“No. Absolutely not. I can’t!”
I say this more vehemently than I’d planned, but just the idea spreads terror through me. Tears spring to my eyes and I struggle not to break down sobbing. I want to put on a brave facade but it’s just not possible. I don’t care if he thinks I’m just a weak useless girl.
I can’t face my ex. I can’t. I won’t. There’s no way.
He watches silently as I try to get my emotions under control. I can see he’s uncomfortable with my hysterical outburst but my anxiety over his suggestion can’t be contained. I guess he probably hasn’t had a lot of experience with distraught women.
I breathe raggedly as I fight against the tide of fear that threatens to drown me.
He reaches out awkwardly, maybe to pat my shoulder or squeeze my hand, but I twist reflexively away from his touch. Spurned, he withdraws, then turns away. Without a word he leaves the cabin, shutting the door firmly behind him.
Panic fills me. He just got here. In less than 6 hours I’ve managed to destroy the only hope I had. Peering through the dusty blinds covering the window I see him standing on the front porch, his hands clenching the railing, his shoulders stooped. He hasn’t left. Maybe he won’t.
God, please don’t let him leave. I can’t do this alone.
As if in answer to my unspoken plea he glances back at me, holding my gaze. I’m unable to read his expression. Is it pain I see in his eyes? I don’t understand.
Without knowing why, my heart aches for him. I long to go and offer him comfort, but I’m afraid. I don’t want him to reject my kindness, as I rebuffed his. But more than that, I can’t allow myself to be hurt again. If I feel sympathy, admit that he is a human with feelings who has probably suffered more than I could ever comprehend, that will lead to compassion. Empathy might lead to friendship, and possibly more. I don’t need a friend. I need protection. I need a plan.
But his plan? He wants me to see my ex again. He wants me to pretend I still want to be with him. How could I ever pull that off? I’m at once repulsed and terrified. How would I ever be able to convince him I’m not?
Closing my eyes I try to find courage within me. He is an expert. If this is going to end I need to follow his advice. I can’t live like this forever.
Looking back out the window I see that he has turned away again, although he is thankfully still there. Yanking the door open I rush outside and stand next to him, our shoulders almost touching.
“I’ll do it.” I say. “I don’t know how, but I will.”
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Vehemently and is part of something longer I am working on.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash