A fiction short story by Tea Jay
As I stand at the door, my belongings in hand, I can’t help but take one last look of them sleeping soundly in their spacious bed. What I wouldn’t do to crawl back beside them, under the covers, absorbing their warmth. I could see myself falling in love with them I think to myself. It is because of this that I walk out their apartment door, bracing myself for the blizzard plaguing the city streets outside. It is because of this that I know this is the last time I will ever see them.
The wind hits my face harshly; only hours before my head was cradled between their firm hands. The snow is already up to be knees and the sidewalks have yet to be shoveled, so I walk into the plowed streets as I venture home. I keep peering over my shoulder at their apartment building on the corner. I could just go back, their door is unlocked. I could strip of this heavy jacket and take off these boots, press my body into them, hold them until morning came. What I wouldn’t give to sleep next to someone for a change. It’s been so long since I was comfortable enough to doze off in the arms of a perfect stranger…too long.
There’s something different about them. Something peculiar about the way the corners of their mouth turn into that bright, beaming smile. Or the way they can carry on a conversation about anything using their quick wit and sharp mind. They keep me on my toes. There’s just something about the way they light up a room and ignite my chilly heart, thawing the ventricles and pumping the valves. And when they kiss me? I could melt at the soft touch of their lips. I can still taste the flavor of their tongue, I can still feel the rhythm and keep up with time. That’s what I want, that’s the human connection that I need.
I can’t have them, though. I must resist.
I don’t fall in love; I form bad habits I can’t quit, nasty addictions. I dive right into the depths of the sea even though I can’t swim and don’t know how to tread water. I drown, my lungs filling with the salty ocean. I keep expecting someone to come along before I sink; a lifeguard, a sea captain, a siren. Yet every time I’m left being pulled to the sandy bottom, drifting into the nothing. I won’t allow that to happen again, not after the shipwreck my last broken heart left me with. Because I don’t just fall in love, it’s not as simple as that, it’s never as simple as that. I surrender my soul within moments of commitment. I sign my life away, forever yours, never mine. When I love I don’t care how badly you hurt me; scorn me, strike me, just tell me you love me at the end of the day and seal it with a kiss. I don’t know how to love healthy. And because of this, I don’t want to love at all. It is not better to love than to never love at all, not to me.
What kind of life would I live if I had to watch and manage the matters of my heart? What kind of person would I be if I micromanaged how I felt? That doesn’t feel authentic to myself, and if I have learned anything from being alone for all these lonely, isolated winter months it’s that you must remain true to you if you want to achieve any sort of happiness.
Besides, I can really only handle one addiction at a time and right now I’m content with my Klonopin habit. The doctor told me one or two would get me through, but it’s turning into five or six a night. Not every night, just bad nights when my empty bed feels more like a prison and I can feel the ghosts of love scorned on my pillow beside me. That cold, vacant energy haunts me, damns me. I can’t help but slip a few pills down my throat. It numbs the pain; the aches and pains my heart feels day in and day out knowing no one will ever reciprocate the emotions I feel at such intensity.
Maybe they could. Maybe they could love me the way I need and I’m not giving them a chance. A chance…a chance to do what exactly? To drain me of every ounce of energy in my body? Isn’t that what always ends up happening? I want to believe they aren’t like that. It’s impossible for someone as pleasant and inviting as them to be a succubus. But is it? I’ve said that so many times before. Everyone before now has always started off as sweet, innocent, loving. I’m several blocks away from their apartment now and all I want to do is return to their embrace. As I wander down the paths of my mind, exploring the crevices of my brain and picking apart at my phobias, my phone buzzes.
Where are you? Are you coming back? Did I do something wrong?
I ignore the texts and slide my cell back into my pea coat. I’m tempted to reply, but then again, I’m almost home. It’s not what I desire. I crave another human’s touch, a moment to be raw, to break the Klonopin haze. I have to remind myself that I’m not afraid to love them because I’m afraid of being hurt. It’s not that simple (though it never is). I’m afraid of hurting them, veering them off course. Hurt people hurt people. There’s just too much going for them to have a mess like me be invited into their life. I couldn’t do that to them. I would only drag them down. I might be injured by love, but I have done my fair share of attacking. I’m not perfect, and maybe you don’t have to be perfect to love someone proper, but isn’t that what they deserve?
The headlights of a plow shine brightly ahead of me, inching closer down the road. For a moment I think this is it. My passive suicidal tendencies fill my body. Maybe, if I’m lucky, the plow won’t see me and they’ll sweep me away with the dirty snow on the ground, my body buried beneath the ice and salt, a real snow angel. I won’t jump in front of the plow though; I’m not committed, I’m too afraid. But if by chance it could carry me away and I could stop feeling the heartache of leaving someone I can envision a future with, that would be…nice. The plow passes and so do my dark thoughts.
I arrive home soaking wet and frozen. I stumble over to my pill bottle before even taking off my coat. I don’t count how many are in my hand; I pour until I like the sound of only a few pills left rattling the bottle and I swallow. This is better; becoming numb instead of falling hopelessly for someone who isn’t guaranteed to stay. Nothing is guaranteed in a world where only death is promised. I strip down to nothing, shivering until I enter my bed, chilly even after that because their body isn’t next to mine. I close my eyes, and as time passes the desire to brave the cold and return to that bed across town subsides.