Wednesday, June 3, 2009

He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood

You know, when you come home, he could be there.

So you put it off as long as you can. You drive aimlessly, look for excuses, look for reasons to stay away from the house, so maybe by the time you realize nothing more can keep you from returning, and you pull your car up to the curb, he'll be asleep.

And when you climb those stairs, you pause and remember why you fell in love with this place. You remember joy and laughter, you remember exploring this neighborhood and wondering if you, too, would turn into the family-type.

The stairs are long, rocky cement beneath your feet. Sky-blue metal rail, worn over the years from the support it lent to so many hands.

You climb, and you dread that when you open the door, the lights will be on, on like you suspected when you drove by the apartment and saw the hint of what might have been light peeking out from behind the blinds. You carefully compared it to the neighbors. Is that really our lamps on, or is it just a reflection from the streetlights? It couldn't be our lamps.

No, it couldn't be.

But it is.

You open the screen and juggle your keys, you shift your hips and turn the knob, knowing that he's home and thinking without any actual hope behind it that maybe he went out and left the lights on. You hope that the panic building in your stomach will wash away when you step fully into the living room and realize that he's gone.

You pause, listening for the music that signals he's home. Is that the neighbors? Please, please let it be the neighbors. Let someone else be listening to that music that has grown into a beast that puts fear into your belly and causes your hands to tremble when you reach for the switch that lets the light escape the room, back into its safe bulbs where it watches from the ceiling sad acts below.

Your feet step towards the hallway, and you know that if his door is closed, if he doesn't hear you enter your room and if he gets up and does not notice that your lights are on, then, maybe, you'll get through one more night.

But if his door is open, if he hears your footsteps on the carpet, if he gets up and sees the hint of light edging its way out from under your door, then maybe you will hear that knock, that hollow sound on your door that indicates your night is not over, that you did not stay out late enough, that you were not quiet enough, that you did not do enough to preserve yourself one more night.

You turn down the hallway and your eyes go straight to his door.

You remember the evening. You felt like yourself, when you weren't thinking of the state of your life. You remember holding the smiles, telling jokes, checking out the men who passed by, describing their qualities to the girls that missed them. You remember reading while walking down to the local's farmers market, eating pizza by yourself at the place on the corner that you discovered last year.

You remember living.

And then you come home and remember the lie that you are happy, that you are strong.

You wonder when you will break, and how bad it will be.

You take a breath and stare down the fifteen foot hallway that features in your dreams as the tunnel to your world shattering.

Wing a prayer skyward and go.

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