“When were you planning on telling me?” she whispered, wiping the limpid tears from her solemn face.
I looked her over, tracing her slouched silhouette with my heavy eyes, wishing with everything in me that I could go back in time. I sighed, rubbing the warm mug in my hands as if its warmth could cure all my woes. The truth hurts, but this necessary.
“I wasn’t. Not really. I thought this would be something I can fix,” I admitted, a tinge of bitterness leaking through my injudicious words, ”I thought if I could- Nevermind. I’m just tired. I don’t want to feel it anymore.”
She looked at me, though I couldn’t see it since I was trying to focus on the spot being illuminated on my mug. I could feel her eyes- it was the same intense gaze she would give me when we started talking about life. It was a look I was incapable of not falling prey to. One which would light every frail bone in my body on fire with the truest flame and scorch even the strongest parts of my soul. I made the mistake of looking into those dark brown pools of empathy, nearly losing all my sense of control.
“I know that. Don’t you think I understand?” she asked imploringly, voice cracking and falling into a whisper as she looks away, brown eyes quivering in the dim light illuminating them.
I hate seeing her like this, I always do, and the words of affection that would follow would usually be enough. A simple I love you, or everything is going to be fine, maybe even a please would cure the disparity of every petty fight. This time, though, it’s so much more irreparable, and so much harder to acknowledge.
More tears fell from her beautiful and puffy eyes when I noticed the single droplet that fell into my mug. It was mine. The awaiting and patronizing tear of anguish- far over-due if I do say so myself.
“I do. I just needed to say it out loud. Thought maybe it would make me realize something,” I mumbled, wiping my scantily sticky cheeks.
I was holding back- oh if she only realized- and it was tearing me apart that I had to do this. It was necessary, that’s what I told myself when I decided to tell her. It’s necessary for both of us.
She needs to know. She deserves better. Everyone deserves better.
“I’m still here,” she whispered, taking my warm safe-haven of a cup from my hands, setting it aside as she climbed softly into my lap, ”I’m still here, and I’m not leaving you. I won’t leave you. You’re so much more than what you think. I won’t leave you. It’s not fair.”
The last sentenced rolled off her tongue like a solemn prayer- like she believed every syllable she’d ever spoken. Her arms were wrapped around me now, face buried roughly into my buoyant chest as I sobbed pathetically into her soft hair.
I didn’t want to break down, I resented the dramatics of it all, but I was so drained from holding everything back that it all came rushing out like an avalanche of snot and salty tears. It wasn’t until I was done crying that I noticed she was mumbling the words to a familiar song.
It was a song I’d told her about before we started dating. I believe it was our 3rd date. She had wanted to know what my favorite song was and I couldn't decide, so she pulled out my CD collection and started ringing off titles until I said to stop. It was a song by Dashboard Confessionals, a band I’d long forgotten about until she read off their album. The melody was nostalgic, the lyrics poignantly true, and memories antagonizing in retrospect.
“-But I am cleaning up so well. I am seeing in me now, the things you swore you saw yourself,” she hummed softly, voice cracking ever so often from the strain crying had done to her throat.
It wasn’t perfect, far from it, in fact, considering it really wasn’t meant to be a sweet lullaby to sing through tears. Yet it was so heart wrenching, angry, and emotional to me that I couldn’t help but listen to the string of compelling words fall off her sandpaper-like tongue.
The words, when I had first heard the song, meant something entirely else compared to what they mean to me now. Now, the words are honest, begging, borderline apathetic, and worn down. Before, they had just been a string of bitter and angsty words, haphazardly accompanied by a break from reality.
I knew at that moment, her words drenched in exhaustion, that she was feeling the same things as I. The way her nose scrunched up when she said ‘wrong’ made my heart wrench with memories of all the torment we haltered together. She had gone through so much, and I had always been there for her. We picked up all her shattering pieces and put them back together over and over again. I was there to wait by the phone every night- expecting that compulsory call of ‘I need to talk to someone’ I never grew tired of. I was there when she was going through hell and couldn’t find an escape. I was there.
I knew then, when she sang the words so meaningfully and brokenly, voice weak from the dry winter air, that it was my turn to fall apart. It was my turn to let her help pick up the pieces, and it was my turn to talk.
So, that’s what I did.
I told her all my anger filled stories, all the feelings of resentment, the things that made looking in the mirror so dreadful. I explained all the things that made me want to rip off my own skin and throw it off a bridge. I told her my darkest story, blubbering angrily, completely filled with fear and trauma, and when she grabbed my face and told me to look into her pools of chocolate dreams, I told her the reason I hadn’t let them take me over. Why I had been so scared to tell her what was wrong.
“It’s you. Honest. And I know how bad that is, to put all my hope into one person, but it’s what happened and now you’re the only thing I can really see anymore. You’re so bright, and I hate how cheesy I sound, but the world is so dark to me. You contrast it all,” I admitted, sucking in a breath of air nearly every 3 words, possibly killing the mood.
“The world is dark, of course, it is, and it always will be. In truth, you will always live with this pain. But you don’t have to keep it all to yourself. I’m always here, just as you were, and I will always love you. Don’t be stupid. Please,” she entreated, boring her wide and glossy eyes into my broken ones with a truthful ferocity that I just couldn’t turn away from; the indignation in her voice was undeniable and I don’t know if I could ever let that escape me.
My world is always cold, always dry, always on edge, and always complaining. That’s my reality. Having this reason to stay- a warm cup of tea- made everything worth it. I was tired of letting my mind eat away at my heart, and tired of letting my conscious overpower my will. This was what made me realize how I needed to be strong. I need to cry sometimes to be happy. I need to hurt sometimes to feel things. This doesn’t make me weak for not overcoming it all, but brave for admitting it.
I didn’t respond- not verbally- but when I fell onto her, grabbing her soft face with my small hands and kissed her, I’m almost certain it was implied. I don’t know why I thought cutting her off would help me, it’s a distant memory now, but I was ever so wrong to believe that. To build a snowman at the end of winter, you need to stack the snow on top of each other. Two cold, fragile, and delicate balls of snow need to lean on each other in order to face the awaiting and unavoidable sun together.