a short story

She asks me where I had been while she was away. I say, ‘nowhere special’, but she shakes her head. I can tell by the look in her eyes that something is wrong.

She asks, “Did you go to Houston?”

“No,” I answer. “What makes you think I would go to Houston?”

“Because she was playing there and there is a lot of mileage on the car.”

The mileage statement stops me. Was she checking up on me? Is there some reason she is acting like she doesn’t trust me? I have to remind myself to respond calmly. “But I didn’t go to see her. I stayed home.” Anger is building in me. I think, ‘fuck you’. I stayed home to prove a point and I am still getting shit.

“I don’t care if you did. I just want to know why you didn’t tell me…” But, I do not let her finish because I am mad and now I am taking offense to the accusatory tone in her voice. I say as much and walk out of the room.

I hear her grab her keys before I see her. Her feet drum heavily on the tile floor.

“Where you going?” I ask.

“I’m going for a drive.” She spits.

I sign. “Why do you always have to go when you’re mad?” I draw imaginary happy faces on the floor with my sandal. I do not look her in the eyes. I am trying not to challenge the wild animal she has become.

“You’re not listening to me.” She cries. “You walked out like you don’t care about anything or me. You just do want you want like you always do.”

I have left the room again but only emotionally this time. I deadpan, “If you’ll stay I’ll listen.”

She repeats her frustration at me for not listening. I tell her again how I feel that she was acting accusingly and that I was offended. It is dry and unfeeling how I choose to speak when I am emotionally vacant. She has learned this and it only enflames her more. She says more in anger and I retaliate with my familiar cruelty be telling her my true thoughts, implying maybe she’s the one with something to hide since she is throwing around false accusations. This sends her reeling with anger. Her face turns red as she thrusts her arms to her side. It is a movement that is very familiar to me.

She brushes past me into the bedroom, grabs her bag of unpacked clothes from her trip and begins stuffing more clothing into the bag. I am standing motionless watching her. I think my quiet only serves to enrage her again. She tosses the bag against the wall. The sound she makes resembles a growl. A deep animal sound like none I have heard before.

Before I can react she verbally throws up on me. “I’m sick of it. I don’t have to put up with this shit…you’re shit anymore. I’m leaving. I’ll go find someone who’ll love me for who I am, who’ll participate in my life. With respect for me. Someone who is not you.” There are more emotional dry heaves but I have tuned out the outburst.

It is not the first time she has threatened to go. I respond the same way this time as before. My mood immediately calms. I sit down on the chair and return to my monotone voice. “There was so much more in what you just said than is what I thought we were arguing about. Can we talk about the bigger issues here?” When I am calm in a stressful situation, I begin to talk in therapist sentence structure.

I see her begin to calm but I can tell it is not complete. She cries again, “I’m sick of it all. I don’t want to do it anymore.”. She’s calm though.

We talk. I say I thought all those other issues were resolved. She says she thought she could deal with them but she now feels she can not. It’s the same tune, same short story on a new day. I apologize but I’m not sure for what I am apologizing.

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