“Where were you?!”
“I called you four times and left three messages?!”
“I sent at least ten text?!”
“If you don’t want to be here you don’t have to be here! Just let me know! Please just let me know!”
She wasn’t yelling but she wasn’t calm. If there was a place in the middle she would be right there. Too pissed to play if off but too angry to pretend like it didn’t matter, like she didn’t care. I could look at her red and puffy eyes and know she’d been crying, I could look at the two neatly packed duffle bags and hanging bag sitting on the arm of the couch and know she’d packed my clothes.
Even though this was my house, she’d packed my things.
“You do know this is my house and you packed my bags?”
She folded her arms and exhaled.
“I’m here way more than you are anyway and the bags are packed just in case you need to go stay at a hotel for a week while I get my things together and find somewhere bigger. Because if I go the boys are coming with me and my apartment doesn’t allow pets. But please don’t act like you haven’t been ignoring me. Do you want to be here or not?”
Her arrogance was amazing.
By here she wasn’t talking about this house, she was talking about with her. It’d been less than a year but I can’t imagine I’d ever been closer to a woman than I was her. She hated yelling, fighting, arguing on any level so when things got heated between us I left. Because I wasn’t the type to hold my tongue.
I fingered the bracelet on my left wrist; she held the same exact one on her right wrist.
“You’re still wearing it.”
“I’m not the one that left so why would I take mine off?”
“You know why I left.”
“I know that I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only one fighting for us! I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only one going crazy!!!”
She screamed, for the first time since I met her she screamed. Pushing a lamp off the table and running towards me she started swinging! The punches were wild and not very hard so I side stepped her and pulled her to my chest. She fought and pushed, even tried to bite me but I just held on and clutched her tighter.
The dogs were outside in the backyard going crazy, barking and growling and scratching at the backdoor. I guess hearing her scream was tearing at all three of us.
“Stop making me feel like I’m crazy, please! You’re fucking with my head and one minute I mean the world to you, the next you’re ignoring me?! I’ve never been this open with anyone and I hate being vulnerable.”
My phone was in my suit pocket, I’d cut it off when I left a couple hours ago. My first thought was to find a bar and drink until I could no longer see the disappointment in her face. My second thought was to call a woman, any woman and let her make me forget but I ignored both those and found a bookstore. I grabbed the book with the most interesting cover and lost myself in words until… Until I thought about what my life was like before her.
“I love you but sometimes I feel like you deserve better than me, better than this.” The dogs were still going crazy outside but inside you could hear a pin drop.
“I deserve better than what?! Than what?! Stop acting like I don’t want to be here when I’m here more than you! I call you! I text you! Look at my eyes, feel my heart! I’m losing my mind and you cut off your phone! You act like you’re playing video games or standing on a corner all day. Don’t use your insecurities as an excuse to push me away… Because I won’t let you. You don’t live in the hood, you live in the country, there’s a difference!”
Her small hands were holding my face, as much as I didn’t want to, to be weak in front of her I fell to my knees and held her waist. Crying harder than I’d ever cried before, her stroking my hair and telling me it would be alright. The frustrations with my writing, the frustrations with my job all boiling over. I was taking it out on her when it wasn’t her that was the problem.
“You don’t have to hide anything from me or worry about me going anywhere. Do you understand that?! Do you!? I’m here regardless of whatever and anyone that messes with you will have to deal with me!”
Even in the middle of my tears all I could do was laugh, she was a hundred thirty lbs soaking wet and even with all the curves she had there was no way she was fighting anyone.
“Don’t laugh at me, I have my sons out there that will help me out if I have to fight.” She fell to the ground with me and rubbed the tears from my face with her thumbs. No matter how many times she came over and how much stuff she left over she was always in one of my shirts.
“I paid a thousand dollars apiece for them and raised them from puppies and their going crazy because you’re the one that screamed? I should have them neutered.”
“Hey boo, when you’re out pushing those books who do you think is walking them, feeding them and teaching them yoga? And you’re not having them snipped!”
And just like that the storm was over, just like that the tension that could be cut with a knife two minutes ago was gone. In less than twenty four hours I’d lost out on a promotion I’d been promised and was turned down by one of the largest publishers in the country because my writing wasn’t ‘diverse enough.’ I saw myself taking her to Milan, Australia, Cannes but instead we were right here. And that killed me inside, not being able to give her that life, to give her the ring I wanted to.
“I don’t need a ring right now, I don’t need a judge or Vera Wang or 480 witnesses drinking our champagne and eating our food. As long as you’re wearing your bracelet and I’m wearing mine, as long as I wake up every morning knowing you’ll never hurt me or let anyone hurt me. As long as you accept everything I’m giving you and trust that I need you just as much as you need me that’s all we need right now. Te amo. Te amo. Te amo.”
“I love you too kid.”
“I need to go check on my boys, you shouldn’t come, they’ll bite you.” She laughed but we both knew she was serious. They were way more protective of her than I was. I walked to the kitchen and looked out the window at her rubbing their bellies and ears. The way they stopped being vicious and started being babies around her. I guess this really was her house now.
I took off my jacket and poured myself a drink. She came in and washed her hands, unbuttoned my shirt and let it fall to the floor. We knew each other better than we knew ourselves. She didn’t need sex right now and neither did I. We just needed each other. I took her hand and led her to the couch, I got undressed and laid down, her on top of me, straddling me. Her head on my chest we just laid there…
Knowing neither one of us was going anywhere.