Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conversation In the Semidarkness

I love her. Somewhere in the distance, real or imagined, just around the corner from the nest of his thin sleep, he thinks he hears a siren. I can't do this, he tells himself. I can't.

He pulls his numb arm out from under the covers. He rubs his mouth with the palm of his hand. He flicks on the small reading light on the nightstand. He turns to her, beside him. He glides his stiff fingers over her cool hair and around her gentle face. He pulls her face closer to him, wanting to smell her.

She opens her eyes slowly. Brown eyes that had always beseeched him to love her. And he thinks he does. Love her. He thinks.

"What's the matter?" she says. She yawns. Her breath is intoxicating. Like preserved fruit.

"I can't sleep," he tells her, his own voice unfamiliar to him in the semidarkness. "Do you love me?"

"Oh, not again." She blinks. Her beseeching brown eyes disappear for a flicker, then return to beseech again.

"I need you to tell me," he says. "Please."

"I don't understand why we keep talking about this." She pulls the covers up to her chin. She looks at him.

"No, you don't understand. Period. That's the problem." He's looking into the brown eyes threatening tears, now.

"The real problem is that you don't love me," she says quietly, as if afraid he'll hear her. As if afraid she'll hear herself. "You can't accept me as I am. You can't accept me without wanting to change me. Or wanting to change my past." She pauses, hoping that he will deny her charges. Hoping that he will keep looking into her eyes in this semidarkness and tell her that none of what she just said is true. She doesn't move.

"I don't know how to accept you." This, after a long silence. "A meaningless concept to you, I'm sure," he says harshly, "but I do have a hard time accepting things or people without knowing why I'm doing it." And then he's silent again.

"It's just your nature." She wants to break the tightness. "It's who you are." She turns her back to him. But stays in bed.

"No. This is the dark side of me," he whispers into her hair, which smells like the woods in autumn. Intoxicating. "The me that doesn't know how to be forgiving or humble."

"It's the scientific you." She speaks to the wall she's looking at. She hears her voice reverberating in her ear against the pillow. "Clinical mind over intuitive heart," she says, craving the comfort of her muffled voice in her ear again.

"Do you even care for me?" But he doesn't wait for an answer. "I don't know why you ever did care, to begin with. If you did. Was it the thrill of the chase? A childlike crush? A kindly gesture to another man who seemed lonely?" But then he feels the slightest bit ashamed. What have I done?

"You're cruel," she says. "Not only to me, but even to yourself. And why would I take all this crap from you unless..."

"Yes, yes, and I thank you for your kindness." He jumps in too soon. Not gently enough. He knows she'll think he's shouting at her.

"Just be quiet," she says. Heavy tears prick her eyes. But she doesn't want him to gloat. He would, too. Gloat. "Your words are like mud," she whimpers. "I hate you." But she hates herself more. For crying in front of him. Again.

"You're too sensitive," he tells her, trying to blend a softer hue into his voice. "Or maybe not." He wraps his arms around her warm body under the covers and breathes in the woodsy smell of her skin. Intoxicating. "Sometimes I think I don't know you."

She stiffens. "You don't," she says through her tears. "Can't we talk about anything without your trying to analyze everything and everyone? Like we're all independent and dependent variables in a damn experiment?"

"I have a difficult time with gray. You know that," he says into her ear. A few strands of her hair tickle his lips. "And I don't know how to embellish what I want to say. I just say it. I don't know how to make what I feel look or sound more attractive." Then he's silent. Again. For a moment. And for that moment he asks himself if he does love her. "I want to be the only one," he tells her on impulse. "The only man in your life."

"You are," she whispers.

"But I haven't always been. And I can't love you and know that others have loved you before me. It makes it all incomplete."

She sits up, suddenly, in disbelief. "But you never knew any of them. They needed me and I needed them and it was good for a while and then it wasn't good anymore. And I'm done with that, so why can't we put it behind us?" She dries her tears with the backs of her hands. "I feel like an idiot for telling you about them. But none of them really loved me, anyway. And neither do you."

He pushes his face into her abandoned pillow. "Forgive me," he says. But his voice is smothered. And although she hears him, she knows he doesn't care whether or not she will forgive him.

Such a senseless thing to say, she thinks. Empty. Forgive me. Like the last few drops of gas in your tank when you still have eighty miles to drive and the next gas station is seventy miles away.

They stay together in silence in the semidarkness. The silence of minutes. Short minutes. Like short, labored breaths. Uncomfortable but necessary. Her smell is dripping like venom through an eyedropper into his senses. Intoxicating. He turns away from it. From her.

