The Greatest Thing

By Fabia Morger

There’s no denying that Gillian was one of the most charming people ever been alive, if not the most charming at all. She was pretty, that’s for sure, but it was more. When Gillian entered a room, there were always people in the room who were better looking or more spectacular than her. Nevertheless, after an hour or so, their physical qualities were forgotten and everybody would swear that Gillian was by far the most memorable, most delightful, most beautiful person that they had seen in their entire life. And everybody fell in love with her, though it was hard to define with what exactly they fell in love with.Was it her enchanting smile, her sparkling eyes, the intelligent and humorous comments she made or her emphatic way of listening to what other people had to say? It wasn’t definable and it didn’t matter. Approaching her was easy and talking to her as well; she was one of those people who made everybody completely comfortable around them. There were course be those who tried to withdraw themselves from her charms but even those couldn’t help but love Gillian. And Gillian loved them back.

What nobody could see was that Gillian’s façade of complete perfection was hard work and it had taken her long to be able to keep it up all day and night. Luckily, Gillian had started to work on it from a very young age on; in her early teenage years, she was already able to cast a spell on most of the students and teachers around her. When she was in her twenties it felt completely natural to behave the way she did and Gillian almost forgot that it had taken her years of practice to become perfect. That Gillian worked so hard on making people love her had, of course, its reasons. Her behaviour resembled very closely that of drug addicts who would do absolutely anything to get a shot of whatever it was they took to achieve an illusion of happiness. Gillian’s drug was being in love, a drug that she had completely and irretrievably fallen for. Love was her heroin, her distraction from all the problems that might trouble her mind. Being in love was her way of being high. She longed for that uncertainty, the sleepless nights, the castles you build in the air when in love. She also ached for the many firsts that a new relationship brought with it. First time holding hands, first kiss, first “I love you”, first time feeling the touch of someone else’s body against yours. She craved for those many hours that people freshly in love could stare at each other and get the utmost happiness from. Love truly was the greatest thing to her.

Thus, Gillian would fall in love at least four times a year. The choice of her target was rather random and defined by an instinct that Gillian herself could not explain. Age, gender, ethnicity or even beauty played a minor role for her. If there was a certain characteristic that all of her lovers shared it was that they were not that easy to get. Someone who was too obviously interested in Gillian bored her. It was too easy and the intoxication of love faded too fast. Also, the people had to be able to love passionately and unconditionally, a quality which many people lack nowadays, but that was, after all, the reason why Gillian was the way she was.

After a month, sometimes more, sometimes less, the feeling always faded. Then, without wasting a second, Gillian broke it off. This was, of course, rather unpleasant work. But Gillian had gotten used to the pleas and cries of her previous lovers. An explanation she never gave those heart-broken creatures, only a shrug. From time to time, it could also happen that Gillian got her heart broken but she had learnt to accept that. The risk of pain was part of the game, it had to exist otherwise loving wouldn’t be that exhilarating. The only thing Gillian extremely disliked about romance was encounters with her lovers after they had broken up. The forced exchange of empty phrases, the simulation of showing interest at the other person’s well-being… she hated all that. For that reason, Gillian moved around a lot, mostly from big city to big city. She spent one year in Toronto, one in Cape Town, another one in Paris and so on. She didn’t really have friends, nor did she feel she needed any. She got loved wherever she went and that was enough.

As anybody who knows a bit about addiction could have guessed, the feeling started to wear down faster and faster. When Gillian turned thirty, she could not be in love for longer than a week until the unbearable boredom came back. She would have to find more spectacular loves, an ordinary romance wasn’t enough anymore, no, it had to be an impossible love, like a person that was terminally ill or at least moving to the other end of the world soon; or somebody forced by higher powers not to fall in love with her, like a Catholic priest or a closeted gay Mormon. But those were hard to discover and Gillian started to travel around with increasing frequency, desperately searching for the ultimate thrill, the biggest possible romance. With the increasing drama Gillian caused, she also started to leave a trace of destruction behind. For example, the guy with pancreatic cancer, whom she left after a few weeks (she thought he would die sooner), killed himself before the sickness did the job and the catholic priest (who had to give up all his hopes of ever becoming bishop because of their romance) sent a contract killer behind her. Falling in love with the contract killer was the last adventure in Gillian’s short life.

One could have told Gillian that breaking the heart of a professional killer, who additionally expected payment for murdering her, was clearly not the most reasonable thing to do. But when did addicts ever listen to reason? Gillian told him that she was leaving, shrugged on his urging to tell him why and got two bullets shot straight into her head. One could say that Gillian had finally fallen in love with the wrong person. However, a part of her would probably have been relieved to know that she died before her charms started to fade. That way, she could still dazzle the funeral director with the allures of her body that even in death kept a certain charm.

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