a great deal. She put sense into life and her words explained the goings on of the universe.
And Dean wasn’t upset at her words but he wasn’t totally pleased, because the fact that she thought that meant his actions had given that impression. But he didn’t know what to do, so he told her he was sorry with his eyes and kept his mouth closed.
She was so good, too good, at words. She was good at speaking and being honest and open and letting it out. And he didn’t know how he would compare so he didn’t try and it affected all things them in a bad way, but he didn’t know how to change so he didn’t. It was the simple matter of this: he couldn’t. He didn’t know how to change. Relationships didn’t come with a manual, and even if they did it wouldn’t work because Alison was spectacular.
Dean is looking at Alison and she’s still crying, and he’s realising that it never happens the way it does in your head. Reality, that is. In your head it’s smooth and it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of. But somewhere along the way, Dean’s learnt that it never happens the way it does in your head because the other person is another person and not the person you’ve made up in your head, because the person in your head is you.
And Dean wonders if Alison will cut her hair. Wonders if she only kept it like this because he likes it like this, the way it is now. Hanging down all loose and long below her shoulders and hanging in weird places. There’s a piece, for instance, that’s made a loop shape, stuck on her shoulder. And another that’s caught in her glasses. But he doesn’t tell her this and so she doesn’t know.
She doesn’t even know that he likes her hair like this. She only figures he does because he always kept looking at it and he’s looking at it now, but she likes it like this too but maybe she needs a change so maybe she will get it cut? But she also knows that she’ll hate it in two days if it was short, and then have to deal with the sorrow of no-Dean and no-long-hair.
As Dean already knows, it’s never smooth like it is in your mind. So he says, with that look that he does so casually even though it’s important and means a lot but he’s acting like it’s not, “thank you.” And then he regrets it because who says thank you when someone else is breaking up with them?
And it’s in that moment that Alison’s world falls apart. Well, it was already falling apart, but now it’s shattering even further. Because it’s the moment she realises there’ll be no one there to look after he when she’s sick and full of self-pity. Everyone has a right to pity when they’re sick, and Dean took on the role of sympathy giver very well, and always managed to take care of her. But now he won’t because he can’t because someone you’ve broken up with can’t take care of you when you’re sick, and they can’t be your sympathy, either. They lose that right among many others.
Dean put up with her being sick because she was always so cute. And he’s sitting here and he still finds her cute, but it’s not enough to keep them together. So he says thank you and Alison falls apart all over again because seriously Dean, who says thank you when someone breaks up with you? Alison is wishing for him to beg her to stay, but he can’t say that, not yet, because he doesn’t fully know she’s breaking up with him.
“I’m breaking up with you.”
Dean doesn’t flinch. The words thank you cross his mind again, but this time he knows not to let them out, because that’s not what he wants to say to her. He wants to say “I love you”, “you look pretty”, or “please stay because you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and you make things make sense and I like looking after you when you’re sick and you add something to my world that no one else can.”
But Alison knows Dean, so she isn’t surprised when all he says is;
“I thought that’s what you were doing.”
And she hopes that he’s thinking more but just keeping it all inside, and Dean is hoping that Alison knows that about him. And so they sit, both holding onto hope, but not the hope one would expect from such a couple.
Alison’s friends always told her she’d be the first to marry. Not the first to have children, but the first to be swept off her feet and married young. And now here she is, with the most broken heart of all, and the one person who was supposed to marry her isn’t telling her not to break up with him. Because even though they love each other they both know they can’t continue. And it’s sad and it matters and it’s everything Alison thought wouldn’t happen to her. But it is and she can’t help it, and she’s still crying.
Dean stands up, and so does she. This is the goodbye, the goodbye she didn’t think she’d ever have to make. Not when Dean, the real thing, is standing in front of her. He was supposed to be it.
“Would it be weird to hug?” He asks, and he’s very awkward about it, like he’s hoping she’ll say yes, very weird, no hugs here. But she awkwardly gestures back; half a head shake and half a nod, and so he scoops his arm under hers, and she holds onto his shoulders like she’ll never see shoulders again. And it’s a weird way to hug but it’s everything she wants for the rest of her life, because it feels like Dean and it smells like Dean and it is Dean and she loves Dean.
They let go, silently, and Alison thanks God that she didn’t get any cry-dust on his shoulder. She’s finally managed to stop crying, though she can feel more tears welling up inside her.
“I’ll miss you,” she says, because that says a lot and he knows that though he doesn’t say it back, because suddenly he wants to cry because he’s about to lose his best friend. And that makes her want to cry all over again, and the well of tears that were being kept inside are suddenly falling out, and she doesn’t care that she’s ugly crying in front of him because a tear leaks out of his right eye, and that makes her feel better about everything.
“You’re the loveliest girl I’ve ever known,” he replies, though it’s a very delayed response because of the whole crying matter. He manages to get the words out, but on the last word known, his voice cracks, and how is Alison supposed to cope when she’s never seen him cry before?
She can’t do this anymore. So she walks away.
Thanks for reading,