To The Boy Who Wanted Freedom But Found Solitude


[this is a reader submitted reply to our story “To The Girl Who Wanted All Or Nothing”]

Dear you,

This is a reply from a girl who also wanted all or nothing, written not so much to you but to the lone ranger who has stolen my heart only to run far, far away with it, never to come back. Though fully aware of this, I am still waiting for his return…like that annoyingly hopeless female character in Legends of the Fall.


I still think of you too, only three months later.

I think about the way you’re too lazy to cook and how anything but pizza is a personal victory. I imagine you cleaning the entire living room, but failing to clean up the beard hairs in your bathroom sink (apparently they’re invisible to you). I remember the fact you only have one set of bed linen and know where you keep those long drink glasses I bought you (what sane adult doesn’t have those?). There’s a semi-broken hairdryer too, somewhere, which I left because you now have to style your man bun-less do. The beard hairs, the long drink glasses, the hairdryer…even the card I wrote you and the Hopper illustration we bought at that flee market…all of those items still have the privilege to be in your life somehow. Yet I am cast out.


All the compliments you’ve thrown my way, all the deep talks and enlightening insights you gave me, both personally and professionally, those slowly but gradually changed into something else, something darker. Over the course of our short but flamboyant relationship, you seemed to crumble down, piece by piece, losing whatever it is that holds you together and keeps you centred. Trying to compensate for this breakdown that you must have been aware of, you overcompensated, fiercely trying to lull your doubts and unrest to sleep by exclaiming how much you wanted us, how much we were really it.

Yes, the sex was indeed great. We’d both let go of all we thought life was demanding from us and stopped existing in the real world for a little while. Then, you’d be fully present. I wouldn’t have to draw your attention or flick my fingers to make you look or listen, you’d just be there with me. Of course, even this started to collapse though. Instead of being your lover, the one who you couldn’t get enough of, I became a friend, even less maybe, a sister, a second-rate buddy, a fucking plant?

All of a sudden, the good moments weren’t that great anymore. I’d still try to find joy in the few cute fragments I could get my hands on: finding an exemplary piece of belly button lint, cracking jokes with you during Christmas dinner, eating sausage rolls in our chill pants on a Sunday morning, thinking of how we might build a Bill Murray shrine in our future house.

That home will only exist in the fantasies of our previous selves, locked away in bygone conversations forever. You know very well you did promise me the future, multiple times, and right when you got me to trust and believe you, you pulled away from me. The stupid thing is that I can’t even hate you for it. Even though you’ve hurt me in ways I never thought possible, somehow when it comes to you I can feel no real resentment for who you are or what you do. You cause me to feel beyond myself and to wish you the best, even if it means my worst – at least for now.

Yes, the future is limitless and impossibly fucking scary. Yes, there’s a lot out there that will always wait for you to chase after it, like those frikking cats that you’re allergic to. But when does the hunting stop? When do you finally realise that your curiosity is not bringing you the relief and freedom that you so desperately seek, but rather locking you up in a shallow world full of ceaseless insecurity.

You once, very romantically I might add, called me your top bitch. Unfortunately, we now can’t even sit “on the other side of [each other’s] face[s] for an hour”. Not without me crying my eye balls out and you feeling even guiltier than you felt before. Also, to be quite honest, I’m not sure I like any possible new version of “us”. I liked the us we had before, it was a great us if you ask me, and changing it would take away its awesomesauceness.

So no, you can’t borrow me whenever it suits you. You’re not allowed to keep stepping onto my wound right when it was about to become itchy and heal a little. Funnily enough, I wish it were possible, but I can’t and won’t. I would indeed have liked it all, but maybe not in the way you sensed. I wanted all of you, not just the polished version that you’ve so carefully constructed and which was starting to crack. It’s was through your wall of well-placed facades that I wanted to creep, to liberate the huddled being hiding behind the social yet lone ranger.

So long, cowboy. May the Force be with you.

Ateke Willemse is an English teacher and a wannabe journalist. Local in Eindhoven, but yearning for Nijmegen.  Likes: cappuccino, Netflix bingeing, sausage rolls. Dislikes: people walking too slowly in front of her, the ironic use of Comic Sans (pick on another font already, will you?!) and cheesy Western references.