I couldn’t write. I stared at the wall, and I stared at the keyboard, and I stared at my hands, which I thought were lovely and graceful some days, and haggard and witchlike on others. When I stopped staring and focused, I’d tap out a sentence and then delete it. I’d grab the skin on my wrist and tug on it—something I’d done since I was a child. I told everyone I was writing when they asked, but I wasn’t. I was almost relieved each day when my alarm went off at three o’clock to remind me that Mercy needed to be picked up from nursery school. It was something to do other than stare.
What was the truth? That love had slaughtered me? Killed my creativity? A little bit, yes. Until Darius, I had an open vein. I didn’t have to work hard for words, they poured from the nick like a proverbial fountain of creativity. Sadness is lucrative, folks. But, I wasn’t sad anymore, was I? I was, for the first time, cocooned in security and love. A man whom I loved and admired had taken me and my unborn child and given us a home. Strong hands, and soft touches, we fell under his spell. And a shrink! A shrink always knew the right thing to do. I could rest easy, take the love and trust. Such a sweet beguiling thing.
But, I was bored.
Not with life, life was a beautiful, ugly thing. And not with my career, it was at its peak. And most certainly not with motherhood, it was too tumultuous to be boring. I was bored with love.
What is love anyway? Most of us had no fucking clue because our parents gave us shit examples of it: prude, nonverbal, stiff; or on the opposite end of the spectrum: chaotic, uncommitted, inconsistent. Or maybe just divorced. So, we flounced around in adulthood, taking notes from romantic comedies … or porn. Love is flowers! Love is grand gestures! Love is trips to Paris hand in hand! Love is her opening her mouth whenever you want to stick your dick inside.
Love was whatever you decided it was, and if you’d had a narrow window to peek through, you were really fucked.
But then you became a mother, and all of that changed. Love was sacrificing your selfish nature for someone you were more committed to than yourself. Becoming a mother made me a better wife. My personality had a makeover and Darius reaped the benefits.
Darius wasn’t boring. Quite the opposite. But after three years, I was fairly certain our relationship was a fabrication. He’s not who he said he was. I was fascinated and horrified. My disappointment a sour stone in the pit of my stomach. I’d searched articles all over the internet on sociopaths and I was almost certain that my husband was one. Do you take this sociopath to be your lawfully wedded husband…
I once asked him if he’d ever diagnosed himself with anything, and he laughed and said no, but that he thought I was a sociopath. That was typical sociopathic behavior. Someone brought up an issue and you turned it around and accused them of it instead. Brava! Darius manipulated people’s minds, and I manipulated words, and so the two of us could not manipulate each other. It canceled out.
I still loved him. Deeply. How can you love someone who, in their essence, was a miserable, destructive wretch? We love ourselves, don’t we? We’re obsessed with ourselves, in fact. No? What you hate you also value. If you ever doubt me, time your self-hate. You spend ninety percent of your time finding new things to hate yourself for. Obsession.
I borrowed ideas on how to bring him back to me: date nights, home cooked meals (gluten free) a firmer body, a pussy waxed raw and always wet. None of these things took away the distant look in his eyes. So, I started asking a lot of fucking questions.
“Why did you cheat on Dani? Was it her or you?”
“Did you feel guilty?”
“Have you ever been tempted to cheat on me?”
He managed to never answer a single question. That’s when it hit me. He was hiding something. Was it last week that I’d taken his phone from him to see something, and he’d taken it right back … tugging till I let go? If I had his phone, his hands were right there hovering.
Well, well, well.
But, I was bored.
Darius brought me flowers—once a week, at least. A romantic gesture, not a sacrifice. And on Thursdays he cooked—he had to eat anyway. Sometimes he’d leave little cards in my purse. I’d be looking, rifling around for the pack of wipes I kept in there, or reaching for my wallet, and I’d find it—a bright pink or green card. Something cheesy on the outside—a toddler couple holding hands, or a fabric heart with an arrow through it. On the inside, he’d write his version of love notes. Before you I was wandering around life lost. You are the only woman I see. You are the one I want to grow old with. You are the fire in my soul. I thought my mother was the standard for a perfect woman until I met you. Beautiful, but words.
I wondered if someone who had fire in their soul would have smoke coming out of their mouth.
I didn’t believe his cards, didn’t buy into the words he wrote in them, or the flowers that wilted and died in the vases, sprinkling their petals on countertops. I’d pick up the velvet scraps turned crisp and hold them in my hand, wondering what happened to us. None of the gestures reached his eyes. I wanted his eyes back on me. I didn’t want his flowers, or his bright pink cards, or his scallops over quinoa. He was bullshitting and we both knew it.
“Have I ever told you about the strangler fig?” Darius asked.
I made a face. Darius was forever telling me facts about random things. Last week I got a full run down on geese. Geese! It was actually really fascinating, much more so than the week before when he was going on and on about the papal.
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