Flutters brought on largely by the little pink pills in particular, counted in their measure of the concentrations in my blood at any given moment, spilled and numbered like golden coins and a pat on the head and three more days of expected compliance to the pharmacy gods until the next test.
Emotions drawn out and dissected and balled up and stuffed back inside at the end of ninety minutes, as if they've somehow been improved, when really it's the equivalent of going to the Gap and shaking out every sweater in a neatly folded pile and not quite folding them again as you return them to the shelf. It's effective, but it looks like shit.
Watchful, kind eyes that wouldn't know a sign or a trick if it lit their ass on fire hoping just to make it through a shift without incident, nights punctuated in a huge sigh of relief that makes me fill with shame at what edge they must live on.
Fragility instilled through love, crafted into a tangible flaw that is now woven into my very core. The one thing I can't shake. The one thing I'm told they will never see me without. My shadow. Handle with care, but if you shake me you hear the broken glass inside. Maybe it's too late.
One single plea to let it go. To forget time, to forget history, to forget who we're supposed to be and just be. Without pink pills or therapy or supervised free time or baggage or any other goddamn thing. Just let it go. Just for one moment. Just breathe in the cold air. Just close your eyes.
Just get picked up and dunked into the deep snow on the front lawn. Headfirst.
Maybe it was necessary and it had the desired effect. It broke the ice I keep frozen around my soul and it led to a heart to heart talk that contained the one biggest conversation we haven't really ever had.
The Apology Conversation. The one that's required for Ben to eradicate his inner demons, become a better person and deepen our friendship back to the way it used to be. He is obviously in the lead here. He's surprisingly had this conversation with everyone except for me, because I scare the living daylights out of him. Anyone who tells you I am intimidating has to be lying but I somehow understand.
But last night gave him courage and he just started blurting things out. Excuses and then retractions and then more excuses and finally it came pouring out in a muddle of I'm sorries and I love yous that had me sitting quietly for a moment playing it all back hoping I had heard it properly.
And then I looked up at him, I looked at him sitting there shaking like a leaf, pale and somber, uncharacteristic, looking less like the frat boy I've had such fun with and more like a man who is trying to straighten up his life and I smiled at him. I told him I forgave him and I know how hard he has worked to attend his meetings and be clean and fight his way back into my good graces and win back my trust.
He has my emotional trust but it all hinges on physical trust. Something he had in spades once, a long time ago when he helped me change my clothes around a sling and so many broken bones but something that vanished the night he got drunk and came looking for me. Something we have worked to build back and something he won't ever mess with again. I have to trust him in order to spend any time with him. He stands just a little bit shy of Jacob's height, one of the reasons he wasn't afraid of Jacob and would go down fighting any time. Except Ben doesn't have the same grace. Ben is all elbows and shoulderblades and cheekbones and flashing eyes and inexcusable energies. Ben is dark. Ben is passionate about all the wrong things and always overstepping his boundaries, and so his size makes him a threat by default. Or it did anyway. It doesn't anymore. Whatever desperation, whatever place in his head he existed through last year is gone now, never to return.
He's a lot like me. Flawed. Making mistakes but refusing to be crushed by them. Maybe he's my best friend now at last, maybe he always was, maybe it wasn't Cole that he had so much in common with. Maybe he's smart enough to backpedal and ease off and disappear at the perfect moment when we're too close and too familiar and too grateful for the company close at hand. He's not the bad guy. He's my friend. It's too easy for me to dump on him. If you don't know him in person you might hate him and that's not fair.
After that conversation, an offer for him to stay the night in the guest room (still! with the LOCKED DOOR at the end of the hall for those of you who think I'm awful and am doing things I shouldn't be) was on the tip of my tongue but he got up, grabbed his coat and scarf and then grabbed me in a hug and said he had a very good day and he felt better than he had in a very long time and he was happy to have a fresh start with me.
And he went the hell home.
Just like a good elephant should.
Of course it won't make sense. Ruth has been up throwing up now since midnight and is finally asleep again. I have four loads of laundry and a long day ahead of me. I'm allowed to not make sense.