Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Memories

It was so soft, sweet and gentle. You never had to say a word about how much you loved me, I could feel it in every moment. I remember the whole thing - how you tilted your head to kiss me, how I felt and how natural it all was. It wasn't a triumph, it wasn't success, it wasn't even a relief to discover you felt as I did.

It was what I've been looking for. It was a meeting of equals. I didn't feel I was rewarding you or grateful for what you were granting me. It was a moment in time when our lips met, hesitated and, on a shared breath, celebrated our rightness.

Afterwards I lay in your embrace, my left hip aching and my right hand going slightly numb from being wedged into a mass of body parts. That too was right. I breathed your scent and wriggled slightly to settle the grumblings of my increasingly mature body. One of your arms found its way around me and held me firmly, not pulling or dragging me around, just letting me know you liked me where I was.

We slept for a while before reality checked in and when it did we arose groggily together. I showered before returning to my room to dress and you made coffee in your dressing gown and slippers. I took my cup gratefully and we shared a morning kiss with none of the awkwardness of embarrased youths, and I retreated to drip-dry my hair and read the newspaper. Your computer was already turned on and you read your emails.

I'm never really interested in the newspaper and so, before too long, I'd begun browsing Twitter, Facebook and Reddit until I was inspired to cook breakfast. You weren't interested, but I brought you some fruit.

After breakfast I had a whole holiday stretching before me although you had to work. I was waiting for friends to pick me up. They arrived shortly before she did but, as they are your friends more than mine, they lingered to chat with you and that was when she came.

You showed no confusion or embarrassment about introducing her as your girlfriend. It was then I realised that you hadn't hinted at what passed between us to your friends. For a moment I felt nothing and then complete betrayal. You introduced her to me; relaxed and casually smiling. Then I began to wonder: had I imagined it? Was it all a figment of my imagination?

I know you. You do not betray your loved ones. You don't betray complete strangers. You wouldn't betray her. I was not hurt. It wasn't possible for you to hurt me in that way, it simply hadn't happened.

But I remember.

In my confusion I retreated upstairs and to my own room. I looked around it, searching for some clue as to what had happened. There was nothing. After a few minutes alone I felt able to face the world again, although I could feel the furrows in my brow as my brain tried to understand the world around me. As I was about to pass your bedroom door I hesitated.

Perhaps if I looked in there I would know for sure. I never had before and even now, reaching my hand to the doorknob, it felt intrusive. I retreated, not knowing what my recourse was any more.

After my day out I returned to you and you were smiling and energetic. I asked about your day and you were wholly enthusiastic, delighted that you'd succeeded as you'd hoped you would. I smiled, feeling my love for you swell as I observed your joy. I don't know what showed in my face but you hesitated.

I reached out and touched your hand, hoping to reassure you. I asked if you were OK. You sat beside me and said her name. I nodded. Not wanting you to misunderstand I tried to explain. The words stumbled a little as I fought for accuracy but whatever I said was the right thing. I told you I'd been surprised. That I had fallen in love with you without realising. That I'd been hoping for some other future between us. I didn't mention last night.

You are silent. I remember, so clearly, how you tilted your head and I wistfully imagine a world where you do it again. I touch your hand. You don't flinch, but you look at where we are connected as though it is wholly foreign to you and I withdraw.

You say my name and I remember the embrace, how you wanted me there and my soul cries: This was not a dream!

You apologise and I smile. It still doesn't hurt. I reach out and cup your face with my right hand feeling the abrasion of your stubble. You aren't accountable for my feelings, I tell you. They are mine and I will continue to feel them until they stop. If they aren't encouraged they will stop quickly.

All I need from you is clarity. You look into my eyes and seem lost. I want to make this easier for you so I drop my hand and go to make a cup of tea.