ISSUE Magazine

The Boys I Don’t End Up With by Syar S. Alia


He’s a young man with a penchant for vests and dark trousers. Dark haired, slim and lanky, “sinewy”, with long “elegant” fingers. Tall-ish. Doesn’t have a stable job, lives with roommates, a pretty solid fixture of the postgraduate, creative underclass, barely employed/newly embarked careers social circle. Owns the usual predictable “niche” interests in pop culture, literature, politics, etc. Bit of a self-styled anarchist. Rides a motorcycle, gets into fights. Has a bearded, more reliable and securely coupled best friend who is my entry into his world.

I am new to the world of dating, of romance, of boys who are now suddenly men. Beyond a few clumsy dates, and now making all the new male friends I never had in school, my life as a single person continues.

He is my act of bravery. I ask him out on a casual date, after a month or so of a secret crush that turns me pink in the cheeks. After a month or so of evasive adoration. He says yes, sort of, and we set a date to meet.

He stands me up, and avoids all my calls. Avoids his best friend’s calls. We do not see each other for two weeks. I am heartbroken but stoic, putting on a brave face. I have a reading, and I invite all my friends.

His best friend barges into his apartment on that night, breaking his self-imposed exile. He is confronted, and admits that the reason he stood me up was fear of not being good enough. Not being good enough for me. When I see him in the audience as I get on stage, dressed up but still scruffy, I smile ’cause I can’t help it.

We go to a bar afterwards, and slowly we edge away from our group of friends, and I sit on a ledge facing him, my knees gently knocking against his stomach and his hips. He tells me how impressed he is by my reading, by my writing.

I am self-deprecating before I look into his glittering eyes.

“You’re fucking perfect,” he tells me before he kisses me. I stop him and ask why he stood me up. He tells me and I ask, “Do you like me? Do you want to get to know me?” He nods. “Then what better reason to stop being scared?”

Three years later we are happy and so in love. He has given up his motorbike after a fight we have about how worried I am for his safety. His hard edges soften; we take care of each other. One day, an errant drunk driver kills him as he crosses a street. I am a fucking mess and maybe get into some soft drugs and every day I wear the ring he gave me on a chain around my neck.

It is inscribed with the words, What better reason?


A year and a bit passes before I meet him. Buoyed by the support of my equally devastated friends, I abandon my short dalliance with drugs and go through a lot of therapy. The emptiness and anger is slowly going away.

In a café one day, a salt-and-pepper man with a fiendish smile tells me he sees me there a lot. He is bold, and I like the feeling of being pursued after all this while. He’s solidly built, a sharp dresser with all the accoutrements of the discreetly wealthy. He always has immaculate stubble, the perfect amount of scruff at all times. His jawline could cut glass.

He’s never been married and is a serial monogamist. He travels the world, has some sort of rich person career (the opposite of my creative bohemian hustler vibe) and is close to his large, moneyed family. He asks me out and in an unthinking moment I say yes. I fret about the decision for days, but I go anyway. My therapist cheers this progress. I do not tell her it feels like running away.

Soon I move to Europe to be with him, and live like a kept woman in the confines of his luxurious apartments (plural). His fortune allows me to write and travel. He is sensitive and kind and respects me; he tells me I am his soulmate and does everything he can to minimize any frictions caused by our age difference. I try and do the same. I am content with my smaller, padded existence as it lets me pretend I am another person. I try not to think too much about the friends I have left behind.

The sex is European, typical older-man-teaches-younger-woman stuff. He is almost too doting and tender. I visit his elderly mother with him often, and soon get his entire family to fall in love with me. We bake a lot of things and make a lot of ethnic dishes – I have not determined what his background is. I maybe learn Hebrew for him?

As we pass one year in our relationship, it becomes clear he is going to propose. We speak about this openly; he is unabashed in his desires to commit – he is unabashed about all his feelings and I am the exact opposite, which makes me feel secretive and petty. He is too good for me.

I turn him down. I realise I had fallen into a relationship to forget a heartbreak that was still lingering, but ended up with a really great guy I couldn’t keep stringing along. I leave Europe to go back to my old life, my old wounds, with his sorrowful blessings.

He never ends up getting married, and every few years will send me a handwritten letter. His sisters and I call each other often; his mother never forgives me, but will frequently tell his siblings that we are meant to be.


While all this has been happening, I maintain a close friendship with [Redacted Celebrity I Still Hope To Meet One Day] whom I met and knew even before I met The Dead Boyfriend. In university, I am part of several creative collectives and partnerships. Through them I start dabbling with online videos and writing a blog that grows to become very popular. I find myself breaking into the “indie” entertainment industry. Our paths cross, and we (along with his friends who then become my friends) start working together on some artistic projects.

I have a raging crush on him carried over from years of watching his work and tracking his Tumblr tag, but we get to know each other as real people and he is taken, so I have to calm myself down. Then I meet TDB and it becomes moot. We enjoy a flirtatious but platonic friendship. He and I become close after TDB’s death, slowly bringing our friendship to a deeper level through my grief and his desire to help me overcome that.

