(This happened during downtime as sort of an interview-slash-session-zero for a new player to replace a player who’d dropped out. The new character is an elf cleric whose backstory has him running an apothecary on the side, specializing in reviving the dead. There were dice rolls involved, but I was not privy to any of them since this was all done on Discord. The whole party was listening, but the rest of us had our mics muted. All kibitzing was done in the OOC text channel, but I’m omitting that here since neither participant was reading it at the time.)
DM: You see what appears to be a construct approaching. *Dice roll.* I’m just going to go ahead and give you that it’s an Inevitable.
Cleric: Marut, I’m guessing?
(Note: Inevitables are construct outsiders who are built to enforce universal laws; Maruts specialize in dealing with people who cheat death.)
DM: Very good. Do you try to run or attack?
Cleric: Nah, I’m good. I wait for it to approach.
DM: *Raises a brow.* Alright, then. *Clears his throat and does a creditable Michael Dorn impression for the Marut’s voice.* “You are Taviel Andaris.” Statement, not question, by the way.
Cleric: “I am. What brings… I would ask what brings you to my apothecary, but I think I already know.”
DM: “If you expect the charges against you, then you already know of your crime. You stand accused of denying death its due. To date you have resurrected four hundred and seventeen people…”
Cleric: “Um, four hundred twenty-two. It was a busy week last week.”
DM: *Without missing a beat.* “…Four hundred and twenty-two people. My programming is to stop this from happening again. Your options…”
Cleric: “Defying death? Um. Not guilty, actually.” Not rolling a bluff check, I’m not bluffing.
DM: Fine by me, I’m still rolling sense motive. *Dice roll.* The Marut looks profoundly dubious. “You not only confessed to your crime, you corrected my outdated count. You have already admitted guilt.”
Cleric: “I did no such thing. Yes, I specialize in resurrections; no, I am not guilty of keeping anyone from the grave.”
DM: …I think I see where you’re going with this, but the Marut won’t. “Your arguments are irrreconcilable. My programming is to stop this from happening again. Your options are to accept a geas or to be destroyed.”
Cleric: “If you wish to place a geas on me to prevent me from, as you phrased it, denying death its due, then you are welcome to do so. It will not affect my business or business practices.”
DM: The Marut looks sort of bemused. “You do understand what a geas is, correct?”
Cleric: “I can cast them, myself — and break them. I would not need to break yours to continue my business.”
DM: *Dice roll, snort.* It’s not happy with that answer.
Cleric: *Laughs!* I can make it a lot unhappier, but I’m not set up for this kind of a one-on-one fight. “Let me explain myself. How much do you know about my business besides the resurrection count?”
DM: *Dice roll.* It scowls at you. “I will allow this, but be brief.”
Cleric: “Let me rephrase that question, actually: How many people have I granted immortality?”
DM: *Snickers.* I stand corrected, that’s not where I thought you were going with this. It doesn’t like that answer, but it doesn’t move. “You have granted no one immortality.”
Cleric: “And how many people have I brought back to life who were not killed by old age or disease?”
DM: *Dice roll.* It gives you a triumphant look at that. “Three.”
Cleric: Shit. Um. “Those were deliberately administered diseases with the intent of killing the victims, two from traps and one that was later successfully tried as a murder case. They can not be considered natural deaths.”
DM: Nice save! *Dice roll.* I’ll allow that.
DM: “Discounting that, you have resurrected no one who has died of natural causes.”
Cleric: “Then how have I cheated death? It’s natural and even more inevitable than you are. I’ve only postponed it so that…” What was that number again, anyway, four-twenty-two?
DM: Uh, I think so, yeah; close enough.
Cleric: “…So that four hundred twenty-two people could have a chance to finish lives that would otherwise have been cut short. I firmly maintain my not-guilty plea.” And I put my hands on my hips and glare up at it.
DM: It glares right back at you. “Your arguments are based on a technicality.”
