Say When

It felt like love. It’s always easy to look back on things and say it wasn’t love. Like water stains that cloud the shine of a glass, it can always be cleaned and sparkle amongst the others on the shelf. You picked up the dirty goblet, held it high for all to see and smashed it to the ground. I would spend the time plucking up shards and crazy gluing edges and cracks to reform itself and place it next to the rest. As good as the rest again. Or looking slightly like the rest again. But time after time you’d find. What’s the use of a glass that can’t hold a drop of fucking water?

Towards the end I felt like he just hated me less, like he could tolerate most things about me without it completely ruining his day. It took so long to end because he’s never wrong. He chose me, he put time into me, and his life was on track to follow the natural order of things. So he couldn’t be the one to leave. It had to be me. I however, am my mothers daughter, stubborn, loyal and incapable of giving up. He must have been dropping hints for years before he eventually made his plan to push me away clear. When he hadn’t touched me with intent for years.

Shouting me to the curb. Calling my cries “loud” and “dramatic”. Each tear heavy and parched for a slick of kindness. For just an arm. An arm that was lucid and warm and embracing. To hold and say “it’s okay… I know… this isn’t us”. Something to keep me sedated for a moment longer. When an arm outreached for me, it was the scruff of my neck, the collar of a new Zara top. On sale. Fifty percent off. I was going to return it. But the tag ripped off with the hand that dragged me over the gravel of his driveway like parmesan across a grater. And with each sprinkle of grazed skin that painted each step we had once taken with heated excitement to get home together, a new path paved the future of pain and torment we’d try and play out on each other until he said the words. “Say when”. Are you full yet? Are you done? He was full and he was done. He wanted me to say “when”. The hot tears beat over my cheeks hoping they would water his hands and nourish some kindness from him, like the tea his mother made when we were caught in a storm on Tyrella beach. A warm hot press towel caped over my shoulders. His hands rubbing his home into my sea-sprayed skin through the bristles of a fresh towel absorbing the grizzle of the day and nurturing his care into me. That's the image I held onto when his other arm reached out for my face and muzzled my mouth, smothering my screams and collecting my tears between the cracks of his clamped fingers. “Say when, Ciara, say when… this can all stop if you just say when”. His weight pushed through his hands and onto my mouth, grinding my head against the bricks and mortar of the house we used to laugh, and dance and drink wine in, all crumbled into red dust on my hair, staining the Zara top. I couldn’t be angry. All I could think was how long I’d wished for him to touch me at all. Touch me with intent no matter the intention. I could turn the bitterness under the nails that dug into my cheeks into passionate grasps of desire, rationalising his touch as a need to hold my body again. Each pull, each grab, the handling of me was another note of distaste, disregard and disrespect. And I drank up each movement from the fucked up glass as if it was champagne.

The next morning, when the daylight brought life to my body, I treated each bump, graze and bruise with a kiss. A temporary tattoo of the night he intentionally reached out for me. The artist himself appeared as grizzly as the day at Tyrella. No tea. No towel. He said he was more bruised than me because I couldn’t let him go. “We aren’t happy”. He knows I don’t like to be manhandled but what is he supposed to do when I’m acting ridiculous and stupid? He was perched between rage and disappointment on the sofa when he told me to reexamine my “behaviour”. He begged me to “say when”.

So I reached into the good press. I took out our goblet. Polished and clean as if nothing had ever passed through it. And I lay it at his feet. Hoping he’d never ask me again. Because even if he smashed it again and again, the next week, the next day, within the hour until the glass was ground back into sand. I’d walk over the shards to him, as if I were running away from the storm in Tyrella, and into his angered hands hoping I could soften them again before I would ever say “when”.



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