I awaken to the morning as I usually do. At first, I’m deluded into thinking that everything is the same as it always has been, that I lie here alone. It’s a deceptive thing to tell myself, that nothing has changed from all the other days. Because everything isn’t the same, not at all. You are here lying next to me, propped up on your arm watching me. Your silhouette blocks the sun, making you the predominant presence in my vision, cutting through my illusion of solitude. No, your very presence tells me, nothing is the same anymore after last night.
Why did I automatically wake to a state of denial about you, hiding the truth of your presence from my conscious mind? I have no idea. I can’t answer my own doubts, because my heart has too many questions when it comes to you.
I evade those questions that threaten to surface by blinking myself awake, hammering the reality of you beside me into my consciousness. I bury my doubts far inside my soul as I distract myself by the immediacy of your presence, inhaling the deep musk of your physicality. It works, at least for a short time.
Your penetrating stare startles me, but I shouldn’t have been surprised that you watch me the way you do. You glare at me like an interrogator searching a suspect for guilt. But I shouldn’t be astonished, because your visual penetration of me is nothing new. You’ve twisted my mind into so many misshapen directions in the short time I’ve known you, it’s impossible to know where or when I’m safe with you, or not. In the moments of last night when I lay in your arms, everything was deceptively warm and cozy, all conspiring to lull me into a false sense of security that all was finally well between you and me.
But today, I awaken to the glare which tells me you are searching me, filling me with a terror that is greater than any pleasure I have ever known with you. Your eyes inform me that nothing I have done or shared with you has allayed your skepticism of me. Last night, you told me with your words and your body that you trusted me. But today, your eyes tell a different story, one of distrust and misgivings.
One of the masks lies to me. Which one is guilty of this, the one of the night or the one of the day? I don’t truly know, nor do I have any way of knowing, for there is no surefire way to verify either one. Because of this confusion, I don’t know which is truer, my doubts of your feelings and intentions now as you probe me, or my illusions of security and desire from the night before.
Your eyes attack my heart, unraveling all the good that has come between us in one fierce glance. I can’t see them clearly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know they are watching me. I’ve sensed your surveillance of me over the months I’ve known you. The familiar prickling sensation I feel now tells me your eyes are auditing me, once again. They investigate me, searching me for a truth that you believe I will never say.
I know you’ve observed me this way before, even when you think I haven’t noticed. It happens when I speak to you and you respond with silence, as though you’re weighing whether what I say is truth or fiction. I’ve sensed your scrutiny when we are amongst others, when you watch me and think I’m unaware of you, just because my attention seems focused elsewhere away from you. But I always feel your stare, even if I never tell you I do. You’ve been watching me for a long time, probing me.
Why are you watching me like this? I want to scream. Even after seducing me, capturing my body with yours, I feel your eyes tell me that you believe that I am deceiving you. I think of how you brought me rapture for one brief night, just hours ago. Thinking of it, I should feel joy. But your eyes steal that from me. You have never believed me when I tell you my deepest intentions. Even after offering my body to you, you still believe my actions are nothing more than deception. Am I lying to myself that this is love, and that one day you will see the love I feel for you as real and true?
As it is, I begin the day with an untruth. Instead of telling you my fears, I pretend that sunshine and smiles will warm you in a way that my love for you has seemingly failed to do. I swallow the earthquake of emotion I feel, hoping the facade of calm I project will translate into tranquility for both of us. Instead of screaming at you with words the way you choose to scream at me with your eyes, I say, “Good morning sunshine.” I take my hand and caress the chest I found ecstasy just one night earlier, stroking the soft fur that lines your skin as I did then.
You succumbed to my desire then. But at this moment, you flinch at my touch, as though a stranger molested you. I retract my hand, puzzled. You respond to that impulse of recoil by pulling me towards you. What are you trying to tell me by doing that? I have no idea, no sense of your meaning by your contradictory actions. I sigh, exhaling the frustration I can’t express to you with words. Where is it that we can find peace together, when even a benign greeting by me is received as an assault to you, but I am to receive your gestures as gracious offerings?
