He says that he’ll drive me back to my hotel. He says that I shouldn’t stay. He never says that this is wrong. It’s the eighth time this year and I should have stopped counting long ago but I can’t.
I don’t say anything. I’m ensconced in the white duvet twisted around by body, stomach down, with my left hand wound tightly on the sheets. I’m expressionless, I don’t move. I don’t look back at him as he gets up to dress himself. Instead, I’m watching the skyscraper lights quietly twinkle in this beautiful Chicago backdrop, with my left elbow propped up, my mop of chestnut brown curls carelessly draped over my pillow.
His remark doesn’t deserve a response. I am so tired. I am so tired of hearing this. I close my eyes in the faint glow of the city lights that reach the thirty-seventh floor of this condo, and quietly exhale. I want to say everything that has been on my mind, and yet there are not enough words to capture all those thoughts. I don’t contest, but I don’t move. I stay there waiting for him to say my name, to make me get out of his bed.
It takes another two minutes.
I slowly turn to acknowledge him and look at him, my voice soft.
“How come you never fought for me to go to Northwestern?”
His face slackens as he fixes his shirt. He doesn’t know what to say because we have spoken about everything but this. We have fought over everything but this. We have turned over carpets and tables searching for ants, blaming each other for one another’s carelessness, just so we could avoid that elephant in the room. Why had you let them in? And I had just loosened the elephant from the trench it had dug due to inertia and time, and now it was trampling on everything holy that we had taken for granted until this moment: the quiet, the peace, all the words that had gone unsaid.
“Why are you bringing this up now?”
“Because I want to. It’s been bothering me for a while.” I reply.
“You wanted to play lacrosse, and Yale was good. Most of your friends were going there anyway so it seemed like the logical decision.” He retorts, shrugging and grabbing his keys casually.
“You never told me that.”
“I thought it was a given.”
“You didn’t try to convince me otherwise.” I shift my position in his bed. “You didn’t say ‘I wish you were coming to Chicago instead’ or something easy like that. And then you could have relented… but you didn’t even try.”
There’s a silence that fills every uncomfortable corner of this room.
“You just want me to say it.” He deadpans menacingly.
I get up onto both knees. I dare him. I dare him to do it. I dare him to say what has been hanging over our heads like desiccated and dying mistletoe that someone insists is still legitimate, still symbolic.
“Yes.” I breathe. I close my eyes, I take a breath.
It’s dead silent. And then he says it.
“Maybe I didn’t want you to come to Chicago.”
I breathe out. I close my eyes harder. I forget about the city lights shining on my back. It’s like getting punched in the stomach after so many close calls, after marathons of avoidance. It was a gesture of stating nothing has broken because it was only all breaking.
“But did you really? Or was there some part of you that wished I had come?”
He wasn’t expecting that reply. I can feel it in the air with my eyes closed.
“You think you would have lived with me, we would finally have told everyone about us, and everything would just be fine? Stop kidding yourself Kayl.”
“Which part?” I immediately reply.
He looks at me bewildered.
Don’t even fucking go there.
But I could bite bullets blindfolded at this point.
“Which part is a pipe dream, Jon? The part where you would let me live with you or the fact that you would have told everyone about us?”
He’s silent so I continue.
“Because your mother knows that there’s something sketchy going on between us, and this has been going on for seven months now. What the fuck are we doing? We weren’t going to tell anyone initially because Keslow would have been mad, but it’s gotten past the point where we can’t tell him, and honestly, I think he would come around. Because this… this is just some bullshit at this point. If this is something, it’s going to be something. We’re not half-assing this into oblivion.”
He looks right at me and sighs. He reaches for his keys in his pocket and puts them back on the table. His jaw tightens, his mouth is a line. He looks like a million things are running through his mind, and not one of them will escape out of his mouth.
But he speaks.
“I think we both know that this isn’t going to end well.”
I look right at him. My eyes are glassy. I say nothing.
It is five weeks before The Incident. It is five weeks before I never speak to him again. It is five weeks before he ever makes me cry. And when I cry, I pour.