“I’m leaving” he said. His smile faded while the light in his high danced wildly as if bumping back and forth from each side of his iris. I felt my heart rate accelerate, if you stood to close to me I’m sure you could hear it in the same way you hear muffled music escaping headphones. He stood there,staring at me waiting for some response, an inkling of how I felt, so I stone walled him. I locked my jaw and paralyzed my muscles and tried to subdue the flickering within my own eyes.
“Where are you going” I said.
I never understood why this is the first question people ask. I never have cared where people go only that they have left me. He looks back at me and purses his lips,
“I don’t know” he says showing no fear from my hesitation.
I look at him feeling the chords in my throat tighten from my suppressed emotion getting ready to snap like hair tie that had been coerced into making one more go around.
“Are you coming back?”
The silence after this question whether it be a quarter second or five minutes would feel the same. I wanted to know without asking but this time I wasn’t sure. The insecurity I feel is unnerving but not entirely misguided. I’m not perfect and I’m not low maintenance. I like things a certain way and am the high priestess of double standards. It isn’t fair but I am human and it is something that despite my best efforts is not a secret. I have personally escorted all of the pitfalls within our relationship. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily invited them however I gave them the open invitation as if to say “It’s a small kickback but you can bring whoever” and then that whoever decided to get blasted drunk and throw up on your carpet. I did my best to remove the stains from the floor and he never got mad, well he never got unreasonable. Despite my apparent reckless disregard for peoples feeling I do have a surprising amount of self discipline and unmatched guilt. Anyone trying to reprimand me with their feelings gets the same response as a protestant patron asking for forgiveness the jewish god; I’m sorry that you feel this way but compassion is not my dominant emotional response. It is not that I don’t feel compassion its that I’m not good at it. There are times that I need to be ruthless to myself, I need a good scolding, and thankfully that has mutated into a form of schizophrenia.
I can’t help but think what did I do this time, what thing did I say or what did he catch me doing, or what did I do that he has not been able to forgive. I think of the first time I was unfaithful and the second and the third although long behind us in the past and simply a blemish caused by adolescence of mind and body, I can’t believe that those things don’t scar. In this moment before he responds I feel like I don’t know him. It has been years since I asked him questions that I didn’t know the answer to, even them something innate inside me knew the words before his lips formed them. In those seconds of unknowing he is a stranger, a person on the street who is either staring at me by accident or about to sell me something, it feels impossible to know until they start speaking. I watch him. He stands pensive always pensive his eyes constant like a low lit fire he body language is firm paired with a straight posture, the metaphorical definition of sureness. I feel my serpentine tongue slither inside me, knowing that I cannot change what is about to be said, my manipulation powerless to his beaming conviction. The sinking realization that if he was not coming back he felt no remorse, no sadness in the silence of forever. With each tick of the second hand I dripped into the melodramatic frenzy. Coming up with a new explanation each sadder than the next. I was positive my words pierced his eardrums but I sat there like I was staring at the “read” receipt at the bottom of a text message, Read: 11:42 PM.
His mouth open slightly and I saw (…typing). He never tolerated arguments about semantics but he was choosing his words carefully which meant a complex meaning, something I would have to interrupt unless he selected words I cannot argue with. It had been approximately two-seconds since I had asked him that question. In contrast to his demeanor he opened his mouth easily with not effort towards being careful.
But: the cleanest definition of caveat. But could be followed by anything as long as it was deluded and complex. The but was not laced with condemnation however it smelled of unsureness and the only thing I hate more than ambiguity is mystery. A normal person would have focused on the fact that he said yes, but despite the trail of doubt my mind was on minutes ago like Bob Ross I pretended that misinterpretation was only the beginning step to painting a bush that was always meant to be part of the landscape. He was coming back but coming back as what? The word but is the colloquia equivalent of a semantic paradox, meaning you hear the answer you want but it does not mean what you had intended. I have found that “things will be different” is a phrase that often trails behind the idea of “but”. Honestly I think thats the dumbest thing to say, of course things will be different, things are always different, changing, evolving. The first day we met he said the stupidest thing I had ever heard but a year later I couldn’t name one person I loved more. I was feeling hopeful now, maybe the “but” was better like,”They were out of honey infused oat rings but I brought home cheerios”. His demeanor didn’t match my thoughts, he was coming to me with a statement not the whimsical musing he was prone to, not the light hearted philosophical dancing that brought us together. This was a solid statement something that could not causally change form when you did not have your eye on it. I tried to remember his nature, his essence that made him who he was and that made him a purer person than me, but I kept soiling him with my insecurities. I knew h wasn’t leaving me for someone because we are connected at the soul, sometimes I wonder if it is against his will but that is a different wig with runaway hairs. I felt Like a car driving parallel to a train, I could match his speed but he was on a one way path to a specific location and I was forced to take side streets. The silence in the air had the same buzz as the heavy rotation of steel wheels on the metal track, where you can feel energy is being spent in a constant mechanic rhythm. I watched him now and gentle smile fell on his face when he caught fear in my expression. He motioned toward me and said,
“Yes but I don’t know when I’m coming back”
Great. Ambiguity and Mystery.