Sometimes I believe that love is the most bitter poison of all. Something you cannot run from, cannot kill, cannot drown out. It promises all the power to heal. Yes, it has that. But will it make good on its word?
Hope. The bitter thorn in the flesh.
Love is unforgiving. No amount of reason can dismiss it. No logic can sway it. No record of the pain it has caused can dissuade it. No. It stands. Brutal. Cold. Absolute.
In rejection it will not let go. And in death it is only hardened, more resolute than ever it was in life.
And there you were, at the corner table of the bar, watching. Maybe that was the writer in you, clinging to the outskirts, lurking in the shadows. And you watched me.
“If it is possible, let this cup be taken from me.”
You watched and you danced and you asked me to dance, but you never asked me into your life.
“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
And yet how could you know that even your gaze was more than I could bear? Even just your presence enough to shatter me.
“Let this cup pass from me.”
And there I was undone by only the look in your eyes. And nothing in me is the same. Nothing in me can ever be the same. I am undone.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
And there you are still, in the shadows, at that corner table, watching.
“Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.”
1 Samuel 3
It was like a recurring dream. I walked in, confident, a noir picture in my classic attire. I had to look self-assured and what says that better than a trench coat and red lipstick. But then he was always there, in the corner, already drunk. And no matter how precisely I order that drink, no matter how calmly I walk across that room, my heart is pounding in my ears. So many words caught in my throat.
It’s over. He’s scum. He left. He pushed you away, told you he was tired of hearing your sorrows, treated you like trash. Why care?
But then, why did I ever care? Even before it happened, it’s not like he was one to accept help. I liked to tell myself he’d pushed me away in grief, but was that the truth? Or was it that he’d never let anyone in? Ever.
People say having a compassionate heart is a gift. But why did my heart have compassion for someone so cruel, for someone determined never to accept my help? Why the hell did I care? It had all started from a dream anyway.
No, not the hopeful kind you have when your mind wanders. No, the kind you wake up from in a cold sweat with your heart racing. The kind where something terrible has happened and he’s there at your door and can’t even speak.
When it actually did happen I wondered if he’d show up, staggering, drunk on the door step.
And now here I am, stuck in this endless repeat of a scene. He’s in the corner drinking. He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need my help. And I’ve moved on. Hope for better things. Go after better things. But my heart is still in my throat and pounding in my ears.
It was just a night out. It was just another formal event. Hundreds of others would be laughing, talking, dancing. Did any of them feel that trepidation in their blood?
That clenching of muscles and nerves.
I hung back against the low brick wall in the garden. Already, clusters of people had gathered about the hotel entrance. Smoke and laughter filled the air, accompanied by bits of song. My dress caught against the coarse texture of the wall, as if expressing my reluctance to go forward.
Hide. Stay where it is safe. Stay in the quiet. He will not find you here.
But even if I hid, life would happen without me. Life would even find me in the darkness of that courtyard garden. Even if I hid, he would still exist. He would still be dancing, drinking, laughing.
My anonymity in the darkness would not save me.
I pulled my skirt off of its cold rough fortress. Forward. It was just another night out. No need to over dramatize. No need to contemplate that destiny would make or break me the minute we came face to face. Destiny doesn’t stop when you’d rather not participate. Even your choice to be passive is an action, because you chose.
Go on. Join the fray. You’ll kill them all in that dress.
It’s just another night out.
And this is what is killing me: that I cannot share love with the one I love. That the love I have can only cause hurt. That grief can kill affection. That grief can kill you while you are still alive.
He thought that he was a time bomb. At any moment he would say the wrong thing, let one thing go and-
The whole relationship gone. And anything he cared about in himself with it.
He was always afraid of hurting me. But in truth I was the suicide bomber. I was the one with a timer inside. A trigger that no one knew about that could be pulled at any second. A ticking, flashing that anything might activate and then-
Cause there’s no telling how far the blast will go and if you’ll be able to survive.
Get out of here. Before you kill him. Before you kill yourself. Get out of here. Before it’s all too late.
He tried so many times to tell me to go. Tell me he’d break me. Tell me he’d kill me. But I waited. I stayed.
Get this timer out of me.
Because killing you will be the death of me.
“Just because I check my gun at the door doesn’t mean my brain will change from a hand grenade.”
There were a thousand walls between us because there were none. I could slip past his defenses, so he threw them all up. I could see right through him, so he’d lie. Say I was wrong. Pass off. Condescend. Belittle.
And even I would fall for his facades. Like Middle Eastern warfare tactics. Illusion, evasion. Maybe they learned it from mirage.
The truth was, I needed to let it go. If he put up defenses so desperately, then there really must be something to protect. No matter how much I might think I was helping, I wasn’t.
If you love me, let me go.
“She spoke and dreamt in love, and he dreamt in death and loss.”
There was nothing in the world that could break the barrier between them. No words, crass or eloquent, no actions, bold or refined.
No word or touch of love.
Could anything find him in the wasteland? Or would he only hate himself more, knowing she endured it to find him.
No, her word or touch of love only jarred him. With the idea something could be outside of this. That idle hope, that pipe dream that he could escape this. No, no. Any love for him would drag her into this. Any love would bring her down.
And he knew, too, that she had a wasteland of her own. A place he had no strength to enter. And he would never ask her to find him in his when he could not endure hers.
“And if we survive this desolation, perhaps our journeys will bring us along the same path.” She said in a whisper.
“When I am no longer chaos and your love no longer poison to my heart.” He pulled her close for a moment and closed his eyes before both of them let go.