Next time I see him, I want to beat my fists on his endless expanse of chest.
I keep having visions of it, of how good it will feel. Of how I’ll really get into it, a tiny, full-blown rampage. Story goes he’ll laugh it off and eventually grab my wrists in one giant hand and pull me in and I’ll be contained and safe in his stupid, paternal presence.
He’s been gone for four or eight or 11 days, and I pouted when he left, confusing myself, because I was going to use it as an excuse to stop seeing him anyway. I thought I was just humoring him by going over that last night. Playing along with his notion that we’re in a relationship.
It’s funny, you know, how language works. Because he can say to me, sternly, through clenched teeth, “You. Are. Mine.” and I’m down with it. Big time. But when he uses the word girlfriend on me my respect for either him or myself falls through the floor.
So I showed up at his house hours late with braids and roses in my hair and I parked my car way up the mountain from his home and hiked up my skirt and traversed the wilderness to reach him.
Then I lied and said that I caught an uber there, which surely he must have known was a lie because he was on his patio that overlooks the only road up to him when I snuck in the back door. But there is something very odd in his demeanor of late, something dubious, something withholding, something interesting, and he questioned me on it not at all.
He expected me to be all giddy happiness and light. That’s fair. I often am.
But I hate expectation and I hated the eleven lit candles overlooking his bed, to which he directed me. Because the candles were a surprise last time, and I cooed over them. But to try to do the same thing twice with me reads boring. Reads stagnant. Reads lackluster.
Two of the candles had self-extinguished, which pretty much speaks for itself.
I am many kinds of women, but I am not a woman for whom lackluster will be endured.
And yet, look at me, who went along with his rote undressing of me while feeling nothing, nothing at all.
It physically hurt when he penetrated me, which has never happened. And he was above me and I held him up and away with strong arms, my palms flat on his chest and his lovely, broad shoulders my lone point of focus.
I wore a black-studded bra, very tough, refused to take it off.
“Why so cold, why so detached?” he whispered.
And it was as if the question were aimed just perfectly to elicit an answer from some off-limits part of me.
“I don’t like caring about you,” I told him.
Personally, I found the words shocking.
Had I known they were coming, I might have checked them over before setting them free. But seeing as they were already out, I just let them have their run of the room, unable to distinguish if they were part of an act or something I actually felt.
I shook my head back and forth several times, feeling my brain knocking around in its cage, while he got up to stoically blow out the candles and lock the doors and … I don’t know what else … I was pretty wrapped up with my own internal chaos by then.
When he got back into bed he patted his chest and said, “Come here.”
Which I couldn’t believe so I made a few bratty comments, just out of curiosity.
He just patted his chest again.
So I went ahead and cuddled up against his big lifeboat of a body.
After he fell asleep I slung my clothes under one arm and stole his pants and headed straight for the door.
But when I got there, intending to flee, something stopped me.
I stared at the handle for a while. Tried to decide how I felt about turning it. Didn’t know. So eventually piled the clothes on the kitchen counter, poured myself a bourbon, and stared at it some more.
I told myself that I wasn’t leaving because, who knows, maybe being eaten dead by wolves.
Eventually he came out. Found me drunk and naked on his kitchen floor, leaning against the cupboards.
“That can’t be comfortable,” he said.
“You’d be surprised.”
He just stood there, in the room’s darkness, hovering over me, but at an awkward distance, like he wasn’t entirely sure I was safe to approach.
I couldn’t decipher what was happening. It was a strange scene. Close to unbearable.
I wanted someone to tell me my lines.
My funny, cool-girl lines that would make this all be back within my control.
“Need some space?” he asked.
“Are you going to leave?”
“I miss you,” he said, and I knew that he kind of meant next to him in his bed, but more meant the woman who knew how to direct a beautiful scene.
I knew, because I missed her, too.