An Extract of Paul

But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself
Albert Camus

He was a quiet soul. Quietly walking, quietly talking.
Many would call him in an introvert, but they didn’t know him;
They were like most, who thought of Paul as a simple man with simple interests, but they never came to understand that it was their naivety and lives lacking in substance, depth, conviction. Not Paul’s.
He could be everything you wanted, the best friend you needed, the shoulder you desired, the treasure box of surprises, the person who’d be there through thick and thin and would take you on journeys you never knew;
He was a piece ready to unfold and ready to give his love.
But no one gave Paul that opportunity;
That gesture that screams to the world — show me what you’re made of.
These were all possibilities, and they may never be lived.
So much potential, yet so little realisation. Like so many others.
Lovely unpretentious silhouettes all bruised under dusk-light.

Paul never thrived, but he grew up with a fertile mind;
One that many see as a prison, but he feels is a mansion.
Paul had temptations and seductions;
But he had learnt to appreciate the little things. Paul never felt stuck in his routine;
Rather he felt comfortable and never unlucky.
Paul never cared for judgement;
He knows he’ll prove something when the moment comes.

Yet call it optimism bias, or that Paul still had a yearning that his life still had potential, he still walked as an opportunist.
If you watched closely, sometimes on the way to work he would play with the world, like skipping every second stair or waving at strangers sitting alone.
He always sat next to someone on a bus or train, in the hope that the person next to him would talk to him, maybe acknowledge him, let him speak a story, or tell a tale, even ask how he was;
Anything to let his vocal cords be heard, his deepest desires to be known, his eccentricities to be accepted and his heart to be touched.

He was lucky once;
Striking a chord and playing the strings with a graceful, blonde girl.
She had a defined shape, sexuality, and definition;
One that would take any young boys’ flaccidity, a power & presence unknown.
Yet she presented it with a sudden grace, not unique but nearly awkward in a sense, awkward enough to keep many people away.
He had asked him whether or not she knew how long his stop would take;
She answered but then asked, timidly, where he was going after.
He remembers that he felt relaxed at this moment, a sense of warmth;
And felt that this was the start of something that might satisfy his deepest desires, soothe his darkest regrets, support him in his hardest moments.

Yet, fate seemed to say otherwise and other plans;
She turned out to be a bigger introvert than him.
She had recently moved into the big city from a small town, a day and night trip away.
She said she had never been submerged in such a fast, and unforgiving society, because back where she came from, the entertainment was the local pub and the local pint was adorned by stories, presence and atmosphere.
Every night. Over and over, until you learnt to fall in love with the world.
But you also wanted to learn to fall in love with the world as she had, so you asked her if you could see her again. You were intrigued.
Alas, she didn’t have a mobile yet, hadn’t memorised her home phone number, and her online presence scarce.
She used to have a Facebook but had recently deleted it, because she saw no point of having online friends who didn’t know her regrets and wants, her valleys from her peaks, didn’t know her.
Nor did she want a reminder of the many men from her past, many 20 years her senior.

Paul asked her if she wanted to come back to yours that weekend;
She seemed excited, but paused for a moment, as if to be weighing up the pros and cons of this arrangement. But she ended up saying yes.
The weekend came, and she did not. She never came back.
And that was that;
The story had ended as quickly as it had begun. Missed connections.
A saddening thought, a reality never realised, as they both departed their own way and continued their journeys, each to their own.
He would never know what could have happened if he had searched for her, or asked her where she worked or asked her to stay that night;
He would never know the joys & jealousies, the journeys & jeopardy that were waiting for him and her.
He would only know what he had always known and continue to live as he always had. For before, there was potential, and now, there is nothing.
And so life continued, today and tomorrow were no different.

He kept living the life he had made for himself, the waves of his ocean.
He was happy, but never content. Maybe he just didn’t know the difference.
His few friends kept him company when he desired or wanted to dance;
And although he knew things that many didn’t, and his friends rarely asked about his personal life, it was enough for him to feel relevant and meaningful.
But it also meant he would remain oblivious to the world around him;
His bliss was not ignorance, but merely, naivety & indifference.
He would never know that she had searched for his apartment for weeks but didn’t know which one it was because he had painted his front door.
He would never know that his best friend Tom, was sleeping with his sister, and that’s why Tom stopped caring for him as much.
He would never know that his friends would catch up without him, talking about how he recently felt more like an acquaintance than a friend.
He would never know that his parents felt that maybe there was something wrong with him because he had found no one, and wasn’t married.
He would never know that he was adopted, yet his family didn’t tell him because they thought he wouldn’t be able to rebuild his life.
Many people come into this world, live their lives hidden away from everyone and everything, preferring the solace an simplicity, only to pass unnoticed.

But it didn’t matter, as Paul, was an amusing character, to say the least.
No one was none the wiser and they would all say that there were no signs.
Had they stopped for a moment, to smell the roses.
Had they asked questions, expecting no answer, but patiently waiting for one.
Had they readjusted their glasses, and looked outwards.
Maybe they’d have seen that all was not right, and the sun wasn’t rising.
Maybe they’d have seen that there were little cracks on the surface.
Maybe they’d had noticed there was only breaking, never healing.
One could predict the same fate for Paul, and in fact, this is how his fate plays out, but that was the simple beauty and story of his character. Like many.

The irony is not that his death is a rich life with a quiet departure;
But leaving a life that was desirable to so many;
The tragedy of so much potential never to be realised;
So much passion & lust unfelt;
So much pain averted.
Because on one balmy summer’s day, when the air felt heavy;
Reminiscence and regret weighing heavily on the mind;
Soothing whispers and mumbling prayers, to console the feeling within;
The heart fluttering with anxiety and sensation that he was satisfied;
Making sure peace had been made for the life he would never live;
Not out of desperation, nor selfishness, but because he was ready;
He said one last goodbye and took his life as quickly as it had begun.

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