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A Matter of Minutes

Again she yells at me for making us late. Late is situational. But no matter how you spin it, today nothing I have done has resulted in us being late. This girl, the girl I love, is scowling. I match her scowl with my own, and the feeling is not entirely false. We will reach our destination, and we will reach it more than thirty minutes early. However, because of a slight hesitation, it is as though I have held up our expedition months from our target.

I sigh yet again, and let pass last week, where she cursed my existence for making her a few minutes early. We arrived at the same time we always do. A friend once told me, you do not argue with someone who thinks they’re right, because in effect they are. Logical and illogical do not matter in a screaming contest.

“If you had just been outside” she rebukes, “on the porch, all packed, door locked, ready to jump in, this wouldn’t happen.” She would have me wait on the highway as well, and jump in to her car as she cruised past.

“How much time would that save?” I retort, every time. Every time, my face is deadpan.

“That’s not the point. I already have to go out of my way to pick you up, the least you can do is be ready.”

I try to point out that I was ready; that by her definition of ‘out of the way’, for me to be ‘on’ her way, I would have to live on a northbound median strip. My words are dry leaves caught in a frigid November wind. Try as they might to reach the stone, they can’t even reach it. They end up in a gutter, cast aside with the other thoughts, arguments and confessions. Feelings that are unwanted, and unseen, by the rushed girl I love, as she barrels down the highway at a brisk 50 MPH. I look at the clock and hold back the words that would cause those dead leaves to spark up like kindling. Even if we were to be late, I’m the one who suffers.

“You’re looking at a problem of hours, but you’re thinking in seconds,” I say, rolling the window up and looking to the stack of books in my lap. I leave it at that, hoping she’ll puzzle out the meaning after I am out of her car.

When I get out of the vehicle, I fear that she does get the implication. I fear that when she does, this girl I love will finally stop going out of her way.

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An Awful Undertaking 

 

I couldn’t be sympathetic in this.

                “I don’t want to, and I can’t believe I have to rush home in traffic to go to a damn church.”

Then why are you going? I want to ask. Why are you still doing any of this? I want to yell that. But I sigh and stroke my chin instead. I look at the mirror outside the window, then at the road zooming underneath us. I fidget in my seat and try to look anywhere but at the steering wheel. Anywhere but her hands. Anywhere but her finger, with its fly-sized, tumorou,s rock banded around it. Always my eyes return to it.

                I had heard every doubt, fear, apprehension and uncertainty. And I had listened and feigned interest.   School and work was one thing; those I can empathize with. But as she sat there, whining about her troublesome engagement to the passionless rich kid, my ears were closed and my heart was cold. The pretense of apathy was the most I could do for this girl, the girl that I love. Then why did you say yes? I mouth the words. Every day I mouth those words, hoping to scream them at her, as though giving them to her were some great imperative. But I can never manage to utter them.

                I take a deep breath, and mess with my cellphone. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see her frowning at me. The words sink back into my bowels again.

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Kelil Stephanos

April 2010

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