“Why are we having this conversation, again?”
She closed her eyes and pressed her fingertips over them, elbows resting on the table. He stroked her hair, soft and grey and black under his palm, and struggled for words.
He said, “It’s important to me.”
“Jesus Christ. I KNOW it’s important to you! Okay? I KNOW!”
He could feel her anger like electricity around them, and wanted like hell just to shut his mouth and walk away. Sometimes you can’t, though, you know? Some things are worth the fight. Quietly, “I don’t understand.”
“Yes, you DO! How many fucking times have we talked about this? You do understand, you’re just not getting the answer you want.” She pulled her hands from her face and glared at him, fury in her eyes, and so much pain. “If you need this so much, if it’s that fucking important to you, then this? What we have here? It’s not going to work.”
“I love you.” So quiet.
“Yeah.” He came to stand behind her and she let her head fall back against him instinctively, tipping her chin up and closing her eyes and feeling the tears on her jaw. “We want different things.”
He shook his head. “I don’t believe that.”
“You refuse to believe that.” She felt his hands on his shoulders, so warm, and then he turned her to face him. She couldn’t face him. She pressed her hands against his chest, and leaned her face into her hands, and just wanted to be anywhere else. “I need to go.”
She felt his body tense and felt guilty. This man that she needed like water and air, she was hurting him so badly. She wished she could stop it. Behind her eyes, she could see herself telling him Yes. Let’s do it. Let’s have a baby. And the joy would light him up like the sun. She wished she could stop it.
She said, “I need to go.”
He held his hands up and backed away, like a criminal or a prisoner. So much pain.
She said, “I’ll be back in a little while, okay? I just… need to go.”
He didn’t say anything. She wished he would say something. He went into the kitchen to start water for tea, staring out the window while the kettle filled. Clouds were building. There were whitecaps beyond the breakwater. He wondered what would happen if the ocean opened up for her, drank her in, took her home. He wondered if that would tear the hole in his life wide open, stopping his breathing until he was cold like her, both of them finally the same. He watched her struggle into her wetsuit. Her hands shook at the zipper. She tried to pull on her booties twice and then just let them fall, stalking over the gravel toward her yellow sea kayak. God, that had to hurt.
He watched his wife push off from shore and then turned away. His chest felt so tight and the room felt so empty. Is this how it would be?
There were photographs on the fridge of their five years together, held on with ladybug magnets made by the children in her kindergarten class. We love you, Mrs. Christopher!
© Desi S. Valentine, 2012