I have to step back sometimes.
I want to squirrel myself away inside him. I feel myself changing, mirroring, mimicking. Seven, he says. Seven, I say, later, in the kitchen.
Ireland, he says, with a proper ‘r’ so that it doesn’t sound like ‘island.’
Island, I say. I miss the r. I can’t quite catch it yet. I’ll try again later without realising, and come a little closer to the sound that sounds more human.
We curl up in bed and murmur into pillows our dreams, hopes for the future. Weddings we talk about with awkward forewords: “And if, I mean, not being assumptive here, if we get married sometime in the future-” and children we talk about like some vague half-concept, unsure if we want them but certain we will have them if we do want them- and death we avoid, both too raw to discuss it at length. We will live forever, and the pain of grief will never touch us. Safe beneath the blankets our loved ones will never leave, illness will never take us, our brilliant minds will never fade and our bodies will stay strong. We laugh about boxes, and cats, and the house we plan to build but know we may never be able to afford.
All this while I can feel myself reaching out and thinking, is this safe? Can I put down roots here, can I grow inside his kindness, will he give me form?
No, I cannot spend every waking moment with him. No, I will not allow him to look after me. The creeping needy child in the back of my mind grows ever more insistent and wide-eyed as it watches the way he mends my wounds and kisses my scars and whispers forever in my ear, like forever is a thing he can offer me. Nights I spend alone I spend in tears. He’ll leave. He’ll stay. I’ll break him, I’ll need him, I’ll need him.
I have to step back sometimes, or I won’t know when to stop.