You keep me hanging on

Recently, I had the opportunity to join a put-your-novel-in-order course. I am very very excited to be a part of it and one discussion/task that came up was writing a song as a short story. My heart skipped a beat. This was an excellent idea! And I’ve decided to put my story out there. 

The song I am using is ‘You keep me hanging on’ by Kim Wilde.

‘He’s up to his antics again,’ she thought to herself, her eyes squinting and her wrinkled forehead damp as she looked at the two figures. Heads bowed in an intimate debate, theirs eyes roving impatiently over each other’s faces. The two figures created a heart shaped instillation in the middle of the compound and in her line of vision. The left half of the instillation then lifted his head. She tried to turn away but eyes had locked and looking away would be just too obvious. She raised an eyebrow and he flashed her a toothy grin. She raised her hand slightly and then let it drop limply. A wave? Really? She returned his devilish grin, framed by those irresistible supple yet undeniably manly lips, with a half-smile of her own and then turned away.

‘Why must he hunt here? Right in front of me?’ she thought furiously, her heels clicking on the concrete at a pace much slower than her heart. ‘Have I become the beheaded prey? The one you and hang up on your mantle but barely glance at?’ She thought, almost bumping into the students exiting the class as she made her way in, 15 minutes earlier than required. ‘He’s doing it to get a rise out of you Kim and you’re giving in’ she chastised her weaker self.  She took the seat in the second last row. Mustn’t be the complete back-bencher. Too obvious. This way, she wouldn’t stand out too much as the one too distracted to care about Advanced Stats. ‘I’ve been in college for 1 year and had my heart broken 3 times, by the same person. Statistically, that makes me quite rare and quite the fool. How’s that for stats?’

She slumped in her seat and opened the notepad. Out slipped a print-out. ‘Great timing,’ she thought as she unfolded the paper, the text slightly faded due to tears and the repeated folding. ‘He breaks up with me via email. What a gentleman.’ The letter states, using it’s very professional yet sympathetic Arial font, that he still wants to be friends. But how do you befriend the one person who bruised your heart not once, but three times? It just can’t be so. Her rage heightens as the room seems to shrink, making it feel like a coffin with just her and the letter in it. She shakes the letter violently and crushes it into a ball, as if its pain will somehow be felt by the writer. She prepares to toss it but just then the door opens and in walks in the other half of that previous mentioned  instillation. ‘That girl has no idea who I am,’ she thinks to herself. The girl, let’s name her Rebound-y, smiles up at her and takes a seat in the third row. ‘Smart move,’ she thinks, ‘not so nerdy, but just the right amount of interested. Smart move Rebound-y.’

The class begins to fill up and in walks Mr. Email. He looks up at her, and just her luck, catches her eye again. He makes his way up to her row, with slow steps, never breaking eye contact. Her eyes just cannot break this cornea-ical bond that has formed. He stops midway, turns around and then sits two rows below her, but right in front, his perfectly ruffled golden brown hair, each strand wonderfully unruly, mocking her. She fought the urge to toss the balled up email onto that head, maybe burn a hole into his skull. But she unfurled it instead and tucked it back into her book.

‘Why is he around all the time? Why doesn’t he take different classes? Transfer to a different college? Leave this country! ANYTHING!’ she thought, her scalp hurting with the multiple thoughts buzzing in her brain. Their breakup had been…strange. To her they had been happy, to him, they were just doing a trail run. Hence, the email was an appropriate medium for him and an insult to her. But now, he wasn’t letting it go. Sophomore Liberal Arts groupie induction? She’s the lead, he’s the treasurer. Interaction? It’s an absolute necessity. How about the Shakespearean theater performance for fall? She’s the set advisor and he’s the artist. Are you getting the drift? And then the continuous bump-ins. Always with a different girl and always with that grin. It’s like he never wanted to let her forget. Never wanted her to toss that breakup email print-out. Never wanted her to sit up-front in Stats, actually concentrating for a change.

‘Set me free, why don’t you ? Get out of my life, why don’t you?’ She pleaded silently. His ruffled hair didn’t give much of a reaction, but he ran his hand through them in response. He always did that when he’s bored. As if fixing his hair would somehow alleviate his blahness. It’s also what he had done whenever she had tried to discuss where this relationship was going. It was also what he had done when she told him his impulsive yet private assertions of love didn’t mean a thing when he had repeatedly  acted like they were friends in front of others. But she had accepted his lack of commitment to her as his general lack of commitment to anything. So she let him run free until he ran into the arms of another girl. And considered it completely acceptable. But it’s not fair to say all was bad. It couldn’t have been if this is where she had ended up. They had their days spent at the pier, with its rickety legs that made it sway to the rhythm of the waves. They would grab coffee from the shop called ‘Tea with me’; her plastic cup always a pink one, his a blue. How romantic. Hers with two spoonfuls of sugar, his with one (she’s the sweeter one, he always said). Then, he carried the cups all the way to the end of the pier, insisting the cup was too hot for her to carry herself, and then they would sit at the edge, legs dangling, bumping deliberately. They could talk about movies, books, their professors. But what she loved most was the silence. The comfortable, drawn out silences. Never awkward and never strained. That to her was a sign of how great they were. How can you leave someone you shared such great silence with?

