Monday, October 19, 2015

Chapter 22: Enlightened, and then some.

I didn't cry.

Not at first.  But then the dam broke, and I sat there, sobbing, unable to drive because I was nearly hysterical.  I sobbed for the better part of an hour, just sat there until every tear that could be cried was cried, until my eyes burned, and until my chest physically hurt.  That bastard!  That holier-than-thou son of a bitch!  Who was he to turn so completely?  To push me away so completely, all over...

Why would he even want me? What was I but some little girl playing make-believe? He loves to teach me, to tell me about things I don't know... and I eat it all up, take in everything, because all I fucking want is to be worth something in his eyes. If I can use the right fork or read the right books, he'll want to be with me.

When I was in sixth grade, I believed that having these shaped erasers that were all the rage would be my ticket into the cliques that otherwise ignored me. I thought that the girls would want to see the erasers and would gather around my desk... and then, somehow, out of that, friendships would grow and I wouldn't be so goddamned lonely. If I just had the right lure then I could trick people into being my friend.

In high school a guy friend remarked that his ex-girlfriend was every man's dream girl.
"What do you mean?" I asked, intrigued, remembering how he'd adored her so.
"She changes herself for every guy she dates," he told me. "She becomes what they want, and they fall in love with her."
I began to practice the art of fantasy after that. I became quite skilled at it learning how to smile just right and how to dress for them rather then for me. I practiced my walk and how to roll my hips just so with each step. Faking laughter was easy, as was looking interested.

And when they bought it and fell for me, when I had the catch I thought I wanted, I knew it had been worth it. By college it had earned me a dozen boys and their "love." I broke all of their hearts, determined to be the breaker and not the breakee. If they dumped me, after all, I failed.

It earned me an unwilling night in a boy's room, though, and the forever question as to why I didn't scream.

Remembering that, I cried even harder.  Liam knows nothing about me, but like some damned two-bit shrink, he analyzed me and told me to get out.  Who does he think he is?

Then again, wasn't I right?  He can't love someone like me.

When I got him, Reed was waiting for me. Jumping on me for being late, for the laundry, for the kitchen. He asked nothing about where I'd been or why I was upset. He didn't care... and yelled as much when I pointed out his lack of consideration.

"We agreed when we moved in together that we wouldn't play any sort of possessive game, Meredith! If you think that I'm going to start keeping track of you like some micro-managing husband, you're crazy!"

Something snapped inside me. I'd had enough. "Who the hell is she, then? What's the name of the little chippie you talk to on-line and who hangs-up every time I answer the phone? Who is she? Someone who won't ask you for anything but a good lay?" I screamed these words without bothering to worry about witnesses or repercussions. "You don't want to keep track of me - or bother with our relationship for that matter -- because that would put a kink in your own games! I'm just your maid now, someone who irons your pants but isn't worthy to get what's in them!"

Reed's face was pale, telling me that I was right. He didn't even try to defend himself. "I quit, Reed! I QUIT!" With that, I spun on my heels and marched upstairs to pack.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" He roared, tearing up the steps. "How dare you accuse me of having an affair!"

I'm still not sure what I was thinking, because I had absolutely no fear whatsoever... despite Reed's obvious advantage in size. "I'm leaving you," I answered calmly, no longer feeling the need to scream at him. "I'm tired of being nothing but someone to keep your house. I'm not interested in this life anymore. I'm not interested in being dead last to everything in your life. I want out."

"You have no right to do this," he bellowed, standing in the doorway, trying to look intimidating. I knew him too well to be worried. I also knew him well enough to know that he was indeed guilty. Where he innocent, he'd be more reasonable. As it was, he wasn't even defending himself.

"I have every right. You certainly don't want to be married. You don't even want to be committed, from what I can tell." My voice was tired, surprising even me. I'd gone on so long avoiding the truth that this whole experience was draining. "I want a relationship where I matter, Reed. Not one where I'm little more then some glorified maid."

As expected, he turned on me. "Fine. Go. I had to find someone else. You're nothing but some stone around my neck. I was getting ready to dump you anyway. I need some excitement in my bed, not some headcase like you. Hell, my mother is even telling me that you're a wreck. Go see a shrink or something, why don't you? Get some help. Maybe you'll learn how to please a man." He turned around then and stalked out, going down to his garage to do whatever he did down there.

When he walked out, I sighed in relief. Ever-predictable Reed: he'll start to fight but never bother to finish.

The rest of my immediately necessary belongings went into the overnight bag.

I left.

I picked a hotel a bit out of the way, wanting some privacy. I didn't want to run into anyone I knew.

Alone in the room, staring at the king-sized bed, I imagined that Reed was already calling his girlfriend to tell her that I was out of the way, that I had walked out on him.

Sighing, I sat on the edge of the bed. What the hell was I going to do? Sleep, preferably.

I looked at the room for the first time. Comfortable enough. A small microwave and fridge, though the thought of food made me ill right now, a television, a desk, and a single king-sized bed. All for me and me alone. The room was clean, airy. A nice little chain hotel room. Nothing else. At least no one would find me here. Anyone who wanted me would have to use my cell phone or e-mail. I'd remembered my laptop and, later, would set up shop at the desk. Right now, work now was as appealing as food.

It was another sleepless night. No surprise there.

At 3 a.m. I called the office and left a message that I wouldn't be in and needed to use a sick day. Then I hung the "do not disturb" sign on the doorknob.