'I am leaving.'
This is the hundredth time I have said this to you. You are sitting with your feet up on our sitting room table and from across the room, I can see two foxes of fear sprint across your eyes. They hold hands, they look at me raw, and disappear. ‘I’m leaving you.’ My nails are digging crescents into my palms.
‘But,’ you scrape a hand across your jaw and consider this, ‘I love you.’ This is enough. It always is. My insides unroll for you. You tender the wounds and we play that stupid mystery game I love together and you kiss me and then we fall asleep, bodies like olive branches. The next evening, it will be the same again. I will tell you that I am going. You will soften for me. The foxes will cry at the discontent.
We are loving each other futilely. We’re playing Kiss Chase on a knife edge, I say ‘I’ve finally got you’ and hold you hard enough to break your back. You let me every time. You say ‘you’re mine’ and push me off every bridge you can find. Hold my hand at the last minute and sometimes we go over the edge together. Sometimes the water kisses us. Sometimes it turns us inside out. Either way it’s heartbreaking, either way it’s an adventure.
On the phone, my mother sighs and tells me ‘leave him.’ And I cry and hold myself and tell her that I am still trying. My father promises that he will break you into tiny little pieces and you laugh and stroke a finger down your chin and say ‘he needn’t worry. You’ve already done that.’ In the evenings I sit on your lap and you lick salt tears from my face and leave handprints on my ribcage.
We argue like acid rain. In our darkest moments we are bitter and hungry and furious. When I am cruel, I leave with no warning and do not come back for days. When you are cruel, you drink and smoke 20 a day. We fall in and out of love with each other like the tides at midnight. I want to say ‘here is the door, here is my kiss, pick one.’ I want to say that I love you but I cannot keep breaking my spine for you. Instead, I tell you that I am leaving and you tell me that you love me and we fill and empty each other again.