Warmth

It starts with the door. Margaret is standing outside. She stares the door down, listening as best she can. She hears a breath. She hears it. She raises her fist. Pauses. Sighs. She hears a clink. Her jaw sets. The fist bares down onto the wood. Nothing. She clenches her jaw. Breaks down. Finally she shouts, “I CAN HEAR YOU IN THERE… WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY IS THIS DOOR LOCKED? WHY CAN’T I GET IN? THIS IS MY ROOM TOO!” Still nothing. She sets her shoulder against the door and begins to slam her body against the frame. The door gives a little but remains shut. And finally, Stephanie snaps inside.

“WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? CAN’T I HAVE SOME PRIVACY SOMETIMES! MAYBE I’M TRYING TO MASTURBATE!”

“WHAT?” Margaret sees red. Blinding rage. She pauses. Breathes. Almost breaks the door with her fists. Thinks erratically of that woman across the street. The one with long, flowing blonde hair and pouty lips. No form to her body she thinks snidely. “Why would you be masturbating when I’m here?” She demands. Tries not to shout. But inside she is throttling Steph with her bare hands. Driving her heartbreak into her lover’s skull.

“THAT’S NOT THE POINT. I NEED PRIVACY SOMETIMES.”

Margaret takes a deep breath. “Why are you being so mean? Is everything okay?” She hears something like an annoyed laugh (or is it a sigh?) through the door. She can’t make out one way or the other as the sound is muffled through the wood that separates them. Like the amber liquid most likely coursing through Steph’s veins at this very moment separates them and tears them asunder.

“I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH IT? YOU KNOW THERE IS A REASON WE WANT THE DOOR TO REMAIN UNLOCKED! YOU WERE DOING IT IN THERE WEREN’T YOU? YOU WERE!”

“I WAS NOT!”

“YES YOU WERE! WE’RE FAMILY! I CAN TELL!”

“HOW? HOW CAN YOU TELL?”

Margaret sighs. “I can smell it. The piss. Through the door.”

“No you can’t. I didn’t do it. So there’s no way you can smell it.”

“What is wrong? You are not sounding like yourself?”

“You’re the one who is not yourself.”

“WILL YOU JUST GET OUT?! I AM AN ADULT. I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.”

“Okay.” Margaret tries not to break down. This has happened many times before she reminds herself. “Be honest. I deserve that. We deserve that.”

“I am honest.”

“You were doing it weren’t you?”

“No.”

“Yes you were. That’s why you locked your door.”

“I don’t think it counts.”

“Well it does.

You need to apologize you know… to us.”

“I know. I will.

I am sorry.

There are no such things as fairy tales.”

“I don’t need a fairy tale. So what if our love is a fable? I love you. Now open this door!”

No response.

The door stays closed.

No more breathing.

No more movement.

No more clinks.

No more nothing.

Margaret stares. The lights are on but the world seems infinitely dark suddenly. “O-open the door?” She pleads through her sudden downfall of tears.

No response.

The light still pours through the crack under the doorframe.

No more sound.

No more movement.

No more…

No more nothing.

“Stephanie… Steph? STEPH?!”

Something shatters. Breaks like the atom bomb going off in the Grand Canyon and Margaret can’t tell if it’s her soul or the vials in the room falling from the dresser. She falls to the floor… Or does she fly? She breaks… Or does she fold?

If you walk and it feels like running… Standing feels like a weight pulling you down… Breathing feels like suffocating but can also feel like peace and freedom… and your mind… it feels like it is being squeezed… stretched thin and feverish… maybe something is dragging you down.

If the memories of the confrontations, the arguments, the lies, the hidden acts… chasing … always chasing… if they make you blush… furrow your brows… ears burn… sadness overtake you… perhaps it’s time you realized you’re a slave to this shit… and do something about it.

Frustration. Disappointment. Embarrassment. All these are yours. Your emblems. They walk with you… follow you everywhere. They are your shadows. The crows follow you. They remind you of angels. But sometimes you wonder… are they simply following you… waiting… cackling to themselves… wondering when the feast will begin… who will be the first to feed on your rotting carcass. Who will have the privilege of pecking your eyes out? The choice is yours. But really is it? Maybe if you had more faith you could do this. But you have faith… maybe it’s just biology you think. Your people would say it’s a decision that you need to make.

Maybe that’s where it all starts and ends? With the lies… the hidden compulsions… the need… the chasing… never willing to ask for help. Then asking for help only to be told you don’t mean it. That you’re just saying you want to stop. That it’s not something you do for someone else. That you have to do it for yourself. Tears form… they always form. Desperation. Confusion. Frustration. Maybe if you were stronger… But you’re not. That’s why you’re a slave to this shit. Sometimes you think… That’s why you always will be.

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