The whole apartment smelled strongly of frying oil, the kind that sticks to the back of your teeth and makes everything taste as if you’d just licked the side of something metal in the back of a Long John Silver’s. Of the many lies I’ve told in my life, the many pointlessly elaborate and utterly inconsequential fabrications that I’ve used to put together something for my friends and family to love and despise, suddenly none of them seem thick enough. I close the door behind me, because though I know that I will be leaving soon, to leave it open seems like an admission of defeat. There isn’t a whole lot I can do, I know, so just like any other time when there is nothing to be done, I fill the waiting time with pointless gestures. I fold my hands and unfold them. I smooth my t-shirt. I light a cigarette and then dab it out almost immediately, then pick it up and crush every bit of orange until there isn’t anything left to crush. He sits perfectly still. I want to say something to calm the tension, something to remind him about better times, better lies I’ve told, better people I’ve been, something like, “hey.” What comes out instead is something that is more like me.
“I can explain.”
Pathetic and cliche.
It pisses us both off.
There are a lot of things you don’t think about when you’re doing something that’s going to make you feel guilty later. There are things you do think about, too, and to be fair, I did often imagine this scenario, though not quite as tense as this. If it weren’t for the fact that I am about to have to own up to something as unpleasant and unbelievable as it is awkward, I would probably adore the drama of it. There is nothing valiant or funny about this, any of it, and even if some part of me was hoping for exactly this, as the doctor said that I was, there is certainly nothing funny about feeling your stomach and your chest occupying the exact same space at the same time. He made a squeaking sound as he sucked in his lip and placed that goddamnfucking da Vinci doll on the table, and asked, in a voice so quiet and trembling I felt myself go lightheaded:
“Baby, is there something you would like to tell me?”