When nobody was looking, I buried my ring in the sand and left it for the waves to carry it far away. I didn’t want him and the symbols of his stupid, selfish love.
Every cell at the surface of my skin still carried his fingerprints, and every ounce of blood running through me contained all the feelings under the sun next to memories of him. It would take some time to break them apart, but throwing away the ring was a start.
Beyond that, I could think of only each second in front of me, wind and silence rumbling in my mind. All my own, personal storms, like silk cold aversions, had stopped at the edge of me. If only this would go quicker, I thought. I have others next in line.
“Baby, come here,” he said, putting an arm around my shoulders. “The guys are leaving, shall we go with them?”
I shrugged. The truth was that whatever we did with our day didn’t matter all that much, because we both knew where this was really going. Ah, all the things that were going to happen, all the things that were never going to happen anymore.
I don’t know, baby. You nearly killed me.
Fingers in my fists, mind as cold as heart. The Siberia of my lands, the winter of my days. He chose a bad time.
“You need time and love,” he said. “And I’m going to give you both.”
Yes, I need time away from you and your stupid, selfish love.
I heard him swallow hard, and his tension didn’t move me. I nearly congratulated myself for the lack of emotion. New skills, always a pleasure.
It was midday and we were in the park. We came to look for squirrels. We had already been through all of this on the phone, when he asked me to meet him. I screamed at him for a little while before I said yes. I was drained. I was also embarrassingly curious.
“I know you want to say no, but you also want to say yes. It’s the yes that truly matters. It’s the yes you’ll come back to in the end. You’ll stay. I know you’ll stay. And I’m not going to force you but I will be here, and somehow, you will be here too.”
I was going to turn to look at him, at that smug face that nearly crashed the car and yet still had the courage to talk to me like that, but I didn’t want to learn hate all over again.
“You nearly killed me,” I said quietly, almost to myself.
He pretended that I didn’t.
People and trees and the city’s magnificence had suddenly become like the dark sides of a tunnel. I was walking – no, I was running back home, eyes and face full of tears. My head ached and my body burnt and I was bleeding. He screamed and when he started the car I screamed and then I screamed at him to stop but he would only scream louder and wouldn’t, so I stopped after a while and crossed my fingers so hard that it hurt. I didn’t want to die yet, I didn’t want to trust my dreams to a younger generation. I wanted to live to scream another day, to create another day, to claim, take, and love every day of my little life, even if it was without him. Better, even. He was laughing like the drunken idiot that he had been all night when he lost control and crashed. I don’t know what happened to him, or to the other people. I opened the door and ran and ran and didn’t stop running, not even when I felt that the sticky liquid on my face wasn’t just tears – ah, whatever, a little blood. He loved me, and he asked me to be his for the next seventy years or so. But I was running too hard to follow my thoughts, and as I ran I lost them all. Never will I think them again, was the last one of them, and I had never felt fresher, wiser, easier in my then-bleeding skin.
“Are you crazy?” I laughed and leaned across the table. “You don’t ask… this… in front of everybody, I…”
I blushed, for sure.
Everybody was staring, and I was feeling slightly awkward, embarrassed and forced to give an answer I hadn’t thought through.
“Relax, baby,” he said. “I’ll make the yes come in time. Everyday will be a yes day, baby. Just give me a little – he put two fingers together – trust, this much every day.”
He took another sip of his beer and she nudged my elbow.
“You just got the luckiest girl at the table,” Helen whispered in my ear.
“You think?” I smiled, and felt my cheeks turning red.
She gave me a long, intense stare, and then proceeded to gracefully ignore me.
When I went to the ladies room, I glanced in the mirror at my bronzed skin and long, gold dress. I looked pretty stunning. I knew the answer in my heart.
He just got the luckiest guy in that room.
“So… how did you guys meet?”
Oh, how I hate this question.
I ran my fingers through my hair, nervously.
“At a bar,” I finally said and giggled.
“Oh yeah? Did he come talk to you?”
“No, no. He was… in a fight. Outside. Jesus, Helen, I hate our story.”
Helen’s eyes opened widely.
“He was? Did he win?”
“Yeah… kinda. Well, I dragged him out of there. Me and a couple more. Then he was lying on the ground, when his eyes stopped on me.”
“And… before he was saying that we was going to wait for people to start leaving, then beat his ass again.”
“He did that?”
“No, he let me call a cab and take him home.”
“Oh, wow. He moved fast. With you, I mean. And you did too. Wait, you did that? You’re not like that. What about your stranger danger theory? My God, you collected your boyfriend from a fight?!”
“Ah, well,” I smiled, feeling like a badass hero in front of you-never-have-enough-fun Helen. “He can never be a reckless, dangerous stranger to me ever again.”
“He doesn’t have to, honey.”