WITHOUT THINKING, I’m out of bed at 12:57am on the street on a bus traveling to a place I shouldn’t be gong to. I’m having trouble remembering how I got on this bus.
He hears a knock on his door at 1:39am. He refuses to open it.
I collapse outside on his stairs, press my face to the faded paint on the wood and cry, pleading.
I hear his cat inside. Cat whines, recognizes my voice.
Words tumble from my lips and lie by my scraped knees in a heap next to his wooden door. Some word I say is the right one or maybe he picked it out from the growing pile on the floor and the door cautiously opens and now he’s kneeling by me holding me against the door, our bodies bent like tents over our hearts, the cat trailing his orange tail between the maze of our arms.
After an exchange of tear-stained words he’ll help me off the floor and drunk on faded love and lack of sleep, we’ll make our way towards his bedroom where we’ll fall onto his sheets strewn with cat hair, fully-clothed, nestled into each other and too tired even to kiss.
A few hours later, the bipolar street lamp that shines into his window will inexplicably flicker off, waking him up like the sensitive sleeper he is and in a frenzy of anger he can’t adequately express, he’ll wake me up, roughly tearing off my jacket and, positioning himself, will thrust over me with such momentum that it’ll scare me a little. He’ll pull the base of my ponytail a little harder than he should, “came back, did you?” and the “did you?” will still be ringing like a sick question in the early morning air.
We’ll settle back together, looser, more relaxed but I’ll still be on edge, my gaze on the blinking eye of his sleeping laptop.
It’ll be 5:21am when the first alarm will go off; his. The cat will curl up in the v of my legs. Normally, the cat would find itself a spot between our backs, but tonight his arms are the glue and our bodies meld into each other, his heartbeat echoes my breathing.
In the morning, we kiss like normal and in one night this whole disaster-week is gone.
Or: I stay in bed, scan his snapchats for updates, stay up until 3:17am guarding his Facebook page, holding my breath when he logs on then immediately off again. I talk about him to my family, my friends, I cry when I’m exhausted from missing him, shower when I want to rinse my head from thoughts of him, press my face into my pillow if the cries get too loud, take an Advil when I get a nasty headache from the tears, put on too much foundation under my eyes to cover the redness when I go to work, blame the lack of work ethic on my “allergies,” pretend to laugh at friends’ jokes, forget social cues and smile too broadly or not broadly enough at things people say, instinctively go to take his hand randomly and pull back because it’s not there, only a phantom of a memory, listen to heartsick music and dream dream dream of his perfect gorgeous face, the beautiful sight of him perched on the edge of the sofa always about to spring off when he anxiously watches his beloved Real Madrid on TV with that crinkled brow and cursing in a British accent when the team messes up, the way his body twitches hilariously giving off excess energy when he’s falling asleep that I often imagined I’d tease him about to our non-existent daughter (“Daddy does a sleep-dance when he gets tired”), a life that will never come to be with him.
I imagine what I’d do if I were braver, if I were truer, bolder and how I’d jump on that stupid bus and go see him and make him open that door.
But I’m here and it’s 3:19am and I’m not on a bus. I’m in a cold, wintry room that has frozen over under a blanket he bought me, wetness on my face, typing words that he’ll never see or hear or know. And nothing has gotten easier.