they begin a skype call at 10.30pm, but you're not invited. belatedly, they extend a lifeline to you. well, not you specifically. everyone.
you bluetick them. you know you're being petty while they're being exclusive, for the invitation is as superficial as the smile you've plastered on your face. your cheeks hurt from the futility of fighting against gravity. your eyes are burningーwith uncalled for tears, or with the unabridled rage of a hundred dying suns. who knows? certainly no one cares.
ah, modern life is making us lonelyーor so they say. for how trivial everything is! how meaningless! why do we even try? there's always the penchant to keep in touch, stay bonded, talk more, don't be shy, have fun. we parade our google meets and zoom calls on the internet; play skribbl.io and jackbox.tv; post daily vlogs on our shared class account. to prove to the world that yes, we are Bonded and yes, all of us are doing perfectly fine in quarantine.
but mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the loneliest of them all? why document every little activity and broadcast it to the world? why do we trick ourselves into thinking that these meaningful meaningless gestures mean something, when we're all suffering? when we haven't seen our friends in ages, the most casual brush of fingers, a gentle tap on the back. virtual everything, but i yearn for something real.
and sometimes, we find ourselves well and truly alone. stranded, with too much time on our hands. someoneーthe class rep, or a fellow peerーextends an invitation.
10.30pm on a saturday night, another skype call is ongoing. has been ongoing for 1hr 54m 19s. the friendship, for 8 years now. you chat with her: your childhood friend you haven't seen in a while. you feel hysterical, ranting about your troubles in class. the dam breaks, and everything comes spilling out.
how you crave validation! how you yearn to be seen! heard! felt! loved! accepted! but you gain none of these from your classmates, so you only take the meagre emotional support and familiarity that your childhood friend can offer. perhaps that is good enough, but can it ever sate your inner restlessness for something more?
you, are a wanderer. you are fickle as a passing moth, flitting from one candle to the next. longing to feel something, connect with someone, but only being burnt, over and over again.
you, are waiting. you are in the liminal space between one stage of friendship and the next; the transition room. there is no door.
you, are tired. tired of the masks and the pretences. tired of having to face the world with a contrived smile. the false pleasantries; lukewarm cordiality. you, wish there was something more to the friendships you shared with your classmates other than tiktoks and wefies. you, ache deep down for the genuine thingー
ーbut your friend disconnects, and the call has ended. you are left with nothing but the ashes of your failures, and the bitter taste of disappointment in your mouth.