Fiction Page 2

Apology Peaches continued

           “You don’t get it.” I felt peach juice on my fingers.

            “I don’t know what you want me to get.”

            “You have no idea,” I said. “You don’t know what it was like for me.”

            “It’s different now.”

            “I know that, but . . . but you don’t get it. You just don’t get it. That type of thing . . . It really messes with me, you know? You were always like, ‘Oh, I’m back with my wife now. Oh, my wife is ending the separation and we’re not getting divorced. Oh, I can’t do this, because I can’t handle it. Oh, I love you, but I can’t be with you.’”

            “Leo.”

“What? What do you want me to say? I’m not going to lie to you about this. It really, really fucked me up, okay? And you’ll never understand that. You’ll never know how it feels to be on the hook like that for so long, waiting and waiting around for you to be with me. I was, like, waiting for you to love me back for so fucking long.” I thought of all the times that I lay in bed and watched you get dressed and leave without looking at me. I thought of all the mornings when I woke up without you, when I didn’t know if I would see you again. You would leave me notes that told me not to call, notes that said, I can’t do this. I’m sorry.

“Leo. Look at me,” you said. And I didn’t want to, but I did, because I always did what you asked. Then you said, “I always loved you.”

“YOU BROKE MY HEART.” It came out of my mouth before I was aware of saying it, and it hung there in the air between us, loud and ugly. We stared at each other, a little breathless, and I wondered if you felt as scared as I did. I hadn’t yelled at you like that before.

Slowly, you moved towards me, your hands out in front of you. You asked if you could touch me, and I nodded. Then you pulled me into you, wrapping your arms around me tight, until it was hard to breathe. You whispered, “You have to forgive me. Please forgive me. We can’t do this if you don’t.”

“I’m trying,” I said, and it was true.

“You know that I love you,” you said. You put your hands on my shoulders and made me look at you when you said it.

“Of course I know that.”

I let you kiss me, then I let you take the peach from my hand and throw it away.

That night, we made dinner together, and though we spoke as though nothing had happened before, as though I hadn’t told you that you broke my heart, something was strained and different between us. We laughed a little too loud for a little too long, and we were afraid of silence. We watched Food Network together, and not because we really liked it, but because we didn’t want to risk any kind of argument over what movie to watch. Sitting together on the couch, I rested my legs on your lap the way we both like it. You placed your hands on my knees.

After two hours of watching television, you turned it off. You grabbed my legs and moved them off of you, then you took my hand and walked with me to the bedroom. It was something you hadn’t done before – taking my hand and leading me like that. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but before I could decide, we were sitting on our bed, your lips on my neck. I thought of that line from that song, the line that says, I don’t want to be your friend, I want to kiss your neck. I felt something breaking in my chest when I thought of that song, because it made me think of how it used to be. It made me think of the waiting, the waiting that seemed endless, but I still would’ve waited forever for you. And just as I began to wonder how I could’ve lost so much of myself, you were unbuttoning my shirt, and I found myself taking off your belt.

“I love you,” you said when you were inside me. You made it last longer than usual, and I thought of all the things we’d never done together. We never danced together. We never went camping together. We never read to each other. We never went on vacation together – not really, not in the way that normal couples do. We never went to a wedding together.

“What’s wrong?” you asked, stopping for a moment.

“Nothing. I just . . . I love you, Daniel.”

You smiled and started again, but you knew I was lying when I said that nothing was wrong. That’s why you held me a little closer that night when we slept.

We woke up to your alarm at seven, and I felt your stubble scratch my cheek when you kissed me. I couldn’t look at you when you got up and walked into the bathroom. You closed the door, and when I heard you start the shower, I got out of bed and sat at your desk. Hands shaking, I picked up a pen and wrote you a note, then I placed it on your pillow. I can’t do this. I’m sorry. I love you. I put on some pants and a shirt, and then I went into the kitchen. The paper bag was still on the table, and I took one of the peaches. I went back into the bedroom and put it next to the note. And then I left.