The unlikley ones: Ewan the melancholic

It’s true, I could write anything I want here. I could tell you about short-sighted kids who suddenly discover they have the ability to walk on walls of fly on brooms. But then it would be only fiction. The only fictitious part of these stories is that they didn’t happen to anyone in particular. But although the protagonists may not be verisimilar, their stories are nothing but real.

Ewan had a penchant for melancholy. There was nothing amiss in his life, but he wasn’t content with it. He was aware that even this feeling of emptiness was very natural, but he couldn’t help feeling that way. He knew some people resorted to religion or other hobbies, such as travelling or helping animals or poor people. Other people were less drastic: They simply had children who helped them experience life all anew and rediscover its meaning. But he wasn’t sure he wanted to be with his girlfriend forever.  She was pretty and nice and he realized that she had a positive influence on him. His previous emotional highs and lows were gone and now he’d reached a plateau that allowed him to do positive things, such as focusing on his work and planning for the future. But unless she took the initiative to do something together, the only thing in which he found interest was to question the meaning of life.

For him, every action was useless, since death does away with every achievement of our lives. The only meaningful thing would be to create life that could survive him; to put to good use all the love he’d received from his parents. He wanted a child with her, but he wasn’t sure he wanted her for his whole life. He knew most of people are unconscious of this fact and they deceive themselves into believing that they want to be with someone forever when what they really want is to fulfill an instinctive need: procreation. Monogamy for life is a social construct, but people are romantic and accept it as natural. No one wants to be alone, but sex is not a stable means of emotional cohesion between two people. Because our instincts finally give up on us if we don’t put sex to the only use it’s meant to: having progeny. Attraction fades and we’re at the same place where we started. Most of couples form other bonds during this time, something that helps them replace sex. Other couples rekindle their passion by means of external stimuli. But Ewan was too passive to do any of these. He didn’t want to fight against nature since it always wins in the end. For him it was natural to fall out of love after a certain time and resignation was his only strategy. He started every time as enthusiastically as the first time he’d met someone, but he inevitably saw his relationships progress towards a breakup.

Although he’d been rejected many times, it was always during first dates. Never had a girl broken up with him once they’d been in a relationship; it was him without exception. This undermined his morale so much that he didn’t have the presence of mind to break up anymore. It felt so fatal. Whenever he felt the need for a breakup, he inevitably found a loving person in front of him; someone who only demanded love in return. But it was always so dual: either love or nothing. And love should come with passion and interest or not come at all. He was ready to commit to love, but he couldn’t force passion were there wasn’t, so he gave up on it all.

Lately he’d been more despondent than usual and she’d become concerned.  She knew about his past stories and a feeling of dejà-vu started to permeate her. She didn’t know how to react. At the beginning she tried to overlook the signals of his lack of interest in her, but it got to a point in which she couldn’t ignore it anymore. He didn’t say a word nor initiated any argument; he seemed to take extra care not to stir any conflict between them. She decided to leave one day, but when she told him, he convinced her with strongly emotional arguments to stay. He was obviously deeply in love with her. He became enthusiastic for a few days, but then his despondency came back. She’d tried to convince him to seek psychological help, but he didn’t believe in it. He was sure that his feelings were real and no psychologist could make him change his pessimistic views on the world. She also knew he didn’t believe in any religion or philosophy, although he was always eager to learn. He contemplated it all as if he were watching a film, and he cried and felt deeply for all the characters, but once the film was over, he went back to the dullness of his ordinary life. It was actually small details that saved his soul, such as a sudden whim for chocolate chip cookies, halva or chocolate covered peanuts. Only then she saw him become radiant again, as he must have been when he was a child. But these placebos didn’t work unless they were rarely used.