Cleric: *Defiantly.* “No. Your charges are based on a technicality. My clients will all die. Eventually. I cannot change that.”
DM: “Your answers have satisfied my programming. You are free to go. But be aware: You actions will be monitored intently.” *Laughs.* I hate you. That was supposed to be the start of a fight that I was going to get the rest of the party in on for our next session. You just broke how I was supposed to introduce you all. …Who the hell even tries to out-lawyer a god-damned Inevitable in their own area of expertise, anyway…?
apple, producing the classic new moon with a face. he has such a smooth face, with baby like skin, and eyes as deep as the ocean, its hard to not get lost in his forever gaze. if you stare too long though, you will swear you can feel his human lips brush against your ear. 7/10
google’s interpretation is very friendly, welcoming. his big round nose reminds me of a papa cartoon character, and is, therefore, very easy on the eyes and lovable. although the eyes are a tad blank, and frightful. 6/10
microsoft takes an interesting take on the moon - it appears to look more like a stale cookie, or like spongebob’s parents. his feline type nose throws me off… hes throwing mixed signals… this is not a moon, but a beast of the night, taunting, lurking. 4/10
samsung… oh samsung… what did you do? you’ve turned microsofts cookie moon beast into a cgi monster, with soft features, similar to that of apple’s. maybe this would be better if he didn’t have those patronized glints in his eyes. 3/10
LG has taken an interesting turn. this moon is… curious… and content, but you can clearly see the pain behind his eyes. his eyes are deep. lurking. a man of mystery. 5/10
what a happy face!! i feel delighted to see this moon on my screen. he is doing great, but not quite giving off the look that this emoji is supposed to represent. he is wonderful though anyways. 8/10.
what an interesting buddy! Facebook has taken a different path, while taking time to accentuate each and every crevice and curve of this moon’s surface. a beautiful boy, with caressing eyes. 7/10
a very calm moon. i feel calm looking at it. it is doing a wonderful job on conveying the night times sleep appeal. it is not doing a great job as the original emoji purposes, but is conveying a different emotion entirely. what a beautiful and intricate boy. a work of art. 10/10
i didn’t think there could be a better moon emoji than the original, but i stand corrected. what a 🌚 emoji. the empty stare takes the cake. 7/10
mozilla does a nice job at creating a unique yet form fitting moon face emoji. nothing to call home about though. he looks too eager to be here… what is he planning… 4/10
… an… interesting… take… terrifying, yes. calming, also yes. i’m not sure how to feel about the immense detail upon this ones face. a solid 5/10 should be okay… although i know that i should give this emoji a higher rating, or else it will come to me tonight and look at me through the window, open mouthed breathing, gently fogging up the window glass around it.
SWEET CHRIST ALLMIGHTLY WHAT THE FUCKING HELL IS THYIS. THIS IS NOT A MOON I CAN TRUST. THIS IS NOT A MOON I CAN RETAIN EYE CONTACT WITH. 0/10!!!!
The key to love, my father told me, was to never love someone more than they love you. So when, after dating for five months, Christopher Moore was the first to say “I Love You”, I thought I had hit the “Love Jackpot”. I say this because, prior to him saying it at that very moment, I had never given thought to the possibility that I could love him in return. Standing in front of my apartment building, nervous and excited, facing him and his smile, I questioned whether love was the word to describe what I was feeling. High school love, after all, is quite trivial with it’s ins and outs. Nevertheless after weighing the theoretical pros and cons of love, I decided that I was in love, at least in some respects. He was handsome, smart, sweet, and I enjoyed his company. This is what I believed love boiled down to; four factors. Honesty, clearly, was something I overlooked. About a year and 7 months into our blissful love affair, after graduation had passed and we had spent the summer taking all the cliché couple pictures, Chris decided that he “just couldn’t go on lying to me anymore. “Jenine” he told me “this guilt is eating me alive!”. I imagine there wasn’t much of him left, as it had been “eating away at him” for 6 months. This is when I learned that there is no “key” to love; no guide, no tips, no 101 course, because love is lived and learned; never taught. Try as you may, to forgo the pain of love, you’ll find joy in knowing that it’s survive-able and moreover, sometimes the good outweighs the bad. No, Chris wasn’t the love of my life, but he gave life to my ability to love.
