A few minutes ago you were holding my face in your hands. Desperately cradling my cheeks to force my eyes to meet yours. Tears creeping down your cheeks and I can’t help but notice the wet stain they are creating on your pant leg. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be so caught up in a moment. I can’t begin to reciprocate the craving you are feeling, the overpowering fervor for a climax.
That’s probably how we got here, to this point, where you’ve got this gun to my head. Shaking, tears still creeping, but now they just slide down your wet cheeks, climb over your quivering lips and hit the floor next to me. I’m sitting cross-legged on the carpet but it doesn’t feel right. I shift, less out of fear and more because I am still struggling to pull myself into this second. If I could just share this second with you, maybe I could give you the reaction you wanted and we could be done with this.
Doors are slamming in the apartment next door. Pots and pans clanging. Mariachi music starts to pour into the room where you are shaking and tears are still snaking down to the floor next to me and I can feel the cool metal of the gun against my head. The air is thick with your anticipation.
I’d like to think I don’t deserve this but I’m sure there are as many reasons that I do as there are that I don’t. I live so far in my own head I’m not even entirely sure how we got here. I don’t think it really matters. Five years ago you kissed me by the duck pound in the middle of town after telling me I was beautiful and now I’m sitting cross-legged as mariachi music floods in from the apartment next door and you shake as you hold a gun to my head. The middle hardly seems relevant anymore.
You yell, asking why I’m not upset. Your voice cracks. I used to be emotional. I used to feel everything. Now there’s nothing. Just a crushing numbness. I tried to make you understand, but you never could. I desperately wanted you to feel, even for a moment, the sensation of nothingness.
A week ago I was standing in some Spanish super market. Like a mid-week vacation to some foreign country, but all I really wanted was some cheap fruit. I couldn’t read the signs and I let myself get lost in the dingy aisles. I was standing in some foreign super market before a wall of canned goods deciding between peaches or cubed pears or pushing the whole wall over onto the next aisle. Not to quench any sort of rebellious thirst for attention. Just to see if everything is as fragile as it appears to be.
I begin to think maybe everything is as precarious as it seems. Maybe I had never noticed because I am just as laced with vulnerability, which caused tenderness instigated as much out of benevolence as it was out of self-preservation. Something happened. When you stop fearing your own fragility, stop gingerly tip toeing around everything that might shatter you, not out of bravery but because it’s too much effort to care anymore, things are bound to happen. You can’t run into the streets and be surprised when you get hit. I do these things to myself.
“You’re never really here.”
You spit it at me like an insult as you kick my half packed bag. I stare up at you and you go back to your tears and waiting for me to come up with a response to the gun in my face. I look down the barrel. I search for the fear that should be there. The dull throb of exhaustion pounds in my head.
I’m never really here.
Niki Leith is a freelance editor based out of LA. When she is not helping others perfect their work, she is writing her own creative non-fiction pieces. You can find links to her work on Twitter: @violentpeach.