Excerpt

The walls will not fall.
A sheet of black ice behind my eyes that she cannot penetrate. Her brown eyes bleed love and there’s a need that terrifies me and I’m afraid I’ll never match her expectations. My body and my words tell her that I love her, my actions and my eyes tell her that I can’t. I never really know where the truth lies, I cannot make my eyes do what I want them to. I need to tell her that she’s beautiful, that I see a woman and a mother and that we can make this work.

In darkness she tells me; ‘I wish things were different’.
‘Why?’ I whisper.
‘So that I can keep our baby.’
It’s a request and I choose to miss it.

She puts me first and the choice remains suspended between us until, it too, turns to black ice. It sits between us in the clinic waiting room, it occupies the spaces between our words, it haunts us in every mirror we can no longer face, it lays with us for five days in her bedroom as she softly moans and retches, doubled over, sobbing in agony.
I chain eat mints and watch Kung-Fu Panda while idly flipping through what is essentially a ‘how-to-have-an-abortion-at-home’ pamphlet.

Weeks later we take a bus to her house, she turns to me and says ‘you look so stressed’. Everything she does, every word she says makes me tense up. I’m constantly planning my exit, I’m constantly provoking the end. As my behaviour deteriorates she gives me more and more.

‘You act like you’re bored and you don’t give a shit’. She says this as we’re sitting on her bed in the rented room of the shared house that she hates. It’s all about context though, there are moments when you could apply this statement and it’d be wrong, although most of the time it’s probably true. I cannot explain any of this to her so I just shake my head and look down at my shoes hoping it passes for anything other than non-commital or distant or apathetic or whatever.
It’s at this point you start to notice things. The minutiae, the expensive face cream, the bad DVDs with the emphasis on Pixar ‘classics’, the strewn clothing, the lack of storage space, the wreckage of an abandoned life and it’s precisely this focus on details that stops you from becoming a fully functioning participant in this conversation or even the relationship. It’s this lack of focus on any details that might save you that is your guilt free ticket out, just like it always has been.
This is how it’s always been.

I figure everything out too late. I realise she was afraid to lose me, that she thought I would run. In my arrogance – no, in my fear, I proved her right and fed every insecurity she ever had. This fragile, beautiful girl who bet everything on me and lost.

A girl I know asks me; ‘What’s wrong’?
I hold my hands up, I try to tell her but no words come. She sits closer to me, she smiles and tells me in a heavy Eastern European accent ‘You’re young, you’re handsome and the sun is shining. Everything will be fine’.
In this moment I want to kiss her and then she asks me; ‘Do you think I’m pretty’?
I laugh and reply ‘wait, wait, let me stand way back’.
She hits my thigh and jabs me in either side with a pen. The moment is there but I let it pass with nothing more than a meaningful, prolonged gaze.

I walk to the sea. I feel a need for ritual. I take a watch out of my pocket, his watch. I stumble down the shingle and toward the waves. I throw the watch into the roiling, foamy, puke-green channel. He says; ‘You’re not crazy, just hurt’. I don’t know what it means but then the voice is gone and somehow I know that it won’t return, then there’s nothing but me and the crashing of the waves.
Finally alone, I let the tears flow.

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