So distant. I sense the shift. Our desks are five feet away but he’s miles. Everyone loves him. So funny. But five feet from me he’s still miles. Sometimes, I watch him play, laugh with her. So free. He can’t see me. He won’t look up. Gets his attention in a monitor. Not from me, flesh and blood. Feels like cupping sand with fingers spread. I try to fix what bothers him about home. Maybe if he wants to be here he’ll be here. Work with kids on listening. Try to be less a clutter-bug. But I’m messy. Creative, passionate, quiet. Polite. Too polite. Don’t rock the boat. I’ve been in the boat when rocked. I nearly drown. It’s okay. This isn’t so bad. Not for him. He’s never been in the boat. This is bad for him. Tells me later he thinks it’s falling apart. Poor innocent. He’s never loved a volcano. I have. We’re just bubbly hot spring. I wonder but I trust. He just likes the attention. Life will go on because it is all in game. Not real life.
Now he only asks if it’s possible to love two people at once. My trust in his loyalty so great makes me stupid. I don’t see what he’s trying to say. He tries. A lot. I don’t worry about us because he’s not a volcano. He’s not cruel. Doesn’t drag me down; he builds me up. Tells me I can be myself. I can be a writer. I believe in you, he. Builds me up so far I can’t see the dark bottom of clouds. Me with head in clouds, can’t see truth. Won’t see. Stupid. Distance grows and I keep watching.
Talk on the phone now. He asked, just friends he says. She needs someone to talk to. Yeah, so do I. But I tell him no and risk more miles. So I say okay. Just friends he reassures. Wondering. I watch. I worry now. More he talks to her, less to me so I hack his email. Really I just guess his password. There. They email. A lot. From work. From five feet away. I’m five feet away! She’s another country. I’m the daily. She gamer chick he never meets. I’m right fucking here. Testy breath and click. Read most recent. I love you Jillian Rose Erving he.
Lips part and breath rushes out as truth punches my gut. Betrayal forges from my eyes like little tributaries chasing gravity. No! I’m wrong. Read again. Shit. Plain as day. Worse still he goes on about it. He fucking carries on about his love. Includes animé picture of two lovers wrapped in passion. Eyes closed. Lost in long kiss. Multitudes said without words. This message is me. I understand it. He’s loving her in my language while I’m five feet away. I read them all. Furiously. Over and over. And while I read I print. Want to torture myself with them repeatedly. I will show him how many pages he used up with her. When I’m right here. Five. Feet. Away. My arms aren’t five feet long. I can only cover half the ground. He only had to turn to the side and reach mine.
I’m not five feet away now. I’m gone. I’ve left the country. The planet. The whole fucking universe! Escape. Lick my wounds for a while. Damn, can’t. Have kids. Need to be a grown up. So I keep printing. Each line feeds my fury. Each paper fans the rage. Fury and rage protect my hurt. He will never again see vulnerable me. She’s dead. Refuse to show him my pain. Can’t help it. Cry when I’m mad and mad when I cry. Shaking when take papers outside. He cuts the grass like I later cut skin, oblivious to the fire raging all around. Looks up as I slam door. Sees the flames consume me. Sees papers. Puts his head down and sighs. Walks toward me. Me screaming incoherent words, throat shredding. Raging on front lawn like rabid animal. In daylight. For all to see. Doesn’t matter, I’m fired. No stopping now. It all comes out. Half scream, half sob. Who knows if he understands words, but he speaks my language, he knows.
Keeps pressing toward me. Guilty face but accepting blame. Takes papers from me. No, mine! Mine to read. Over and over. And over until I die. Don’t say last part but he knows. Press them to my chest like it is his own heart. My penance, to read. His love in my language. To her. No. No, you can’t have them. Him, don’t do this to yourself. Please. Spent, I let go and he takes them so gently. Never see them again. I flee to our room. No my room now. To bed where I can cry like a girl. He follows. I don’t care. I cry like someone kills me. I’m dying. Surely I’m dying. The pain is real. In my chest real. Like someone hacked it up with an axe and ripped out my guts with bare hands leaving my inside exposed to sharp air kind of real.
Sobbing on bed in fetal position. He’s killed me. I’ll actually die from this wound. I feel fever hot from this marathon. No. No I won’t. He doesn’t get to kill me. No one can have that power over me anymore. Open my eyes. Breathe. Calm. He’s scared little boy in corner watching marital train wreck. Terrified. No clue what to do. Rage replaces grief and I stand up. Suffocating. Frantically look for keys. Yes. I’m leaving. Can’t. Can’t be here right now. Can’t be here. Can’t look at you. Can’t fucking look at you! Need to think. I’m a mother so I have to think straight before decisions. Want so bad to walk out and make him watch me leave him. The children though. I can leave for now. I can. I’m leaving. I’m drunk on a cocktail of grief and anger.
He chases me now. Please don’t drive. I understand you need time, need to think. Just please don’t drive. But I fucking want to drive. Too polite, even still, to say out loud. Don’t let him hear my words. My language is violated now. I want to drive and make him sick with worry until I deign to come home. But I think. Because I’m a mother I have to think. I walk instead. Can’t go far on feet. Feet carrying emotional baggage around neighborhood to sit on park bench. Park bench in backyard of school. Maybe they won’t see their train wreck mom at recess. Sit with my back to school. Can’t do this to kids. Not their fault. His stupid fault. Asshole. Who the hell does he think he is? I was right fucking there. Five feet away. Third marriage though. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m like faulty equipment or something that needs to be returned to the Can’t Get Shit Right store. I sit for hours. Only pleasure is to ignore his calls. Make him suffer. I want to sit all day, make him worry. That will teach him to take advantage of nice people. No it won’t. Dogs will be dogs. But he’s not a dog I think. Makes it worse and I start all over again. Head in hands. Shoulders jerking behind kids’ school.
Everyone knows I’ll go home. Eventually.