The phone alarm announces itself rudely again at 6am. Not even minutes are spared before I begin the day with a weight in my stomach. I have spent all night on my phone, eyes demonised by the blue light, delicate red spider webs tracing a map of restless dreams and not enough sleep in the pre dawn. In an effort to grip a reality that everyone dictates, I secretly lullaby myself with hours of obsessive googling “am I psychic or do I have an anxiety disorder”?
I feel sick. I rest my head on the window of the car. I never learned how to drive and it’s been held against me. He holds it against me. I know he’s taken the long way on purpose, the one that involves the most curves and dips and bends and spite. We aren’t saying a word to each other. I gently breathe and look at the horizon. I’ve always been terrible in motion. The music is pounding into my head. He cant decide whether he wants to talk so the volume oscillates somewhere between drowning me out completely or allowing me to be barely audible. This is Michael. God, I love him. I know he’s mad because he drives 5 over the limit. I’m not afraid but more amused at his gentle rebellion. When he was 17 he crashed a car he borrowed and nearly killed all his friends. The increased speed is a measured aggression that lets me know I have been bad but that I am still safe.
I have very distinct memories of being told bad news in cars. When Michael tells me he’s leaving in four weeks. I am not allowed to cause a scene while he switches lanes without checking his blindspot, or we will die. The measured aggression veers towards recklessness. We are drifting lanes.
It reminds me of the time my ex bf tried to kill me by threatening to run us in to a pole unless I told him the truth. “Are you cheating on me?” He screamed while we were driving 120km in a 60 zone. I’m still alive so he must have believed the answer. Because you probably want to know, I wasn’t lying. I didn’t cheat on him. Does this give me much credibility. I doubt it.
Michael is driving me home, he has spent the last two nights postponing his broken heart to console mine. Waiting until now, to tell me he is leaving the country, indefinitely, to work, was a respectable power move. When we decided to be in love, we fucked on a beach at 3am high on cocaine and I begged him to never leave me. It was a promise he did his best to keep and I did my best to break.
“Did you fuck him?” Michael cannot resist the urge to drive the knife deeper into his own heart. Maybe he is trying to cut it out of himself.
“Don’t ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to”
“Fuck you, SJ. Did you fuck him?”
Here I am again, on a highway with a man quizzing my fidelity.
“Yes,” There’s never any point lying.
“But I broke up with you first” God, I am mean. The justification falls out of my mouth.
All I can think about is what I have I done?
Christmas Eve, a package has arrived for me. Michael has sent me a ring. He is in L.A with his family for Christmas. The ring is the promise that we will build Ikea furniture together. I look at it and I see the wrong coloured stones. I hate citrine. I take offence that he doesn’t know that about me. A sign that he will come home with the wrong coloured couch in our fake Ikea future. A sign that this possibly can’t be love.
Two days later, an email arrives. It is from Will. The Devil incarnate. He is the one that Michael is talking about when he asks me “did you fuck him?”.
William Thomas Edward. That’s a lot of names. It is a combination of too many common names. Making it impossible to isolate just this one person in the bottomless realm of the google stalk. It has been months since we have spoken and I crave new information worse than I crave the Benzos that eased the separation.
I reply and our fate unfolds. Will promises me the world. He always does. He promises me he’s ready and he loves me and I am the only girl in the world and he will make me feel safe again. All I have to do is trade him Michael. Yes, Devil incarnate. Take him.
This is not a love story. It is a story of three broken hearts.