In the throes. The clock blinks red, reset. I don’t know what time it is, but I know it’s late. He is kissing me. He stops and then his hands are fumbling with buttons and straps as I weigh the pros and cons in my head. Staying here, what I will take with me from the experience and what I will lose. The passion is gone, if it were ever there to begin with, I don’t know anymore. I am going through the motions and hoping it will all be over soon. I let my head fall to the right and stare at the wall in the dark with the glow from the computer everything looks ghoulish. This isn’t a peeling off of clothes the way I have imagined it. There is no romance here; he strips me and I am bare boned and cold. He calls me beautiful and I don’t believe him. He calls me sexy and I don’t feel it. I squeeze my eyes shut when he enters me and picture a silent home on a hill. Torn open, family heirlooms broken and discarded. Pieces judged and taken. Lives reduced to the worth of silver and gold and everything else, ruined. I don’t want to be that house when its family comes home.
He is panting now and he strokes my hair, the same gesture that I craved in a different bed, makes me hate him here in his own. I bite my lip and taste blood. Iron and the aftertaste of pear cider. I imagine you miles away in your own bed. I imagine myself, slipping in unnoticed, curling my body against your back and filling in the cracks. The beginning of a story and the ending of another. Suddenly, I don’t want to be here with a strength that scares me. I push him off me, hard.
“Shit! Jesus, Lindsay, what is it?”
I creep backwards from him. An animal trapped, looking for escape. Claws bared, muscles tensed.
“Are you OK?”
I can’t answer him, yet. I find my clothes littered on the floor in his haste. I feel panic rising in my chest and I need air, I can’t breathe in here.
“I’m sorry. I have to go. I’m sorry.” I keep apologizing as I collect myself. I apologize as I button my jeans. I apologize as I find my shirt inside out and right it. I apologize as I bend on hands and knees reaching for my purse that has slid underneath the bed. I am still apologizing, like a mantra, long after the word has lost meaning. I want to stop but I can’t close my mouth, I can’t see beyond my eyelashes, I can’t hear him over the pounding of my heart.
I stop. For a long time I just stare at him, memorizing his features, fully aware this may be the last I ever see of him. Wanting to burn the image on my retinas, wanting to imprint this feeling, wanting to remember, later, that I tried it, I tasted it, and it wasn’t for me. My favourite mistake, as Sheryl Crow might say. But, then, I don’t think this is what she had in mind, either.
“I can’t do this.” I tell him. Bluntly. Faintly.
“I thought you might say something like that.”
“I thought I could do it. I thought I could be this girl. But, I can’t. It isn’t me. I don’t want it to be me.”
He sighs audibly and leans back, eyes closed. I don’t want to feel guilty for this good decision. But, right now I can’t help it, I am.
I walk over and linger by the side of the bed. I let my finger trace the curve of his lips and the crest of his brow. I thought I would find answers here in the nook between shoulder and neck. I was wrong. I searched and came up empty handed, far more empty than before. I want to ask him how he did it. How he got me here, again. But, I know the answer doesn’t really matter anymore. It is nearing morning and I am already gone.
“Goodbye, P.” I tell him softly and head for the door.
“Goodbye, Lindsay.” His voice is hesitant in disbelief. I pull the door shut behind me and scramble for my shoes. I leave the straps undone. I am already texting you as I fumble with the locks and then I am in the hallway of his building, racing for home.