When Ordinary People Seek Mad Love

I don’t remember what he looks or sounds like anymore. I mean I would definitely recognise him, either in a photograph or on a crowded street, but his physical characteristics, in my mind, are no longer vivid. They have all become quite fuzzy like a pixelated image that has lost all its exquisite details. They feel so foreign that sometimes I even doubt whether our encounter was real at all, or the memories of him, of us, which have somehow got stuck at the back of my mind and the centre of my heart, were nothing but a haunting lucid dream.

It must be real because I couldn’t possibly make up all the ways he made me feel which tighten my chest every time I realise how much I wanted him and may still want him now.

I genuinely don’t know what makes him so special like that. Why, out of everyone, he, at that point in time, was the one who got to me. But eventually I figure it doesn’t really matter. What happened happened — I can’t deny it and don’t have to understand it. I just have to accept it and tell myself it’s okay to miss it. Because I do. So deeply do. I miss feeling high and like life was a music video that never had to end. I miss having my bare skin tingled by kisses on the back of my neck, or deep gazes into my eyes accompanied by the loudest silence. I even miss bursting into hot tears days and months after our last goodbye as the flashback of us, of the feelings I had being with him, remained too intense for me to handle.

The contrast between when I had him and when I have him no more is painful, especially when I’m surrounded by people I find no real connection with, the souls that I know would never reach mine no matter how much I try to open up myself. It’s rubbed on my face every time I walk through London late night scenes and feel nothing at all. I think it should be a crime to see London and feel nothing at all, to pass her by and keep passing her by. Because I know she’s breathtakingly beautiful, shining bright whether it’s day or night, yet I’m unable to feel her and appreciate her the way she deserves. I’m guilty. I’m numb. I’m frustrated. I’m craving. I’m dying for a feeling.

It’s scary to think that I might some day get used to the uneventful ordinary and forget about him, about us, about the piece of me — possibly the very best of me — that he brought out, the incredible girl I didn’t know even existed, and especially magic. Yes. Magic. That magic was our chemistry, our laughter, the way he unknowingly empowered me to be the girl I’d always dreamed to be, how he got my humour and understood everything I said. That magic was the timing – me ready to start fresh and have both feet in the door. That magic was how he showed me there were people out there, like him, who could always heat me up in and out, who would see through my essence and let me be me and free, and that I would never ever have to hold onto the past as the future has so much to offer.

That magic, above all else, is the switch-on that enabled me to believe I was beautiful and special, to feel confident and fearless like I could finally claim back all what was taken away from me by insecurity, anxiety and depression. I was no longer a fraud. No. I was the real deal. And that feeling was fucking addictive.

That’s why after him I tried so desperately to find that magic in each of the new people I met. At the same time I also tried to bring it out from myself hoping I could be my own enabler, like I possessed that magic. I acted as though I had already been high and music already played in the background of every date night. Unfortunately, it didn’t work like that. Nothing clicked. Conversations were boring. Touching was tasteless. On the rare occasions I was mildly excited, the excitement was usually short-lived. The ‘fun and daring’ girl was completely switched off like London had a power cut. I found nothing amusing. I had no interest and motivation to do anything with anyone. I was untouchable. I was flat. I was boringly ordinary. And it was killing me inside.

Look at most people out there. Look at the ordinary people who settle for ordinary 9-5 jobs, ordinary nights, ordinary relationships and ordinary lives. And don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with that. But it isn’t me. That ordinary life has already been ruined for me every time I experienced the magic of being with the right people and being the best me. I’m young and restless. I’m not yet ready for the ordinary. I’m built for magic and the extraordinary. I’m addicted to the high life, going wild with the people who appreciate my wildness. For that, I need my enabler. I need constant stimulation. I need to be the best me again.

I decide to look for him. I find my way back to the most recent source of the magic. I just want a taste of it again, for I’m no longer able to bare any more seconds of dullness and numbness, of passing London by and wasting my youth. The thing is, it’s no longer just a psychological problem — it’s physical now. My whole body is in pain. Sometimes I can barely breathe. That being said, yes, I shouldn’t live in the past. I shouldn’t read the same book and expect a different ending. And I’ll undoubtedly regret reaching out to him and end up feeling like a total loser the next day. But the truth is never pretty: I’m desperate and I don’t know what else to do. I need a fix. Seriously, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

I don’t know how I did it — how many text messages or phone calls were involved, but he’s in front of me now. I love the familiar feeling of being with him — it’s just like I’m safe at home again. I want to smile at him, letting him know I’m glad we meet again but the nerves on my face aren’t working. Maybe I’m too nervous, too excited — so much that I can’t utter any words either. Though somehow he doesn’t seem to mind. He looks happy and expectant to see me, which puzzles me a little because suddenly I realize I don’t remember how we ended, or how we had to end at all. Well, isn’t it funny and common? You have a nasty break-up, then a few months later you run into each other and don’t even remember what you fought about in the first place, and your hearts start racing in sync again.

He comes closer to me and caresses my face gently while repeating, “Don’t worry, everything’s gonna be fine“, which eases meThen he turns away to search for something I can’t quite see. All I see is his waist line and as I look up, I see the back of his head…

Wait a minute. If that’s my view, I’m not standing facing him. I’m lying in a bed. But it’s not my bed. It’s not my room or his room either. It looks more like… a laboratory. I have no idea what’s going on, or how long I have been here but I’m sure this cannot be a happy reunion because I also discover I’m wearing all white — I hate white, and my legs are chained to the bed. Seriously, I’m freaking out. What has he done to me? What is he doing to me? I try to get up; however, the problem is I have little power to do anything. I thought my soul was numb but what’s really numb is my entire body. I struggle to move. My face can’t even show any emotion. All I can do is stare blankly at him hoping he will kindly explain everything to me.

After a few minutes, he returns to me, a sweet smile glued to his face. This time, he isn’t empty-handed. He holds a tray carrying little bottles and needles. He says something about drugs running out. He says something about me feeling better real quick. I’m mortified. The moment the needle touches my arm, I use my very last ounce of energy to swing my arm and knock over the needle. With that movement, for some reason, I start gaining more consciousness. I fight against the dizziness swamping my head and quickly manage to sit up. Now things start becoming clearer, I can see he’s not pleased.

He does not leave me any time to take further action. He immediately pins me down, growling, “You! Calm down now!”

I want to scream but I can only make weak grunting noises down my throat. My legs are still chained so I can’t go anywhere. Luckily I can speak a little. I ask him, “Why are you doing this to me?”

To my surprise, he lets out a big sigh, replying, “Honey, I’m not doing anything to you. This is your choice, remember?”

I don’t understand and definitely don’t remember. What did I choose? What’s he talking about?

“You were the one who came to me and asked for this”, he continues, “You couldn’t stand your boring, ordinary life. You wanted magic. So you got magic — the crazy high life experience. It’s all in the contract.”

As he shows me a piece of paper with my signature on it, he says apologetically, “And sorry for letting you go through those wearing off effects. I should’ve boosted you a new dose sooner so you didn’t have to wake up like this. But don’t worry, you’ll feel good again in no time.”

He picks up the needle and this time I can’t decide whether to fight or not. As he injects the drug into my arm, I notice there’s a name badge on his shirt. His name is Chad. My Chad. Dr Chad. I turn my head to the side and see I’m not the only one in this room. There are other women and men chained to their bed with the happiest smile on their faces. They’re all madly in love with a Chad — different versions of Chad tailored to their desires. They all see the magic.

Now it’s my turn again.

Short StoriesEllen Nguyen