She climbs out of bed. She pulls up her hair. She bathes. She dresses.

She is ready to leave inside of an hour.

"Will I see you tomorrow night?" he mumbles from bed when she's at the bedroom door, on her way out.

"Mmm. Ten o'clock."

But she doesn't come.

He will miss the curve of her graceful neck above her elegant shoulders. He will miss how her eyes twinkle like stars in the dimness of twilight. He will miss how she gently bites his lower lip with her trembling lips when they kiss. He will miss her radiant smile, inhibited, but radiant. And he will miss her intoxicating smell.

31 comments:

  1. Ahhh, I was taken away by your story. "You can't accept me without wanting to change me. Or wanting to change my past". Imperfection is difficult for some people to appreciate, and trust. Thank you for sharing, Nevine.

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  2. Very moving, he waits, she doesn't come. They Lose.

    Secretia

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  3. Once again I was lost in your words.....the longing....waiting....the loss

    cant wait till you post again...

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  4. Wonderful story!

    Have you read BLACK HAIR, BLUE EYES by Maguerite Duras? I think you'd really like it...I've mentioned it before, yes?

    much love

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  5. the human weaknesses, deep and complex. what an excellent read.

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  6. But you will never be the sole man in her life, you idiot!

    Sorry, I got carried away. I was so immersed in the narrative that I forgot I wasn't supposed to yell at the computer screen.

    What a compelling story you've told. And what a thorough X-ray you've carried out. Brilliant, all of it. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  7. This piece has so much depth that I'll need to read it over a few times before I can even begin to sink into it. Wonderful writing, as always.

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  8. Dream Dancer - I agree. Imperfection is the true test of any relationship, I think. If we can't get past the other's imperfections and accept them without judgment, we are creating a weak connection that will break at the merest touch. Thanks, Dream Dancer.

    Secretia - Yes, they both lose, don't they? But I think he loses a gem while she loses a pebble.

    Steven - You challenge me with a posting schedule, my friend. I'm struggling... juggling... life... responsibilities... writing - my favorite "duty". :)

    Trish and Rob - Nothing comes next, really. This is a stand alone piece. Just a moment captured in words... I hope that doesn't disappoint!

    Stacey - Yes, you did mention Duras' book earlier, and I have read Les yeux bleus, cheveux noirs. Loved it, too! Thank you, Stacey.

    Shadow - Weaknesses... what we're all about. They design the outcome of our lives, and always leave us wanting... we don't know what.

    Cuban - Yelling at the computer screen is wonderful... well, in this case, we're both winners... you let off steam and I get flattered. :-) Possessive men are the most dangerous, I think, and also the biggest turnoff. Not a very healthy formula for an enduring relationship, huh? Thanks, Cuban.

    Bard - I aim for depth, but always feel like I fall short. It's the perfectionist in me. Thank you for the reassurance, Bard!

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  9. Very powerful plunge into the dance and crash of personalities. Of ways of thought. As a rational, I can understand a bit of the pull of what he's saying. What is chewing at him. Rationals (or Myers-Briggs INTPs, at least) build an intricate architecture of now. When something in the past or future is disjointed with the now, it causes a grinding friction. It just can't be without changing the concept of now. Being of a different mindset, she is not especially equipped to resolve the rub in his language. And he is poorly equipped to walk in her world and provide the things dear to her.

    Aine has also written about the relationship of Keirsey rationals and idealists.

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  10. Brilliant Nevine.

    How we sabotage ourselves.

    Fantastic story, I loved it.

    Renee xoxo

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  11. oh, nevine! great great wordpicture story - overwhelming! LOVE the imagery! AND the ending! especially HER walking out the door! beautifully done - spell-bindingly done!

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  12. I was entranced by this story. The dialogue, everything. I think Jason said it best after reading his comment, I can't come up with anything that tops it. Your male character will probably love her forever since she was the one who walked away. He was mesmerized by her physical beauty that enthralled him but could not accept all of her including the past. Albeit something we have not the power to change. Oft we equate love to physical elements until we delve deeper. Though I wonder what are his flaws. I must admit Nevine when I read "Will I see you tomorrow night?" and then her response, for an instant I thought she was a call girl (sorry) or they might have some standing, arranged tryst. But the dialogue showed something much deeper than that.

