how do i feel?
what do i answer
when i feel nothing?
how do i feel?
It happens gradually, not like in the movies. In the movies everything happens all at once. Someone has an affair or there’s a blowout argument and people stomp their feet and slam the doors on their way out of your life. Reality is gradual and reality is painful.
You may not notice it when it starts to happen, the changes are so small.
You laugh a little less when they tell their jokes and you don’t smile as widely when you see them after a long day at work. When they reach out to hold your hand or wrap their arms around you, you scoot just out of reach and make excuses. You have to refill the popcorn bowl or you need to go fold laundry or get the mail. It doesn’t seem like they notice, but maybe they do. Sometimes when you’re alone you wonder why you’re pushing them away when you can’t imagine life without them. But you don’t stop. You can’t. You start spending time at the bars, even though before you hardly ever drank. When you come home smelling of alcohol and smoke they ask you what the hell you’re doing and where have you been and you ignore them. You sleep on the couch. You don’t shower. Maybe if they can smell the bar on you, they’ll leave you alone.
You start to ignore their texts and calls. Maybe you reply, but it’s only a word or two. You read books more and more. Fantasy novels and historical fiction. Inside your head, you are safe. You go to bed early before they get home. You ignore it when they touch your shoulder under the covers, run their hands down your belly. You pretend to snore.
Weeks later, maybe months, they confront you. You wonder what took so long. They ask if you’ve been seeing someone else and demand to know what your problem is, but they don’t yell. You tell them you can’t see them anymore. For a long time they don’t say anything. And then they gather up their things and leave.
You go out and you buy a twin-sized mattress and a frame and the first night in that bed you feel so small and alone but somehow you are free. The next morning you haul the old king mattress down three flights of stairs and you prop it against the dumpster in the alley. A few days later they come by to get the rest of their things and you don’t exchange any words. You sit at the kitchen table and listen as they shove things into boxes and go through drawers. You try to say goodbye once they’re out the door, but you can’t will yourself to do it. You send them a text saying you hope you can still be friends, although it’s not the truth – you may never speak to them again.
You turn the framed photo on the nightstand face-down and you sleep on your new twin mattress and time goes on.