S e p t e m b e r   2 0 0 3

Guest Writer

Here is where it all changes
All that mattered
by Jeremy Wilder

don't know why you have to be like that," she said, her voice sinking into her knees.

Her hair fell down her back as she sat on the floor. She looked out the doorway to the yard, then toward her feet. She picked at the carpet and squinted as if looking for the reflection of what she needed to see in my face. I knew I should not even talk, that I was just making everything worse, but I told her anyway.

"Look, I don't know what to say ... I know that this is weird, I just ... I just ... Listen, I love you. That much I know, and ..."

I said it, dammit, I said it.

"Love me?!" she said as she stood up, "Love me?! What the hell is that? Love. You know, you have some shit to work out ..."

"I know ..."

"And I am in no position to aid you in any way ..."

"I don't want aid, dammit! Look, I know what I need, alright? You once told me that you would listen to me, any ... ANY time I needed you to. Do you remember?" I said, moving closer without meaning to.

"I said IF you were rational, and ..."

"I AM rational!"

"You call this rational?" she said, wearing her best gimme-a-break look.

"Yes, absolutely. I know that you think I'm crazy. And I am, but I'm tired of making things worse between us."

I could see that she was softening up.

I had my foot in the door. I realized, suddenly, that having my foot in the door was not what I wanted. She touched my face and looked into my eyes.

This is so confusing, I thought.

"Love. You are passionate. You watch movies that tell you that passion is what women want, but it's not. Not really. I feel so close to you at times, but you are running with the ball or something. You know?" she said, as kindly as I could stand.

I took a deep breath. Inside, I knew that I loved her, knew that I meant exactly what I said. I was ashamed, I was lonely and scared. I had the feeling I had been here before.

"I do know," I told her, "I do. I'm passionate, because ... because I am. I don't know. It's just what I feel. It has nothing to do with movies, it's just that I am moved to touch you. Look, we've been
talking for hours and I'm feeling lost in the words. I just want to stop ALL of this. Somewhere in everything we have said is what we really know. I know that you mean so much to me and I know that I am not perfect. I don't want to ask for another chance or anything, I don't want it to be like that at all. Don't trust me, don't forgive me. Just don't kick me out of your life. Anything else and I will do it."

Fuck, I thought, I'm begging!

"Are you going to get on your knees, now?" she was almost smiling.

But I couldn't smile. Here it is, I thought, here is where it all changes. I took a minute to think about the reality of what I wanted and what I could do. I raised my hand to her cheek and I could feel the tears coming, despite my efforts.

"I have to do this, but it is so fucking hard. I know that I am done with the past, but it doesn't seem to be done with me. So I ask for time and room to make mistakes. Nothing more. No devotion, no forgiveness and no trust. No promises. This is it, you know?"

And here they came. Tears rolling down my chin. I hoped they didn't manipulate her feelings. I could sense that everything was too perfect, and I just couldn't help it.

But I could look her in the eye, and that was all that mattered.

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