Saturday, November 1, 2008

Left Unanswered

He looked down into her eyes as the sweat dribbled from his forehead and on to her cheeks. He bent and kissed her mouth and smiled. “So are we in love again?”

“Yes.” She smiled. Her mouth met his. “Yes, we’re in love again.” She looked up at him and saw his closed eyes and opened mouth. They kissed again. She looked up and saw his clenched eyes and closed mouth. They kissed again. She looked up and saw his closed eyes and beaded sweat on his forehead. She took her hands off his back and pushed her palms against his shoulders. “Get off me!” she screamed. “Get off of me you sonofabitch!” The force took him aback and he backed out of her.

“What the hell’s the matter with you?”

“Get out of my house!” She swung her legs off of the mattress and stood up beside the bed. She switched on her lamp. She reached for her robe. “Get out! I’m not kidding! Get out!” She pulled the robe around her shoulders and tightened it around her waist. She wasted no steps. She grabbed the drawer of her nightstand and took out a cigarette, lit it, and took a drag.

He wiped the sweat off of his face and turned to face her. “Jesus Christ woman!” He thought to grab a cigarette and remembered he had quit. He pulled the sheet that was bunched near his feet and straightened it over her bed. “You want to calm down and come back to bed and tell me what’s wrong here?” He took the tip of her sheet and wiped the sweat that remained on his chest.

“What part of get out of my house is beyond your comprehension?” She stubbed the cigarette into her ashtray. “Get out. I don’t want to see you ever again.”

“Yeah, you do. So, get a grip here woman. You’re acting insane.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed, stood up, and grabbed his jeans from her chair. “You want to explain to me how we go from being in love to fighting in less than 5 fucking minutes?” He poked his legs through his jeans and pulled them on. “I mean literally 5 fucking minutes! How the hell does this work?” He grabbed his shirt and pulled it over his head.

“Can’t you get dressed in the car?” She stood with her arms crossed over her breasts as her tears trailed the sweat on her cheeks. She whisked them off her face with the back of her hand.

“No.” He grabbed his shoes and sat on the bed. “And don’t pull that shit with me!” He pulled a sock over his left foot and then sat up and picked up another sock. “So calm your ass down and sit down and talk to me.” He bent over and pulled the sock over his right foot. “So, what? What's the problem here?”

“I don’t want to talk to you. I want you to leave.” She grabbed a tissue out of the box near her bed and blew her burbling nose.

He finished fastening his shoes and stood up. “Look. I told you I wouldn't ride these roller coasters of you. So, just for the sake of justice, why don’t you tell me what huge infraction of mine caused you to slip out of fucking reality?” He walked over and picked his wallet off of the bureau and pocketed it. He slipped his watch around his wrist and picked up his keys. He turned around and faced her. “Come on. You owe me a fucking explanation. We’ve been together off and on for over a year. So. Come on. What?”

She sat on the edge of the bed and reached for another cigarette. She started to speak.

He interrupted her. “Why don’t ever finish a cigarette? You stub them all out.”

She lunged off the bed and slapped him across the face. “Shut up!” He started to speak and she raised her hand to hit him again.

He caught her fist like a catcher mitted a fastball. “If you hit me again, I’ll hit you back. I’m warning you.”

“No you won’t.”

“Yeah that’s right. I won’t,” he admitted with the ball of her fist inside his hand. He dropped his voice. “Don’t ever hit me again.” He let her arm drop to her side.

She took a step back.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t want to be around you anymore. I don’t.” She backed to the bed and sat down on it. “I hate me around you. I hate you. I hate looking at you. I hate the way you look at me.” She dropped her head as her hands caught her cheeks. The tears pooled in her palms. “And you hate looking at me too.” Her tears streamed as the air left her lungs.

“Oh my God! That’s not true!” He rushed and knelt in front of her. “Oh my God! Are you nuts? I love you! I love looking at your face! Oh my God woman! What the hell is going on here?”

“I can’t take the pressure of you anymore,” she stated. “I can’t. I can’t take that you critique everything I do. I can’t take that you scrutinize me all the time. I can’t take that you always keep all these standards.” Her tears curved down her cheeks and collected near her chin. She took the back of her hand and wiped them away as she continued her stream of consciousness. “I can’t take it that you feel guilty being with me.” The tears gushed. “You won’t even look at me when we’re making love!” She wrapped her arms around herself at the conclusion of her confession. “Please go away from me. Please. I’m begging you. Go away.”

He climbed to one knee and stood up. “You know,” he stammered. He started to lambaste a litany of explanations. He thought better of it. “Okay look,” he began. “Okay whatever.” He walked over to the chair beside her dressing table and sat down. “Um… you know… look.” He shifted his ass in her chair as his mind sifted through her dissertations. “Okay, you’re the one who contacts me. You break up with me. You call me back. You fuck with my head all the time.” He bent at his waist and put his elbows on his knees and folded his hands. He lowered his mouth to them and rested his lips along his thumbs.

“I know,” she admitted. “I do. I know. It’s so hard to live without you,” she cried. “I try but you’re the only happiness I ever see.” She wiped the tears from her eyes and sniffled up as she took a big gulp of breath. “Do you understand? When you’re gone I feel like I have nothing. There’s nothing to be happy about. And then you burst back into my life and you’re so alive. And I’m resurrected and I can laugh again.” She leaned over the bed and grabbed another handful of tissues. “But you take so much of me all the time. You leave me nothing. Can’t you see that?” She raised her voice and echoed it with her fist. “Can you see it? You take everything! I have nothing left! I have nothing!”