One day, while they were home, he came up with a strange question to her, though nothing he did could surprise her anymore. Being with him was like fishing: extremely monotonous, but once in a while a fish would bite and it could be any. He said to her: “As a woman, don’t you think the main character in Persuasion would be considered a gold-digger nowadays? I mean back in the day it was the norm to marry well, but to me, that story is way worse than Cinderella when it comes to feminist ideals. Because Cinderella didn’t persuade the prince to marry her, she was just charming in her dress, but Anne Elliot disguised her materialism with virtue and other such silly values. Cinderella was honest and brave, because she challenged her mother’s orders and risked everything she had for a long shot: Marrying no one else than the prince. While Jane Austen not only made her character be materialistic, but she also made her pusillanimous. Why couldn’t she just apologize to him for her previous rejection and ask him to propose again? Nowhere in the novel is mentioned that she’s ashamed of what she did. On the contrary; Jane Austen also made her heroine self-righteous, since she always justifies her decision and never regrets it. There is no catharsis in that novel because there is no self-awareness at all. She happens to be dealing with a half-witted who proposed again to a girl who’s previously rejected him mainly for economic reasons. The story should be called: The dumb lover. What do you think?

She say: “I agree. Jane Austen wasn’t a feminist, but that she wasn’t trying to be one. “In any case, she was just showing, as you said, a self-righteous woman who persuades a scorned suitor to propose again. I actually think Jane Austen was well aware of it, since she called her book: Persuasion. She also explains in the book that persuasion is a positive value to her character, and maybe even to her. She’s obviously not romantic, at least not in this book, and yes, she promulgates marriage of convenience and brains over heart. The whole book is about her realizing that he is a suitable husband for her, and not about a mad love that ends in a Shakespearean tragedy. She advocates real, sensible love, that’s it. That’s what I think.”

He was taken aback by her answer, not because it contradicted him but because he didn’t expect such a thorough analysis of an out-of-the-blue subject. He’d read the book and had mulled over it for a while, but she’d given him a spontaneous answer which was as lucid as his opinion. His admiration for her grew all at once and he fell in love with her again. He thought “To hell with my stupid hormones which make me seek novelty all the time. Here I have everything I need in a woman.” If sex became scarce, he’d suffered it with pleasure, because he was deeply in love with her. But he needed to know whether she would accept it. Whether she wouldn’t feel betrayed when he didn’t touch her so often. He said to her “I need to tell you something,” and waited for a green light to go on. She said “yes?” and he continued “You’re everything I need and want in a woman. I don’t want to ever part with you. You stimulate me and soothe me at the same time. You’re perfect for me. I just feel that physically it’s not the same as it was when we just met. But remember what I told you when I kissed you all the time during our first date and it bothered you a little? That it’s just a phase and it would wane as we get closer. That the closer we are, the less I feel the need for physical reassurance. Now we’re one and sex is almost irrelevant. You’ve become my family, a part of me. I still desire you, but it’s a quenched desire. It’s rather love. I want to please you and feel intimacy with you; I don’t want to take pleasure in you as before. I don’t want sex but happiness. Sex is just a means to it. Tell me your thoughts.”

She said “All I want is being with you for as long as you’ll have me. Every moment with you brings happiness to my life. If you decide to leave, I won’t regret a single moment spent with you. You’re a detached person and you’ve taught me detachment and I’m very glad about it. It’s useless to make false promises; we’re only humans: How can we promise to love someone till death do us part? What kind of arrogance is this? Are we so sure of ourselves? I know I want you now and you make me happy. I don’t know what I’ll feel tomorrow. But I also know that our relationship is more important than fleeting moments of doubt or depression. I know the value of it in my life and I cherish it. As long as you don’t give up on us, I will also try my best to make it work.”

They kissed a long but delicate kiss and she grabbed him by the hand and took him to the door. “Walk with me” she said, and they put on their jackets and went out. They said nothing more; they just walked in the September afternoon, while the lights of the city shone upon them. They were a couple and the whole world acknowledged it. This was happiness: To be a couple, to build on love and thus defeat death and loneliness.


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.

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