Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 83
“Lying in the dark, it’s understood
We are both lost
And we won’t be found.”The Last Unicorn – Passenger
When it was done, after he had gone through the normal stages of adapting to the new norm (single again), he felt surprised to learn that what he missed most wasn’t the grand declarations of love or the sex. What he remembered most fondly was the companionship, laughter, odd little tender moments, the quiet times spent interlaced in each other’s arms, which even as they happened, he knew were, at some level, important.
Once, when he had wandered into darkness again, she lay beside him on her cozy bed and sang John Denver songs to him. The beauty of the gesture almost broke him then. Now he feels an ache when he recalls that time.
During the nights, she would frequently have to use the bathroom. They usually slept entwined in each other’s arms. So when she began moving away, the man would interlock his hands and prevent her from leaving the bed. Usually, she would play along with him. She would act confused and run comically sideways in place as she lay on the bed, making some small sounds of puzzlement. It never failed to bring a smile to his face. She was good at pulling him out of his darkness.
He, however, feels that he was utterly incapable of pulling her from hers.
She had her internal hell that she carried within. It was an anger that could turn on in an instant. The sweet, kind, sensitive woman he loved was gone in a second. In her place was a seething cauldron of corrections and suggestions for how he ought to do things he didn’t recognize and didn’t know how to respond.
It was unfair.
Whatever this was, it was, he suspected, not her fault.
But regardless of how he tried to broach the subject of her somewhat erratic behavior patterns with her, she would grow defensive and shut down or return fire. She knew his buttons better than anyone. And it was an effective defensive tactic.
But while they rumbled, each from the private space of personal pathology, the love that had blossomed between them slowly started to wither.
Several times she sent him away to ‘work on himself.’ He always went. He was needy for her love, for her music, her laughter.
Then, after drinking too much, she would call him and ask him to come to her in the night. Each time she called, he would leave his bed, dress, drive to her place, let himself into her apartment, then into her bed. His arms would find her, and he would hug her tight.
When she called him, he came every time. He was a great deal like a dog.
Things would return to normal for a while, but then something would arise between them, setting one against the other, and it was this way. The push away, pull back cycle.
He reasoned such was the terrain of relationships. Despite his somewhat advanced age, he had little experience being in this room.
He is sure he will not get over this one. Just as he was sure, he would never get over the others.
This time is different, he tells himself. But he had said the same about his previous lovers.
But he feels himself growing brittle. He can’t keep caring and trying and risking. Where was his ‘happily ever after?’ Each of his siblings (of which he was the oldest) had already married. Two of them had married twice, he reflects, though whether the tilts the scale in his favor or theirs, he cannot be sure. He is tired of being alone, unpaired. He wants to punch a wall, run away.
He was so sure she had been the one, just as he had with all the others.