As his fingertips slide across my skin, I close my eyes. I should enjoy this, right? I mean this is a part of marriage. It’s what married people do, and they enjoy it. Then why do I find myself praying for it to be over with as quickly as possible every time his lips reach for mine? I try closing my eyes but that just makes it worse. Faces that I long to forget flash in front of me.
My mother’s boyfriend.
Regrets and mistakes that I have deseparately tried to erase from my memory, and just when I think they are gone forever, he reaches for me and the dam breaks. It all comes flooding back in. The pain of touch. The hurt of closeness. I wonder if he knows. If he feels me trying not to pull away from him. If he feels the inner tormoil that rages inside of me every time his smile lands upon my soul. I pray he doesn't. I never want him to feel unloved. Unwanted.
Because I do love him. I love him much more than I ever imagined possible, but no matter how hard I try I cannot erase the images that flash before my eyes whenever his love washes over me. I am their unwillling slave. They are my captor.
I have tried to replace them, but like a broken in pair of shoes, they refuse to be replaced.
Sometimes when he sleeps, I close my eyes and just listen to his breath. The sound of his deep inhale and then the sudden release as he exhales. It is the most peaceful sound I have ever heard, and in those moments, when I am alone in the darkness. Just me and his breath. I long for his touch. I trace the contours of his body with my fingertips ever so slightly. I don’t want to wake him. I don’t want this closeness to end. During these moments of darkness and exhales, there are no flashes. No forgotten ghosts that suddenly pop up out of nowhere. There is only me and his exhale.
As I lay there I wonder if the ghosts will ever disappear. If there will ever come a time when there are no monsters hiding in my closet. A time when I can allow myself to fall into him without seeing images that should never be etched into anyone’s mind. Will I ever be able to just be in his arms? Will I ever be free?
Suddenly a saltiness invades my tastebuds and brings me back to the present. I don’t know when the tears began to fall but the wetness of my pillow tells me they had been falling for awhile. I allow them to take their freedom. One by one they escape into the darkness as I search for his exhale. If only I can catch it, then maybe sleep will come. Even if only for a moment.
This was for TRDC's weekly memoir prompt. The prompt was to write about how the show of affection has played a part in your memory. Choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection (either by you or someone else) stands out, and show us. Bring us to that time. Help us feel what you felt. Your feedback is welcomed.