Sometimes We Just Don’t Mix

“I deserve to be loved, don’t I?”  The question was pointed at nobody in particular but seeing as how Henry was the only other one in the room he answered in his Henry-esque way.

“Do you?”

Ugh.  I hate him so much.

“It’s what I’m asking.  Do I deserve love?”  I wasn’t looking at him.  I was looking into a space between spaces.  The place where you go when your mind takes over and you see pictures rolling through the back of your head instead of what your eyes are pointed at.

“I stand by my previous question,” he never even looked over at me to acknowledge.  His face was buried in a book.
I could never tell if it was because he wasn’t engaging and he didn’t care or some other reason, but it made me furious every time he did it.

“Why do you have to be so god damn difficult?!  I’m asking you a question.  I’m in an existential crisis and my heart is bleeding.  My soul is wounded.  My life is adrift and I’m wondering what the world is worth and whether it needs me to be an active part of it.  Should I fade away into nothing?  Should I drop off the grid and hide?  Would anyone miss me?  DO-I-DESERVE-LOVE?!

He closed his book and sighed.  Then he did that thing he always did when he was annoyed, he pinched his thumb and finger on the bridge of his nose and tucked his chin into his chest before turning towards me.
His eyes were piercing.  I hated when he looked me in the eyes because I felt he had a natural gift of being able to read minds.  All he needed was your gaze.

Honestly I thought all older men could read my mind.  I thought I was too naive and shallow to have any sort of depth behind my blue slate gaze.  I was needy and often whiny.  Which was the whole point of this exercise, to get him to tell me I deserved love.  I needed to hear someone say it every now and then because, frankly, I wasn’t sure.

He took my hand in his and continued his intense stare.  He had deep brown eyes, the color of milk chocolate and it felt as if they were melting on my fingertips as he stared at me.  I was so easily made a mess.

“Darling,” he always called me a pet name, never my real name.
“I could tell you no, you don’t.  I could tell you anything.  Does it really matter what I think though?  If someone gives you a negative outlook the only way it can affect you is if you let it.  Stop caring what other people think.  It doesn’t matter and it never will.”

Ugh.  Again, I hate him.  All he had to do was say yes.  That’s all I wanted.  He didn’t even give me a hypothetical yes.

I folded my arms and retreated from my in between space and stared out through the window at the neighbor’s garden.  I watched the rain weigh heavy on the plants and bend them.  The water ran off of the roof and puddled in the mud.  It was a perfect representation of my mood.

“Why can’t you just say yes?”  I didn’t bother turning towards him.

“Because that isn’t what you want.”

“Yes it is.  It’s exactly what I want.”

“No it isn’t.”

“Yes.  It.  Is,” my voice was growing more irritated with every five-year-old sibling retort he threw my direction.

I heard him smirk a snort of air and looked to see him shaking his head.

“What?  What is so damn funny?”  I reached my foot over and kicked him harder than I had intended but didn’t feel bad about it.

He grabbed my ankle with a firm grasp and squeezed it while turning my way.  I jolted towards him as he tugged on it roughly.

“Now if we’re going to get physical, girl, you’re going to regret it.  Or maybe that’s what you’ve intended all along?  As to what is so funny, it’s the fact that you don’t even know what you want while its written all over your face.”

I recoiled slightly.  The stare he was giving me wasn’t his usual intensity filled stare as if he was trying to over power my mind and have me spill what was in it.  This was direct and had an entire ensemble.  His teeth were gritted slightly and his eyebrows were furrowed.  He seemed angry, or his look combined with the tightened grip on my ankle made me think he was.

“What do you mean?”  I shook my head and stared meekly back into his fire.

“You’re telling me that you want me to give you what you want.  The exact words spelled out for me and just recite them as if we were running lines in a play.  But that isn’t it.”

“Then what is it?”  I was genuinely curious.

“Exactly as I’m doing.  You want this.  You want me to be difficult.  You want me to surprise you.  You want me to push you into a corner and then snap my jaws around your neck and devour you.”

His hands gripped the crook in my knees and tugged on them, pulling me toward him and bunching my clothing underneath me.

“You think you want this spoon fed lifestyle.  No surprises.  Nothing outside of your comfort zone.  But your eyes are dulled and lifeless.  Your lips still.  You want them to burn against something.  Your thighs beg to be in flames.  Your mouth hot to the touch so when you kiss you’ll melt steel.  Your face is dead and you want someone to bring it to life again.  You have no feelings and you need a spark to ignite you.”

I felt uncomfortable.  I told myself he was wrong but the words stayed away from my tongue and swirled around in my mind.  I didn’t believe him but I was uneasy.  I shifted on my back and couldn’t get comfortable.  He continued to stare into me and I couldn’t escape.

It was hot, much hotter than a moment before he grabbed me and ripped out my secrets for display.  Was he right?

