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 and, if I really had stopped to think, I might have thrown my own body to the sea.
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, as if swimming together in a sea of so many others.
But I could think of only each second in front of me, hearing the wind and the silence rumbling in my mind and breathing in and out this dark morning of my soul.
All my storms, like silk cold aversions, had stopped at the edge of me and left my heart dry out and die. Who knew? I knew. He was the bad guy, but he already walked through all my doors marked private.
‘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 what 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 years. He chose a bad time to visit.
‘You need two things to heal — time and love,’ he said to me, ‘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 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 hit me,’ I said quietly, almost to myself. I nearly died.
People and trees and the city’s mystery and magnificence receded on either hand 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 hit me, and when he started the car I screamed and I screamed at him to stop but he would only scream louder and I was afraid that he was going to hit me again, 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 meant being 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. But he hit me, and then he nearly killed me. But 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 on empty streets. 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, embarrased 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,’ she 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, God, I hate this question.
I ran my fingers through my hair, nervously.
‘At a bar,’ I finally said and giggled.
‘Oh yeah? Did he just pick you up randomly?’
‘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 coupe of others. Then he was lying on the ground, talking about how the other guy was being difficult and all that jazz, 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 dangerous stranger to me anymore.’
‘He doesn’t have to, honey.’