Revolutions

Feeling guilty about it is no good at all. He can’t win this one. She can’t win this one. It isn’t that he wants to tell her how to behave, and he’s not willing to tell her how to feel. But if he would, if he could. In a secret place. A secret safe place. That’s exactly what he really wishes. He wishes he could change how she feels.

Guilty doesn’t help. Guilty doesn’t make her want him. Its a maelstrom of transmuted feelings. Desire to pressure. Honesty to rejection. Inadequacy to guilt. That’s where she’s at — she wants to want him. She wishes she loved him the way she did. It would be so much easier to live with, to love with. Easier to understand.

And where does that leave them? He feels desire. She feels only that she should desire him. A duty (though she doesn’t think that way). A part of the bargain of love. If they love each other, he for her and her for him, there a trade of mutual desire. Anything less, an unpaid balance, is debt in the finance of love. And from there comes guilt. Because the currency of love is desire. It it isn’t there, it isn’t there. An unbalanced account. A debt unpaid.

He wants to tell her without words that there’s no use her feeling guilty about it. He wants to tell her so much more. He can’t. He has no idea how. Language doesn’t work anymore.

He lays down beside her. She sleeps with her back to him. He pulls the blankets up. He eases his arm around her and snuggles in close. She grunts from someplace deep in her sleep. Neither pleasure nor displeasure. An only semi-conscious grunt of acknowledgment. This is it. Here we are.

He’s holding his breath. He remembers to breathe. He waits a very long moment. Breath in. Breath out. Slowly. He moves his hand to her stomach. Her nightshirt has come up and her stomach is bare. He places his hand flat against her smooth skin, against the slight swell of her stomach. Something turns over in him. Another sound bubbles up from the depths of her sleep.

A swirl of feelings. Confusion. Was that irritation? Was it the stirrings of excitement? If she responds to his touch, what does he do? How far does he take it? For him, this is enough. Almost enough. If he knew that she liked, even wanted his touch, this gentle intimacy, it would be enough. If only she would push against him, nuzzle into him, then it’d be enough. Then he’d know.

Even in her semi-consciousness, she’s afraid. This is enough. This is safe. A soft hand resting on her, an arm around her, the possibility of more. Only the possibility. Right here. Right now. She doesn’t have to plow up the barren fields of her missing desire. But if she gives a Sign, a low moan of contentment, a smile, pushing against him (she can already feel him hard against her), it begs the question: how far do we take this? Above all, she wants the answer to be, this. This is enough. So she lies perfectly still. Afraid to reject him, afraid to encourage him.

She feels guilty and pressured and confused, and in this swirl of feelings, and out of this not-so-contented, not-so-peaceful, not-so-satisfied, utterly unbalanced moment comes a very real sleepthought. This isn’t enough. No, not nearly enough for her. She can’t put her finger on the why of it, on the what of it, and so we’re back around to guilt.

She doesn’t know that she simply wants peace.

In her circles she feels trapped. Hot. She moves to throw the blankets off. With her movement, he springs away from her, tensing at the vague subtle edge of frustration.

He’s rejected, confused, angry. Hurt. She senses it (and feels guilty). He turns his back to her (but moves his backturned body close enough that she could move against him if she chose). She wants to comfort him. She wants to explain without explaining. This hurt child pulls out a mothering urge in her. But how does she hold him without giving the Wrong Signals, without putting out a Sign. How does she show that sometimes this can be enough.

She can’t. She has no idea how.

And round and round they go through the half sleepless, half wakeless night. And all he knows is that guilt doesn’t help.

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2 Comments

  1. Calpyso Ticonderoga
    Posted December 20, 2008 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    This is haunting and all too familiar. A spinning coin with alternating faces.

  2. Thomas Mayflower
    Posted December 21, 2008 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I love this one. This story touches on this concept that is so real and so human; very familiar, I agree. The perspective from both sides is written in such a deeply honest way, and it leaves this helpless feeling it my gut.


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