I’m on my side of the bed trying to undo three gold necklaces that are stuck together. There is no beginning and no end. I’ve been trying to separate them for days. Today at work I spent two hours at my desk with a toothpick and a magnifying glass, tugging, pulling, shaking, praying. Now twelve hours later, I still have a blob of indiscernible gold. None of this matters to you. Even though you bought me most of the misbehaving trinkets. You’re on your side of the bed, engrossed in some electronic virtual reality bullshit. An iphone, a Facebook post, an email. I used to desperately want you to disengage from your cell, your kids, your job, your laptop, your unyielding need to be needed. No more. Now I need to disengage myself from you, find my own space. But there is a problem. My heart is tangled up with yours.
How did this happen? I kept careful guard, but, still, you managed to get past my self-constructed moat, climb my wall and land feet first, unscathed, inside my soul. Now we are knotted in a web of Us that I want to transform back to a You and a Me without any hurt feelings. I tried a dry run last week while you peeled carrots for the salad.
“I’ve been thinking,” I said as I squeezed a lemon over the sole, picking the seeds out of the skillet with my fingers. “about maybe getting my own place.”
You dropped the peeler and left the kitchen without a word. I felt bad. I finished making dinner, but I didn’t use your carrots. I ate alone at the kitchen table. Maybe that’s when I started twisting the necklaces? A nervous habit I’ve had since birth, transmuted into a harbinger of death.
I’m done with these necklaces for the night. I lay them carefully on the nightstand and climb under the covers. I rub my thigh against yours. You refuse to acknowledge the gesture and I accept this punishment. I turn away from you and try to quiet my mind. I think about before. I used to ache for you when you went away to document the world’s tragedies. I’d watch you pack, gather your passport and then, by the door before you kissed me goodbye, you’d hand me an envelope addressed to the landlord. “Make sure to mail it from the post office, okay?”
Now I pray for the call in the middle of the night, privy only to your end of the conversation.
“When? Where? How many dead? Yeah, ok. I think there’s a flight out of LaGuardia in a couple of hours.”
I don’t think about the mother of the exchange student who will get a call from the consulate that will leave her broken for life. I think about me. I think about how we will be separated for at least a week and I will be able to breathe again. I turn out the light and say a prayer that sometime during the night, your phone will ring.