LIE TO ME

I looked at the crowd as I sat down on the stool up the small stage. I saw you gave me a little nod and a smile,
watching me get a hold of the acoustic guitar. You made a face which made me roll my eyes, making the two girls
at the crowd look at your direction, probably trying to see who I was communicating with.

The bar was quite crowded tonight. I can see some familiar faces, but like every other night that I played there,
they were just that, familiar faces of strangers. If they were there to listen to me or the others or were just there to
get wasted, I don’t really know. I shouldn’t be bothered by them, I know, but it is quite hard not to be bothered
when their eyes are on you.

“Seriously! You’ve been doing this for three years and you’re telling me now that you’re still nervous?” You have asked earlier while I was begging the manager to get someone else to play that night.

I just didn’t feel like doing anything, to be honest. I would rather nurse a beer or two at one of the tables than be in front of everyone.

It didn’t help that you had to pick the smallest shirt for me to wear or the fact that you actually ripped the sleeves
off of it a minute ago. The skinny jeans you forced me to wear weren’t helping either. It was just too uncomfortable,
making me feel naked. But you have insisted, saying that it’s a good way to distract people in case I mess up.

I feel more like a gigolo than that of an artist but you said that it was part of the package. I did not even try to argue.

I almost laughed when you pretended to hyperventilate after I winked at you. I just rolled my eyes instead.

The show must go on, right? Like everything else.

I started strumming the guitar, my eyes drifting from one place to another, waiting for the moment to cope up
with me.

And just then, I remembered what you said earlier. I almost stopped.

“I’m getting married!”

It was a good thing that I was about to start and didn’t have to say anything. You gave me a hug when my name was called and pushed me towards the stage, telling me that we’ll continue talking soon as my set was done.

I closed my eyes and started singing.

Lie, of why you’re leaving early
Deny, that you’re in any hurry
Cry and tell me not to worry
Cause what I don’t know is never gonna hurt me

Breathe, no baby don’t feel guilty
Deceive me then just walk away
Leave me; the truth would only kill me
And it’s gotta be, it’s gotta be this way

I opened my eyes just in time to see the confusion in your eyes. You’re not familiar with the song, I know. You’d
probably tease me to death if you knew where I learned about it or give me that what-the-hell kind of look again. I
rolled my eyes again and look somewhere else.

It was a spur of the moment decision, singing that song. It just felt right.

I saw two guys raising their eyebrows and looking at me curiously as I sang. They know the song and probably trying to figure me out.

I almost laughed right there and then. You would have laughed too if you have seen them and knew what they were probably thinking.

But I didn’t. The show must go on so I continued.

One more bad excuse
Before you turn me lose
Give me something to remember you by
Couldn’t you offer me
A little dishonesty
Promise me you’ll try
You’ll lie to me

The words you said were ringing in my ears. If how much it affected me was showing, I didn’t even care anymore. I
can just tell you that it was just the song. You’d believe me, of course. You kept on telling me how I seem to lose
myself in every song I sang, as if I was hiding for the longest time. And you were right about that. I was hiding, hiding on plain sight.

Go, your plane’s not gonna stay
Slow, so I can take it in
And so, you say you’ll see me later
When you know you won’t see me again
Please, before you let go of me
Take me one more time
Appease me; tell me that you love me
That you haven’t gone and changed your mind

A part of me was wishing that you were really listening, that you would realize that I am singing to you, that you
realize that I was trying to tell you something.

I chanced another look at you. You just gave me a thumbs-up as if trying to tell me that I was doing fine. I wish I was.

One more bad excuse
Before you turn me lose
Give me something to remember you by
Couldn’t you offer me
A little dishonesty
Promise me you’ll try
You’ll lie to me
Lie to me, lie to me
Couldn’t you, lie to me
Lie to me, yeah

The cat calls and the whistles after that song would have made any singer happy. I just smiled. One of the guys,
one of the two who were giving me the eye at least, even shouted for me to take my shirt off. I just laughed it off. I
saw you laughing your heart out after hearing that.

“Hey! No touch! That guy’s mine!” You shouted from where you were, making the laughter around the bar even louder. That was one cruel joke.

I sang a few more songs after that, most of them you know by heart. You’ve been listening to me sing those songs since you met me, even before I got the gig at the bar, even before I started believing that I could actually sing. I just wished you heard me too but it seems that you never did.

Funny how people say that music is a language anyone would understand. I guess you got lost in translation.

I felt really tired after I finished my set, more from trying to keep you off my mind than singing itself.

I didn’t want you to see how affected I was about your news though and pretending to be okay as I sang was the hardest part of it all. I didn’t want you asking questions. You’d see right through me if you probed long enough.

Music was no escape tonight. The songs I knew were reminding me of you. I was trapped.

I stepped down the stage when I was done wanting a beer real bad. I didn’t get that either. A few of the girls and guys at the bar approached me after, offering to buy me a drink though. Some were bolder, grabbing a feel or two and that’s when you stepped in, grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the bar. No beer for me. No you either. It was just perfect, sarcasm intended.

I still have one more set to play so I just signaled the manager that I’d be back. The manager just nodded.

Once outside, you started laughing.

“God! Why does it always seem like they want to see you naked?” You asked in between laughter.

“Probably because of the way you always had me to dressed up. How can people even wear these things anyway? I can barely move!” I said, smiling. That, I think, is at least half the truth. If it had been just me, I’d have went on that stage with some lose shirt and shorts or whatever I was wearing. It was your idea to give them something to look at.

“Oh shut up! It looks good on you.”

I didn’t say anything. Instead, I took out my pack of cigarettes and lit one up. You just stared. You hate it when I
smoke. You gave me the eye but I just smiled sheepishly.

“You really want to die, don’t you?” You asked disdainfully. I almost answered that I already did, remembering your words again. I just made a face.

“Hey, what’s that first song by the way?”

“You wouldn’t know about it.” That earned me a light punch on the arms.

“Well, whatever.” You said, sighing. And for a moment, we just stood there, outside the bar, me smoking and you
staring at the passing cars, standing right beside me. If I’ve wanted, I could have easily held your hands. That’s
wrong. I did want to do just that but I held back, your words echoing in my head.

“You heard me earlier, right?” You asked after a while.I almost asked if you heard me all these years too.

“Yeah…”

“And?”

“I’m happy for you.” I said.

You stepped in front of me and stared. Whatever was on your mind, I did not even dare ask.

“You’re lying.” You said. I just smiled and gave you a hug.

That seemed to work because before long, you started talking about how excited you really are, rambling over and over again about how happy you were. I wish you’d shut up.

You asked again if I was really happy for you. I lied, of course. I just wished you did too.

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