‘Write me a story,’ she pleaded. I could see the enamoured and enthusiastic desperation behind her eyes, lit afire.
She held me close, running those fairy-tale fingertips through my hair. Her familiar figure, like flames alight, sculpted mine simply by the way she perched herself upon my knees. As I studied her smile and kissed her palms for all I was worth, I realized my love was the very effigy of a writer’s fantasy.
‘A story of love,’ she added, and I smiled into her treasure-soft shoulders.
Writer Veronica Roth, during an interview, went into depth about how Divergent, her stereotypical dystopian fiction, is nothing other than her own private utopia. This renders even more poignant her statement, namely that ‘without conflict, there are no stories worth reading-or writing.’ Altruism and kindness may be the source of healthy human exchanges, but conflict, both interior and exterior, is as much our substance as the blood rushing through our veins. With every peering glance, each competitive laugh of twisted desire and all those hours we spend listening in an aching desire to take the reins and speak, we are full of conflict.
I knew she desired a most splendid acclamation of how my world shone at the very thought of merging with hers. Of the dreams I intertwined with her laugh of childlike innocence. Of how, when I saw her, I wished nothing more than to dance for hours upon hours until the world became a beautiful place once again.
Yet, as I sat at my desk, striving at my scribbles through the dark night, I realized it was unfathomable to do so.
At one point in time, you couldn’t trust a man with whom you had not yet gone to war, but as time and my travels go on, I am starting to believe that it is quite the opposite: you can only trust those against whom you have warred. It is easy to be kind and simple on a daily basis, yet the second two people dig deeper into themselves and their relationship, conflict begins to shimmy its way to the surface. Conflict brings out a person’s truth, for through anger comes a heart speaking itself raw, and through the x-ray of disagreements comes a wide range of hidden verities. You can love absolutely everything about a person’s smile, yet find yourself beaten black and blue by the way they handle conflict. Truth doesn’t come from kindness, but from friction – and nobody wishes to read a lie.
I contemplated her blue eyes – those which discuss ocean tragedy shining in the wreckage – but where I should have recalled our loving moments shared, I saw shattered glass. I saw her burning tears blurring my mind, as the mirror I’d hurled at the wall disintegrated into diamonds all around us.
If only she hadn’t seen him that night. If only she’d stayed by my side…
Conflict is our way of coming together. Without it, what is to say my neighbour is on my side or yours? Indeed, it is through battle and not through small talk that we learn upon whom we can depend. As human beings, we are made to exist in distinct groups, rather than in a Pangaea of oblivious bliss, and these groups are defined by the boundaries of war. It is almost as if we need a common enemy in order to strengthen our bonds with each other. Both the fictional and non-fictional wars of which we speak are based on groups of us desiring either independence or identity. Call us insane, but we crave devastation in the way we should crave one another.
I imagined her lying back in the sea. Beauty vibrated from her bronze-tinted skin, making her one with the paradisal destination of our honeymoon. The waves covered her body, made her safe in the way I was never able to do.
No matter how terribly we may fight one another, our quintessential conflict is ultimately the one we hide inside. Will we ever truly be good enough? Almost subconsciously, we fight ourselves every day as soon as we rise and shine; we see people surpassing our own accomplishments, and it kills us. We compare where we believe we should be to where we are, and it’s heart-breaking. Although it hurts, this conflict inside us is our sustenance, pushing us further and further out of fear of failing. Sometimes it is almost as if I am two people: one screaming that nothing will ever suffice, and the other killing herself trying to prove such words wrong. I often wonder who I would be if weren’t harbouring such a war behind closed doors, but I know for sure I wouldn’t have nearly as many tales to tell.
I heard her laugh from downstairs. Not the sound of a baby’s first word could have sounded so precious. She laughed at the little things, like comical salt and pepper shakers, or the purr of a cat, or my paraphernalia left lying astray upon the sofa. I guess she had to; that laugh was her way of putting all the tiny diamonds back together one baby step at a time.
It was a shame all I heard behind its melody were promises, colliding.
In the end, conflict is simply the forging of opinions. It is the power behind a simple speech, the realization that what matters is worth protecting at all costs. Conflict is what makes us more than polite cells: we are everything we believe, and our strength is the force with which we fight for those beliefs.
A story, similarly, is a painful truth requiring more than a little willpower to write. What makes books and fantasies so wonderful is that, somewhere inside us, we find them relatable. Why? Perhaps because all any of us have in common is our plethora of ongoing battles.
So, as Roth rightly states, conflict makes a story worth reading, but on a larger scale, conflict turns a life into a myriad of stories.
Ink spurted over my fingers as I wrote. I pressed my quill to the paper with such desperation that it very nearly snapped in two.
My heart, too, was ready to explode.
I threw away the endless pieces of paper I had wasted trying and trying again to write a flawless love story. They were meaningless.
Instead, I swallowed my pride and let the hurricane of terrible memories race back into my mind like a sandstorm.
I was overwhelmed, to the point of feeling physically ill. But then I had it: our story.
She must have been watching me from the doorway for some time, because as soon I stopped writing and gasped for breath, she tiptoed over to my desk. Sat delicately upon the oak wood.
‘So, have you finished?’
I nodded and handed her the little pile of papers, watching as her eyes scoured my wretched words in despair.
‘But…this is awful…you’ve put all our worst memories into words…’
I smiled, eyes truly and dearly full of love. ‘That’s exactly it. Those memories are the reason you’re the love of my life.’