The thoughts fade and as her eyes find their bearings, they are once again met with those grinning brown ones. He is waiting for her to exit before him. Being a perfect gentleman. The kind that waits for the lady to walk first. The kind that breaks up via email. She couldn’t show him she was flustered. It was just too cliche. So she smiled. ‘Why won’t you let me get over you?’ she thought but her mind had no power over her fixed smile. Willing herself to walk by him without losing her step, she brushed past him but not before he placed his hand on the small of her back. Very lightly but very deliberately. ‘We really were very good together,’ he says to her, a lilt of regret in his voice. Her smile couldn’t disguise the confusion in her mind. ‘Why bring it up now?’ her voice staggering to find its balance. He shrugged as if it was a completely normal statement to make in the middle of Stats class. She just turned and kept walking. His words reverberating in her mind. His motives, like pitchforks to a haystack, poking holes at her calm exterior. She kept wondering why he wasn’t as distressed as her. Why his knees weren’t shaking as he walked. And why that damned hand wouldn’t remove itself from her back?

‘Maybe I did mean something to him,’ she thought, trying to use her peripheral vision to scan his ever smiling face. ‘Maybe he’s realized the year we spent together was really something special.’ They continued walking down the stairs, until the exit was right ahead. No more reason for them to keep walking together. She wanted to say so much. She never wanted his hand to leave its current place. She never wanted to go a separate way. Maybe it was finally time for him to realize. So many thoughts. And those eyes, those amazing genuine glinting eyes, still scanning her face. She looked down, she made a resolve. She needed to tell him these six months had done nothing to ease the pain, to ostracize him from her mind. She wanted him back. She touched her face, she was ready to say it. ‘Ready to go?’ said a sweet voice, the kind that makes daffodils flutter to the tune of ‘Doe-a-deer…a female deer‘. She looked up. A sweet voice but an even sweeter face, a purple knit sweater, long legs in tight blue jeans and nude pumps. He turned to her and replied ‘Yup!’ Those long legs were already turning around as he flashed her the toothy grin, her words at the tip of a very dry tongue. ‘See you,’ he said to her, two words. Just two. The only two words that could fill her with such intense dread. Then, he followed those long legs down the hall. Their feet walking in unison, as if synced to perfection, a sure sign of a relationship underway.

She stood there for what seemed like eternity. Or rather until the next class begin to make its way past her, brushing past, glaring at her as she partially obstructed the doorway. She was finally jolted out of her pitiful musings as one girl’s bag jammed itself into her arm. Rubbing the area where a bruise would surely find its way, she turned and walked to the exit.

‘I will find a way out of this stupidity’ she thought to her sorry self. ‘I will.’ She made her way to the compound and say those legs and him once again, making their way to his car. As if on cue, he moved closer to leggy and casually put an arm around her. ‘There we go again. Get out, get out of my life
And let me sleep at night
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on,’ she thought as she walked towards her own car. It’s going to be a long semester. A really really long one.

The lyrics that inspired the story:

Keep me hangin’ on

Set me free why don’t you baby?
Get off my life why don’t you baby?
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on

Set me free why don’t you baby?
Get off my life why don’t you baby?
‘Cause you don’t really need me
But you keep me hangin’ on

Why do you keep a comin’ around playing with my heart?
Why don’t you get out of my life
And let me make a brand-new start?
Let me get over you the way you’ve gotten over me, yeah

Set me free why don’t you baby?
Get off my life why don’t you baby?
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on
Now you don’t really need me
You just keep me hangin’ on

You say although we broke up
You still just wanna be friends
But how can we still be friends
When seeing you only breaks my heart again?
(And there ain’t nothing I can do about it)

Get out, get out of my life
And let me sleep at night
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on

You say you still care for me
But your heart and soul needs to be free
And now that you’ve got your freedom
You wanna still hold on to me
You don’t want me for yourself
So let me find somebody else

Set me free why don’t you baby?
Get off my life why don’t you baby?
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on

Why don’t you be a man about it
And set me free
Now you don’t care a thing about me
You’re just using me, hey using me

Get out, get out of my life
And let me sleep at night
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on
By: Kim Wilde

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