Polaroids, a short story by Wania at Spillwords.com
Mahdi Bafande



written by: Wania


Quick question.

How do you get the love of your life back?

No, wait, that’s actually a stretch. I never loved him. I just loved the way he made me feel… lovable.

I just loved the way he loved me.

Hence, the question should be: how do I get him to love me back?

In order to solve the problem, one must know what the problem is, right?

So here’s what happened.

College was great. Every day meant a new influx of attention and addition to my social circle. I was involved in everything. I was acing all my classes, doing debates, hell. I was even the editor of the school’s official student website. Even more hell, I was the one who programmed the website. Apart from showing my intellectual prowess, I had that whole intelligent vibe going on.

Then came… bake sale.

We had campus tours that day too. You know me, I like to stay busy and up front. So I get super mad when I’m rarely seen in a post or a reel. As if the maker really had something against me. Bitches.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the insensitive type. I just really get mad when people don’t show me the same compassion I show them. Like what the fuck.

Anyway, returning to my love story.

I volunteered to show students around campus because a) some of these idiots might be my juniors tomorrow and b) I wanted to look like I have a purpose. Not just loitering around like a nobody.

Later on when I did join the bake sale, it had turned into this gigantic carnival. There were rides, there was music, people were dancing, screaming, eating, puking, fighting… and you were taking my photos.

I remember specifically the heat burning through my skin. Wearing all black did not help. You asked me and Zara to come aside, “do you want a picture taken?” you asked something along those lines. Funny how I don’t remember.

“Sure,” I barely knew you. Other than, of course, that one time you asked me to help you with this question in our Computer Science class. But I didn’t remember that until later. You took our pics, the sun burned through our eyes until it became impossible to open them. You showed us the pictures later on, they were bad. Really bad.

I told you that. Because at the time, you were a nobody. I didn’t know you. Nobody knew you. Or at least I thought. So I let you know exactly what I was thinking. Because of course, I wasn’t obsessed with you then.

You took some more. Then we parted ways.

Until later on that day, you texted me the photos. But… it contained more. These weren’t just the pictures you took with our consent. You took more pictures of me later on. When I danced, or laughed, or ate. I was clueless in them. It was weird. I forwarded all of them onto my private group chats. Didn’t say anything else.

“Umm, omgg, who took these?”

The girls were curious. They thought it was weird for someone you barely know to take so many pictures of you. Without consent. Sneakily. Like. A. Stalker.

And of course, I played my part.

“Oh, c’mon, they’re just photos. He’s not stalking me, he’s a goddamn photographer. He probably took loads for others as well.”

It’s funny how girl group chats are. The more I refused to accept it, the more vehemently they proved it. It started with crazy far-fetched theories until the chat ended with the conclusion that you totally have a crush on me.

You seemed useful. The photos were good. So I gave you an assignment to click the magazine cover photos. There was a long discussion regarding it, none that I remember but you did say something about it being “nice” that I was taking part in things around campus.

That shit made me real mad. Cause unlike you, everyone had heard about me. I had a stellar extra-curricular record and I was excelling in my classes (even T.A. in one). On the contrary, I never saw you in class. Like ever. So a remark like that coming from you was crass. And I let you know that (without the “you’re crass” part).

You gave a sense of gratefulness just being able to talk to me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

Might I mention, that was also the day you sent me a request on Instagram. I was awfully slow and hesitant to let you in. Really made you work for it. Anyway, those days are boring. Nothing much happened. You did a few more shoots for me. We laughed a little, you reacted on my stories frequently, watching every one consistently. I know that because I started counting minutes, sometimes even hours, until you saw them. Your profile id on my story view list made me feel at ease. Satisfied. Like the true purpose of putting up a funny meme (often on ill-taken pictures of mine; the ultimate proof of my humor) or selfies with carefully picked out songs and captions was accomplished. And I could sleep peacefully.

I would daydream putting up shit I knew you’d see. It gave me a thrill I couldn’t quite explain. This weird sense of validation. I loved it.

There were days I didn’t see you, but strangely I started believing the girls. That you had a crush on me. And then my delusional fantasies took way. Until I was convinced that you loved me. And then the time came when you actually did.

It’s weird. I had found myself in a fantasy. I never expected to find a 6 foot two hulk to fall in love with me, an ambitious go-getter. I was fast track, what my never-ending schedule needed was an understanding photographer who would catch me when I fall. I knew full well he was perfectly capable of doing it. Who would be there to photograph the love of his life. Save moments for me when I forget to live them. All I had to do was reach out and grab the fantasy. Catch it, trap it, and never let it go.

Every day was an opportunity to do that. And every day I thought, I’ll wait. Why? Because I was content with how the fantasy was playing out. I was in control. Couldn’t imagine giving that away. Couldn’t imagine what would happen when the fantasy comes true. Would you love me the same way? Would you open the doors I’m perfectly capable of opening? Would you buy me tea whenever I look burnt out, not because I’m incapable of doing so, but because you knew perfectly well what you getting tea for me meant. It was a reassurance. A gesture. That proved you were a true gentleman; a rarity. Proved your thoughtfulness. Proved that no matter how harsh life could get, I could always depend to fall into your arms. You were my golden parachute.

Was it smart? No. Women centuries back would only trust a man to be capable of those things if they went to war, slashed the throats of their beloved’s enemies, or remained loyal for thirty years. Was my mistake settling for the bare minimum? Or was it to believe there was a fantasy in the first place? If the latter is true, he invited the fantasy. He was solely responsible for it.

He was the problem.

And. I. Must. Fix. The. Problem.

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