It was 10 in the morning. Basil shielded his eyes as he tried to fight off the glaring sun shining upon his frail self. He was not ready to face today – The day. Above him, the air conditioner heaved in and out, engaging in an asthmatic breathing. Something he was so reluctant to fix after 6 repairmen had performed mechanical surgeries on its organs, but still proved futile. What’s the use of it, anyway, he thought to himself. Slowly, he tried to sit up, before noticing that he was coiled up in the strings of wires that have unknowingly occupied part of his bed after all these while.
“Basil Cornelius Tan. PUT DOWN THE PS4 RIGHT NOW OR I WILL CUT AWAY THE CABLES ON THE COUNT OF 3. 1… 2…”
His mind turned to Daisy. He thought of the way Daisy had so often threatened him in this manner and it made him smile. He remembered how he would always agitate her even further just to see her get mad in the most frenzy of ways, but yet the cutest she will ever be. He missed such fleeting moments. Moments he had not witnessed since the last time he told her he didn’t see her in his near future. Where did he even inherit the courage to verbalize those words? He surprised himself. But within that lie, Basil knew a part of it was unfortunately true. He was longing to see her scream at the top of her voice at him all over again, even though he hated so much to see her cry.
At a sheer age of 25, Basil was still crippling with accepting the harsh realities of life. There were so many things in life he was still trying to understand, and so many questions still left unanswered. Some of which, he thought, would probably cease to unravel before he takes his eventual leave. Like how his house has turned into this incomprehensible mess ever since Daisy was prohibited from entering his nest.
Since eight months ago, Daisy had stopped coming over to Basil’s place like she so frequently did in the past. It was all part of Basil’s suggestion. This place was no longer their comfort zone. It had became a restricted zone; a safe (save) area – an area where Basil could do whatever he needed without fearing Daisy discovering any of them. Not this especially. It was an area that no one but Basil and his secret were a part of.
Cutting into his thoughts, Forever and Always played through the air. The intensity of the vibration of his handphone snapped him back to reality. Peering over, he saw Daisy’s number on his cell phone. He tried his best to drag his pick-up time. Daisy had intentionally set this ringtone for him the day he promised her a Forever and ever. It was her casual way of reminding him of their unofficial vow which, he had solemnly pledged to Daisy, the day she occupied his heart. I will always be yours, Forever and Always, Darling, these were the exact words which whispered it’s way into her heart.
“I will be there in twenty minutes, Daisy”
“We were supposed to meet at 9AM, Basil.”
“Uh ya, and?”
Silence played through the line. So deafening it was that he felt as if he was going to crumble to the sound of her shattering heart any moment. “Just wait for me”, he said, before hanging up the call on her. He knew he didn’t have the heart to listen to the sound of her occasional tears splatter on her speaker. She had unintentionally absorbed his coldhearted manner. He was winning.
Basil tried his best to drag through preparation for the day, hoping he would turn up later than expected. He was conflicted. His heart was arguing against keeping Daisy waiting but he knew anger was the only easy way to make her hate him even more. An objective he had so conveniently conceived. Looking good for Daisy didn’t even seem that important to him anymore. He had lost a considerable amount of weight and the pink hue on his lips faded with time. It lacked the nourishment needed from the lips of another significant individual.
Turning up at the cafe in a slack outfit, Basil knew this would send Daisy into a hissy fit. Something he had learned from their seven years of being together. Daisy was beautiful. Daisy was gorgeous. A fact that she herself already knew, and something which she didn’t need constant reminders of. Daisy had the kind of attractiveness that no average guy could match up to. An elegance that Basil could not complement in his current physical state.
Sitting opposite Daisy, Basil started the conversation. He commented “So I see that you already had 2 cups of coffee aye.” An evident unimportant fact that didn’t need any acknowledgment. Daisy just kept her head low throughout. Her cry was choking her and she tried her best to suppress her emotions. She didn’t have to say anything, anyway. Basil already knew what was on her mind. He could read her like his favorite comic which he had been reading since the age of four.
Basil could see tiny drops of tears escaping from the corner of her eyes. He held back. He resisted the intense urge to pull her into his arms and to tell her that everything is gonna be alright. He knew it was a lie anyway. The deafening silence continued.
“I… I… don’t see how you can just cut us off like that, Basil. We were going strong”, the first words she uttered in his presence. Suddenly, he felt a sense of familiarity – her voice. The voice of the lullaby which had so easily put him to sleep in the past. He wanted to hear more of that voice when she fell silent again.
Basil cleared his throat as he summoned all the guts needed to convey the opposing truth. “I loved you, Daisy, I did. But love is not enough to sustain a relationship. I’m sorry my heart wandered somewhere else. I tried my best but I can’t lie to myself. I can’t see myself loving just you alone. I’m a man and I find myself falling into temptations over and over again. I know it’s not fair to you. I… I just don’t love you anymore, Daisy. I’m sorry. My heart is everywhere. I can’t keep it exclusively for you.”
He lied. It was the biggest effing lie that he had ever constructed to date. For months he had pushed back this conversation. But today, he finally relented. He didn’t know how he said it, but he did it. He yielded to the cancerous cells within him which, if the words of Dr Jasper held true, meant that he only had slightly more than a month to live.
“Just leave me alone, will you?”, Basil shouted. As all eyes in the cafe gathered on him, Daisy tried to push her long straight black hair to cover her face. She was embarrassed. She couldn’t stand sitting there for another minute.
“FINE! If this is what you want”, she shouted back as she tossed a cup full of water at Basil and brisk walked out of the cafe. He watched as Daisy sped away without looking back for a single moment (God, how he wish she would just turn back for one minute so he could fall in love with those eyes all over again, the way he fell for them the first time he saw them sparkle. There was no limit to how much more he could love her)
“Don’t you dare look for me ever again!”, he shouted back so forcefully yet unwillingly. There was no room for softheartedness. But as he said those words, he smiled. That’s when he knew that he really loved her. The highest stage of love is in letting go. Basil knew that Daisy needed him, but he knew she didn’t need a Basil that needed her more than she did. Her departure was both a relief and agony. True love is being able to let go. The one who loves more loses. But the one who loves less doesn’t win, too.
He watched as her slim silhouette disappear from his life. He had terminated their right to share a common love the way his terminal illness obstructed his will to keep true his promise.
Basil was overwhelmed with emotions. He didn’t know how to cry. He was numb from all the numerous times in which he had cried alone to bed. He didn’t know what to do. He found a solution to this but the solution resulted in a lost. The compass that had been his sole bearing in life was out of motion. He needed to find himself. But he knew that this was impossible because he could only be found in Daisy, and Daisy alone.
Leaving the cafe, Basil saw a bunch of flowers on the pavement. How pretty they look, he thought. But no flower can compare to the one flower which only always mattered to him, Daisy. Her laughter, her smile, the way she would plant kisses all over his face, and the way she had always picked him up after each fall (Yes she had a way of mending broken things. But not this), they all came back to him like a hurricane. His heart shattered. He knew he was strong, but no one is ever strong enough for this.
Basil knew it was time to push up daisies and get on with life, or rather, afterlife. A concept which he had gradually accepted from all the constant preachings of Jesus Christ on Daisy’s part. The kind of effect she had on him. It was definitely more substantial than the chemo sessions and western drugs that made him so vulnerable and weak most of the time.
Sinking into his bed, he thought of how he will forever and always be hers, but it was time for her to be someone else’s forever; to flourish in another person’s garden. Flowers weren’t meant to bloom in harsh icy weathers anyway – the cold and harsh temperament of his heart which, will eventually stop pumping in the days to come.