Possibly, but it could be said of anyone.  It didn’t make me a freak that had to be singled out like that.  The same could be said of him.  The courage in me to respond was building until he added one last thing.

“You’ve been dead your whole life pretending to be alive.  Stop pretending and stop lying to yourself.  You’ll reach higher highs and lower lows but at least it will be real.”

The grip on my knees released and he let me go.  He stared for a moment longer and then turn back, grabbing his book and flipping it back open and continuing to read.

I scurried back up to my place against the side of the couch near the window.  My knees were pulled up and my arms wrapped around them.  It felt natural to cower in a ball when I had just been carved open and exposed.  I felt naked and the heat hadn’t subsided even a little.

There was nothing I could do at that moment to distract myself.  I was forced to sit with my thoughts.  Whenever I tried to clear my mind they came rushing back, the same question that I had asked that started this whole scene.  Do I deserve to be loved?

Is it a question someone should even ask themselves?  If they have to ask then maybe they don’t.  They should just know.  But everyone deserves to be loved, don’t they?  What a sad existence it would be if you were truly alone.

I thought about the alternatives to being loved and what being alone really meant.  Having nobody and nothing.  Being a forgotten member of society and skulking along the outskirts of shadows.  Going unnoticed in the dark.  My heart couldn’t take that.  I wanted to be strong and mighty like Henry but I didn’t have that type of mind.  My skin was soft and hadn’t been thickened to deflect sharpness.

“I don’t know if I deserve it, love.  I don’t know if anyone does.  But I think I need it.”

My voice was soft.  I spoke down my legs and the words rolled like drops of water down to my feet and slowly crept along the couch cushions until they reached his ears, to which he finally responded.

“You do.”

I peered at him over my knees and hugged myself tighter into a ball, “and I don’t think you’re the person to give it to me.”

“Neither do I.”

The words sounded as if they should have been surprising but I didn’t react.  My eyes didn’t widen and my voice didn’t raise and crack.  I even felt the temperature in my body lower to a coolness that was comfortable.  He said something that deserved a harsh reaction but it felt so true that it was as if it were an epiphany.

“So what are we doing, Henry?”  My chin was rested on top of my knee and looking directly at him.


“Please, be more specific.  Why am I here with you when you aren’t what I need?  Why am I wasting my time with a man who admits that he’s wrong for me.”

He placed his book down again and turned to me.

“Darling, we’re living.  That’s it.  It isn’t a grand plan.  There aren’t things that are meant to be and things that we have to go through.  We make decisions.  You decide to be with me because I give you comfort and whatever else runs through your pretty little head.  I decide to be with you because I like the way you look in a bikini and that lusting shine you get in your eyes when the stars come out.  We’ll do this until we find something better or we grow tired of each other’s bullshit.  Around and around, again and again.  It’s life.  It’s torture.  It’s bliss.  It’s not as complicated as people make it out to be.”

I stared at him and his bleak look at life.  He was being honest.  His own form of honesty.  The kind that liked to shock his young proteges and make their lips quiver.  I figured something out about him though.  He didn’t know anything as much as I did.  He only knew what he wanted to, and that was the difference between us.

He believed whatever he wanted to believe to make his life easier to navigate.  I was still trying to find out what I believed in.  He was comfortable with his choices and at peace with them.  I was trying not to fuck them up still.

“Thank you,” I said.

“For what?”

“Giving me something to strive for.”

“And what is that, doll?”

“To not end up like you.”

I heard that familiar sound.  The snort of air and smirk.  It wasn’t followed by any words though.  No sarcastic come back or speech to put me in my place.  He never responded.  I never could figure out why.

I liked to think that I stumped him.  That I finally got to him and cut him open so he had to read all of the hidden writing on the inside of his soul.  The things he tried to hide and forget.  Who he really was and what he really thought.  But I’ll never know.

After a short bout of silence he got up and looked at me.

“Coming?”  He asked.

“Where?”  I looked up, my position relaxed and legs stretched out.

“I thought we might head out and grab something for lunch.”

“Sure,” I said and followed him to his bedroom.

We never made it out to lunch.  I saw on his bed while he took his clothes off to change.  Halfway through undressing he decided we should stay in and feast on each other.  I think he knew it was the last time we’d see each other.  It was the last time I would hang lazily around his house and read his books.  It was the last time that I would sprawl naked on his bed and let him work his body into mine like I was a dessert he was looking forward to all day.  I think he enjoyed it more than usual this time as well.

When I left we kissed a little longer and he stood in the doorway the entire time I walked to my car.  I could see him standing there as I drove away until it became too small to see and I turned down the next street and out of sight.

He would find another young girl to feed on.  To infuriate and spoil.  There would be plenty of them that would be enamored with his brilliance and cold demeanor.  They would want to see if they can break through and pull out the bits they wanted.  They would all fail though and some would leave broken and others would be left worse.  Few of them would ever find the realization I found though, that they do deserve love and he isn’t going to be the one who ever gives it to them.

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