Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Graceful Truth: Part VII

I remember it so clearly; the first time I told him I loved him still and I wanted more than an every once in a while thing. He got this doe-eyed expression on his face but followed it up with a deadpan look of pain and regret. We were sitting together at a bar in down town San Diego surrounded by our close friends. Well, they were most definitely more his friends than mine, I had already moved away, had already ducked out of his life like it were the bubonic plague coming to destroy me.
He glanced away into the crowd, his leg beginning to shake with the pressure of emotion bubbling up inside of him. It was several months before our wonderful LA weekend together, and I made the utter mistake of thinking one day in the hot sun wrapped close to his body was enough for him to forgive me for all the mistakes I had made in the past. I saw the torn flesh and mutilated bones beneath the sturdy structure of his life, but the damage was still there, and no amount of lazy Saturday’s together would ever fix what I did.
“Grace I…,” he began but was immediately interrupted by his best friend Alex who had bought another round of drinks for the table.
“Why so glum friend?! You have drinks, a hot lady on your arm, and you have me! Cheer up fucker!”
He smirked and doused his throat with a hearty chug of Newcastle before he disengaged himself from my side expressing a need to smoke. I didn’t follow him, I knew that he needed the fresh air and the time alone.
Looking back maybe I should have followed him, maybe that had been my only chance, but I knew deep down that it wouldn’t have worked. His eyes had told me no before his mouth was able to produce the correct syllables. It was no then, and it was no the few months after, I should have known better but the blinders were on and I was forging ahead at full speed.
The music outside of the tent slowed to a stop and before I knew it the wedding was wrapping up to a close. I suddenly didn’t want it to end. It felt like the drop of water from a constant cliff side going dry without warning. I needed more, I craved the cool sparks of his touch, I craved the warm fire building to the heights of an inferno in my chest.
“I have to say my good byes to my sister,” Kellan said pausing for a moment looking back inside the tent toward the slowly dispersing crowd. “Are you, staying anywhere close tonight?”
I knew what he was asking, and as much as my mind was screaming at me to tell him no, my mouth couldn’t form a plausible reason to cooperate. “Yeah, I have a room at the Hilton.”
“Good,” he said with a slow smile. “Don’t leave just yet, I’ll be right back.” He handed me his pack of Menthol's that he hadn’t himself touched, and his lighter before dashing inside to lift his sister in a brotherly bear hug.
I was in deep now.  You are probably thinking that I could just say no, and you are right I could, but I now myself better by this point and when it comes to Kellan I never know how to say no. He always yanks me in by both hands dragging me under his spell. I fall hard, I fall fast, and then I’m drowning alone and he is gone yet again. I made one mistake, one tiny misstep, and it’s haunted me every day since. If only I hadn’t walked away from him that night, if only I hadn’t found that other guy, if only…if only.
My head hangs in the shaming guilt of my past and I can’t keep from lighting up another cigarette, a steady slow stream of smoke zipping in and out of my lungs calming me slowly into a less agitated state. Once the flame licked at the filter I dug into the pack and lit up again. No sense in stopping now, I was finally feeling a little more in control of myself. The champagne had worn off and the water was filtering out my alcohol soaked system.
By cigarette three I glanced back into the tent to see where Kellan was but through the remaining 20 or so guests he was nowhere in sight. His sister, hugging a few of her random cousin’s, glanced up to see me standing alone and smiled in my direction before heading my way.
“Hi Grace,” she said smoothly. It was the first time we had spoken all evening.
“Hi,” I said softly feeling a little ashamed that I hadn’t spoken a word to the main woman of the evening. It was her night after all and I had all but completely ignored her. “Have you seen…,” I started before her head ducked down and then popped back up.
“He left.”
Shock rang through me at her words and at first I didn’t actually believe her. “Left? Did he say where he was going, or when he would be back?”
“Well, he um…left with a few girls, I don’t exactly expect him to come back.”
I think she noticed my shock was more than just surprise, it was also massive hurt. My eyes began to sting with salty wetness and I shook my head several times to ward off the rising sickness vying to break out of my throat. “He just left?”
The black vortex of my past crashed into my present settling like a weight of bricks over my shoulders. There was no leaving it behind, no keeping it in the past. It was official now and I had to get it through my head. He would never take me back, he would never love me again, and there was no reason why I should ever see his face again.
Somehow I managed to stumble to my hotel, though I am not sure how I actually got there. My feet were screaming at me, so I think I walked almost most of the way. I stumbled half heart sick half drunk (because I most definitely snagged a half bottle of Tullamore Dew on my way out of the party) into the lobby of my hotel. The doorman was softly yelling at me but I didn’t pay him much attention as I punched the elevator button and fell through the doors as they split apart.
If my life were a movie Kellan would have dashed through the closing elevator doors just as they were about to shut. He would have walked up to me and grabbed my face kissing me with everything he had. He would have professed his undying love for me apologizing for his mistakes and his neglect of our togetherness. Or, as soon as I exited the elevator I would have seen him sitting outside of my door waiting for me to come back. With a bottle of my favorite whiskey and two glasses, one already half-filled because the nerves got to him too fast and too strong for him to wait. But my life isn’t a movie, and romantic gestures never happen for me.
You know what I got? A text at 330am. And you know what I did? I answered it.

K: U up?
G: no, go away
K: Can I call?
G: I’m sleeping
K: Nice try Gracie, come on, talk to me. I wanna talk to you
G: silence
K: I’m calling you now, please answer

I did answer, because even after all this, I am still the biggest damn idiot there ever was. Don’t get your hopes up. With this rolling coil of fear squirming through my body, this phone call isn’t going to be a good one I can guarantee it.