For week 1 of Writing 201, we were asked on our angle. I didn’t enroll in Writing 101 prior to Writing 201 so I’m a little lost on how I should go about this assignment.
H for Heartless
Of all the annual occasions in all of the world, birthdays prove to be the silliest by far. If it weren’t for his birthday, I wouldn’t have had a Hallmark card laid out in front of me, waiting to be filled with words.
I start writing “H…” with the intention of writing Happy birthday on the blank space but I couldn’t get the thought across, like my hands have forgotten how to write cursive letters. I drop the pen in frustration. Is it really okay to be writing to him like this? It’s only a goddamn birthday card but it feels like I’m expected to write a Pulitzer Prize-worthy piece.
I put the card aside and got a piece of paper, intending to use it as draft. I took out another pen, black this time, since the red pen obviously didn’t want to help me carry out this frustrating task.
“Happy birthday to my friend…” I stop. It doesn’t sound right. Were we friends? Maybe close friends? Best friends? We were more than just friends. Hours of secret conversation surely amount to more, right?
Good thing this wasn’t on the card or else I’d have to buy another one before I hand it to him tomorrow.
I check my cellphone’s time and it reads 3:20 am. I’m supposed to meet him at 10 for coffee, and I don’t intend to sleep until I finish this birthday greeting. I look at the card with a solitary H and wonder if letters like these were meant to be written.
“Happy birthday to one of the most wonderful people I know…” I stop again. It still doesn’t sound right. He helped me through a lot of things but he also brought me a lot of pain and heartache. He wasn’t exactly wonderful. The thought of him still hurt.
It’s the third year in the row that I’ve tried to reach out but each time, my mind cowers and hides in nothingness. I’m at a lost for words, again. I turn my attention to the only letter I managed to write in the card. A lone, scarlet H graced the otherwise clean white birthday card.
H for Honesty. I tell myself, closing my eyes and writing the first words that come into my mind.
“I’m sure you’re happy with your life, as I am with mine. But I torture myself daily, replaying conversations I know we’ll never ever have again. You mean so much to me but I can’t string two words to express it. Ironic isn’t it? I’m a writer by occupation. I can write about toilet paper, gaming gears and fucking ants; but I can’t tell you how I really feel. So here it is: Happy birthday to my favorite hello, hardest goodbye, my imaginary heartbreak, my soulmate and my secret wish. My feelings haven’t changed, although I wish they have, so I wouldn’t have such a hard time writing on this goddamned Hallmark card.”
I stare at the hasty cursive hand writing and sigh. I remember the first time I sent him a generic birthday greeting. He said I was heartless. But at what cost is a heart meant to be exposed?
I crumble the morbid declaration of unrequited love and toss it into the trash bin along with the several others previously written with more desperate pleading.
Looking at the birthday card with the red H, I decided to be heartless. Not because I was but because it was the only way I could pretend that I was okay with how things are.
Taking the red pen, I scribble: “Happy birthday! Enjoy your special day! ^_^”
The words feel so fake and yet, they’re the only things I can really say without losing myself in the process. How does one say I love you without using the actual overused words?
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