Flash fiction – 483 words
I Don’t Hate You
I’m not packing my suitcase. I’m packing yours.
Remember when we first made eye contact across a crowded room? It was opening night and adoring fans packed the lobby, all vying for your attention. Ever the charmer, they couldn’t get enough of you. Ever the loner, they didn’t even know I existed.
I narrowed my eyes and glared at you. You winked and smiled at me.
I hated you because everyone loved you. I couldn’t see past the crush of attention that followed you everywhere.
I kept out of your way, wanted nothing to do with you. Your lifestyle was not my lifestyle. You were a rising star with an eternal spotlight lighting your ascent. I was a descending extra, destined for invisibility, forever a no one in the dark.
When the show had been on the road for almost a year, we were all getting tired. Tired of motel rooms. Tired of planes and taxis. Tired of playing someone else. All I wanted was to play myself again, even though I didn’t particularly like myself.
I was surprised when you spoke to me. I thought you’d sound different. But you sounded normal.
“It’s been a long run, hasn’t it?” you said, catching up to me on the stairs and holding the door open for me when we reached our floor.
I grunted a response, but you didn’t take the hint. You walked beside me and kept talking. I wasn’t really listening. I stared at my feet and wondered why you were talking to me.
“Why do you hate me?”
That got my attention. That was when I saw you properly for the first time. The faint lines around your eyes and mouth, the dishevelled hair, the haunted look in your dark-rimmed eyes. No makeup. No fancy clothes. This was the real you, not the pretend you.
“I don’t hate you,” I said.
“Yes, you do,” you said. “I can see it in your eyes.”
“I don’t know you,” I said.
After that, you sought me out, determined to change my mind. And you did. I got to know you and discovered I didn’t hate you. You were not the person I thought you were.
You made me feel good about myself. Something I’d never felt before.
We became the show’s odd couple. Management told us we had to hide our relationship because I didn’t fit the image they wanted for you. When it got out, your fans hated me. I was ok with that—it was my usual state of being—but I could see it affecting you more each day.
Now, management just cancelled my contract. Security has been called to escort me from the set but I told them I need to pack first.
That’s why I called you. I’m so glad you came.
I hope you’re ok with this. You see, I’m not packing my suitcase. I’m packing yours.