“You really want to do this?” she asked.
“You’re skipping ahead in the narrative,” I look over at her, as beautiful as she ever was. Of course. A little older, but not showing it like I am.
“We’ve had conversations like this countless times,” she said.
“Not recently,” I deadpanned, “Maybe we’re rusty.”
“Is it my fault part of this dialogue started before you began to capture it for posterity?”
“Cute.” I look away.
I look up at the dark purple landscape of marble stone. Clouds swirling in the distance on all sides. Thunder and lightning always threatening to move this way but never quite doing so.
“I never liked it when you brought in an audience,” she huffed. “Made me just a character in an internal narrative in your head. Feels like I’ve been demoted.”
“From girl of my dreams to muse? It was originally an attempt to make you tangible in a fictitious sense. I’d think it a promotion.”
“Didn’t work. You didn’t keep most of our previous exploits..”
“They’re probably still out there somewhere. I’m sure they’ll turn up again when I least expect them.”
“You didn’t answer my question.” She sits on a rock across from me. I notice the safe distance of unfamiliarity and I approve. I sit on a stone bench opposite her.
“I won’t be staying long,” I remind her. “You know why I’m here.”
She smirks at me, “so that I’ll tell you what you already know.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Just like old times,” she said.
“Yeah,” I said.
“I thought you stopped believing in me.”
“I did. I do.” I look about uncomfortable, and notice I’m sweating. “Why is it so warm out here?”
She resists a smile, “you always kept it too cold. Then you’d make me wear these long frilly gowns so the wind would billow them about. You haven’t been here in ages, and I prefer it this way.” She makes a hand gesture, as if reaching for a thermostat in mid air, “If you’d like..”
“No,” I wave a hand in an effort of dismissal, “it’s alright, as I said–”
“You won’t be staying long.”
Our eyes meet. A history between us and nothing denoting a future. The thrill is gone.
“I wouldn’t want to wear out my welcome,” I say sarcastically.
“How can you?” she matches my sarcasm, “It’s your place.”
“So.” She stands up. “You really want to do this.”
“Tell you what you need to hear though you don’t want to hear it.”
“I’m not your servant anymore, remember?”
“You were never my–”
“You let me go.”
She stares at me hard. I stare back but then look down at my feet. Of course she was my slave. Always had been. Did what I wanted her to do, oftentimes before I even realized I wanted her to do it. How could I claim she wasn’t my servant? I let her go. You can’t let someone go if they weren’t your property to begin with.
She walks away.
I sit there. I don’t get up.
She turns around. Our eyes meet again.
“Fine. For old times sake, but I’m not doing this anymore!”
She changes her stance. Places her feet firmly below her shoulders. Gathers herself as if for a debate. Inhales. Pauses.
“That joke. The one you told yesterday. It wasn’t funny. Not at all. Not remotely. It wasn’t even a joke. It was you wallowing in self-pity and transferring that self-pity to a man you will never meet. A man who will never see those words. A man who, if he did ever see those words, might be hurt by those words, if you weren’t such a pathetic excuse of a man yourself. A man you think you respect but if you actually respected him you would have never thought those words could have ever been remotely funny to anyone. A man who doesn’t deserve your chiding. A man who handled the loss of his wife much better than you’re handling the loss of your mother. You should take it back, but I know you won’t. Because you’re a selfish, self-centered little prick.”
She stands there. I sit there. The storm wages on in the distance.
“Just like old times.” I nod in appreciation, “See? You still got it.”
She crosses her arms. “Is that enough? Shall I go on? I could do this all day, but then you already know that. Is this what you want? Is this what you’ve resorted me to being? Your whip? You used to let me love you.”
I stand up, “thank you.”
I walk away.
“Will you do it? Will you take down what you put up yesterday?”
“Yes you can.”
“He’ll never see it.”
“That’s not the point! It’s not what you said about him. It’s about what it says about you!”
I turn back to face her, “And just what does it say about me? Every word you just said and more?”
“No. They won’t get it! They..” she stops, then grows flustered. I stifle a grin. “..is that it? That’s what this is? An attempt to EXPLAIN AWAY what you did yesterday? You pathetic monster! Using me like this!”
“I’ve wondered why you linger.”
“I can’t leave! YOU MADE ME!”
I go to say something. Then I stop. The words don’t come. I sit back down.
She walks over to me. Tries to put a hand on my shoulder but I just push away.
“Don’t do this to yourself. You don’t have to.”
“Yeah.” I said. “I do.”
We stand there for a long time. She cries. I let her.
“You shouldn’t have come,” she said.
“Yeah. You’re right. I shoulda written a pithy blog post about how I feel about the Israeli situation.”
“Well that’s putting it all in perspective isn’t it?”
“Doesn’t matter that I’m crazy. The world’s crazy. My little bit of crazy won’t be noticed.”
“I wish I could leave you. You are such a self-centered little man.”
“I know. I wish you could leave too. You know. It’s funny. I came here for all this, but I think now what I really wish you had done instead–”
“–would be to slap your face, do a Cher impersonation, and tell you to snap out of it?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Yeah. Well. That’s one thing. You never taught me how to impersonate Cher.”
“You know you could take some initiative.”
“I used to. And when I did, you never seemed happy about it.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right,” I said.
We stood there for awhile longer. She motioned as if to hug me but I flinched away. She soured her face at me. I turned to go.
“You can still delete it you know,” she said.
“Yeah,” I said, “I know.”
“Isn’t this your litmus test?” She asked. “You know it’s not funny.”
“It was funny when I wrote it,” I said.
She walked towards me a couple steps, “but somewhere between your brain and the real world it stopped being funny. When was that?”
I took a step back, “probably that same point in time where the cracker and wine transubstantiate.”
I wait for her to laugh. I thought that was funny. She doesn’t laugh.
“You mean it never was funny,” she says finally, after that painful pregnant pause.
“Maybe I just believed it was.”
“…you are crazy.”
I looked down at my feet. “I have to go.”
“Do me a favor. Don’t come back.” She walked away.
I whispered to myself, “no promises.”