The Right Words
If we said the right words, everything would turn out alright, of course. If we spoke to one another just so, neither of us would hurt.
Disappointment noisy as air escaping an untied balloon that, up until the wrong word seeped out, had been stretched thin and round, its breath held by pinched fingers. This is the trouble with being seen. When his words prick me, the sting flashes across face. I turn away quickly, hoping he won’t see the defeat in my eyes.
I search for the right words and perhaps even find them, but speak in my taut, brittle voice and he can hear me cracking inside. He knows, he sees instantly I’m disheartened by his response. I take a step sideways and search for angles of escape, some distraction that will avert conflict and allow me to scurry away before I fall apart.
My falling apart takes many forms; some are self-defeating, some self-abusing, and some pure rage. A falling apart in stages, really. Once we’ve used the wrong words, the right ones go into hiding. Either that or our standard of right shifts. Right becomes sharp and brutal, communication employed in the service of destroying an enemy. Grenades tossed to cloud our view and keep each other at bay, creating the distance needed for a get-away.
That initial, tedious attempt to curtail a skirmish having failed, I aim to run, break free from the glare of an eye seeing me say and do all the wrong things. I watch as he witnesses me sink into myself – chest caving, shoulders curling, mouth mewling pitiably. Apologizing for my very existence. Acknowledging, as a means of surrender rather than honest assessment, I have no right to take up space in this world. Begging to be allowed a retreat by admitting my poor choice of words, poor choice of being, and claiming I can’t handle being seen. Suddenly attacking, lashing out violently, angrily. Finding those canons that crush and destroy, directing my vengeance straight at the soft part of his belly. Extracting the balm of love from intimate secrets he’s bared and using it as ammunition in an attempt to survive my own exposure.
Departing in a broken and bruised manner after this furious onslaught, fleeing on words that justify my desertion.