“Never” my father said “let love override your faculty of reason.” Easier said, than done. My next love was Jeremy Bishop. Before you ask, of course there were others between Chris and Jeremy. But this is a story about love; not “almost loves”,“semi loves”, and “could’ve beens”. Jeremy’s love was the worst kind of love. The kind that doesn’t have a reason to exist but somehow it does and you’re glad. Its sole purpose is to debilitate your mind, forcing you to follow only your emotions. While Jeremy was dreamy, I learned that the man of your dreams can sometimes be the root of your nightmares.
I met Jeremy my junior year at _________ University. It was a Sunday and I had been studying in the library for an anthropology midterm and decided that I would take a break. Putting my highlighter down & flexing my hand I stood up & headed towards the bathroom. As I walked through the stacks, passing my hand across the rows of books I’d never read, my friend Denise spotted me and waved me over. Walking swiftly I made my way to the table she was stationed it & gathered that she had been studying all day as all. Splayed papers, open textbooks, two highlighters, & her laptop with several window open screamed “cram session” to me. After having sat & talked for some time about school & it’s “scammagry”, I noticed that someone had taken a seat at the end of the table. You know those typical movies where two people look up at the same time & smile coyly at one another? Well that’s what happened with us…….minus the smiling. When Jeremy & I caught eyes it was more of an inquisitive stare down. I relented because who really stares at a stranger for lengths at a time? Apparently Jeremy does because every time I looked up he was looking at me or perhaps through me. Whatever the case was I asked Denise if she could “Excuse me for one second?” as I got up from my seat and sauntered over to Jeremy, running my fingernails along the wooden table that both separated and joined us.
He was brown skinned but it was a rich brown that I often found myself lost in. He had brown hair that was cut low to avoid maintenance & also to spite his mother who so much loved it longer. His eyes were almost black they were so dark, yet you never asked someone to hit the lights when staring into them. He had a slight dimple on the right side of face that only presented itself in the presence of his mother, its creator.
“I know you or something?” I said, to which he looked up & responded “No you don’t. But since you’re already here, I’m Jeremy. Nice to meet you….” he said moving his hand in that circular waiting motion “this is usually the part where you tell me your name”. He was sarcastic & forthcoming and I liked it. “This is usually the part when I’d say Jenine. My name is Jenine. Though I’m not sure it’s nice to meet you.” “Well Jenine, do you have HIST 256 on Mondays & Thursdays? I think that’s where I’ve seen you before.” “Well Jeremy, had I known you were a stalker I would’ve stayed at the other end of the table” “A stalker Jenine? Really? I think you’re mistaking my keen eye for details.” “I stand corrected then. I just had no idea I was noticeable to your "keen eye”, I said, making air quotes. He leaned in & said, “Maybe Jenine, just maybe there’s a lot of things you don’t know. I’d be happy to fill you in though. If you were ever free.” “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me, Jeremy, that you’re asking me out.” “It seems that way, because it is that way. But enough with this, would you be interested in going out?” “I’ll contemplate it.”
