by W. Brady Stonica
You loom in door frame shadows, awkward and always glancing inside, checking to see if I had evaporated.
You hope I’m condensation dripping down glass, for you to lick up just to wet your tongue.
The way you take, fake, and manipulate, like only you do, makes the hollow bones of my rib-cage splinter piercing my heart. It shrivels, blood runs tepid, and rod iron ivy chokes lungs.
I don’t touch you, yet there are specter fingertips haunting your skin.
Today you wake me with your mouth, swallowing me as I do your lies. My emotions tremble, hiding under floorboards.
You look at me like I’ve used you. As if the truth I’ve made you taste has turned sour as lemonade, tainting you.
You say I cheat at board games, and I say that’s not the same thing.
I stay away for a single day to find the words I never say. I pay the toll for keeping you. Giving away my soul and dignity to hold your hand for a few more months.
I distract myself in May at work, where guests greeted with a grin slosh soup over the sides of bowls onto my shoes. Every disrespect a reminder of you and your February betrayal, and your December one, and your August.
When did the whites of your eyes turn yellow, your teeth dimmed, and your voice punctuated by all the eggshells you’re walking around like an acrobat. .
I heard butterflies sing. I heard cicadas scream. I even heard rain moan in my dreams.
I saw blueberries and Bradford pear trees bloom, but no bumble bees this spring when you left me and your ring.
I stare at my eyes in my rear view mirror seeing in them a victim not reflected before you. This is a mad day for venting through broken dishes and petty landmines buried in conversations. Your omissions are shrapnel ripping us both to shreds.
It’s contentment fighting resentment, conflict resolution versus heart palpitations. Today anger is strangulating adoration.
The least you could do is lie outright.
I baptized my room, sweeping filth and feelings into crannies to be unseen, forgotten for now. The vibrations of my phone roused me from the stupor that had me scrubbing my floor on my hands and knees (a feeble attempt to wrangle life back into my control).
My ’97 Pontiac fueled by fumes splutters on the way to picking you up from work. The low fuel light burns the darkness, so you shell out cash on an Arby’s banquet and some unleaded love, buying my complacency.
Scratching each other’s backs day to day cannot save our future.
Watching your chest rise and fall while you snored still soothed me this morning, but for the first time since your enchantment ensnared it was not the highlight of my day. Pleasantries peppered with pet names prop up our post-humorous relationship.
“Hey, babe, you okay?”
“You sure, love?”
“Yeah, I’m just thinking.”
“About what, sexy, school?”
You slurp as you sip your coffee, smothering me with worried looks thinly veiled as doting expressions. I take a bite of toast; the crunch is deafening. The smell of char wafts between us as I take another nibble of the charcoal lump parading around the kitchen as toast.
I say I forgive. Though I will live with no trust, fearing your lust. Ultimately just pretending to be Us.
We could stay together for fifty more years if we let the water under the bridge wash away all the bullshit, if you could keep your dick in your pants, and if I can force my frigid fortress to melt into forgiveness without just faking it.
Another week has passed leaving me weak. Maybe we can move on from the past, not this week or the next; but one night when the wind caresses the side of the house and I can’t get the samba of your heart beat out of my head, maybe then. Maybe then.