Response to Creative Writing Challenge: Metamorphosis
When I first met you, I was a lamprey. Starving, hunting for blood; a pound of flesh with no shape nor form, just a circle of razor-sharp teeth that appears when threatened.
It had been a particularly harsh summer, and it had almost left me mindless and mad. My emotions took the front seat to a tornado heading down south; I was exposed and vulnerable, and so wanting of new possibilities.
I went to school exhausted, hoping to be rejuvenated by literary theory and dead writers. You raised your hand and answered in philosophy: my attention fully grasped with the lilts and tilts of your Wittgenstein analysis and Faulkner and Freudian comparisons.
I did what every lamprey would do and attached myself to your being without you even knowing it. Google became my best friend: I read every word you wrote on the internet and swallowed it whole in the span of 2 seconds. I was starving for your poetry, a famine for your language. I speed-read your adjectives and inhaled your metaphors: a rush of literature through my nose, injected into my brain and flowing through my bloodstream. When I sat beside you on the bus, I felt logic seep into me through osmosis. That’s what you became: the source of all stability, the sanity that would cure my madness and curiosity.
I was hooked from the get go; a lamprey hopelessly enamoured, an insatiable craving that took over my life.
You would never guess that I sought you, asked people where you hung out, where you spent your time, and positioned myself within viewing distance, awaiting your glance, awaiting your smile. Adoring you was a decision I set heavily in stone. As soon as the idea of being with you was born, it went manic; it took a form of its own and occupied every crevice of my mind, and convinced me that it will set to right everything that was going wrong in my life.
I loved you for months because I imagined a saviour—the poet who would show me a world only artists could know. You were the only man I was able to accept more powerful than I, in every aspect, in every form and I accepted it with a kind of graciousness and humility that I felt bettered me. The first night I read your poetry, I saw infinity. I embraced euphoria with as much force as your metaphors and alliterations could create images in my head so real that it started to breathe and grow into tangible beings I could touch and recognize.
Everything that happened between us was carefully planned. It was I who joined the English Society so I could meet you. It was I who asked to watch that play together so we could spend time outside of class. It was I who attended your party. It was I who stayed outside in the cold for you, as you smoked your cigarettes. It was I who laid her head on your shoulder. It was I who came to your apartment, that snowy evening, my socks and hair wet. It was I who first kissed you.
And from that first kiss I was transformed. No longer a lamprey, I evolved into a blue morpho whose bright, blue colours would blind you if it was set against the sun. It’s not your fault I imagined you — that was my own doing. You couldn’t control the world that my mind had created for me: a peaceful and serene place where coming home wasn’t a battle for my sanity, because you wouldn’t carry those problems with you.
You wouldn’t have despair nor misery. You would be pure. Your sobriety was the answer to all my problems: I wouldn’t have to hide my money around you because you had your own, and because you wouldn’t take them just so you could score. Our decisions would be clear and precise: it wouldn’t be spontaneous. It wouldn’t be driven by grams and ounces, by empty beer bottles and skull-decorated Ziploc bags, by rolled-up bills and spent lighters.
By the time you stopped answering my calls, I felt my wings disintegrate. It was too easy now, to fall back into old habits, now that the possibilities I thought were forming proved to be a dead end. I lost track of this time; even in hindsight I wouldn’t be able to tell you what I felt or thought. I didn’t allow myself to be heartbroken. Everything was numbed down by chemicals and liquor. A year turned into sleepless weeks, time became a concept I could no longer grasp, friendships got in the way of my vacation, and school was a chore that just had to be done.
When you tried to explain why you left, I cut you off. You said that I made it so easy, and I agreed with you. “It is easy,” I said, heart pounding, my pupils as wide as an infinite abyss. The insanity in me took form and screamed: it’s easy to break off something that was never there for you, a dot in the span of your existence that doesn’t even warrant a chapter, let alone a footnote. I was just a five-second event, that happenstance you participated in one weekend and then forgot.
We can’t control what we mean to other people, just as you couldn’t control what I made you mean for me. So it is easy because there’s no responsibility. You weren’t at any fault; it is not your fault I imagined you. You wrote what you wrote not to seduce anybody or big yourself up — it was the voice of your experience and you grounded it into existence to create a clear demarcation in your life, one that has a beginning and a possible end. However I interpreted your words was not your guarantee, I did that to myself. That was me: who spun it out of control according to what I needed. I’m sorry for the secrets you shared, I can never give them back, I’m sorry for the secrets I kept from you (that you can’t ever retrieve), I’m sorry this didn’t work out exactly like a romantic comedy would, but that’s just what you get out of English majors: Resistance, Stubbornness and Endless Expectations.
But I did love you once, within that second. My ego may far exceed my talent and my delusions may fabricate my actual implication – but I did love you, while you sat across from me, and told me how I made it so easy.
And if you ever want to take a glimpse back into the lamprey you once welcomed into your life, you wouldn’t find her. Because I had taken this footnote and wrote it up into an epigraph: one that tells the story of a girl who began as a parasite, evolved into a butterfly too quick and burned out only to be regenerated.
Narrativize me now as a a phoenix, mythical and fiery, who took this experience and forced it to un-bury her. Because it is only from the remnants of my mistakes can I draw strength, only from fiction can I re-write significance, and only from the ashes of my corpse can I be re-born.