Not belonging

breakupIt seems to me that lately whenever I fantasize about you, my fantasy ends with our breaking up. Here’s how it seems to go.

We’re at a bar or café with friends, for a pleasant evening, after which we ought to go home and make love leisurely. But you have begun to drink a little too much. I touch you lightly on your knee and suggest you should go on to soft drinks. You pull your leg away from my touch and loudly say that you’ll do what you want to and drink as much as you like, and who am I anyway to be telling you.

“You seem to forget who you belong to,” I say.

You make a noise by blowing air through your lips. “Oh puh-lease! Gimme a break!” you say. I know you wouldn’t have spoken to me like that if you hadn’t gone beyond ‘merry’. Barely half an hour ago you were respectful and affectionate, looking into my eyes, leaning into my touch. I know you get like this, I understand, I know it’s not necessarily how you want to be, and it doesn’t happen often but I have always known that a time would come when my tolerance of this and of a score of other little things would run out. Now.

I stand up. I hope my face doesn’t show how angry I am – with myself for getting angry, as well as with you – because I just want to get out of here calmly. I pick up my purse, check I have everything, pull my coat over my shoulders, and say good night to everyone. I smile as pleasantly as I can as I say it.

“Oh! So soon?” someone says.

“Yes, I’m a little tired,” I reply. “It’s been a long day.”

Outside it is warm and humid, so I take off my coat again and hang it over my arm.

“Taxi!” I call, raising a hand. A cab pulls in next to me and I reach for the door handle.

“Hold on! Hold on!” It’s you, hurrying to catch me. “Where are you going?”

“Back to the house.”

“You don’t have a key.”

I hold out my hand. You pat your pockets, reach inside your satchel, and rummage until you find it. Then you thrust it back where it was and say, “I’ll come with you.”

“Ladies?” says the driver. “You gonna stay there all night?”

We get in, and I give the him the address. You tell him where it’s near, loudly, but he knows where it is anyway. As we drive back you hold my arm and try to make conversation. I’m taciturn. I’m not ignoring you, it’s just that I can’t find anything to say. When we get to the house I pay the fare while you open up. I go into the bedroom, get my valise down from the top of the dresser, and start to fold some of my clean clothes into it.

“What are you doing… I mean what are you doing?” you ask.

“I’m packing,” I say.” I’m leaving. I’m going home. I’ll call another cab in a while and go to the airport.”

“You don’t even know if there’s a plane,” you say.

“There’ll be one,” I say.

You watch me put a few more garments into the valise, judging whether I’m serious or this is some kind of histrionic gesture. The situation has sobered you a little.

“I’m sorry,” you say.

“Apology accepted,” I reply, and continue to pack. There is silence for a little while. You watch as I put in the top you always say is your favourite on me.

“Can’t we talk this over in the morning?” you say.

I sigh, and close the lid of the half-filled valise. “Okay.”

I lift the valise off the bed and put it on the floor. I grab a blanket from somewhere and walk into the lounge, where I make myself somewhere to sleep with cushions on the couch. I don’t want to be in bed with you tonight. Bed is your territory, bed is where you have the upper hand, bed is where you’re the host and I’m the guest. The couch will be my territory tonight. I lie down and pull the blanket over myself.

“Get the light for me,” I say. You stand there in the doorway for a while, then you sigh, turn off the light, and move away. I can vaguely hear you in the bedroom as I drift off to sleep.

When I awake later, in the middle of the night, I become conscious that I’m not alone. You are kneeling beside the couch, leaning against it, your head gently pressing against my leg, asleep. I can see, by a dim light coming from somewhere, that you have a blanket round your shoulders. I stir. You stir.

“Oh for God’s sake!” I say, “come up here.” You get up from your kneeling position, groaning a little at your stiffness and shivering with cold. There is hardly enough room on the couch, but you snuggle your back into me. I gather the two blankets over us and wrap an arm round you. We make a spoon. I love this position – I have always loved it when you snuggle your back up to me, or I snuggle mine to you. It is our favourite position for making love as well as sleeping. I remember the first time you ever touched my breasts it was from behind as you reached both arms round me, kissing my neck. That was also the first time you ever touched my clitoris, snaking one hand down past my belly, causing me to arch my back and to reach behind me to caress your hair. It was in a similar position, though with me behind, that I first let my own hands trace your curves and clefts and made you first sigh, and then moan, and give one great gasp. And here I am now, snuggled up to you, my mouth against your shoulder, your familiar body-taste on my lips, your body-scent in my nostrils. Despite the lack of space on the couch, it is so easy to sleep like this.

In the morning I shower, gather all my toiletries, and continue to pack. You watch me.

“You’re really going,” you say.

“I am.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Well, then…”

“Look, I do love you, I mean it,” I say, “but it’s all gone wrong. I’m wrong. I’m wrong here. I just don’t belong. And don’t say I make you happy, because I don’t.”

“I belong to you.”

“We can change that, cancel it, if you want.”

“I don’t want,” you said. Then, after a minute’s silence, you went on, “I was hoping maybe, if you really are going, for some break-up sex.” You had managed to find a grin from somewhere. I know your heart is breaking, and I know I’m breaking it. Mine is breaking too and it can’t be helped, but I manage to grin too.

“That would be an extraordinarily bad idea,” I say, thinking about how wonderful how perfect your body feels against mine, and how utterly wrong everything else would feel the moment we pulled apart. I finish packing and call for a taxi. While we wait for it to arrive we lean against the wall. I have one hand on your shoulder and we’re resting our foreheads together. Our breathing is synchronised. It is wonderful, but I’ll still leave. There is a slight taint of last night’s alcohol on your breath, and that isn’t repellant, but rather it’s intimate, but I’ll still leave. Your shoulder is warm under my hand, but I’ll still leave. I love you, but I’ll still leave. You love me, but I’ll still leave. You belong to me, but I’ll still leave. Outside we hear the taxi horn. I pick up my valise.

And that’s where the fantasy ends. I leave, and there’s an angel with a flaming sword preventing me from going back, from making the fantasy a paradise again. Inevitably, I’m in tears. It never fails.


© Morgana Somerville