The street was as empty as I’d ever seen it on a Saturday night. Walking toward my apartment , I felt every step as keenly as I would a new word on a blank page. This is my story, I am the author of this goodbye.
I stop halfway. Do I go back? My heart shrinks two sizes and convulses. It’s only a muscle, after all, and I’ve pulled it. Overused it. I know this feeling. It’s like running a marathon after your only prep was the P.E. you constantly dodged in high school, five years ago. The numb pain surprises you in the morning, lying down, when you think it should’ve been over by now. How do you prepare for this? What’s good practice for a heart attack? Which pills do you take to relieve the spasms?
You’re there, in the stale basement of the watering hole we’ve made our home, our sanctuary. I can see you sitting just as I’ve left you, alone in a small dark space, silent, drinking your fourth or fifth lager and staring into nothing in particular. I want to cry. I want to run back to you and shake you awake, make you talk to me, make you say what neither of us wanted to utter tonight but will have to, eventually. I yearn for a kiss, even a bitter goodbye one. For your hand on my knee, or your eyes behind the thick glasses glinting with desire. But I am too proud to ask for approval.
I’ve become a fixed point in the middle of this straight line. You are sitting on point A. By the time I reach point B, you’ll be gone. How does anyone choose? To go on, or to retrace their steps and give in yet again? To lose yet another fraction of themselves. A miniscule space, a negligible piece of territory that is a wasteland in the best case, after all. But then, how do I account for the time I’ve lost getting here, the myriad ways in which I’ve explained and rationalized taking the road away from you?
Delaying a decision, I stand still for one moment more. I am the lover Shrödinger didn’t think to describe, as in as I am out, at the same time, of the story that could (or could not) be us. There are two possibilities, two parallel lives (lines) shooting out of my static body. As indecisive, as ambivalent as I’ve always been, I can’t make the choice of staying or leaving. Of being sorry or angry. Of loving you with an effort or letting go (with regret).
There is no way to make a pro’s and con’s list out of the massacre of thoughts that follow the electric currents in my brain. Physics conspire against me. Biology as well. I’d like to map out my DNA to see the winning combination of genes that has made me into this dual personality I both love, and hate.
I cannot stop mid-page, though, and I was never one for going back and editing my writing either. Blame it on my laziness, on OCD, on the complex interaction between my feminist personality and gender-biased upbringing. Blame it on my mother, who told me to kind, and my father, who said I should be free.
Don’t blame it on me.
I have the instincts of a writer. I am nothing if I don’t pen the story’s end, once it’s begun.