The sun's long gone as I drive away, the side of my face pulsing, swollen, a bruise becoming. I grip the steering wheel as if it was built from the structures of your throat, begging to be crushed. You'll never understand how close I come to not being able to stop when you provoke me to the tipping point of almost.
I pull in to the garage to fill up the car. People still regard me with a sense of caution and I don't want to deal with that tonight. I don't want to be reminded that strangers can feel the violence in me, that it's there, always and forever, my defining feature. You have no idea what it took to build these walls and what it still takes to hold myself behind them. You have no idea what I gave up because hiding it from you felt like treachery.
Now the miles stretch dark in front of me like the faces of the fallen and the worlds I've ended with only the barest of consideration and nothing even close to remorse. It's all past-tense though, and you still only know half the story because I can't get past the feeling that if I told you everything, I'd wake up and find you gone.
For all we've done to each other, for everything asked for and given and received, we're still standing knee-deep at the edge of a bottomless sea and I've spent too much time at its centre. I was never caught in the current. I was directing the tides.
I imagine you at home, in bed, or pacing, still dressed, still awake. I imagine being the kind of person who could be with you now, trusting myself as much as you trust me. Instead, I drive and the road flows dark beneath me. It chooses its own direction and I miss you and I'm sorry. Whatever that means to either of us.
When I get home, I close the car door quietly and walk with steady steps to the house, hanging my coat neatly in the hall before I go to the kitchen. Force of habit. I know the smell of coffee will wake you because it always does and our habits define us.
You arrive downstairs, disheveled, captivating. I make two coffees because it feels like the right thing to do and I try to smile when I hand yours to you. You see the bruises on my face and I see the bruises on your neck and for a fleeting moment I feel like maybe this time I can tell you. But I don't.
Since the dark half-morning when you said time was a stranger and I said time was a prison guard, I stopped wearing my watch and you started. It looks better on you anyway. It holds you tighter and somehow you can still breathe. We may have slipped the ties of fate, but no-one ever truly leaves time behind. We just pass it back and forth between ourselves and each other, hoping we can cheat it with motion.
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...