A week later Jeremy picked me up in his beat up silver 2010 Toyota Corolla. Got out & offered to close the door for me not because he was a gentleman but because I literally couldn’t close it myself. He told me he wanted to show me his favorite place in all of Brooklyn. We drove for about 15 mins and parked in DUMBO; my favorite place. As we walked to the pier he barraged me with every menial question from favorite color to top five movies. I stopped his questioning because I realized I knew nothing about him. “What about you?” I said. “Tell me something I don’t know about you.” “I’m a Taurus. Now back to you.” “Your sign. You gave me the third degree and in return you tell me your astrological sign??” “I’m really not that interesting. I kind of just go with the flow nothing special really.” “I could say the same about myself but you don’t see me spewing monotonous facts about myself” “That’s just it though. You’re very interesting. I see you twice a week & you never look the same to me. Always a different hairstyle, new lipstick, different outfit. You keep me guessing & well…I like that.” “Different outfit…Did you expect me to have the same clothes on like a cartoon character?”
Jeremy took my clothes off the way he took down my walls; slowly & intently. I never felt exposed or vulnerable. It was easy with him & who doesn’t like easy? The first time we had sex he kissed every scar and stretch mark on my body while he whispered beautiful and for the first time I believed it. This is when I knew I loved him; this is when I knew he loved me. We fell into a routine & inevitably, that’s how we fell apart. We saw each other four-five times a week in between work, school & our respective friends. I’d meet him after work or he’d meet me after class, we’d get some food or I’d cook, we’d talk, then go back to his dorm room or my house & somewhere in between there we’d fuck once or twice & that would be that. Talk, Eat, Fuck, Repeat. This, I should inform you, was the foundation for our dismantling. Jeremy grew tired of our monotony, I suppose, & because of that he started talking to a female customer who had “just so happened” to frequent his job. In talking they “just so happened” to find they had “so much in common” & somehow Jeremy’s dick “just so happened” to be in her mouth when I walked into his dorm room to get the spare phone charger I left there just in case. “Oh Mahh Gahhhh” is what Celeste said with his dick slighty tucked to the left side of her mouth because it wouldn’t have been polite to pull it out all together; though I’m sure there was no God she could ever call her own. Startled yet surprisingly indifferent I found my charger in the first drawer of his night stand now decoratively arrayed with ripped condom wrappers and I closed the door behind me.
Walking out of the apartment I didn’t feel anything but when I reached the stairs it hit me and when Jeremy came running out of his room, pulling his boxers up I looked up at him from the top stair I was sitting on & hit him right in the groin. “Shit! Ahh! Damn, J! Come on!” he winced . “Come on?? Excuse me?!? You’re such a fucking dickhead. Like what the fuck?” “I know. I know. I’m sorry babe. You gotta believe me! I swear it’ll never happen again.” & that’s what I wanted to believe after all; that this was just a bump along our road; that we could get through this because we could get through anything. So when Jeremy crouched down in front of me, put his hand under my chin, looked me right in the eye and told me he was “so sorry”, that he “really loved me”, that he was “mad stupid for doing that” I believed him & gave us another chance because I wasn’t ready to admit failure.
Celeste Soto was the average full figured broad who just “couldn’t help” falling for other women’s boyfriends, husbands, fiancés, you name it. Walking back into his room, I found her putting her left shoe on with one hand on his desk for balance. “You gotta believe mama” she said “I didn’t know he even had a girl. You feel me? I wouldn’t have done anything with him. Thas crazy disrespectful. My bad.” as she adjusted her bra strap and pulled her hair into a messy bun. Turning slighty towards Jeremy, I looked at him as if to say “really?!? THIS was the best you could do??” and he lowered his head, and stared at this one spot on the carpet that he could never get out. Not only had Jeremy cheated but he chose the lowest of women to do it with. “First of all, I’m not one of your friends so I don’t know why you’re calling me "mama” & no I don’t “feel” you nor do I intend to. Get your shit and get out!“ When she was gone I searched the apartment for remnants of her presence, prior to that days visit. An earring, a hair tie, maybe a lip balm. I found nothing or maybe I wasn’t really looking.
