To Kill a Pink Elephant

(A very short story.)

“Do you believe in movies?”

It was a question Cohen always asked himself, time and time again. And even now, as the words stared back at him through the luminous screen of his laptop, he failed to come up with an answer. Cohen took another sip from his Starbuck’s Caramel Frappuccino, his favorite caffeinated drink, in the hopes that it would help his creative juices start flowing again. But even as he felt the caffeine work its instant magic through his overworked body, he still can’t seem to find the words to answer the simple question.

“Shit!” he exclaimed, after glancing at his wristwatch. It had been exactly five hours since he first sat down here to work on his next article for his column on the Saturday paper. And he called himself a writer. Sheesh! He closed his laptop shut, took one last, long sip of his beverage, and stood up. No point wasting more time here, he obviously wasn’t making any progress. He crossed the throng of people waiting in line for the slowest order-taker in the entire store to take their orders. Poor girl; must be a newbie, he thought. This particular Starbuck’s was always full of people. He often wonders how he’s able to write in such a noisy place. Then again, most of his best articles were written here, right there on the very couch he sat on a while ago, wouldn’t even have it anywhere else. Perhaps it was the feeling of familiarity, provided by his favorite couch, in his favorite coffee house, that provides him with a sense of normalcy, and the idea that he has something that holds him back to the real world whenever his writing has sucked him in, and had closed off the rest of the noisy world around him from his consciousness, making it easier to get lost and absorbed in his own writing, the only time he feels his works were ever acceptable. Perhaps it was for this reason that he keeps coming back to the place, and is able to produce some of his best pieces over and over.

So what happened today? His editor wanted something about movies. God, this was supposed to be the easiest topic for him. He was always the passionate one for movies among his few friends. And while he wasn’t exactly the movie buff, his passion for watching never disappoints them. So why can’t he write this ‘passion’ down? Why can’t he put it on paper?

Cohen treaded his way back to his apartment. He stopped by the bookstore on the way, just to see if there were any new interesting releases. He was definitely not a reader. He’s probably read one or two books that he found he liked, but never found himself feeling the urge to join a book club or whatever. But he believes in the power reading can and will provide a person, and he knows it only takes the right book to get him interested, so he hasn’t given up on reading at all. Every time he would pass by that way, he would check the shop to see if anything would interest him. No such luck today, though, not that he minds, considering his workload. What he did love, were movies. So if he believes in books, and he doesn’t like books very much, why can’t he manage to say he believed in movies, and justify it?

+++++

Cohen entered his apartment and, by habit, immediately checked for his messages.

“You have one, not two, one, just one, message,” said the answering machine in his head. Geez, he needs to get a life. And lo and behold, the message was even from his editor. Whoopee. “Hey, Coh, it’s me, Grace. Listen, I sent you a copy of your article for this week’s issue with the revisions. They’re just minor typos, no biggie. By the way, loved-it! You should definitely write more about vulnerable stuff. I want the same vulnerability on your next article. I know I told you it should be about movies, but I want your readers to be able to relate to it still, so I want the same level of sap, got it? Oh and we definitely need to talk about who that girl is that’s on the article. You have been keeping me out about this kind of dirt in your life, so you better dish out next time. Okay, honey, cheers!”

Hmm. The last article… He opened his email and re-read his article for the nest issue. It was definitely not fiction. It was kind of like an open letter, his secret confession to the one and only girl he loved. Yeah, you could say he was pretty preoccupied these days. Maybe that’s why his creative juices just won’t flow. Maybe.

Come Saturday morning, and the article came out. It was critiqued and revered later on as one of the paper’s most outstanding pieces.

+++++

Cecilia was just reading the newspaper while waiting for Cohen. They had been close friends for quite some time now and their friendship was getting stronger and stronger. They were just planning to have lunch today.