After The Older Man, I go on a pretty extensive “casual dating” binge, suddenly relishing being unshackled from monogamous commitment and also the painful memories of lost lovers. I briefly date Sameer Gadhia of the Young Giants and sleep with Michael Phelps AND/OR Ryan Lochte (separately). I also maybe sleep with Idris Elba. I have an intense and passionate affair with actor Ben Foster. Finally, I get all this carefree fucking out of my system, and I’m single. So is [Redacted].

On a trip to someone’s ranch – a mutual friend of [Redacted] and I – he confesses his long-held romantic feelings to me in the night. I am flabbergasted and ask for time to process. I tell my best friend, Indio Downey, (yes, son of Robert Downey Jr.) who tells me he’s known all along that both of us would end up together. I sneak into [Redacted]’s room and crawl into his bed and tell him I am scared to lose our friendship but even more scared not to take this leap I’ve secretly wanted for years.

Three years later he throws me a surprise wedding while I am five months pregnant with our first child. He fakes a lunch date, proposes to me, takes me to a makeshift cinema where we watch a video of all our friends and families giving testimonies to our love, and then the screen lifts up to reveal a door to a large open field where all of them have been waiting, ready to see us marry. They yell, “SURPRISE!”

A Contracted Life is intended as a place to explore and examine the negative spaces in life — the things a person don’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t, can’t do. A reflection of idle moments and time spent on building castles in the sky.

Syar S. Alia can concoct a relationship from first meeting to goodbye forever! in the span of a few days. Right now she’s got a thing going on with Niall from One Direction, because even in her brain she’s not cool enough for Harry (don’t even talk to her about Zayn). Syar’s got a website, a tumblr and a twitter.

This entry was written by Syar and published on 06/10/2012 at 21:41. It’s filed under Fiction, ISSUE5, Memoir, Syar S. Alia, Writings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “The Boys I Don’t End Up With by Syar S. Alia

  1. Reblogged this on smart enough to wish I was more kind and commented:

    Writing this made me laugh a lot, and I hope it has the same effect for you. I don’t quite know what to say about what it _is_, other than a reproduction of the elaborate figments of my imagination. Hope you read it, hope you enjoy it.

  2. Man this is so good! I couldn’t stop smiling through the whole thing and I love the title “The Dead Boyfriend Triptych.”

    It’s a nicely-paced build-up, from the first to the last one – there’s a subtle dark humour with TDB, followed by a kind of playfulness with the older-man romance, a rebound that seemed to provide the right amount of ego-boost (especially with his mother thinking you were perfect for each other), and it just exploded nicely into the utterly funny unrequited best-friend love, sprinkled with celebrity fantasies (Rowney Jr’s son as the best friend, that was too good!).

    What girl doesn’t have fantasies of being the one-and-only to all the crushes she’s had, eh?

    Ties in really well, too, with what you’ve been doing with “A Contracted Life,” what better way to explore the negative spaces in your life than to explore your daydreams. I love it! Brilliant, and utterly funny! 😀

    • Downey Jr*

      good god I can’t believe that typo came from me :S

    • Syar on said:

      Oh man, I’m the one-and-only for ALL my daydream romances. Why even bother putting in all that work if you’re not going to ruin their lives forever/make it the best life they’ll ever have with your amazingness??

      I’m glad you see it fitting into the space of “A Contract’d Life”, because sometimes I think when I say negative spaces people don’t think I can talk about anything fun.

      So glad you liked it, Dhi! Thanks for your comments.

  3. Pingback: ISSUE Magazine | Syar S. Alia

  4. This was one of the first things I read for this issue of Issue (it never gets old!), and you already know how much I love it. I like Dhi’s observation that exploring your daydreams is the perfect way to study the negative spaces in life, and I like that you view your dreams as humourous extensions of the life-you-could-have.

    What really did it for me was the pacing – the way you start off calm, serene, devoid of emotion almost at the memory of The Dead Boyfriend, and how your story slowly gains fervour, ending with the most shameless name-dropping (trust you to drop in Indio Downey and, God help us, Idris Elba!) and a spectacularly happy ending.

    If only more fanfic were like this 🙂

    • What I didn’t mention was that Indio and I are part of a best friend trio – Harry Potter style – with Viggo Mortensen’s son, Henry, and that we hang out all the time at whatever South American ranch Viggo lives in with his horses and his Spanish women (but this is a different ranch where Celebrity Best Friend and I profess our love to one another) – BEHIND THE SCENES OF ISSUE MAGAZINE #5.

      PS: Thanks for your kind comments, Syaz. I’m glad you still like it after multiple readings.

  5. Pingback: Sunday Postscripts: Commitments « writersclubkl

    i’m really hoping [redacted] isn’t James Franco. if it is, don’t tell me.

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