Meandering Experience

Friday, December 23, 2005

“You don’t have to say it. I already know,” he said, picking nervously at the small collections of grit under his fingernails.

The fact of the matter was that he actually didn’t know — for sure. His reasoning skills, however, were such that it was a perfectly logical for what he believed to be true. He had more or less accepted that truth, but a nagging — not to mention naïve and denial-ridden — part of him had steadfastly held on to the notion that, as much as he believed it, so long as there was no confirmation, he didn’t have to believe it if he didn’t want to.

This was no longer an option. The blanket had been thrown off and all illusions shattered. She hadn’t listened — she’d said it anyway.

The revelation of the truth was much more unceremonious than he was expecting. Nothing was thrown, nothing was punched. Not even a tear. Just a biting tension in his stomach, slightly jittery knees and a rush of blood to the face.

What he expected to be a knockout blow amounted to little more than a sucker-punch to the gut. His knees had buckled, but he hadn't gone down. As he regained his composure, everything around him slowed down. His mind cycled nearly simultaneously through endless scenarios of how the rest of the ordeal would conclude.

There were many things he could say, some he would mean, some he wouldn’t. Some would only be out of vengeance.

As reality came flooding back into the room, he decided he wasn’t going to say anything. He was going to take a dive. After letting out the seemingly obligatory -- and painfully cliché -- verbal jab, he let her go. There was no dramatic chase down the hall way or shouts out the window, no emotional phone calls.

He closed the door and laid on his bed staring blankly at the ceiling, noticing that the tension in his stomach had not subsided. As some sort of masochistic proof of the emotional exertion he’d just experienced, he loosely held his hand in front of him to find it quivering. Frustrated, he clinched and relaxed his fist, rattled his wrist and laid his hand back onto his chest.

He simply had no desire to fight this fight anymore. Sometime long before tonight he’d realized he was no longer fighting the fight because he wanted to, but rather he was fighting it merely so he could say that he won. And that just wasn’t a cause worth fighting for. Not anymore.

The door was open. There was a binary choice waiting to be made. He could either walk through it, or he could walk away. He could either release what had been crawling around his brain for the last few weeks-- the daydreams, the sleepless nights, the disgust staring back from the bathroom mirror -- or keep it relegated to the more secluded parts of his mind that only flare up after a bout with insomnia or few drinks too many -- or both.

The liberation was inviting. Everything would be in the open. She would know where both she and he stood. The cards would be on the table. She too would have a binary choice -- take it or leave it. As inviting as the liberation seemed to be from the daze of insomnia or the haze of mineral spirits, there was still, however, during moments of coherence and sobriety, when it was equally horrifying.

Ultimatums were not his nature. He always felt much more subdued, more measured and reasonable. Ultimatums, especially in this case, were simply too dramatic and emotional -- two things he prided himself on being able to keep in check, almost to a fault. He'd never dealt well with finality in much of anything, and the idea of propagating it himself was foreign at best. The thought of that much power vested in one statement was unnerving, and of course there was always the chance that, when faced with the decision of 'take it or leave it,' she would opt for the latter.

He rolled over to watch her sleeping. The streetlight pierced the blinds, drowning the room in a dull orange haze. Her legs were curled up and she was tightly wrapped in the blanket, it pulled to her chin. She'd felt him shift in her sleep and had subconsciously nuzzled into his chest.

He was such a sucker for pretty girls, and if nothing else, she was certainly that. He ran his fingers through her hair, twisting the strands around his finger.

"I'll tell her in the morning," he thought to himself as he stared at the wall and gently brushed her cheek. He knew that wasn't true. He chuckled to himself and rolled his eyes at his own weakness. As much as he felt strong enough to say it in the middle of the night with her asleep right next to him, he knew full well that when the sunlight crept into the room and she opened her stunning eyes, all bets were off.

The problem was, in the morning, he was no longer going to be the strong, resolved man he was at night. But she was still going to be the pretty girl.