She’s staring at me with two great puddles of hope. Blue oval oceans with a tide that constantly threatens to overflow the shore and rain down upon those comely cheeks, flawless skin, and pointed chin before dripping into a pool beneath the shadow of her visage. I want to help her, but I can’t. I want to say, “No,” but I can’t. I want to leave, but I can’t.
I’d like to think that I don’t extract myself from her because I truly do not want to hurt her feelings, but I know that isn’t true. I’m simply afraid of the brief, momentarily negative consequences that would impact my own life.
Instead of a quick pull, a sharp tug of the Band-Aid, it’s a long, agonizingly slow tear that ultimately will cause a much worse pain. So I stand to the side, trying to convince myself it’s for her benefit, that she’s weak, that she won’t be able to accept the truth, when in actuality I am just trying to justify my own lack of courage to face something that must eventually be faced. Instead, and like always, I drift further and further out to sea and away from her, the tide willfully pushing my dinghy into the thickening fog. Further and further I slip into the bleakness, further and further I separate myself from her. The ties that bind us together grow weaker as I toss the coils of rope overboard as quickly as my hands can unspool the gnarled cord.
And she’ll wake in my bed, and she’ll want something more, and she hopes beyond hope my words and my actions and my indifference mean something other than the obvious. Perhaps she accepts the situation of the day, but that doesn’t mean she accepts the permanence of it. So, she repeats the same tired mantras and she mentally devours examples of my perceived past devotion and she pleads to herself and she convinces herself of the infallible potential of the next day’s morning.
“Maybe tomorrow is the day, maybe tomorrow is the morning when he’ll finally come to his senses and he’ll hold me and he’ll love me and he’ll tell me everything’s going to be okay,” her inner monologue reasons.
But the day breaks with a fresh spray of saltwater in the wound. His fingers retract a little more quickly than yesterday’s, and the breaths on the back of her neck are a little further away. His head rises from the pillows just a bit earlier than the norm she remembers and his noisy path out the bedroom door is a side effect of the clumsiness of apathy. Her body lays inside a temple of comfortless comforters that block out the walls and the paintings and the room and the light and the everything. She burrows her nose deep into the covers and inhales the musk that lays thick upon everything he touches. A whimper slips stealthily from her lips and presses against the roof above, but its escape is short-lived as she reaches out two fingers, plucks it from the cotton, tosses it back down her throat, and chokes slightly on its acidity.
She wonders if there’s something wrong with her. She wonders is she did something wrong. She wonders if she could have done something better. She wonders if she can do something more. She wonders about when it all started to go wrong. She wonders if it was ever right. She wonders if he has someone else. She wonders who she is. She wonders what she has that she, herself, doesn’t have. She wonders if she can change to be more like her. She wonders if there is any hope at all. She wonders if she should bother fighting. She wonders if he is even worth fighting for. She wonders why she wonders about him so much. She wonders what he gives her that she can’t get for herself. She wonders what good he has actually done for her. She wonders about waking up next to someone who can return the love she sends. She wonders if he will miss her. She wonders when she will stop missing him. She wonders if it was all a lie. She wonders if it was all bullshit. She wonders if he is all bullshit. She wonders if she is all bullshit. She wonders about the guys she’s turned down. She wonders about the drinks she’s turned down. She wonders if she missed something wonderful. She wonders what his family thinks. She wonders what her family would think. She wonders why she cares. She wonders why he doesn’t want her. She wonders why she wants him. She wonders if she deserves this kind of treatment. She wonders if there’s something better to come. She wonders if this will be the last time she sees him. She wonders if he hopes this will be the last time he sees her. She wonders why she is still in his bed.
She stops wondering. She gets dressed. She leaves.