September 6 2014
Event: 500 Word Challenge
Host: Lizzie Gudkov
Prompt: Is there something you want to tell me?
Time: 30 mins
A smile, a pause, a silence and a defeating feeling that there’s something you want to tell me. You don’t smile. You’re just in silence.
I try to bridge the awkwardness, knowing well that your motionless despair, so unlike you, is the bearer of more silence, perhaps even such a devastating silence that no sound, not even noise, will ever cross it.
And the lunacy of blindness, the deafening sense of loss, weakens my willingness to stay.
Should I volunteer a word or two? Should I attempt that?
You just sit there, looking at your hands, twisting your fingers against one another, making me feel their pain for being forced into odd positions. They are white in the knuckles.
And I drift into that crazy chain of thoughts I seem to follow more and more. White is good. It’s a sign of purity, of new beginnings. Purity?!
I look around and try to remember. The wooden chair that had to be repainted, for which we had a very serious plan and that ended up being covered with hippie flowers and a black skull so small that no one ever noticed it. It was our private joke. The bookshelf that wasn’t straight simply because it was so amusing to watch people’s faces, tilting their heads to make sure it was not in their minds.
And you twist your fingers and staring at them as if they could come off from all the twisting, a panicking eyebrow dancing up and down dangerously.
Fear turns into anger. Slowly and stubbornly I practice my fake smile; I’m going to need it. And it is this suspended smile, held only by the thinnest of lines, that dangles desperately on my face.
“I have to go,” he says.
And I totally misunderstand what he means. I nod, agreeing. That surprises him. He expects some resistance, an argument even. And I think he has to go somewhere. But he has to go.
And when he stands up, he finally looks at me, his tortured fingers tucked away in the tight pockets of his blue jeans, so very blue, too blue, the ones he bought recently along with a few colorful T-shirts and shoes and a black leather jacket that didn’t match anything he has.
He walks out the door, his steps reverberating onto the white walls, that special white we had chosen together a long time ago. And he was gone.
A few weeks later, he took his new clothes with him and left the old ones behind. “You can give them to charity,” he said. And he was wearing that black leather jacket that looked ridiculous on him.
The clothes went to the local church; they’d know what to do with them. I gave the fishing gear to the neighbor’s kid. The CDs and DVDs were offered to the small high-school’s media library. Everything else went to the garbage.
It didn’t feel like a break-up. It felt like mourning.
And that was it. After we signed the papers, we never saw each other again.
I went back to that same church to drop a few of my own old clothes and I saw the dreadful black leather jacket. “Your ex-husband left it here. He said you thought it looked ridiculous on him,” said the priest, stuttering slightly.
No, I hadn’t told him anything. It was her. And I stood there, twisting my fingers and wondering if it had all been a waste of time.
“I have to go,” I said. The priest nodded. And I left, my steps reverberating onto the white walls, that white that was so insidiously strange to me.