John by Najood Alterkawi

Posted on September 20, 2011 by

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(In order to understand this piece, you must first read this explanation.)

John. There he stood by the window holding a glass of scotch in one hand, his other buried deep in the pocket of his black business suit. He watched the downpour outside drizzle down the glass. He let himself chuckle at the thought that those little raindrops metaphorically symbolized him. They started at the top of the slippery window but eventually sank to the bottom or were blown away, leaving not much of anything behind.

John was the average 24 year old: handsome, an ambitious college-graduate who once had dreams. Big dreams. But he wasn’t thinking about that now. All John could think about, as he turned around and examined the elegant hotel room, was his past. He had once been happy and charismatic. He took a sip of the caramel-colored drink and let it linger in his mouth for just a moment before gulping it down and then setting the glass on the bedside table. As he paced to the bed, his memory now drifted back to his beautiful wife, Victoria, to whom he had been happily married for three years before she decided to leave him not four months ago. And in the passing weeks, he had come to learn that one decision causes a ripple effect the source doesn’t generally see. To understand the ripple in this case, you have to understand the very beginning…

John was always a good-hearted person and his intentions were anything but malicious. He had never planned on getting a divorce, losing his job and everything he lived for. He spent most of his youth dreaming of making it big as an architect, no harm in that. But, every careful man has a flaw. He had never been able to decide what he wanted more. He would get obsessed with one thing at a time and his attention could be diverted to nothing else. The people who loved him were put on the sidelines while he fixated on work and business and more work. His hours at the office were increasing as his time with Victoria lessened, leaving her waiting up late nights alone… waiting for the sound of a car door or keys turning in the lock. He hadn’t realized that she was growing depressed and uninterested in saving the relationship when it seemed John was never around to be in it. By the time it dawned on him that he might lose her, she had one foot out the door and her heart was somewhere else.

After she left, John began to feel the pressure of being truly alone. Looking across the breakfast table at an empty chair or pouring only one cup of coffee began to take its toll. Like any person would do when they feel confused or have experienced a trauma, he isolated himself and prevented his mind from thinking by piling himself with even more work and office hours. He figured now he had nothing left but his job position and the few colleagues who still respected him. This worked for a while, but eventually the work too took its toll on John. His face became a pale yellow, his reddish-brown hair seemed to be getting duller, he never slept enough and the light that once filled his eyes was growing dimmer. He began missing meetings, and projects no longer reflected his vision as a recognized architect. Finally, the company decided to let him go. Devastated, empty and broke he lost his house.  An old friend was kind enough to let John stay with him for a while…

Back in the hotel room, John paused for a moment. The memories were playing like video tapes in his head. He squinted ever so slightly as his eyes hooked on his black leather shoes neatly lined by the door of the nicely lit room. He let out a sigh and lethargically fell backwards onto the bed. He now stared up at a beige ceiling with a small chandelier that gleamed. His thoughts drifted again…

Since he had a decent place to sleep at night, John took up heavy drinking and when he got too lonely, he chose a stranger to spend the night with. One stranger in particular, with whom he spent more nights than one, was a dangerously beautiful woman named Eve. She could never belong to him, of course, as any woman in her line of work is only there for the man’s pleasure but would never be his property.

Tonight, he was meeting her again. His infatuation with her was profound. Even though he knew he could never have her, he felt like he needed her, wanted her, all of her. It was unlike John to focus on something that was so far out of his reach. He thought it all over, then took a look at his watch and realized time was dragging on even though he had only been waiting for fifteen minutes. He dropped his arm down onto the bed again, indifferent. He then rolled over and stood up, took the glass of scotch off the bedside table and strode over to the desk on which lay a stack of expensive stationary and some slender pens. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing or why but he neatly tore a paper off the top and flipped a pen into his fingers and began to write…everything. His reasons, his sorrow, his regret, and his small joys along the way. And then he slipped his shoes on and bunched up his suit jacket and turned the golden door knob…

Eve. Dressed in a flowing white gown and wearing deep red lipstick, she looked flawless. Every man’s dream. She entered one lobby elevator; John came out of the other, jacket in hand.  With one more less thing to have, one less thing to hurt, he headed for the rotating doors. Raw, alone, and trying to let go; as human as anyone could ever be.

Eve stepped out onto the twenty second floor and turned the corner to the room with the double doors. With a smile on her face, she knocked on the door with the knuckles of her delicate fingers. No answer. She knocked again, this time saying  “John..?”  Still no answer.

She turned the knob and stepped over the threshold, peering into the room. As she turned her head left, her collar bones lightly protruded through her pale skin. The soft lighting in the room reflected off her face, making it glow. She looked like a porcelain statue, a goddess even. As she stepped forth, she noticed a folded up paper on the desk, where John had left it. She was now aware she was alone in the room. Her fingers clasped the paper as she read his deepest thoughts…he told her of his life in the slightest detail possible. He mentioned his excuse for leaving her tonight and how much of an impact she had on him. He told her that what confused him most about her was how she could do what she does without falling into the wrong kind of love. He signed the note saying nothing could ever happen between them because he was too far into it, too emotionally involved with an object of desire.  That’s what she was after all.

Eve didn’t say a word. She didn’t even allow herself to think anything. He was just a client, a one night stand. Letting the paper drop to the carpet, she stepped out of the hotel room without looking back at the glass of scotch, the perfect sheets on the bed or the rainy window. She left it all behind. As the elevator clicked, she let down her long pearly, blonde hair and stepped inside. When she reached the lobby, she had a blank expression but as she strode across the marble floor, all that could be heard was the sound of her heels clicking…

One man, one girl.  Both in search of the same thing.  Validation.

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