”Here I have it! It’s that bracelet you thought was too expensive. Trust me, it’s better than whole, roasted nuts.” I push it to your hands and back away, sniggering in anticipation.
Love it. It’s so meant for you.
What are you waiting for? The couch creaks under you as I keep staring.
“Thank you, but”, you say as you shift next to the blue cushion, “I already got this on my birthday. Two of them, actually…”
The words slap my face, and your falling voice at the end only lowers the blow. It’s too late for you to repair the damage. I turn. I run. I need to do better.
But can I? That was already more money than I had been planning to spend. My weeping wallet doesn’t want to suffer another blow… Maybe not jewellery this time?
No, I’ll never give you a shitty drawing. I’m better than that.
“Here! It’s the CD of the album your favourite artist just released! Trust me, it’s better than split, oven-fresh baguettes.” I carefully hand it over.
“Cool!” You inspect both sides of the CD as you rest your other hand on the blue cushion. “I didn’t think I needed this, since I already listened to it on Spotify, but…”
Your mouth stops, but not in time. I’m already storming out. It’s not you, it’s me. I condemn myself for not understanding you. I’ve always used YouTube, after all. What a freak I am.
But now what? The CD wasn’t that expensive, but I’m still over the budget. Could I give something I already have?
No, I’ll never give you a last minute shitty drawing. Why would I be so desperate? I can come up with something different, something unique.
“Here. My sweat and tears. Trust me, it’s better than quartered bananas.” I start sliding the cup forward on the table, but your face tells more than enough. I pause and pull it back. “Nevermind.”
You gulp as you drum your fingers on the blue cushion. “Look, this is getting out of hand”, you say, “Please, just calm down for a sec and we can talk this through…”
Will nothing ever be good enough? I pour my sweat and tears down the drain before turning and walking away. They’re not gifts anymore. They never were. I don’t hear you calling after me.
I need to think appearances more. Sweat and tears are plain or perhaps ugly, no matter how much effort they took. You know it meant a lot, but it doesn’t matter even if it does impress. So, what should it be? Something prettier, something more colourful…
No, I’ll never give you a last minute, pencil-drawn 10x20cm shitty drawing. There’s no way. I just placed the paper and pencils on my desk in case I needed resources to become a professional artist. Of course that’s why.
This was difficult. I have so little left to give. But I did it, even though I hadn’t used needles before. “Here’s… here’s my blood and everlasting affection. I…” Violent coughs can stop me only for a few seconds. “I drained this for you. Trust me, it’s better than slices… of leftover pizza…”
You spring up from the couch to grab the vial from my shaky hands before I faint in your arms.
Resting in the ambulance will have to do for this night’s sleep. I don’t spend too much time at the hospital, because I need to see you again. But the vial wasn’t a good gift. You saw how much I needed it. You saw how much I had to lose upon entrusting you with the whole thing. So, what can I give?
No, I’ll never give you a last minute, pencil-drawn 10x20cm (10x10cm when folded) shitty drawing of a gift wrapped in a pink box that contains whatever crap you actually wanted but didn’t tell me because I never asked because I should have known but the box is cute and I used scissors to cut it from the A4 myself so that counts for some fucking imaginary points that angels award for success in life which I’m achieving by drawing this shitty drawing. It’s for someone else. Obviously.
“HERE!” I throw the shitty drawing, and it twirls in the air before landing on your forehead. “It’s better than sliced bread! You piece of shit! Love it!” I’m clutching the pencils tight against my skin, as if I’m blaming them for being accomplices in this mess. I turn in preparation to storm out again.
“This…” you begin.
Looking over my shoulder, I hear you finish:
“…is amazing.” The pink box has captivated your eyes, although I know you’re sneaking careful glances at me as you sit on the couch, studying your gift.
“No, it’s not”, I say, “It’s a shitty drawing.” I suppress the yawn. It’s been a while since I last slept, not counting the ambulance.
“Does that matter?” you ask.
I lean against the door. “Did it… ever matter? Would it have mattered if I gave it from the beginning? Before anything else?”
You hesitate for a moment, but it’s enough. I don’t know either, that’s why I asked.
I drop the pencils on the table and take a few steps towards the couch. “I paid so much for that first gift, which was something I thought you’d like. Just because it was expensive, I guess”, I say while looking down, “And you already had it, though it wasn’t even that important to you. The second one was something I knew you’d like, but it was redundant. You know what you like. The third one was…”
“Kind of unique, even though it makes sense”, you say as you lean against the blue cushion.
“Yeah”, I say, “although it was fairly easy to use my sweat and tears from before. So, I really only wanted it to look like it took much effort. Like I’d been through a lot for it, even though they had originated from somewhere different.”
“You’re not a shitty person just because of the shitty drawing”, you say and place it down on the couch.
“Are we skipping my blood and everlasting affection?”
“No, because I know it exists”, you say, “We never went past it because it can’t be separated from your own self.”
I sigh and sit down next to you, with the shitty drawing in between us. “Your consolation sounds like it’s from a Disney film. And it was freaking difficult to find a container for my blood and…”
“Look. You’re not supposed to just hand that over.” You shake your head and shift on the blue cushion. “Think about it: Where the fuck am I supposed to keep the vial? In the drawer? And then what happens to you?”
“I could buy you a safe or something…”
“NO! Just stop buying or… procuring gifts for now.”
“No buts.” You cross your arms. “If I really am a piece of shit, you shouldn’t be considering my gifts for longer than you actually sleep.”
True. I think I already knew that, but I needed to hear it from you before doing this...
My hand reaches out to steal the unsuspecting cushion and strike! The blue fabric hits your shoulder with a puff. You retreat with your gift and leave the couch to me. I set the cushion on the couch and lay my head against it.
And no, the cushion doesn’t count as my gift.
But now it’s not too late.
Now I’m not storming out.
Now I do hear you call.
You have time for anything.