For eight months straight Jeremy was on his BEST behavior. He’d let me know where he was at all times as to ensure that he wasn’t out cheating; send pictures as proof on some occasions. I have to admit, though I was secure in his whereabouts, I was also sure that this was not how healthy relationships works. Nevertheless I looked forward to each notification because afterall "once a cheater……"you know the rest. One night I went over to his place to cook dinner, partially to ensure he wouldn’t be feeding Celeste or any other girl his penis but also because this is what I missed most about us. I had become so preoccupied with deciding whether or not I could trust him that I wasn’t concerned with trying to make us seem normal. After dinner we were in his bed tearing at each other’s clothes & after switching positions five times he looked down at me & said "I can’t do this”. Looking back at him I said “it’s cool I wasn’t feeling it either honestly”. “Not this” he said falling to my side, facing the ceiling “I mean like this….us”. Somehow though I knew that was what he had meant. This ball of something akin to both fear & anger welled up in my throat & grew until finally all I could say was “oh”. One tear fell from my eye & couldn’t allow myself to shed another. “This whole time” he said getting up from the bed “I wasn’t with you because I wanted to be. I was with you because I didn’t want to let you down.” He was pacing back & front at the foot of the bed, lifting his hands to his head then retracting them, looking over at me occasionally for assurance of my understanding. So he continued "I couldn’t let your last image of me be somebody who betrayed you. I had to prove you wrong & that’s selfish. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be in a relationship I’m not fully committed to. It isn’t fair to either of us J & you can hate me but I’d rather you hate me for being honest.” “Is this a joke? Please tell me you’re kidding right now” I said, half laughing half crying. “Let me get this straight” I said, sitting upright in his bed, pulling my shirt over my head “You cheated…..You lied…..YOU fucked up….You begged for another chance!…and my stupid ass gave you one. I’m just so lost right now.” This is when I realized I never should have sat on those steps & cried. I should’ve ran out of that building like it was on fire because guys like him will always burn you.
Some nights I could still hear his footsteps pacing the floor & I’d wonder when in the hell it would be over. When I’d stop crying; when I’d realize I was better off without him. But there’s this moment & I know it sounds cliche but you just wake up & you feel different you feel like you can begin again. One morning I woke up and knew Jeremy would never have a hold on me the way he did before, but more importantly I didn’t want him to.
The thing about baggage is that you never realize how much of it you carry around. In fact you assume that more often than not you don’t carry any at all because you’re “over it” or you’ve “moved on”. You’ll find yourself compromising because you just want someone to call at night; that wants only you. “Trust me.” my mother said “There will be others and don’t think that you have to look for them or that you have to settle.” My mother had a way with words. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing but the fact remains that when she said those words to me I wished she had kept her opinion to herself. I would never settle…..or at least I didn’t think I would.
I knew I didn’t love Benjamin the first time he came inside me & I wished I had never come to his apartment, let alone into his room splayed with dirty laundry that he was “gonna get to”. More importantly I knew I couldn’t love Benjamin, not the way I wanted to at least, when he told me I’m just like my mother. This sounds stupid I know, but let me explain.
After a week of working overtime, my best friend Selene dragged me out of my apartment for a night of bar hopping. Upon walking into our third stop, Benjamin grabbed my hand & told me I was pretty. That was it. There was no drawn out conversation, no playing hard to get, it was very low stakes. I gave him my number & before I got to the next bar he had called & asked when he could see me again. “Tomorrow” I said.
The next evening Benjamin showed up at my apartment with no plan other than to show up. We decided to see a movie.
The movie we saw doesn’t matter. Neither does the fact that we went to the movies. What matters is that after we left the movies, Benjamin grabbed both my hands & kissed me. When he stopped & I looked up at him he said “You taste like stale popcorn”. I thought “what the fuck?” & then he reminded me that we shared a popcorn. Our entirely relationship was like this; constant reminders of things I should have been aware of.
