Beer on a weekday has never been a good idea. But… With her, I am alternately the best and worst versions of myself. I couldn’t help myself. I feel suspended in the emulsion of her near-tangible essence, constantly half-drowning, not quite breathing and not quite dead also. She took me with her to her place. I was apprehensive. She has a house mate. A man. Her friend. In the recesses of my mind I still think of her as mine, only mine. I pushed the budding jealousy deep within myself long enough to get to know him. Cool guy. We drank, she cooked. Her two younger girl cousins came over. We drank some more – and went out to get more beer and wine – she cooked, a flurry of motion and a single glass of white wine.

The odd mixture of pork and chicken gizzards and mashed potatoes swimming in milk was satisfying. Then she… got that way: lecturing and wide-eyed and righteously indignant. I leaned on the wall, as far away from her as I could, letting one of her cousins’ get shelled. I have had enough of that fire, thank you. She means well. This is a reflection of her fear. I don’t know what she is so scared of. It may be of being rejected or cheated on after throwing herself into a relationship. She always did love like a mad woman, never leaving anything for herself. Her cousins left. Her house mate, cool guy, had long ago gone to his room. We went to bed. She was restless. She sat up and placed her hands on my bare chest. They burned. They were hot. She was hot. Her tears were hotter. All these years and my actions still weigh on her heart. I am tired of apologizing. I kept quiet, her tirade whipping past me like a pungent breeze, fending off sleep until she calmed down. I forget what I said in return. It must have been something like: “I am sorry” (obviously), “I am here now” (I was), “Everything will be all right” (eventually), “I still love you” (I do). I held her as we slept, as the hell of her emotions slowly turned to sunshine, aware that the last time that happened I barely knew who I was. I held her tighter.

We struggled to wake up and when we finally did, moved about in a daze. There was no water. It was too bright and noisy. We were drained, more in spirit than in body. My mouth felt like sandpaper, and so did my eyes, except when I closed them. A Fanta helped, even if it was warm. We slept on the matatus to work. I felt that I had lost something that I could not describe. I had poured a little more of myself into her abyss and I felt emptier. She only ever says she loves me when she is drunk or angry. Or both, and she is mostly both when she says it. It is almost as if it has to be exorcised out of her. It rolls out of my mouth easily. Why shouldn’t it? I have loved her for a long time and I have nothing left to lose. I don’t need to impress her or seduce her any more. None of that matters at this point. I have tried, once or twice to, but I am a part of her stretching past, no more exceptional than any one of the many loves she has had, despite what I may try to convince myself of. And two weeks passed and the day before yesterday I sent her, after the usual obligatory “Hi”s and “How are you doing?”s,

Love you.

Short. Terse. Omitting the “I” made me feel as if I was not hankering too much (I had done this already). Those two words look back at me, silently mocking and accusatory. What right do you have to love her? They will stare for a while. She may not reply to that message. I imagine her looking at it and wondering what to do. But, I fear she no longer wonders. She has had practice at politely scoffing at my advances (re-advances?). I also have had practice, at not feeling. I will survive her.

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