Cecilia always read Cohen’s column last. He was a good writer and she liked his articles fresh on her mind after reading. This article seemed different from his usual work, thought Cecilia. After reading on, she realized that it was his love confession, and from the scenarios described in the article, she could tell that it was about her. She was still processing things, when the doorbell rang. She rose up to answer the door, and there stood Cohen, and somehow, he looked different. Cecilia was finally seeing Cohen for the very first time. Cohen just took her by surprise with this open letter crap, and it showed him to her in a different light. She told him so, and Cohen just about passed out. This was something that he’d been waiting for his entire life. But before he admitted to her that the article was indeed about her, he coaxed her to give him the go signal, something that would assure him that she wants him, and his love for her, just as bad. It was like there was this huge, pink elephant in the room now, and they both refused to acknowledge its presence. They both know what they were talking about, and yet they both still won’t admit to each other what they know. It was for this very reason that Cohen absolutely hated pink elephants. They are the worst form of awkwardness he knows, and he loathes and despises awkward situations. They’re just so… darned awkward, and off-setting.

Cohen sighed. They pressed each other on, but she never wavered and gave him his go signal, so he never confessed. Probably, she was feeling sad that she’s alone right now and only wanted to make him admit his feelings to her, so that she could feel pretty again, and important to someone, and just… loved.

When Cohen realized that what he was hoping for was just never going to come, He stood up and started to leave. It was probably for the best that she decided to keep silent about her true feelings too, after all, they were friends, best friends, and she probably wanted to spare his feelings. Because the sad truth is, she just won’t feel the same way.

“I know that you know that I love you,” Cohen said solemnly, as he stood just outside her door. He paused dramatically for Cecilia to respond. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. She just stared at him with the saddest expression on her face. He felt a tear begin to fall, and before it fully found its way down his cheek for Cecilia to see, he turned and left.

+++++

A few days later, Cohen dropped by his favorite coffee house to, once and for all, finish his overdue article. Once he got his order, he went to his usual couch. What he saw made his heart stop. There she was, in her most beautiful smile, laughing at what her male companion was saying. He longed to be the guy that gave her that specific laugh, but they only pop up her lovely face when she’s with a guy she loves. So she’s in love again. At least she’ll be happy again, that’s all he ever wanted anyway.

Cohen looked closely at the guy. His face suddenly contorted with unmasked fury as recognition dawned on him. It was one of her ex-boyfriends. His anger suddenly knotted his already queasing stomach. What was going on? She said this was the boyfriend she was most ashamed of, the one she couldn’t understand why she ever went out with in the first place. Why would she tell Cohen all those lies, when the truth is, she loved him all along? God, he needed to get out of there. He mustn’t be seen by them.

But as his luck would have it, Cecilia saw him, just as he was turning around and dashing for the door. He failed to hold back his tears, and they started to pour own his face.

“Cohen, wait,” Cecilia cried out as she caught up with him outside. “Please, let me explain.”

Cohen just gave her the most pained smile she had ever seen on him. “What’s there to explain?” Cohen mustered, furiously wiping at his wet and flushed cheeks. “I’m the one with the problem, right? You should go back inside, your date’s waiting.”

“Come on, Coh, don’t be like this.” Cecilia pleaded.

“Like what?” Cohen replied, still trying his best to smile despite the circumstances. “Like my usual self? This is who I am, Cecilia. If you really are my friend, you need to accept me for what I am. I just wish I could do the same. For some strange reason, I just can’t seem to get it in my stupid head that no matter what I say or do, you’re just… never gonna love me. Not now… not ever.”

+++++

“And so I ask myself, ‘Do I believe in movies?’ The answer is simple. Yes, I do believe in movies, and the power it has to give an escape route to its viewers from the sadness, the problems, and the oddities in the real world. But the thing is, I also believe in life. And as I’ve learned from experience, real life will never, ever be just like in the ‘reel’ world.”

There was applause from the entire room, as Cohen’s editor finished reading his next column to the staff. She then remarked that it might just be his most beautiful work.

“Thanks, Grace,” Cohen just smiled at her compliment. “I appreciate everything. However, please consider this my two weeks notice.”

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~ by iamnotfrodo on July 8, 2006.

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