My boyfriend got angry at me the other day. I don’t remember what it was about. All I remember was the heat of his rage, pounding my small frame in waves and being terrified of the look in his eyes. He looked me straight on and said, “You’re so fucking beautiful and you’re such a fucking idiot, because you don’t even see it. You think you’re this shitty little person who doesn’t deserve anything, but you’re the best. The best. And you’re an idiot.”
I saw a post on tumblr, one of those iPhone text bubble posts. It said the same thing. I couldn’t help but piteously laugh at the tragically disparate undertones. One, a sweet remark in awe of another’s beauty. The other, a cynically roused epithet of resentment. Human relationships are not so simple as a script. The words can be there, but they hold more than letters and fonts and emphasis. They contain entire worlds of arguments past, the sound of zippers, laughter muffled by skin, the soft silk of lips in the early morning, fists that push, doors that slam, and arms that hold so tight, the blood stops. My heart rocks back in forth in my chest, and I feel it’s home getting raw underneath my bones. My arms ache from holding you, placating you, promising you things I know I’ll never keep. It’s okay; you won’t notice.
It was then, when my arms seemed too heavy to lift, as if the gravity of our relationship sank into my very marrow, that I walked away. I promised myself no more torture, no more violent tornados of hate supposedly masking love, no more destruction. I very literally stood up, and praised my calves for straightening my wavering body. The first step was lingering, as if I hoped you’d plead for me to stay. The second was powerfully intentional, and filled with a desperate determination. What happened next, was unexpected. You grabbed my ankle in motion, and pulled my thigh close. I looked down at your ruffled hair, and saw what looked like a child. You looked like a child on the verge of tears, lip quivering, asking his mother to stay, please, stay, don’t go. You looked terrified. Suddenly, you straightened the anchored legs beneath you and stood beside me. Our hands intertwined, and your grip hardened. “Let’s go,” you breathlessly whispered into my ear, and with a kiss on the cheek, we left.