"If you were given the choice to live forever, would you?"
"I don't know? Forever is a long time."
"Well, duh, dumb ass." I looked at Emily to see her beaming with a smile.
"I don't think I would. It would get lonely after everyone I love passed away."
"You're loss. I totally would. It would be cool to watch the world end and everything we know of become nothing. Then I could probably watch another world be made."
"That's because you don't have a heart and even though there are people who love you, you still won't reciprocate it back."
"Exactly, Niall. You finally get it."
"Oh I got it a long time ago, it just feels good saying it to you out loud without worrying if you'll kill me in my sleep."
"That's very tempting, but I'm not a murderer or a serial killer."
"You're psychotic like one."
"True, and though I've had thoughts of killing people, I've never gone through with it. It's too messy and involves hard work. You, of all people, should know I am lazy."
I shrugged my shoulders and stared at the nearly-empty-parking lot. It had been our scene for a couple of days now. Emily will smoke her cigarettes while I watch or stare off in the distance. We will talk and ask questions, but there really isn't much to say when you already know how the other person will respond. It's not boring; it's just satisfying. I am satisfied with hanging out with Emily. There's nothing else to say or do. Am I like her shadow who follows her around? Yes, I am. If that's all she will let me be for her, I will take it and I will embrace it.
After a few minutes of me staring in the parking lot and watching a few people come and go, I noticed Emily pull out her packet of cigarettes. I watched as she performed what seemed like a ritual, which was her lighting another cigarette and smoking it so gracefully. And if I am being honest, I loved every second of it. I felt lucky that I was the one person she allowed to stand and watch her smoke. I didn't just watch her smoke, though; I admired her smoking. It was like a special performance only I could witness.
"Watching me smoke, Niall?" Emily asked, catching me off guard. I hadn't realized I was actually staring at her like a cat watching a mouse.
"I-um-yes," I quickly answered, knowing that lying would make me really pathetic.
"Really?" She answered with an eyebrow raised as if she disbelieved my answer. The more time ticked by, the more I became nervous that I'd do or say something stupid. Out of habit, I bit my lip and rubbed the back of neck.
"Stop being so nervous. I don't care if you're staring or watching me. As creepy as it sounds, I like it." Emily said before turning her head away to face the parking lot. I felt better, but I wish I had the guts to correct her and say I was doing a lot more than staring at her.
It was when Emily started to take longer drags and blow the smoke out of her mouth slower, I realized something. Emily smokes about three cigarettes when we go outside. It's not everyday we come out here, but we come out often. She also smokes inside her apartment because I've seen her ashtrays filled every time I'm over. So how is she, I don't know, still able to breathe so well and hasn't acquired some problem yet?
"You're thinking, Niall. What are you thinking about?"
"How do you know-"
"It's so easy to tell and I find it cute how you become lost in your thoughts. You just zone out. What were you just thinking about?"
"Um, you smoke a lot and often."
"Okay, and what else?"
"I don't understand."
"So, you agree with Dick from the convenient store. You want to know how I smoke like five a day and am still in good health."
"It sounds really stupid now."
"Niall, the only time I smoke is when I come out here. Yes, I'm addicted to cigarettes and nicotine. I don't smoke in my apartment, though. I light the cigarettes and enjoy second-hand smoking. I don't constantly smoke."
"But, still, you would have asthma or something wrong."
"Even then, it's not constantly or frequently. I don't buy packs of cigarettes all the time. One pack can last me two weeks. Does that happen often? No, it doesn't. My health isn't much of a mystery."
"Don't you ever wonder what's going to happen to you in the future if you keep smoking?"
"You've been watching too many of those stupid tobacco commercials. It's not like I smoke for the sake of smoking. I smoke because it's my only escape. It's my sedative for pain. Did I make the right choice? I probably did. Do I have consequences to face in the future? Maybe I do. Do I think about it? Hell no, I don't."
I looked away from Emily and bit my lip again. I forced myself to believe I didn't care about her smoking and it kind of worked. I was able to push it aside and enjoy her smoking again. Nobody's perfect and Emily is proof. I like that about her, though. I like how she is so different. She makes the color black beautiful. Darkness isn't just a part of her personality, but it hovers over her as well like she has her own personal rain cloud. But that's probably because I am used to her smoking and love how the smoke escapes her before it slowly fades into the air. Maybe black isn't beautiful on her, it's just her.
No, I'm pretty sure Emily made me like the color black and dark colors. I'm pretty sure she made me like smoke. I'm pretty sure she slithered her way inside my head somehow and is forcing me to like her so much. I don't like smoking, but I love watching her do it. I think dark colors are nice in moderation, but I like how Emily wears them excessively. I am pretty sure I don't really care and am just going to let it be. I will not fight it or her. I can't because I am a wuss and I only want to please her. So liking what she likes is what I'll do best. I am pretty sure that sounds crazy.
"Niall, you're staring at me again. It's creeping me out now." Emily said, causing my thoughts to vanish. My cheeks immediately became hot and I looked down at the ground while mentally cursing myself. This is becoming out of hand- me being fully captivated by her.
