by Kat Douse
“I want to tell you something,” he murmured into my ear. His body felt safe nestled around me and his breath was warm on my neck. The soft of our fleece blanket cocooned us comfortably.
“What?” I answered, playfully snuggling closer to him, pressing myself against him as though trying to make us one. I was always trying to get close enough to him.
He rolled away from me, reestablishing distance between us. “I don’t think I can do this anymore,” he whispered coolly. “You’re my girlfriend. I don’t want a girlfriend.”
As he sighed his confessions, my mind wandered to the list I found, peeking out at me from underneath a stack of bills, earlier that morning. At first, I thought it was an old grocery list. I started to crush it into a ball to throw it away, but at a closer glance I realized it was not meant for my eyes. It was a list of reasons, judgments.
The two columns were divided by a line. The serpentine squiggle slithered its way down the center of the crumpled page. It couldn’t have taken more than two seconds to draw. The heading of the first column was titled “REASONS NOT TO.” It was scrawled sloppily in all capital letters, bleeding into the crooked division. As I read each of the scribbled accusations, rebuttals composed themselves in my mind.
I don’t want a girlfriend.
“We don’t attach labels to our relationship.”
Like kissing an ashtray.
“You smoke, too.”
“You know half the town, I know the other half. It’s not my fault our friends want to pull up a chair in the middle of our romantic dinner dates.”
Not physically attractive enough.
I didn’t have a quick comeback for this one. I couldn’t believe my soul mate was so shallow, so like my father.
I don’t want a girlfriend.
I didn’t think it necessary to respond to this one a second time, even though my lover felt required to state it twice. My eyes moved to the second column, a shorter itemization than its cruel twin. “REASONS TO.” At that point, I was surprised there were any.
My heart responded to this, rather than my mind. “I love him, too. More than anything or anyone. I’ve never felt this way about anyone else. What we have isn’t just physical, its also a spiritual connection. We’ve known each other forever – through lifetimes. The first time my eyes met his, I recognized him – the piece of myself in him.” My heart was much more emotional than my mind.
“Between us? Or mine?”
I found it touching he wanted to write that twice, at first. I thought it was a testament to just how strong his love for me was. Then I decided, maybe, it was a reminder rather than a declaration. At this point, my irrational heart began to sink. Tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn’t stop them from spilling over. Instead of crushing the list into a ball, I tore it into little pieces, as though destroying the physical would somehow cause the indelible ink on my mind to dissipate. I finished going through our bills, and left for class.
That day my Calculus professor lectured on derivatives. I loved the logical way every beginning was always reduced to x=h. The concept was brilliant in its simplicity. I started looking at the rest of the math in my mind and started looking at equations. No matter how complex the problem, and no matter how many variables were included, x always ended up equal to something. This comforted my wounded heart because if x=h, then love must be enough.
Then I thought about when x is undefined, or when x has no solution. There are problems like that, too, and I got scared. I don’t think I took very good notes in Calculus that day. I decided to switch subjects. I moved on quickly to my Chemistry class where we learned about the boiling points, melting points, and freezing points of certain chemicals. We discussed that the definition of a melting point is the point at which a solid changes into a liquid. With certain substances, this melting point is at an incredibly high temperature, and with others, a mere thirty-three degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient. I just wanted to concentrate on class, definitely not what I was going to face at home that evening.
The universe aligned perfectly to allow me to segue into work straight from school, and by the time I was done with a six hour school day and an eight hour work day, I was ready to sleep. I got home. I showered, and climbed in bed beside him in the dark. He inhaled sleepily and kissed me hello. We made love slowly and tenderly. I was sure everything was okay. His “REASONS NOT TO” were just passing annoyances, I shouldn’t have read them in the first place. They were his, not mine. He was here, with me, in this moment, and it was as it should be.
I was jolted back to the present conversation, or rant, rather, because a conversation implies two participants. As he cataloged his grievances, I tried to listen patiently, even though, mere hours before, these points had been hammered into my brain. None of the initial rebuttals I had made their way through my lips. I felt frozen, numb. He looked at me, searching my eyes for conformation or disagreement. At that point, I wasn’t sure which. I met his eyes with a blank stare in mine.
“Come on, Lana. Say something,” he barked briskly at me.
“I guess love isn’t enough,” I responded, yielding to my melting point.
Kat Douse is a current student at SCF, Venice Campus. She enjoys her exciting career as a barista, and her challenging course load. She grew up in Brentwood, TN, and relocated to Venice, FL in 2002. She loves writing, especially poetry, and hopes to continue it for as long as she can.