Ben was different from Jeremy because he never lied to me. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s a good thing though. His honesty was one that I had to grow accustomed to. We had been dating for about two months, when I called him asking if he wanted to get dinner later & he simply replied “no”. No explanation, no rain check, no apology; he just hung up. Later he’d text me & say that we should get breakfast instead the next day because he liked being the first person I talked to in the morning. He never hid anything from me. Girls would text him, telling him how much they “missed him” how much “fun” they used to have & he’d show me his phone while laughing & ask what I thought he should say in his reply. It was almost inconceivable, how much he included me in his decisions when it came to other women. Co-workers would invite him out to dinner & drinks after work, over to their apartments, concerts & he would ask me, not if he could go (because he was going to do what he wanted regardless) or if I wanted to come with, but how I’d feel if he went it with them. We’d be waiting for our heart rates to drop back to normal after sex; our skin still dewy and tingling and he’d say “the last time was better” or “you faked it, but that’s cool” as he got up and ambled to the bathroom & I’d wonder if he had to be so honest with me all the time.
I woke up one day to him sitting at my kitchen table in just some sweatpants, signing a card. Next to him there was a huge bouquet of sunflowers. I walked over to him, fixing my bed hair into a bed bun & when I sat down he was startled. “I didn’t think you’d be up this early” he said & I looked over at the clock on microwave. “It’s after 11……does that even count as early?” I said. He looked up at me, then at the clock, then back at me & shrugged “I guess not”. I asked “Who’s the card for?” & as he sealed it, he handed to me & said “Happy Anniversary Sweetness” with no inflection. My face dropped to the floor, along with the card. “An anniversary?” I thought “have we really been dating a year? Maybe it’s like a six month anniversary? But that’s not even an anniversary!” After a few mental “Fuck!!”’s, I pulled myself together, awkwardly smiled as I picked up the card & opened it. It had been a year since I moved into my own place. In the card he wrote about how happy he was for me; that he knew how big of a deal it was for me to live on my own & he wanted me to know that it was just as important to him. I cried out of relief. He thought I was overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness, primarily because as I closed the card, hugged him, wiped my tears and sniffled into his neck, I whispered “Thank you. This means a lot.”. One year of independence; something I should have been aware of.
The first time he told me he loved me, I opened my mouth to respond & he placed his index finger on my parted lips. “Stop” he said. “Not everything I say deserves or should be met with a response Jenine. I love you. That’s it.” I of course flew into defense. “So I can’t say it back? I can’t love you in return? What kind of bullshit is that Ben? You can’t just say something like that & expect me not to say anything back.” “I never said you can’t say anything back. But think about it baby, I said I love you & your first instinct was to respond. You didn’t even really take the moment in. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t want you to love me back because I love you. I want you to love me because you actually love me.” I felt little, like a child, like I had been put in my place, handled, dealt with, but I wouldn’t let him know. “You’re such an asshole sometimes” I said “but that Benjamin, for your information, is why I love you. Because you’re only an asshole sometimes”.
There are two important things I remember from when I broke up with Ben:
1. It was raining.
2. He told me I should’ve ended us a long time ago.
I came back to the apartment from the gym. As I shook my umbrella walking through the door, Ben sauntered by in his usual attire, house sweats and no shirt, saying “You must love mopping.” in a condescending tone. I happily returned the tone saying “Definitely. I just love it! Can’t get enough.” as I rolled my eyes and the umbrella up, fastening it shut. I walked over to the kitchen & checked the fridge. All that was left was this chicken Parmesan “thing” I had attempted to make three days earlier & it looked like a big pile of mush at that point. I chucked it & decided that take out sounded good. I had a taste for some pad thai so the choice was easy. Picking up my phone & dialing the number I thought it might be a good idea to ask Ben what he wanted but I figured he’d eat whatever I ordered him. So I made the call, ordered Chicken Pad Thai and another peanut sauce dish with shrimp, and hung up. As soon as my phone had ended the call, Benjamin started an argument. “Why would you order food without asking me what I wanted?” he asked me walking out of the bedroom and I replied “I ordered food for us both. No need to say thank you”. He walked towards the window to look out but really it was all dramatics because our window looks directly at the alley behind our building that holds nothing but two dumpsters and a few forgotten cats. “Why would I say thank you to you for doing something I never asked you to do?” he said with his back turned to me “Sometimes” he scoffed, almost laughing, as he looked at the rain collect in the window sill. “Sometimes I don’t get you. Like after all this time you still do shit that irritates me and I wonder why the fuck I still want to lay next to you at night or wake up with you in the morning.” I was sitting on the sofa, absentmindedly playing with the tag on this pillow I bought two years before when he & I had just started dating. He told me the pattern on it reminded him of us; that the lines never intersected. They just changed direction. “Nobody is holding you here Ben. You can leave anytime you’d like.” I said as I picked up the remote & turned on the television.
