Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Chapter 25: Come In

He found me. Found me at the hotel. And knocked.

In the instant that it takes to open a door, a million thoughts can occur. Outside of my room, on the other side of the door, stood a man who was baffling the hell out of me.

On the other side of that door was someone who could kiss me senseless and who could awaken passion that I forgot existed. He had learned almost instantly how to make me gasp and quake and shiver. Outside of this room was someone who, if I let him in, would no doubt be able to remind me exactly why I was drawn to him in the first place.

On the other side of this door stood the man who was a part of the reason I was here in the first place. Not the cause, mind you, but the impetus to move in this direction... the reminder that I still had too much life left to spend pleasing a man who could never be pleased.

Too, on the other side, was a man who knew about my computer files, about the lawyers at work, and the role I played in the whole mess. He could, very honestly, take me down and destroy -- at the very least -- my career. You know, you don't always think about those things when you should.

When I unlocked the door, what would happen? Would we fall together or fight it out? This man who I thought I knew was a mystery after all. After I opened the door, would I be more inclined to welcome him or toss him out as he had me? Right now, the idea of slamming the door in his face was slightly appealing. Perhaps it would hinge on what he had to say.

"Just a moment," I finally called to him, tightening the belt on my robe and finger-combing my short locks into some semblance of order.

At least my voice sounded normal.

I'm not even sure what I want, I realize. Do I send him back to his wife? Go, get out of here. Solve those problems first. Or keep him, as is, and realize that being second... or even third... fiddle might be preferable.

Back to the door, however. Where he was still waiting, no doubt with a million of his own thoughts. Was he thinking the same? On the other side of this door is a woman I can't understand for anything. Why did I come here? Will she welcome me or will she slam the door in my face?

It's easier to turn the knob, thinking that he's as uncertain.

For days I've been waiting for this, somewhere between sick over the thought and aching to see him. I thought distance and time would cure me. It didn't. I thought that it would lend me perspective, a chance to evaluate and understand what I was doing. It didn't. I still checked my e-mail a dozen time a day, thinking if I checked enough there'd be something. Sometimes I would look away while the screen loaded, thinking that staring might jinx me and leave the box empty.

Words on a screen, nothing more, but enough to make me keep my laptop on constantly, logged into the chat mode with a name only he knows, created for him alone. Just in case. The jumble of symbols deciphered into words and then decoded, full of meaning that we alone give to them... though not always, I think, what we intend to. Now the words between us would be spoken, I would be able to see his face, eyes, posture, and gestures. I would be able to measure my body language to his. I would be able to react accordingly and, above all, salvage some dignity.

All I had to do was open the door and let him in. Then the words that were filling my throat and choking me would finally sound. Meanings would be created, and tonight perhaps I'd sleep without replaying our last conversation, vainly seeking hidden meanings and contradictions. Worse, finding them and trying to understand.

Wrapping my fingers around the doorknob, I remembered our three-hour drive, the way my hand curved around the stick. The way the hum of the motor vibrated through it and into me in a way that always made me feel a part of the car. Fanciful, I know.

Unlike the stick, the doorknob felt cold, almost icy -- though I knew it was my imagination. Knobs are knobs. Doors are doors. And, with a glance behind me, tables are tables. We give meaning, nothing more. The door is only a barrier because I let it be. By keeping it closed I can spare myself his telling me that this running will solve nothing; I can spare myself being told that I wanted some personal absolution. The door keeps me in here, my safe little haven, and keeps him -- and reality -- out.

A click as I slid the deadbolt back. An inch closer to reality, to the words I was sure he would throw at me. But I'd given up hiding from reality eons ago, hadn't I? Those promises darkly made when everyone else was talking about the future as if the present wasn't happening. Staying here and calling off sick just to avoid a man who, mere days ago, was about to take me on the desk in his hotel room...

...and who was now at my door, about to enter my hotel room. If I could turn the knob. You don't believe in hiding, or at least you claim you don't, I reminded myself.

What meaning would I give this meeting...?

Taking a deep breath, steeling myself, I yanked the door open. "You found me." I paused, then, knowing that I was about to seal whatever fate awaited me with my next words. "Come in."