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  13. Jason - Interesting that you should mention the Myers-Briggs Indicator and Keirsey Temperament Sorter; excellent tools for getting a basic idea of personality, although I take the results with a grain of salt because I tend to see the human personality as a fluid entity. But yes, he is definitely a Rational type, can't see gray, thinks in black and white, and is therefore having a most difficult time sinking into a relationship that he really consciously wants to make happen. He's struggling with something he can't fight with or change (her past), and she's struggling with his rational way of thinking inside her multi-colored world. Their relationship can't exist at any level of comfort.

    Renee - Yes, we do sabotage ourselves, and we lose, unfortunately. Thank you, Renee.

    Gypsywoman - She walked out because she had been there before and knew this relationship wasn't going to stick, either. She used her head, this time. Thanks, Gypsywoman!

    She Poet - No need to be sorry for thinking she was a call girl, because that is pretty much how he subconsciously thinks of her. He seems to want to love her, but he's incapable. He's obsessed with how his senses respond to her, but he can't get inside of her to love her in her totality. So even when she leaves, he only thinks of those physical things about her that he will miss. Maybe he just loves the idea of being in love.

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  14. the guy's an idiot... like many

    i know, i'm one....

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  15. great dialog AND...
    your closing paragraph
    just makes our breathing stop!

    excellent writing.

    peace~
    Chuck

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  16. It seems to me he won't miss her as much as he will miss tormenting her about a past he was not a part of .. nor could he control. In such a case, he has become one of the pack she left behind --- always wanting more than they are willing to give. Yes, he deserves to miss her and she did well to move on. With an attitude like his ... oh well.

    ... Oh my, Nevine, I got caught up in this one didn't I. It reminded me of someone I once loved and ... yes, the dialogue seems so very familiar. I wish I had never returned, I envy her strength to not come back for more of the same. At least this is what I want to believe -- that she didn't come back like I did!

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  17. Laughingwolf - You are too funny!

    Bonequinhoda - Thank you for that, and thank you for visiting.

    Chuck - I appreciate your comment about my closing paragraph. I'm never sure how changing tenses will come across.

    Amias - She didn't come back. But this is fiction. In the real world, most do come back. But I don't sit in judgment because there are too many dynamics in any relationship for any of us who are outside of it to look from where we are and say "she should" or "he should". And reality is always harsher than fiction, unfortunately.

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  18. This post sighs and hugs and slaps and cries of tear and longing, harboring a frustration lost on the tongue, brewing in the soul. Wonderful work.

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  19. I'm not sure how you do it, but these always ring so true and so painfully true to me. I am genuinely impressed by your talent.

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  20. Nevine, your prose here is quietly powerful.
    Poignant and oh so authentic. I'm sure most
    of us have been either of these two lover's
    shoes at one time in our life.
    I just can't get over the gentle way you
    have written the private pain of each
    person. You must be very wise.

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  21. What a heart wrenching story! I can still remember that problem. The wanting to love but not loving. It aches.

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  22. A very fine piece of writing... sounds like you may have lived a bit of this. I'm somehow glad she didn't come back, and hoping she will find, one day when she is ready, someone worthy of her love and able to accept her as she is...

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  23. Trée - The "brewing in the soul" part brings joy to my heart. Thank you. And thank you for stopping in!

    Mme. DeFarge - I'm happy to hear my stories ring true for you. There's the storyteller, and then there's the receiver. Thank you for being a great receiver of my words.

    Cynthia - I don't know if what I have is wisdom or just the acute eye of observation. But I do try to pretend that I'm wise, sometimes.

    Suzy - Oh, yes it does ache. And it aches no matter what side of the relationship you're on.

    Owen - We all live a little bit of everything we release into the world, either directly or vicariously, don't we? Thank you for sympathizing with my character. I always appreciate that!

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  24. How wonderful, I am so glad I discovered you today through my fellow Cuban's blog! As to the story, I am completely hooked and I would have left his sorry self a long time ago. Possesiveness can be seductive but in the end, it is tiresome and like a black hole, it sucks your life away.

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  25. Yoli - "Possessiveness can be seductive..." Interesting statement, especially when I think about it. There are so many dynamics in relationships and too much or too little of any emotion can have enormous effects, depending, of course, on the personalities involved. So much to think about. It's amazing that relationships do work when they do. Thank you for stopping in, Yoli!

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  26. Yikes! that's some serious insecurity. I love her. and I believe she loves me. If it changes tomorrow, I'll miss her. But she owes me no more than what she has already given me. An interesting story. Well written. ~rick

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  27. Kisses XXXXX to you.

    love Renee xoxo

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  28. Rick - You broke it down so perfectly. Thank you much!

    Renee - And to you, my dear!

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Your thoughts are deeply appreciated.