"I-ugh-sorry, Emily." I stuttered out.
"Are you okay? You look like a strawberry and it's cute."
"Um," I couldn't think of answer, or actually, I couldn't even think at all. My mind just went into a blur and I hoped she didn't think I was stupid even though she said I was cute- which made something inside of me flip in a good way.
"Are you... No way, you're embarrassed right now!" As soon as Emily finished, she began to laugh.
"No, I'm not." I defended, but it was unconvincing. My head still hung low as my eyes stayed on the concrete under my feet. The cracks were nicer than what was going on between us.
"You are and it's really cute." Again, with the mention of me being cute, I felt another flip inside of me. I didn't feel as insecure as before and wanted to smile proudly. She hates everything, but she thinks I'm cute. She thinks I'm cute. I didn't forget that.
"Okay, I can't do this anymore. You have no reason to be embarrassed, Blondie." Her laughter died down and I finally looked up at her. All that remained was that smile of hers that I'm so fond of.
"I'm sorry. I just... I just really like you.. when you smoke." I bit my lip, wondering if she caught my mistake. I almost admitted I liked her. I do, but I don't want her to know that. Well, not yet at least. That would be like dropping a bomb, and I don't know how it's going to explode or if it will.
"Okay, weirdo, thank you."
Emily wasn't looking at me when she answered. She was looking at the ground and dropped the butt of cigarette down. I watched her step on it, but she never looked back up at me. She remained quiet and just stared at the ground sorta like how I was. Something about this made me feel awkward and I was tempted to just walk away and hide in my apartment.
"Do you think long term pain ever goes away?" Emily asked suddenly. She kept her eyes down and I wished I could go inside her mind to see what's inside.
"I don't know? I guess you either get used to it or you find something that takes your mind off of it."
"You say it like you've been through something painful."
"I have and at night while I'm sleeping, I sometimes relive it. It's scarred me for the rest of my life, but I move on every day because there's nothing I can do."
"Really?" Emily finally looked up at me with these big bright eyes. She always brings up pain and it bothers me.
"Yeah, a long time ago when I was in junior high."
"How did or do you live with the pain?"
"It was hard at first. I chose to close myself off for a while, but then I realized how stupid it was. I was sad, but I figured I could live with the pain. It took a while, but I forced myself to get used to it. The pain still bothered me a lot, but recently I found a couple of people who take my mind off of it. You'll never get rid if it, but you can temporarily reduce it."
"Oh, you make it sound easy."
"It's not. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
"But you said people helped take the pain away, how?"
"They take your mind off it and help you forget about it. When you brought it up is when I remembered, but I'm okay."
"I-I... I gotta go. I'm going to my apartment."
"Wait, why? Are you okay? What's wrong?"
"Everything is wrong."
"I don't understand, Emily. Please, just talk to me about it."
Emily didn't listen. She walked away and I watched her go. I was confused and felt like it was all my fault. I started to feel this pain inside of me as I thought about her being in pain. What kind of pain is she in anyways? Why wouldn't she just talk to me about it? I answered her questions and was willing to answer more. I wanted to run to her apartment and tell her that I'll help her through the pain, but I then thought of how stupid it was.
Why is it that when we become so close, Emily manages to drift away from me? I should just leave her alone, but I have already come so far. Besides, I am too hooked to even think about walking away from her. I was at the point where I would do anything for her. I would give her the space she needs, but I won't forget why she needed the space to begin with. This time, I couldn't figure out just one possible explanation as to why she rushed to her apartment. I know this little drift is only temporary, but I already miss her.
I stayed outside and leaned against the wall of the apartment building for another half hour. I just thought, but I was really waiting for the smell of smoke to fade and disappear like Emily did. She confuses me so much, but I love that about her. She puts off like she's as simple as a piece of paper, but she's like an encyclopedia in a different language. You think you have
figured her out, but she gives you another puzzle to solve. I felt like I should know what was wrong with her, but I didn't know where to start. It can't be about her past, but that's the only explainable answer. Did she not tell me everything? Was there even more to it?
The faint sound of cars driving down a main road kept me from losing my mind in the parking lot. I was going mad, but it felt right because that's what happens between us. I wouldn't go to Emily and confront her about her problems and her pain, because I am too afraid of the outcome. It's unpredictable, but then again it's not. When I feel like things are going to end terribly, they don't. Maybe nothing is wrong with Emily at all. Maybe there was something she had to do and she just left because... because that's who she is. She can be vague and blunt, but serious and descriptive when she wants to or has to.
The truth wavered in my head and I tried to ignore it as much as I possibly could. It's not that I was in denial, I just didn't want it to be the answer to everything. Ignoring it didn't help and I was faced with what was really going on as my constant thinking came to a stop. Maybe I have slowly fallen for Emily so hard, I haven't realized it. Maybe I am so blinded because of it, I can't see what is really going on. That happens, I think.