By Abrar AlShammari
It was ecstasy – no, euphoria is the right word. But no, euphoria has a bit too much energy in it to describe what it had been. Perhaps, then, bliss would be the appropriate word. Yes, bliss, synonymous with paradise: the heavens you are rewarded with if you have spent your entire lifetime avoiding sin and temptation… But, no, because even though it felt like bliss, it was tainted with wondrous sin and beautiful temptation that were meant to be devoured, similar to that apple that was meant to be eaten, and meant to damn us all to the median between heaven and hell. Yes, it was gloriously delicious, and it most certainly did bring me the sweetest anguish one could ever sin for.
I wanted so badly to create an invincible shelter of sorts. The point of it was to protect its inhabitants, and to rightfully harm any outsiders who would attempt to intrude. Hedgehogs function similarly, I learned once in a documentary. Their spikes will remain in place so long as you respect their personal boundaries; if you do trespass, they will defend themselves by releasing their razor-sharp spikes into your face, and they will not stay behind to behold the damage.
We were much too exposed, and that left us much too vulnerable. I was 23, and torn in never-ending limbo between my days of loathing humanity, and my insomniac nights of loving her. Except I loved her from afar, you see; I come from a horrible community of hypocrites where people pretend that they have never loved and have never had their hearts broken. Instead, they dictate these same detestable rules to everyone else surrounding them, and scoff and sneer at those of us brave enough to admit that yes, we have indeed loved, and we have indeed had our hearts broken, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
I loved her from afar, and perhaps that helped her love me too; she was much too fragile, and would not have been able to bear the burdens that I carried with me. I loved [her] like a man loves a woman he never touches, only writes to, keeps little photographs of, as Bukowski once said. I wrote poetry that made her weep with sentiment, sentiment that swelled in her heart for me. To be fair she still weeps with sentiment, except now she weeps with sentiment because of me.
We married at 25. Divorced at 26.
I was not the man she imagined me to be. I wish I could say it disappointed her; truth is, it broke her. She tugged, I pulled. Her feet jumped left, mine shuffled right. My hands dipped down, hers shot up. I said now or never, she wanted all or nothing. Her eyes looked at my face searching for answers to questions she did not have the courage to ask, mine gazed at her lips waiting for them to form the letters of my name.
I gave us a shelter. My intention was to protect her – to protect us. She wanted her freedom, she said. She felt suffocated. I was not willing to give her more air at the expense of our shelter.
She told not a single soul of her disappointment with me, perhaps because she hoped her silence would revert me back to my initial status of a pleasant fantasy. No matter her reasons, I respected her silence. I hated her silence when we were married, for I had spent two excruciatingly long years daydreaming of what I thought would be a lifetime of her uttering my name. I never thought I would be so grateful for it when we divorced.
The disappointment almost broke me too. And truth be told, it would have, had it not been for my opposing perception of our misfortune. My goal, primarily, had not only been to win the pretty girl who my family seemed to be keen on. It had been to win her with love, with words, with romance, with all the forbidden tools that I was permitted to use. And I did; whether it worked out well is another debate altogether. It was 1 for me, 0 for society. And that victory was one that would remain chalked and framed in my mind for the remainder of my ill-fated existence in that society.