October 22, 2005

Langston Alone

By BG © 2005

I let her go with everything I had left, which is to say, it took next-to-nothing to let her go. It was a moment that was dry, devoid of subtext and utterly clinical - at least on my end.

It's ridiculous in a way to use two simple letters, "IT," to refer to the singular moment of my adult life when everything stopped swinging, spinning, or twisting itself up in my head, but there it was. I had known for months that she had been cheating on me, I even knew with whom it was happening, not that I knew the guy. It was enough to know, and if I wasn't retreating from her steadily before that point, it was happening then. Steadily.

I had even broken through from "I miss you" to "I'll remember you" weeks before I told her I was leaving. As a matter of fact, the exact words I used the day I left were, "I'm leaving now." I spoke them calmly, softly, and without adornment. She returned to me a look which at that instant I couldn't read. In her eyes was some mixture of puzzlement, understanding, relief, sadness, and joy, the quantities of which were fluctuating by the second. Despite my confusion, she had never before been so nakedly honest with herself in front of me, which should have depressed me even further.

"I'm leaving now."

"I know... What do you know?" It was a legitimate question. I knew about Scott, knew about the cover stories her friends were providing, knew about the emails and the instant messaging. I knew he professed to love her, that she was steeling herself for the moment she felt right about leaving, and that for six months and probably longer she thought I was oblivious. I knew she had misread my seeming ambivalence.

"Enough. Scott. Everything, I guess. I can't keep this going." I wasn't taunting her with the knowledge, and actually I never did. I was resigned, accepting. Every ounce of vitriol I’d had six months ago when I overheard something I shouldn't have--"I'll tell him I'm out with Kim"--had either been spent or buried, totally alone.

"What exactly do you know about Scott?" She was looking for a fight, one I wasn't about to give her. I was done, I knew enough that I wouldn't trust her again, and knew it was time to go.

"I know enough. Look, I signed a lease on a place and..."

"You what!?! What the fuck Langston?" She was boiling, which was completely in character for her. She wanted to be the one to have things set, to walk away first. It wasn't in my machinations to trump her on that effort, it was simply the point where time and depression had passed the point of silent resignation and had moved me mentally straight into avoidance.

I sighed. I was tired. "I've been moving in slowly over the past couple of weeks, and..."

"Couple of weeks? Goddammit Langston, I knew I couldn't trust you." Another phrase, just trying to bait me into the middle. That was Filet Mignon on a string, but I wasn't hungry.

"I've got what I need, you obviously haven't missed what I've taken so far, and I loaded up the rest tonight. Our lease here runs out end of next month. Rent's paid, and I've left you a check made out to Two Men and a Truck to help you move. It should be plenty. Everything left in here is yours." She was searching me quietly, trying to find something to build on. I could see her run through the options, seeing if she could taunt me into an argument, cry me into shared tears, or run the guilt-trip from her old Catholic school playbook.

"Fuck you Langston."

"Good luck Marnie, I'm sorry this didn't work out." I turned for the door, stopping to grab the duffel bag at the end of the couch.

"Fucking pussy. Yeah, run away! You're no man! Why the fuck do you think I've been fucking Scott for almost a year now? You couldn't give me..." I never turned around, shut the door behind me, and climbed into my car feeling just horrifyingly empty.

Should I be crying? Pounding the dashboard with my fists cursing the fucking slut that ruined my life? I didn't know where people found those moments in their life, where passion was the only motivating factor driving their actions. I remember my grandfather's funeral, Italian, from "The Old Country." I sat stoically next to Marnie as she dabbed tears from her eyes. I saw my great-aunts, enormously sturdy women built for the men of the iron mines they loved and outlasted, throw themselves on the mercy of God with insurmountable rage in one instant, only to be shaken to their foundation, knocked prone with their weeping jags of sorrow in the next. I used to tease my grandfather about his mob ties, an absurd notion considering his three decades hauling iron ore from the depths of the earth in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. My dad, his son, had passed when I was young, so unofficially I became his son by proxy. We talked every week, I brought him down for holidays, and he quickly became the only relative of mine Marnie could stand.

I loved my grandfather, and felt guilty I wasn't sobbing and trembling, screaming and cursing, something to show I loved him like his sisters did. That I always would.

I never found that inside of me, and I wasn't crying now. I pulled out of the driveway of the duplex my wife and I had shared, and never again came within two blocks of the place I once called home.

BG is a writer from a small hamlet in Western Michigan.

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