You’ve asked me that before. Several times actually. The first time was about five years ago. I wasn’t supposed to be with you and I don’t know why you met me. But there we were, lying on a pile of dead leaves in somebody’s front garden, at 3 o’clock in the morning, high as kites. In fact, I was so high that I saw my tired, grey soul floating weakly above my body, and I saw your strong, red soul a little further down the street, and they mixed together to form a strange and beautiful vortex. Then you asked me the most complex of questions,
“Are you happy?”
I thought about this for longer than I should have. I remember sitting up, dragging my unconscious legs to my chest and resting my chin on my bruised knees. I was hugging myself because I knew that you wouldn’t. I carried on watching the vortex of our souls, swirling hypnotically up and down the pavement like a human-sized tornado. I know that what you meant by your question was, “Are you happy with him?” You weren’t asking me if I was happy about my A-Level choices, or if I was happy in my daily life, or if I was happy with my newly dyed platinum blonde hair. You were asking if I was happy with him which I couldn’t answer because I was both, I was simultaneously “happy” and “unhappy” with him. And anyway, it was none of your business.
At that time, I didn’t think anybody cared about me. Nobody ever asked me how I was inside when I was falling apart at the seams and on the verge of a breakdown. I was battling suicidal urges, abusing alcohol and drugs, and self-harming. I was very distressed at the concept of being alive, of existing, of suffering, of dying.
So I pretended that you cared about me deeply, that you were on the same profound philosophical wavelength as me, that you were genuinely concerned for my wellbeing and the quality of my existence. All you wanted to find out, in a sly way, is if I was going to dump him soon. But I answered this most complex of questions with the weight that I felt it deserved,
“No. No, I’m not. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy.”
You looked at me for a while, with your high eyes and said, “Yes, you will. One day.”
I didn’t believe you and I was too tired to argue. I turned to look at your face for a moment, at the shadows that the streetlight was casting on you. Then I realised what I had done: I looked back at the street and the vortex had disappeared into nothingness. I wanted to say something about the vortex but I knew that you didn’t want to hear it, so I went back to lying on the bed of Autumn leaves, spaced out, my body an inch from yours.
“You look better brunette,” you said.