Not In That Way

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Not In That Way

A story inspired by a song by Sam Smith with the same title.

He stared at the forest outside: cold, grey, bleak. The height of winter was upon them, and it was uncaring and cruel. Almost everything was frozen. Flecks of white slowly fell from the sky, making mounds of snow. They were beautiful; stark white a contrast to the dirt-muddled pavement, their beauty almost ironic to the merciless temperature they brought.

He found out that he liked this kind of weather.

Gazing at the darkening sky, he let the moving clouds mesmerize him. In a flurry of movement, he was out the door, heading wherever his feet would take him, following wherever his heart would lead him.

“Lyle,” she breathed, wonder lighting up her features, “this place is beautiful.”

Only a few minutes ago, he coaxed her into going to the forest with him, even though it may prove dangerous to do so. He was quite adamant about it, insisting that the place they were going to was a place she would never forget. When she shot him a look of uncertainty and fear, he reassured her that everything was going to be alright.

Hesitantly, she reached for his outstretched hand, and his glee couldn’t be more pronounced.

Now they were standing at the edge of a great lake, its waters slightly frosted from the weather, its surface glistening under the radiant sun. The trees surrounding it also seemed to glow under the faint lights; snow-covered leaves softening the seemingly hard branches and contrasted the dark trunks. It was all so ethereal, almost like a fairy’s winter wonderland.

“It is beautiful.” He approved. However, he can’t help but think that the woman who was beside him was more breathtaking than the scene before them. With her tinted lips slightly parted, cheeks flushed and green eyes twinkling with happiness and awe, he could only stare at her.

Suddenly she laughed – and his heart swelled with love.

But as intricate a spell can be, it is also fragile. His temporary wonderland was shattered in an instant with a question and a message behind green eyes.

“…Hey,” she said, merriment still in her tone as she looked him in the eye, “can I come here again?”

He was about to answer a simple “of course” when he saw her eyes.

He knew that look. It was the same look that adorned his eyes whenever he thought of his loved one – giddy with excitement, a little mischievous, and filled with love.

It was clear that her affection was not directed at him.

Immediately his eyes dimmed; his feeling of euphoria gone, his heart constricted so tight it felt that it was going to be pulled out any second, and it hurt so much, so much that it’s like he’s dying –


He was forced back into reality. Ironically, the pain was still there.

He compelled himself to give the most sincere smile he could give, and replied, “Of course.”

Deep down, waves of sadness crashed every fiber of his being, for he knew that the next time she came here, it would not be with him.


He wasn’t surprised when his feet brought him back to the place he used to love so much.

Memories flooded his brain, back to the days when life was so much happier, when ignorance was still bliss, when he still gave little things so much value. But that was all in the past. Now, his heart was filled with bitterness stemmed by rejection seen in a pair of eyes.

After so many years, the pain was still there. They were close friends, after all.

I’m such a fool.

He considered a lot of times to tell her what he really felt, to say the words that tried to force themselves out his throat, the words bursting with affection that was locked for so long. But before they got out of his mouth, he swallowed them back.

She will never know this feeling. She will never see through these eyes.

He admitted there was fear. Fear of being pushed away, to not be able to talk to her normally, but most of all, he was afraid that he’ll be rejected again.

I’d never ask her, ‘cause deep down I’m certain I know what she’ll say.

Now, as he scanned the landscape, he can’t help but think that somehow the place mirrored what he felt. The winter wonderland that he’d grown to love has now been drained of its magic. The lake was frozen, cracks and scratches evident in its surface; the trees were thin, seemingly fragile. The sun was in hiding, and the snow only gave a dreary distinction to its surroundings. The place was cold, bleak, and desolate.

He vowed to himself that he will never visit this place again, and will turn a deaf ear to his feelings.

She’d say, “I’m sorry. Believe me, I love you, but not in that way.”

 He turned his heel and didn’t look back.

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