“Jesus woman! What am I taking from you? Huh? I’m taking nothing! Shit I’m getting nothing here! Can’t you see that?” He stood up. “Christ I don’t even have dignity! I’m with a woman who refuses to marry me! And you call me and I come back. Every fucking time I come back! Like some asshole!” He shoved his hands into his trousers and fondled his keys in one fist and his glucose tablets in the other. “What the hell have I taken from you?”

“You take my pride. You take my self-respect.” She tossed a knot of Kleenex into the trashcan. “Oh my God - I don’t live in reality?” She laughed with a bitterness that bit into his respect for her. “You think you’re a tolerant man that accepts everything? Ha! Mr. Tolerance?” She shook her head and scrunched her fisted Kleenex to grab a sniffle. “Did you watch yourself tonight? Did you see how you treated that waiter tonight? He undercharged you and you made him correct the bill. And when he said it was okay and not to worry about it, you told him it was stealing and that you couldn’t do it.”

“It is stealing.”

“Yes. It is. But the bill is so over-inflated that it all works out.” She shook her fists in the air. “Can’t you see that? Can’t you see that that waiter doesn’t care whether or not it’s stealing? He just wants to work.”

“I just want to be right!”

“You are right! You stupid, stupid, jackass! You are right!” She stared him in his eyes. “Who the hell cares? Why do you have to be his conscience? Who asked you?” Her eyes challenged him.

“He did. He asked me to lie and steal!” He took a step toward her and pointed his finger.

“Don’t point at me.”

“Look! If you don’t like how I am, how the hell can you claim to love me?” He took his step back and guarded his heart for a blow.

“I love you because you’re right!” she said. “You’re always right! I never knew a man who was so right all the time!” She took her two fisted hands and watched them as she shook them in her lap. “I can’t live with someone who’s right all the time.” She lifted her eyes and echoed her fists. “I can’t.” She collapsed against the bed and covered her eyes with her hands.

He climbed onto the bed beside her. “I’m not right all the time.” He bent his face to touch her. “I try to be right. But I’m not! Oh Jesus, don’t you know I love you?”

She silently sat up straight and looked him straight in his eyes. Her voice was staid and inflexible. It was monotonic. “That’s right. There it is. ‘Oh Jesus, don’t you know I love you.’ That’s it. Exactly.”

“What?” He backed his arms to balance his body.

“Listen to what you just said.” Her crying had ceased and her manner was calm.

“I said I loved you!”

“You said, ‘Oh Jesus, don’t you know I love you’” She scrunched to the side of the bed and stood up. She walked out of the room and into her bathroom. He heard her twist the faucet and splash water on her face. She walked out wiping the wet. “How am I supposed to be angry that you love God more than you love me? How am I supposed to deal with that?” She returned to the bathroom and came out without the towel. She walked over to her dressing table and picked up her brush.

“What am I supposed to say here?” He stood up from the bed.

“Goodbye’s a good beginning. You say goodbye.” She brushed her hair, finished, and placed the brush back on the table.

“That’s it?” He put his hands back into his pockets.

“No, that’s not it.” She turned and planted her feet. “You’re a coward. You’re a coward.”

“Like hell I am!” He fisted his fingers; they remained in his trousers.

“Oh the hell you are!” She physically and verbally advanced. “You're afraid to actually make a choice. So you don't. Look. You like to hear the deal? Here’s your deal buster. I won’t call you again. I won’t see you again. I’m not being in this anymore.” A smile strolled over her face. “I don't want to be in this little love triangle you're living inside your head.” She sat back down on the edge of the bed. “Wow. I’m so disappointed to find out that you’re this selfish. I’m so surprised I’ve been such a fool.” More than a few moments of silence passed between them. “Why aren’t you writing?”

“I am writing.” He looked at his shoes.

“No,” she laughed. “No sir!”

“Yeah I have!” He looked up at her. “I’ve written things lately.”

“No. You’ve played. But, you’re not writing.” She reached for a new cigarette. “Lately your writing is okay. But it’s not great. You know that.” She lit the cigarette and took a puff.

“I’ve got too much in my head.” He looked at his feet.

“No.” She took another puff. “Everyone’s always in your head.” She exhaled. “You say that all the time.” She took another puff. “But the truth is, you never let anyone in your heart.” She exhaled. “Right?”

“Right,” he whispered.

“Are you going to write this?”

“What? Tonight?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Why not?” She challenged him as she arched her back on the bed.

“Because it’s private,” he whispered. “It’s us.”

“So what?” She exhaled. “It’s all us. And it’s the truth. Write the truth. Quit wasting your gifts. Aren’t you tired of wasting your gifts? Look how selfish you’re being. It’s the truth. Write the truth.”

“I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”

“Listen to me.” She walked over and sat beside him. She took his hand into hers. “Quit protecting your feet.”

“What?” He looked at her as if she’d gone feeble.

“You always keep one foot out of the circle so you can run away.” She kissed him on his cheek. “Jump in with both feet. You have to. It’s selfish not to.”

“That is one fucked analogy.”

“No, it’s really good.” She smiled. “I’m kind of proud of it.”

“Oh.” He lifted her hand and kissed the back of it. “What are we going to do?”

“We’re gonna stop being a we.” She took her hand away from his lips. He silently sat. “Would you do something for me?” she pleaded.

“Sure.”

“Next time I call you …” She stopped herself from crying. “Don’t answer the phone.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Please.”

“Okay,” he whispered.