I’m not goin’ anywhere. I live in a basement studio apartment with a cracked toilet seat and a peeling paint job. My buddies come over and tell me my place looks like a crack den. I don’t clean things. I’m pretty sure the dishes piled high in the sink are all glued together by Kraft Mac’n’Cheese. I somehow lucked out and found a really good woman, Emily. She loves me for reasons I don’t understand and maybe reasons I can’t accept. She’s a beautiful person with a calm spirit.. my saving grace.. my angel. She’s a petite woman with lovely cherub features. She lives across the hall in my apartment complex and I would just die without her. I have nothing else to live for.
Sitting on my couch at 4:30pm on a Tuesday. I sip on the stale beer I had left over in the fridge and crank up Miles Davis and Nirvana. I’ve always felt a deep connection with Kurt Cobain. I pick up my new book all about hash and Amsterdam and get about 3 chapters deep. I hear a knock on my door, and I already know who it is. It’s Emily. I need to be alone: I need to read. She stands in the doorway with her big bright smile, excited to see me. Why is she so excited to see me? The thought ticks me off. Maybe this is all an act. Emily’s too nice to end things between us. I love her more then anything, but I’m more fucked up than she could ever understand. I open the door and muster a half smile
She looks at me with those sparkling blue eyes and says, “Hey baby, I’ve missed you today”.
Then nothing comes out of my mouth. My mind is in Amsterdam and that’s the only place I want to be. Emily hates uncomfortable silences.
“How was your day today hun?”
For some stupid reason all I can do is look at her with hate and say, “I’m reading.”
“Oh, oh! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt, I just wanted to be with you.”
I should’ve looked at her and said, “It’s okay baby, I want to be with you too. Let’s go take a walk and enjoy this gorgeous day.” But instead I say, “I’d like to finish my fucking book”.
I can tell that this hurts her. It kills me to crush that girl. Cursing at Emily is like sticking a knife in her chest. She’s my world, but she can’t save me from myself. She doesn’t understand the pain I feel. I don’t mean to make the things I say come out the way they do. I don’t want to ever hurt anyone.
“Well, okay then.. You just finish your book, and come over when you’re ready.”
God, I hate doing this to her. I recant, “Let’s just hang out now”.
Her voice trembles: “It’s really okay, just keep reading, I’ll be right next door.”
Then with watery eyes she squeaks out, “I love you”, and leaves.
Jesus, why do I do this? I’m filled with rage now and can’t focus on anything but the way Emily looked at me. Like I’m this monster. I am a monster. I punch the wall so hard my knuckle starts to swell. She can’t love me. How could she, I’m the worst. I hear the turning of a lock across the hall and look out my peephole. Emily is going somewhere. I’ll spare her another awful encounter and let her go peacefully. Just 10 minutes later I hear Emily return. These basement apartment walls are paper-thin. She’s
carrying a brown paper bag with a bottle of something in it. She’s clutching it close to her beautiful white dress. I hear her vinyl record player start up. She’s listening to Jim Croce cause it makes her cry easier. His voice soothes her. I know Emily better then she knows herself, but she has no freaking clue about me.
Knowing Emily’s crying because of me softens my rage. The love of my life is next door, listening to “Time in A Bottle”, and drinking a whole bottle of wine. She doesn’t know a better way. Emily is a fixer and is so compassionate, but I think I made her crack. She drinks a whole bottle of wine by herself five times a week. I’m not saying she’s an alcoholic, but she does come from a long line of them. I want to change for her.
They told me when I was in high school about the chemical imbalance in my head. I wanted to die then, and I’d like to die right now. If it weren’t for Emily I would. She wants to marry me, have my children and be with me forever, but I’m slowly crushing her. Watching her crumble isn’t something I want to stick around for. Emily’s life would be easier without me.
It’s time for me to go over there. I need to check on Emily. I’m the one that caused this; I’m the one that needs to fix this. I can’t be alone with my thoughts another second. Her door is unlocked… “Emily?”
“Heyyy babe”. She’s drunk.
“How are you doing?” I ask her.
“I’m doing just grrreat!”
I kiss her and she smells like Sutter Home Riesling and Ralph Lauren “Eau de Toilette” perfume. That smell is intoxicating. I’m the only one that gets to kiss those lips, and hold that hand. Emily brushes all our problems under the rug. She hates confrontation. She would rather bungee jump off a bridge than deal with conflict.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you. I was just so deep in my book, and to switch from that world to the real world took some time.”
She understands.. of course she does. She loves me unconditionally. After a few tears and sloppy kisses she tells me again with drunken confidence, “I love you, forever Lucas”.
Maybe we won’t have any more fights. Maybe this time Emily won’t need to get drunk anymore. Maybe we really can love each other forever. But then again … Maybe we can’t.
My negative thoughts roll back in as she asks the one question I hate more than anything:
“Lucas, are you okay?”