I had just moved into that small studio right on the beach. You know, the bright one with the white walls and wall that was totally just a giant picture window looking out on paradise. You came over after a fight we had over some ridiculously stupid thing. We forgave each other and you held me close.
I don’t know what tipped me off >> it was the way you held me just a little tighter as if you knew I was going to bail once I found out, or if it was the high pitched tone of your voice, or the way your hands shook just a little more than they usually did.
I asked, and you said you didn’t. You were offended I would even ask something so insane. I believed you. I spent so many moments destroying myself by not trusting someone, so no more.
Then, just as the lightning began to cast a golden glow on my stark, white walls that had yet to be decorated, you said something that made me realize you had just lied to me the first time. I called you out, my hands beginning to shake as I faced the opposite direction from you, hoping I was wrong. You admitted you did it, after all.
I felt physically sick. I ran to the bathroom first, then grabbed my flip flops and walked as quickly as I could down to the beach in the pitch dark night. I stumbled, my bare toes hitting sharp rocks hidden in the sand. Another bolt of lightning lit the path just enough for me to find the weathered bench we would always sit on that was just beyond the sand grapes. Nothing was between the ocean, the storm and me.
I stared out at the emptiness, wishing it could somehow suck me into its void. The worst part of the storm hung directly over the white caps it was birthing, taunting me with its freedom.
I heard your feet against the rough sand and prayed you would leave me alone. As you tried (and failed) to put your arm around me, I pulled my knees up to my chest like I would do when I was a little girl. I played ‘She Said’ by Jon Foreman on my iPhone and continued to stare right at the storm and ocean carrying on their own version of the night.
I hoped that if I stared at them hard enough they would let me come into their world. The least they could do was teach me how to experience the same vacuity so eloquently mastered, so I could no longer feel betrayal.
The way the music seemed to become a soundtrack, the way the lightning reflected a perfect version of itself on the ocean, the way the ocean reacted so violently, so angrily, so vividly to the storm that raged above it…it all created an atmosphere that made me feel like I was a mascara-stained actress in a scene of an indie film some people thought was great (some didn’t.)
That’s when I realized why people ‘watch’ movies, instead of ‘live in’ movies. I would never be able to rewind and go back to my favorite part of us. I also could not fast-forward past the healing, the struggle to understand, to a place where I was free of your ghost. Lastly, I could not step out of the movie theater and back into my life, leaving the characters to work through the fragments of their lives.
All I could do was stand up, and leave you alone on that bench, and know next time not to fall into someone’s fairytale, because I would have to live with the remnants of what was left behind and somehow survive.