The Line.

Have you ever been so lost in the sauce that you wouldn’t feel offended if oxford dictionary replaced the definition of stupid with your name? That was Akeela and it had been her for a while now – giving out passes, lowering standards, crossing boundaries, accepting disrespect, you name it. All because love was pure and purity could only exist in the presence of forgiveness right? In order to preserve this love she had grown so accustomed to she had to accept apologies she never received right? Wrong. But she did it anyway.

It was 2am on a Saturday night and she was doing what she did best – thinking or rather, fantasising about the love experience that enveloped her. Akeela’s flashbacks consisted of scenes from the past playing in slow motion. So it didn’t help that she envisioned kissing and body movements and interlocking eyes in the matrix. It almost always created an illusion of what wasn’t real and encouraged her to fall deeper into this spiralling hole called lust. 10 minutes into ‘fantasising and chill’, an idea came into her mind. What if she planned an evening for them both. She’s had him on her mind for months on end so it’s about time she acted on her thoughts, maybe add new memories to her current collection of cheeky smiles and inner jokes, intimate hugs or the lack thereof, the feeling of comfort when….

Snap out of it woman! You’re supposed to be planning date night not blushing over times passed.

Akeela was unsure of how to go about picking a location but where there’s a will, there’s a way and google was going to make a way so she typed in http://www.google.com *enter*. At this point she was one step closer but so many steps back. What do people search for in instances like this? ‘Best date night ideas’? ‘Romantic locations in London to keep the spark going’? ‘Keep your man mind blown with these date night themes’? The possibilities were endless but did not represent her…or them. Them? Who were they even? She knew who she was or at least what she wasn’t which was a romantic. Not in the literal sense anyway but, who were they collectively? At what point would there be a straightforward answer to that? This was just another unanswered question that would keep her up till 4am on a different night but tonight, she would block that out by planning the perfect rendezvous.

Whatever this was had to be considerate and personal and thoughtful and unique and something they both shared and special and…it was becoming clearer that she needed to settle on one word before she got carried away once again. The word was thoughtful because it embodied his existence in her life. It had to be thoughtful like he did for her recently. Like he’s always done for her.

Food was essential and so was water. Hence, a restaurant with intriguing cocktails because there’s water in cocktails and she’s always considered him to be intriguing. This trail of thoughts made no sense but rarely ever did Akeela’s train of thoughts sound logical to foreign ears. The important thing was its ability to arrive at a decision and the next decision to make was what sort of cuisine it should be. Cuban? Japanese? American? He liked to travel and she assumed he had never been. So an American style restaurant and bar but what type of music? Instantly, she was transported back in time to their first cinema date, the day she officially subscribed to living in lala land when it came to him. There was a constant reference to jazz music so, jazz music it is. She had a venue based on travel, music based on previous dates and nutritional essentials based on simple biology but she decided on this place mostly because it was called Nola…Darling’s first name. An inside joke which was never funny but represented a pivotal point in the relationship so far. It was perfect. It should have been perfect. She didn’t visit the restaurant twice that week in anticipation for tonight to not have this be perfect.

See you at 8 xx
*send*

*****

8pm and she’s sat in silence. Praying that her put together demeanour was enough to mask what the feelings that stirred up within her. Surely, a minor misunderstanding was not sufficient reason to disassociate from what she thought was a genuine connection. It could not have been. It should not have been but, it appeared to be as the minute hand fully encircled the face of the clock and no familiar face walked up to her.

Now an hour past 8 and there was nothing left to do but give up on hope like she did the first time round. She shouldn’t have made a second attempt, not so soon. Not while she was still healing. It was time to leave but she couldn’t move. Turns out hurt is crippling when it comes from an unexpected source. She wondered if she would be able to stand firm on feet that were now numb. And even if she’d managed to, how would she stroll out of this restaurant unnoticed? But what if she didn’t have to? What if he came? Should she forgive him? Is that even…

“Tonight we’re having an open mic session for aspiring vocalists and that includes people who sing in the shower”

It was the man who welcomed her into the restaurant with a smile that kept her hopes up. The crowd roared in laughter in response to him. She was grateful for that because it momentarily drowned the voices in her head. Karaoke nights always made Akeela feel good and maybe tonight, she could sing away her heartache. it worked for other artistes so it could work for her. Or maybe she was simply making a mistake walking towards the stage but it’s too late now, she’s already stood there in silence with the mic in one hand and her bleeding heart in the other.

“What would you be singing for us tonight flower?” The host asked.

“Play me any dvsn song, surprise me and we’ll see if I know the lyrics” she said.

“That’s the sort of confidence that gets you top paying jobs, flower. Don’t ever lose it”, he replied and the crowd roared in heart felt laughs once again while she wondered what confidence he thought she had.

For Akeela, dvsn brought back memories which reminded her of the beginning of her healing journey, a time where she felt safe, at peace and almost in love with the arms that cuddled her back to life. So ofcourse every single lyric of every single song was engraved in her heart. There was no need to be specific as being specific almost always brought disappointment. The instrumentals came bursting through speakers scattered round NOLA and a surge of emotions instantly spread through her body like wild fire. It was ‘The Line’, her favourite song, where she wanted to revert back to. But, where exactly did she draw this line?

————————here, in the middle of nowhere————————

“We’ve crossed the line tonight, tonight”

She had set out boundaries verbally and directly. Convincing herself that everything was black and white but, that only works on paper. In reality, there’s a whole spectrum of colour, an infinite amount of interpretations. There are endless possibilities and each one arises once a boundary has been crossed. What does all this bullshit even mean?

“Tell me, cause”

*breathes*

“Tell me cause I need to know if it’s really gonna be you
Who’ll be around and stay around”

Don’t you dare let your voice crack in front of this sea of strangers. She knew these were just lyrics…lyrics which cut deep. They always do but the focus needed to be on her performance. This was almost impossible as her brain was was fixated on the phrase “I ain’t going nowhere”…surely he must not have meant it or there wouldn’t be a fist in her belly right now.

“‘Cause I wanna know
I wanna know who to trust if it isn’t you”

For every song that Akeela loved, there was a line that spoke to her and this was it. It screamed fear – fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of being wrong once again. She knew where her trust lied but what if she was wrong again? The thought of this brought back episodes of panic attacks she used to have in the past. It first started in February and he managed to calm her down..one of the many reasons she found comfort in his presence. But they’re back again, she trusts him so how dare he not be here to calm her down? How dare he be the reason for her current episodes? ‘God I want to know who to trust if it isn’t him’ she thought to herself now on the verge of tears.

“It takes time to put your guard down”

Maybe because your guards shouldn’t be down in the first place? All she could think about was images of her heart locked away behind a cell for one reason or the other but the key to her self imposed bondage only existed because he drew it in. Art is literally freedom.

“I wanna know, I wanna know, I wanna know
That nobody, no face could take you away”

She heard stories and saw things that couldn’t stop her from choking on these words. These weren’t the type of memories she wanted playing in slow motion. Not today, not in front of strangers, not while there was a flood of liquified emotions hiding behind her eyes.

“If it feels right Say yeahhhh”

So she said ‘yeahhhhhh’ and ‘hey yeah yeah’ and ‘yeahhhh’ and ‘hoo hoo hoooo’. Because it felt right even when it was wrong. Even after he was long gone. It felt right in her guts.

But at the end of the day
“we crossed the line”
And that’s all that seemed to matter.

A.

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