Thirty-five minutes later I was annoyed that the food hadn’t arrived but also because Ben never left the window. He just stayed there staring at the rain while it sheeted down the window screen and when thunder roared he’d just sigh. “What could be taking this food so long? The place isn’t even that far.” I complained. “It’s the rain Jenine. Everything slows when it rains. People, cars, buses, trains, bikes, they all slow.” He paused “You also might want to factor in the idea that a bunch of people order take out on a night like this.” I answered back “I knew that!……why are you always telling me things as if I don’t know them? As if I’m not aware? It’s just annoying. You’re annoying.” Ben walked away from the window & towards the kitchen counter. He planted his two hands palm down on the counter, hoisted himself up to sit on it, looked at me & said “Maybe it’s not me that annoys you Jenine. Maybe you can’t admit that I’m ever fucking right! I can’t ever make a point without you saying “I knew that!”. If you knew it Jenine…..then why would you say half the shit you say or do half the shit you do.“ I paused the lifetime movie I had been somehow become invested in and pressed a metaphorical "play” on the scene that was unfolding in our living room. “I don’t know Ben. Maybe you’re right” I replied as I sat up, crossed my legs and interlaced my fingers over my knee. “Maybe I can’t handle the fact that you make valid points. Or perhaps it’s the fact that you can’t ever let me be wrong without making me look like a complete ass. You’re always so philosophical. "Oh thee "all knowing Ben!” Ohh he who knows more than anyone!“ I mocked. "It’s insulting. For someone who is just so wise you damn sure don’t know how to do your own fucking laundry, or wash a dish, or aim your penis directly into the bowl when you pee. Stop with the bullshit. We both have our faults.” My phone rang. The food was downstairs.
I threw on my worn out flip flops and shuffled down the 3 flights of stairs. Walking back into the apartment with food in hand, I saw that Ben had returned to the window. He walked over to the kitchen counter where I was standing, taking the food out of the brown paper bag & said “You said your ordered me food.” “I just ordered two things off the menu. I figured we’d just share.” I reasoned. “Right I get that but I don’t like peanuts. You know that. Don’t you? I’ve told you this. I’m sure I have as we’ve been together give or take I don’t know 2 & half years!” “Dammit! I whispered to myself. "I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking & I was hungry & I’m…..sorry. I’m just sorry.” “It’s fine” he said. “I should’ve just picked something up on the way home. It isn’t the first time you’ve done something like this. You’re like your mother in that way.” “Like my mother? All of this over some take out? Listen, good luck with dinner.” I said as I grabbed a plastic fork at the bottom of the bag & headed back to the sofa. “Yeah, like your mother.” he continued, following me. “You’re always complaining that she never listens to you; that you have to remind her of things you’ve already told her. Yet, here you are never listening to me. It’s not even about the apology. It’s that I just don’t think you’re really sorry at all.” he retorted. “Fair enough.” I said, putting my food down on the coffee table. “You wanna know what I’m really sorry about Ben? Huh? Fine. I’m sorry I moved in with you. I’m sorry I’ve been in this relationship for this long because we’ll never be good enough for one another. You know that right? We’re always going to be like this Ben.” I said, pointing at the pace between with both hands. “It’s never going to be enough that we love each other. There’s gotta be more to love than whatever the fuck we’re doing. I just don’t think this is healthy. I don’t think we’re growing here. Do you?”. “Now that J…that’s the most honest thing you’ve said to me. You’re always saying what you think I want to hear and that’s my problem with you. You never say what the hell you want because you think too much about it. We are growing, it’s just apart from one another.” He sighed, finally saying “Look, I’m tired.” as he walked exhaustedly back towards the bedroom, on an empty stomach & closed the door behind him. I couldn’t figure out if he meant he was tired of us, of the arguing, of never really getting back to how we were or if he was honestly tired.
