I know you want me to come closer to you and I know I’m not going to. Say what you like. Strum those thick beautiful fingers along the wood like you’re keeping time with my pulse even though we both know you have all the time in the world for these games and I’ve just about run out.
You want to play? Ok. I’ll play. I’ll pour myself another and I will tell you everything you want to hear, which is something other than telling you everything you want to know. But it doesn’t matter to you either way because the one thing you need is the one thing I cannot give you because it doesn’t exist. We do not exist anywhere but in your mind.
And, oh, that murky uncertain mind of yours, always running, always ticking like a clock or a bomb or one of those cheap kitchen timers your mom used to set for your hard boiled eggs as a kid. Aprons and cigarettes and red and white checkered tablecloths. Someone to take care of you. Someone always to take care of you. That has been the craving all along but you never could name it. You never could see past your own needs to get to the heart of a tender thing.
We blow smoke into the empty air of the small kitchen in my apartment and stare at the peeling daffodil-covered wallpaper. I remember that disturbing piece by Gilman I read in college, The Yellow Wallpaper. The poor chick went completely insane under the treatment they swore would heal her entirely. They tried so hard to paint her as a feminist but that shit got complicated as it often does when you try to make a thing or a person into something bigger than they are capable of being, or ever becoming.
Proximity to power is not the same as power. Walking in step with something strong is not the same as being strong yourself.
You think I want closure with you, that’s why you attempt to withhold it. You think I need you to agree with my decision to end things but I don’t. Taking a deep swallow of the whiskey you love so much it hurts, you take my hand and look straight into my blue gray eyes, and say the bit you swore you never would.
Baby, I can’t change the past but I would give anything to do it over differently if I could. She was nothing but a meaningless kiss in crowded house on a drunken night I barely remember.
And as the silly words tumble out of your ridiculous mouth, I can feel my own indifference slide smooth as liquor through my slim blue veins. The way you think it matters flickers into a blaze against the way it doesn’t matter at all. In your eyes I can see us both burning all the way to the ground. I don’t want your sadness and I don’t need your story any more or less than I want you sitting here across from me in this creaky yellow stained room above this snuffed out city street which might be dirty and dark but it leads to something better. I’m sure of that now.
Photo by Davide Pietralunga