Just a little timed piece. Mainly doing practice writing in the down time to a larger project I am working on. I’ll mostly be putting up this kind of thing for a while in lieu of silence.
I don’t know how long I’ve been awake at this point, nor how many times I’ve read the letter I am holding. There must be a limit; a moment when I start to make meaning from it, when I know what the hell I am supposed to do next. That direction is just not arriving. Every reading just leaves me with another question, and by now I just don’t know if they will ever be answered, and that’s a thought that makes me nauseous. I pour myself another drink. I rarely drink my scotch neat, but now seems like the time to start.
It’s the bottle your parents got me last year for my birthday. The thirty-year aged stuff. You would have loved it. I was saving it for a joyful occasion, but I don’t see one of those rolling around any time soon, and besides, it seemed like the most bittersweet choice given the circumstances. I take a sip, but swallow more than half the glass at once. I lay the glass back down on the table. Next to your ring. It’s been right there since the moment I got home. I read the letter but I couldn’t move the ring. I couldn’t bring myself to touch it.
Where did it all go wrong? I get extracts of explanation from sections of your letter but I won’t accept it. It’s not right, and it’s not fair. Everyone fights. We could have stood up to it. Why did you run away from this? There’s a line I keep reading over, the line I obsess and wrestle with;
I am sorry, but there was nothing I could do
You could have done anything – anything but this. You can’t throw in the towel like this. You promised me that we would persevere through anything that came along. Do you remember the night we made that promise? Sure, we were drunk, but we knew the gravity of what we shared. You can’t just change your mind. You can’t just take that back.
There was nothing I could do; some love just fails.
Every time I read that. Every time you tell me that the most stable thing I’d ever had in my life was something that failed – I’m at a different stage entirely. At first I wanted to shout. I wanted to scream my lungs raw, tear piece from piece from the house we loved. Shatter every piece of the dining set my mother gave us on our wedding day. Shatter every reminder that I was never prepared for this. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I wanted to cry – I wanted to break down into an infantile wreck and sob for days, I wanted to feel every single emotion all at once, but I just couldn’t do that either. You’d joke about that kind of thing – saying you’d never once seen me shed a tear. Well that guise was shattered when we saw your sisters new-born. You knew that was what I wanted – a family – but you tore that apart before it had the chance to materialise. You didn’t expect me to break down, you didn’t think I would shed a tear. I am just living up to your expectations, at least in this.
I finish the rest of the scotch in the glass, and pour myself another. Was it my drinking? Christ, you were a mean drunk, but that didn’t bother me. I got used to it, it was just – it was one of the things that made you, you. I knew you never meant the things you said –
I mean, I guess I thought I did. Were you being honest all those times. All those nights you would get too drunk too quickly, and the things you said – well, you apologised in the morning. You always did. You always told me you loved me, told me you didn’t mean a single word of it. Told me you still have some unresolved feelings from the past. Told me things still confuse you. You would want to know what you said to me, but I never wanted to tell you. You could always force it out of me though. It brought you to tears when I told you the words you said to me. I used to think it was out of regret, that you didn’t mean it. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe they were just truths I wasn’t supposed to hear.
There was nothing I could do –
I hate myself for wanting to believe you. For getting a sense that this is my fault. That you just needed a way out. You had a way out. You could have been honest. Maybe it’s easier to just pack up and leave, but you’re running away. I don’t expect you to stay and fight if you’re unhappy, but at least be fucking honest about it. I feel myself getting angrier, and I try and close my eyes. Breath through it. Slowly. No –
Fuck that. You ripped my fucking world to shreds without so much as a goodbye. You left me a letter and a goddamn ring, like you didn’t think that would kill me to see. You always were one for dramatics, but this isn’t a goddamn play. This is our lives – my life – and what you’ve done is cruel. I gave so much to make this work. Sure, things lapse. Sometimes I couldn’t be there when you needed me. Sometimes I have other priorities. That’s life. I couldn’t have made more time for you
If you walked through the door this very second I know I would forgive you in an instant. I’m trying to be irrational, but I’m struggling. I’m watching the door, waiting for the miracle that isn’t going to come. I top up the scotch. I dread the idea of sleep right now. Going into the bedroom. Seeing the extent of the damages. Seeing what is left, if there is anything to salvage. I don’t care about what was taken – I’m haunted by what is left. I tease at the ring off my finger. It’s become tighter since you put it on. I’m holding it between my thumb and forefinger and there’s a jarring moment. A moment of reality, of gravity, and that what is severed cannot be undone. This is no longer just a bad night. This is my life now. I place the ring on the table. Next to yours.
I brace myself for rock bottom. If I’m not crying now, it’ll never happen.
And it never does.