Short Stories, Writing

Salvaging: A One Sided Conversation

So shall I start or do you want to go first? No? How does it work? It’s simple. I tell you everything I am scared of – living, dead or otherwise, and you do the same.


Well, the point is we both feel exposed. It’s all about building trust, about showing each other our vulnerabilities, and in doing so; we get rid of all pretenses and accept each other for what we truly are. I mean, who we truly are. We let go of the shackles of the past, and are reborn as more authentic versions of ourselves. Think of it like a, I don’t know, an iPhone update or something. Like a way of moving on.


Yes your right, I was never very good at technological analogies.


Well, that’s the scary part. We have to trust the other person won’t be repulsed. Listen, I know you are nervous, but I promise everything will be okay. How do I know? Well, didn’t your mother ever tell you everything would be okay? And was she ever wrong? Okay, was she more right then wrong? My mother? You know my mother, she lied. It was an unfortunate affliction of hers…


No, no, you’re quite right. Mothers don’t lie – they protect.


You know it’s funny, on the way here I saw this huge black cat with big yellow eyes, and it looked like… no it’s silly. Promise you won’t laugh? Or titter? Or gruffaw? Promise you won’t bring it up in front of your friends later on tonight, as an example of something cute yet deranged I do? You do! You do it all the time. It’s fine but it makes me feel like, I don’t know, like you think I am putting on an act, or something.


Okay. Sorry. Okay it’s just this huge black beast of a cat came out of a house in front of me, then turned to me, paused, and sat down in the middle of pavement and just stared at me. Just calmly and quietly, stared at me. For the longest time. Like, all the other cats had told it to, just to freak this human out. But it was for five minutes flat it was just kind of…staring at me in this weird sort of awe. And I thought, aren’t cats meant to see, you know ghosts?


Okay, I know, I know, it was just. I was on his street, and I thought…maybe he was trying to say something. No we haven’t started. Don’t look at me like that.


The thing I am afraid of the most? More then anything? I am afraid that scientists will discover you cannot love and hate someone at the same time, so the day I punch and kiss you will go down in history.


You? Your turn? What are you scared of? That you’re selfish? C’mon, everyone is scared of that. Okay, I know it’s not a competition but everyone is a little bit selfish. I agree, some people do have it as a personality trait. A strong personality trait and when they do something selfish their friends do not think it is out of character, they think it is just them, being them. Do I think that about you? No I was thinking about someone else.


I am not saying that I believe in ghosts, but isn’t it weird that the cat was staring at me, like that, right outside his house? Maybe to tell us it was time to, I don’t know, be more like cats.

Okay, okay. I’ll change the subject. So, still my turn? Okay I am scared that when someone is running late, it is not because they are late to meet me, but it is because I have entered a parallel universe and we were never meant to meet in the first place. No one I know exists, or at least not in the way I know him or her. Yes, you, you still exist, but you’re different somehow. I don’t know, maybe you’re better at piano, and you don’t swear at waitresses. You don’t chew up your fingernails, and you still want to go to parties.


What? You think that’s weird? You think that couldn’t happen? Least of all to me? Why? Fine. Okay.

I am scared every time a fire engine or ambulance goes past it is going to our home. I remember wishing really hard once ‘please don’t be going to our house, please don’t,’ and I sometimes wonder if that’s the one that went to his house instead. That maybe I wished it on… We have to talk about this, at some point, don’t we? I am not ruining the game… Fine. Okay…I am scared that I don’t understand mortgages, will never complete a crossword, won’t ever be able to touch my toes, am wasting my life by not eating flapjacks all the time, will never learn to tango, won’t ever go to Russia or float in the black sea. I am scared I am a habitual alcoholic, and not a creative one like you and him were, that I drank out of boredom instead of as a catalyst. You would polish off wine and then you would create. Don’t you remember? You wrote songs, poems and you made art. Huge canvases you painted with whatever was at hand. You made self portraits using the Welsh love spoons I had stolen from a gift shop. I sat and watched, quietly, humming. I think. In the morning both of you said how crappy they were, but I thought they were beautiful. I would watch. Always the watcher.


I worry you think my legs are stocky and my face is too square and that you will not take another turn after me. That I will stand here and tell you I am scared of the dark, the feel of curtains on my fingertips, a too full fridge and you will laugh and tell me we are even and walk away, but then you will take my fears and use them against me. You will come to my house and put too many things in my fridge, or set it on fire, or tell me you are you, but the alternative universe you, and you will start to play the most delicate version of Peer Gynt on the piano I have ever heard. You will want to go to parties. And then you will laugh at me. And it will be the first time I will have heard you laugh since he died. I am scared we will go on a road trip, and there will be a willfully awkward silence whenever I pick the music. I am scared I am not very good at sex, and have been doing it wrong or weird for years and everyone I have ever slept with has been too polite to say anything. Everyone I have ever slept with… You aren’t going to confirm or deny this fear? Fine I guess I deserve that. Okay, what else, what else could there be? I will never live in New York, London, Japan or on Mars. Or I will live in all these places but you won’t come see me. I will be left alone in a room for five minutes with someone else’s baby, and they will come back and it will have died of a rare medical disorder but every one will think I killed it, and no one will believe me. And when we go to court, and it is inconclusive, and I am let off, everyone will distrust me around their babies, or their small dogs. I am afraid my internal voice is not Morgan Freeman or Alec Baldwin, but is actually a bi sexual truck driver from Texas with a low grade point average, who gives me bad advice. I know who your internal voice is…

Your internal voice is the voice of the protagonist in a movie who never achieves redemption after the third act race to the airport. In fact, you never race to the airport. You don’t even realize a plane is leaving, and I am on it. I am scared the one real sign of being an adult is learning to ignore the fact that no one ever says they are sorry, because no one ever actually is. No, when I told you I was sorry, I really meant it.

I am scared that we don’t talk the way we use to when he was around, that we worked better as three rather than two, that something has been lost between us and that something is a possibility. That for all my fears of monsters, and murderers and haunted dolls and frogs with giant teeth and rabbits with four arms and six legs and machine gun eyes, that the real thing to fear is that I wanted to be your everything or your nothing, and I have failed on both counts.


What is your biggest fear? What? You want me to guess? I don’t have to. Because it came true.

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