Her or Me?

I’m shutting out (or trying to shut out) everything else in my mind so that all that’s there, in the world, in this moment, is the pain in my forehead. It’s a wonderful exercise, because when you’re in a couple you can talk about shared experiences – dinners, films, phone conversations that were on speakerphone – but how shared are they, really? How much of anything is fifty-fifty? Because at dinner one person may have ordered one extra glass of wine and at the cinema afterwards that extra glass may have prompted a toilet break in which they missed a three second violin motif that tied together mysterious events with the character they have in common.

And of course the thing with a phone call is that it’s a lot more complicated with three people.

But right now, if I press harder, he’ll feel it harder too. That’s shared. That’s a non-negotiable fifty-fifty. The pressure – and the pain that belongs to it – is finally sort of validated now that it’s physical. For the first time since this began there’s a relief in me, because he can understand how much it hurts now. His breath smells of something meaty and garlic and stale – I have never been that oblivious. Maybe one day in the long-long-distant future there will be somebody who loves me to the extent where I don’t have to think about whether I’m in an appropriate situation to breathe through my mouth.

Look at me, talking about ‘one days’. How five years ago.

I would guess my record to be around four seconds. However, I can do the nothingness thing several times in a row; so in every ten seconds, I only have to see her face three or four times. It’s got his hands around it and her eyes are so brown. She’s smiling and it’s a real smile because when he leans in to kiss her it remains. Behind my doors, behind my back, behind my eyes she is there, smiling.

There are these words on my tongue and I can feel them gaining weight. The deeper we push into this closed-eye darkness, and the more I struggle to focus on only nothingness – the more these words pick-up momentum. They roll around, moving from the back of my dry throat to the skin on my lips and back again. My head is pulsing and I’m not sure if that’s the pressure of his forehead or the pressure of the trapped words. Something has to give, something always has to give and everything in my body cringes with premature disappointment because of course it’s going to be me. I swallow, and swallow again, hoping that the words will sink back into me with the saliva. But they’re too big, now. They’re too big for my mouth and they’re absolutely too big for my heart. They’re itching and burning, they want out of the blackness and out of the silence. They want out of the glass tumbler I use against the door when he phones her from the bathroom and the shower is on.

“Is it her or me?”





Picture sourced from: http://www.katerawlings.com


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