Words so delicate they dangled from my still-open mouth, like a spider swaying on a single thread of silk in an unexpected surge of autumn wind. He was, on some level, not unlike dying leaves flying past me in a metaphorical storm, causing a startled flinch, and clinging to the tangled crevasses of my hair as I desperately searched for some sort of temporary shelter inside myself.
I can’t recall when I learned to inherently anticipate the silence that he offered up as a consolation prize to my presence, but my stoicism translated through the subconscious tilt of my head, as I stared at him and he stared at the cell phone in his hand.
No acknowledgement whatsoever. I counted the seconds with a subliminal rage. Affection had taken the form of a drug, and I, the trembling addict, constantly chasing the elusive dragon of reciprocation was met with an impossible indifference.
“I said… kiss me. Please?”
I used to believe the well of my imagination was endless in depth but he had become an enduring drought of my mind’s landscape. I was running out of analogies and coping mechanisms for this. What once seemed like an accidental emotional unawareness, a harmless ignorance, was steadily becoming an intentional refusal, a stubborn declination, not unlike a hungry cancer attaching and consuming my creative sinews. My humanity was deflating like a memorial balloon released into the skies in the vain hope of communicating love and regret with the dead.
“I said… Kiss me. Now.”
The only thing he liked less than when I requested him to do something he had no interest in doing to begin with, is when I would run out of patience and command him. Even this failed to elicit the type of response I was hoping for. What it did inspire was some semblance of eye contact, his eyebrows furrowing downward like an avalanche over boiling pools of mud.
They told me no. They growled it like a caged and starving lion. He burned holes in me with the effortlessness of a lit marlboro pressed into tulle. My heart, a dusty pink tutu, was incinerated instantaneously. I held that stare with a fierce and antagonizing brand of conviction, even curving the corners of my lips into a hostile little smile. My unkissed mouth said yes, I am demanding this of you. No, I am not hurt by your rejection. And my mouth was lying.
Inside I was collapsing with loneliness and frustration. Inside I was an unknown Klimt painting gathering dust in someone’s filthy attic. Someone forgettable. Inside I was a poem written lovingly in iambic pentameter, unrecited. A vintage postcard from some exotic locale lost in the mail. A love unrequited. My ego mourned for itself in a fabulous Dior ballgown and literally no one cared, least of all him. The only one I needed to care. So despite the incredible devastation he inspired in these moments, the only defense I had left was a display an unyielding defiance. Look at me, an armored peacock.
Perhaps on some level I also did this in the futile hope that he might recognize the melancholy transformation in my own eyes, jewel green shifting to sunlit starved mahogany. I wanted him to see the desperation just behind the shadows of rebellion.
He was unmoved, instead choosing to go for my barely beating jugular with his most reliable weapon, disengagement. He looked back to the iphone, demonstrating it’s absolute importance over my ever growing despair. Technology, a convenient tool of his neglect. He won every war this way, by showing me he wasn’t going to show up to fight. Our love was a battle, and he was a deserter. He never kissed me. He still hasn’t.
a. duncan, 2018.