A short story

How did I get here? How did I get back here? I put her here. She’s in my mind, she’s in my life, she’s in my bed. How did I get from there to right here. My mind races back and forth and it’s too much. I can’t process the route. The path to nowhere. Nowhere land. I’m lost and alone and it sucks and I don’t know if I can stand it. The noise is silent. The silence is maddening. Why does she like me? How can she know? I can’t keep her. I can’t even keep me.

I don’t know anymore. I used to just know. I’m a big guy. I’m good at a lot of things. I like to give. I like to distribute my heart among my people. I can be kind to strangers. I can love my neighbor, my family, my children, I can love God. I want to just know. I want to just know why I can’t love her anymore. What I’ve done. What I’ve seen. What I’ve lived through and what the world has thrown upon me. I can love my way through. I can bring harmony. I don’t know why I can’t love her through. So many other couples can do this. They can be pretty and perfect and have houses and hobbies and travel and be in love. I can’t love her through. But I can’t give up on her. No one knows her like I do. I just don’t know. If I’m not her keeper, who will I be?

I am asking myself this over and over and over again. Now I ask myself every hour. I used to ask myself every day. It used to be every week. I used to just think about doubt and rage when the episodes happened. I would make up the love in between the horrible lies. I want to just hold her and make it better and believe her truth which is my lie. I pour another drink. I leave. I go for a drive. I obsess about nothing. I get back to work. She’s still not here. I think I may have destroyed the chance for peace. She’ll come back to me. She’ll beg for me. I’ll make her see. I’ll be the guy she wants and then I’ll tell her to go fuck off. I’m not your fool. I saw what you did. I know why you go. I know you.

The sun is right around the corner. It will be here soon. The kids are going to wake up. I can lie to them. I’ve been lying for years. I preach the truth but I lie. Does she really think I will let this happen again. In my home, in my life, in my head? I’ll give her till dawn and then I’m out. I won’t stay this time. She’ll see. She’ll know I’m serious when I’m gone. She thinks she wants freedom and men. When her safety net is gone, watch. She will be screaming. Come back. I love you. It’s always been you. I’m sorry. Let’s talk. Let’s see a counselor. Oh yeah. In my head I have the entire screen play ready. I don’t know if I can give her until dawn. I don’t know if I can do this. This is mine. My responsibility. My burden. My cross. Maybe I should have stayed single. Maybe I should have stayed gone. I look at her and I see my entire life. I look at her and I see loss. Dawn. I will give her until daylight.

Morning comes and slides by to mid afternoon. I make breakfast. I make phone calls. She sends me texts. Sorry, I fell asleep. I’ll be home soon. I didn’t think I was that tired. Too much wine. Sorry. Kiss the kids. Sorry. We’ll go to church. Sorry. The sun is shallow in the sky. The day warm. Do I really want to take this away from her, from the kids? Do I really want this to be gone? She does get tired sometimes. Maybe she’s telling the truth. Kids run back and forth and I yell and then hide and cry. I keep saying I just don’t know. The path for me, what I’m supposed to do. I just don’t know.

I hear her pull in. She hops out of the car. Her hair looks great. She looks bad though. She comes over and hugs and kisses me. Whispers, sorry baby. She smells like booze and sex. She smells wrong. The kids run up. Mommy, Mom, Mom and bombard her with the evenings stories. I do know. I do know what I want. I do know how to get it. I see my path, shaded as it may be. I see my path. I lean in and say, I know. I know baby. I grab my keys and I leave. As I back out of the driveway, I know it will be the last time we are a family. Our unit is broken. It is destroyed. We can’t come back to something that never was. In my head, I had it all. In life I didn’t. It’s her and it’s me and mostly it’s us. Now it’s gone. My heart is empty.

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