Before his foot hit the bottom step as he came looking for me, as he did every time he returned home, I shoved the partially filled backpack in the dark recesses under the bed, concealing my intent to leave. I couldn’t let him know what I was thinking, couldn’t reveal my fears.
As I listened to the footsteps on the stairs I tried to think. I considered where I should be when he got to the bedroom, what I should be doing. What would be normal? I almost couldn’t imagine what “normal” would look like anymore.
I glanced around the room, fighting panic, when the open door to the balcony drew my attention. Yes! I ran on my tiptoes, hoping my movements would be inaudible, and threw myself onto the lounge chair. A dog-eared book rested on the small table nearby so I grabbed it and opened it just before he entered the room.
He called my name, his tone as tender as always.
Doubt began to creep in. I again wondered if it were possible I had misjudged the situation. I certainly hadn’t been feeling myself for a while, and honestly he had never said I couldn’t leave, never prevented me from going home. Technically I was free to go wherever I wanted. He wasn’t even here all the time. It was just more convenient for me to stay here, and I had to admit his home was incredible. Who wouldn’t want to live in such luxury?
Suddenly it occurred to me that I must be suffering from paranoia. Maybe it was a symptom of the illness I’d been fighting. I really hadn’t been feeling very well.
Determined to call my doctor in the morning, I called to him, “I’m out here.”
I took several deep breaths, attempting to calm myself and swiped at the tear still resting on my cheek. I felt ashamed about what I’d been thinking. How crazy was it to believe he was anything other than the sweet, attentive, caring man he’d been since we had met?
When he saw me, concern immediately shadowed his face. “What’s wrong?” he asked, worry apparent in his voice. He rushed to my side, sat on the edge of the lounge by my knees and grasped my clammy hands with his warm ones.
I shook my head, a silent no. Was it a rebuff of his attempts to console me, or a denial that something was wrong?
“Please,” he pleaded. “Tell me. I can help.”
Then out of nowhere I was crying again. Tears flowed freely down my cheeks as sobs shook my chest. I felt like I was losing my mind, that I no longer had control over my thoughts or emotions.
I couldn’t tell him that, couldn’t admit that I was sincerely afraid I was going insane.
Instead I let him hold me, his shirt becoming damp with my fears, as I took solace in his loving embrace.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Solace and is part of something longer I am working on.
This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after Why Do I Hesitate When I Know I Should Escape?.