Tarnished

Inspired by a line in a letter from a friend, “But I must add, my dear, how very cynical.”


He sighs, “But I must add, my dear,” his eyes glance over my fine features only for a moment not wanting to truly see me, “how very cynical.”

I dare a smile knowing he will not look back, “What would you rather me be?”

He paces the room, just like always. “Don’t play coy with me. Of course you know.”

It is the same dance every few weeks but with different sheet music. We cannot refuse but to have our words take hold and waltz through the night, without the going to the theater that I was so much looking forward to. And 1,2,3, “Remind me, please.”

He rubs his temples, “I understand what you went through was hard, an extremely tough situation that no one should have to go through. But you aren’t the same girl that I fell in love with anymore.”

I cannot help but laugh, a howl rather more, “How could I be?” I tug my sweater off, suddenly the room too hot for the comforts of cashmere. “I became someone so much stronger! You were in love with my weakness.”

“No, I was in love with your softness, your gentleness, your kindness. But now -” he sputters “now you are all sharp edges and I am afraid if I even touch you, I’ll be cut.”

“You always did have a way with words,” I sneer. Can’t he see how much better I am now than that puny, little girl he dazzled in that forever long Starbucks line? Can’t he see that this me is the only way I can cope what happened? Can’t he see I like myself better this way?

I guess he can’t. Or maybe he won’t.

I take control of my life now, say what I want, when I want. I live life how I want. I have learned to appreciate life the hard way. Back when I first met him, life was a never ending theme park roller coaster ride like on our third date to Six Flags. There was ups and downs but it would keep on going. Or so I thought.

He stops pacing and memorizes the plain, ordinary, egg shell white wall. “You were my shiny penny. I didn’t have much, but I had you. Now I have plenty, but I don’t have you.”

I break up the staring contest between him and the wall. He was going to lose anyways. No matter how furious I am at him, I still am startled at how dashing he looks in his tux. It reminds me of our wedding, happy smiles sparkled even more than the drinks did. “But I am standing right in front of you.”

“But you are a tarnish penny.” He pivots away from me in his Westwoods and paces once more. “This you, right now, is tarnishing the memories of the girl I loved. All the mean and hurtful words you spew tarnish the memories of telling your mom that we would clean up the kitchen just for an excuse to have some alone time for secret kisses. Your pessimism -”

I cut him off, “I’m being realistic.”

Louder this time, “Your pessimism about the very tilt of the earth allows you to fester your cynicism. What ever happened to the girl who dreamed of opening her own art gallery?”

“She died along with the baby,” I say, my voice taking on almost a visceral tone as it rightfully should. My breathes come shallow now.

He rushes to me now, his arms encompassing my thin form. If he embraced me like this when I first started dating him, I would have melted at his mere touch. My confidence was so delicate that I needed tactile reminders that he cared for me. But now, he fingers feel like tightening tentacles. This time, he looks me in the eye. “But I was there with you the whole time. We went through it together. I never abandoned you.” He wipes away my tear. I fight the urge to stiffen.  He then adds, “But why do I feel like you abandoned us?”

I pull away, hard and harsh, “You will never get it, you’ll never understand if you haven’t by now.”

I don’t need to see him to know he is crying. I memorized those shoulder shakes a long time ago.”Sometimes, I wonder if we would be better off if you would just leave. You tarnish everything good I ever had. My friends, my family, my love for you. Every fight like this, every cruel word tarnishes the happy memories I savor of the girl I fell in love with.”

I sigh, “But I must add, my dear,” if looks could kill, he would be dead on the marble floor, “how very cynical.”

penny

Flickr/DanielOines

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