I slept on the sofa & I use the term “slept” very lightly. What I really did was stare at the ceiling, trying to figure out if this was really it for Ben & I. If that was our last real conversation; if that even counted as a conversation. I planned out what I’d say in the morning after we’d both had time to think & reflect. I’d tell him I was sorry about going off & that it’s not that I don’t want to try to make it work but that I don’t even think trying is worth an actual try. I thought about it & felt like the whole relationship was a perpetual “try”. We’d just kept getting up, dusting each other off, & holding hands until we’d fall again thinking it didn’t matter because we’d fallen together. How many times do you have to fall before you realize that perhaps it isn’t the ground that’s tripping you up? That it might just be you. Do you have to scrape your knees a few times or fall flat on your face? How do you know when you’ve had enough?
I laid there falling in & out of sleep. I had this weird dream that I was baking a cake. I kept checking on it. Ben was there but he didn’t really say much. Finally I took it out of the oven & it was burnt around the edges. He shuffled over to the stovetop & looked at the cake with a somber face. “I told you it was done 10 minutes ago. You should’ve taken it out.” he said & I just stared at him blankly because he was right. I turned the pan over and the cake popped out. I let it cool, frosted it and cut a piece. Jeremy hunched over the counter top and watched me put the cake on a plate with confusion. “You’re just going to eat a burnt cake?” he questioned me. I had just taken my first bite and was going in for a second when I looked up at him and said “It still tastes good so what’s the difference?”. “The difference, Jenine, is that you know the whole cake doesn’t taste good. Only certain parts do. Why don’t you just throw it out and make another one?” he said walking over to the cake, lifting the plate up at different points and angles to get a good look at it. It was as though he was wondering how the frosting did anything but make the cake look even sadder. I licked the last bit of frosting off my fork and said “Because, burnt or not burnt, I still love cake.”
I woke up to a sliver of sunlight shining through the living room across the floor & stopping right at the front door. I sat up & checked the time. It was 7:06. I decided I’d go to the bedroom and get some real rest. I stood up & stumbled towards the bedroom. As soon as I reached the door, Ben was coming out of the room. He was dressed & had 2 bags with him not including the backpack he’d never leave the house without. All of the things I had planned on saying were forgotten. I could barely see straight, let alone gather the words I wanted to say. He looked at me then said “Sorry. Can I just get by?”. “Sure!” I blurted out as I moved to the left, almost jumping. He walked towards the front door & I asked “Umm can at least ask where you’re going?”. He stopped moving and turned, telling me “I thought about what you said J. About us not being enough for one another. I guess I just always thought it would work itself out. But I see what you mean. I don’t know the exact moment when you came to that conclusion, or maybe you decided it, but you should’ve ended us then instead of now. So I’m leaving. I guess I’ll pick up the rest of my stuff over the next couple of weeks.”. That’s it. He was gone. Whatever he had left, the “stuff” he mentioned, was never picked up. They were minuscule items really; a toothbrush, some body wash, a value pack of razors. Things that made you think of him, even though they were all replaceable. It didn’t take long for me to realize that much like the burnt cake, I still loved Ben.