You hold me, stroking my hair for a moment, yet you remain silent. I don’t say anything anymore, my voice paralyzed from the rejection it received just a moment earlier. I should be soothed by your touch, the softness of it. But it bewilders me, for I don’t know what you believe or feel by it. I want to tell myself that I’m imagining things. That deep inside, you know my love for you is strong, and always was, even though our first seduction of each other was only hours ago.
Your voice cuts into the quicksand I’m sinking into, momentarily keeping me afloat like a flimsy life preserver. “You’re finally awake, ” you say. Your voice is quick, yet soft, unlike the slow precise force of confidence you project to all others but me.
Why is it that I can’t have that man with me now, as I begin sinking once again? Your voice doesn’t tell me if you are glad I’m awake. It doesn’t tell me if you’ve waited too long for me to decide if I love you. You have told me that, many times before last night. You’ve charged me with testing your patience, waiting for me to decide if life is better with you or without you. You’ve indicted me by stating that my desire is lacking, measured next to yours. For you’re the one, you’ve told me, who always knew you wanted me from the start. So now I wonder, are you tired of waiting for me, or am I drowning in a sea of doubt that doesn’t exist?
I’m terrified that I will reveal this terror I have, fearing that you are long gone from me, even while still lying here beside me. Will I create a self-fulfilling prophecy by projecting it? Perhaps. To avoid this outcome, I focus my mental attention on my face, making sure it smiles as I chirp, “That’s good, I hope?”
Your answer is silence. What this means, I can’t tell. I think of you last night, how every inch of me was touched and consumed by you. Image upon image heaps upon itself, recalling that. It all seems like a distant memory, yet here you are next to me. You haven’t left, physically at least. Does that mean something, or nothing at all? I want it to mean something. The heat of those memories awakens something in me. And yet like you, I remain silent. We said much to each other in our passion, just hours ago. Will that be the only way we can speak now that this took place, me and you?
“You don’t regret last night, do you?” The words slip out of my mouth before I can contain and mask them. The sensuality I felt seconds before devolves into some strange mash of adrenaline and terror. What little that had been relaxed before is now charged, and not with pleasure. I’ve given myself away. I’ve forgotten to hide my fears, and I’m afraid they will push you away. Is this what will happen now?
“Why would you say that?” You wear your voice confidently, with surety, even as you hold me. Did I just say I wanted to hear you speak in your casual swagger with me? I want to take that back. I don’t want you to feel certain of yourself now, as I scurry to find the part of myself that won’t reveal my fears and be at your mercy. I get my wish as your voice paradoxically spits in a voice that is oh so soft just these two words,“Do you?”
You’ve deflected. It’s a mark of defensiveness to answer a question with a question. Aren’t you the one who’s made a point of making that clear to me in the days leading up to today? You’ve evaded the truth by resting the verdict on my response. So what do I say to you in my defense, to make you understand me? I’m angry. I want you. I love you. What do I say to assure you, and what can honesty give us when it seems to offer nothing but wounds and thorns?
Do I regret last night? With the hell I feel resting in my heart right now, the truth is yes, I do. But there is another reality. I think of the world I escaped into with you last night. I think of how over the months I’ve known you, all I can do is think of you. When I think of those realities, those truths, those facts, the answer is no. Never. Not with the one who was you with me last night by my side. But how do I answer with any truth that you will believe, now that you’ve evaded me, hoping to prove me the liar first? The longer I take to respond, the deeper you believe my lie is. Your eyes tell me what the rest of you won’t.
I take the stand, hoping the judge and jury that is you will believe my testimony. I answer with the best half-truth that will buy me time until I can better formulate a response that will win your trust for good. “Of course not.” I giggle a little. The laugh is an automatic response that I don’t expect to erupt from myself. Why is it now that I’ve given myself to you, I’m more nervous around you than I ever was? I can’t stand it.
I go on the offensive, leaning up on my elbows so I face you, force myself to look into your ice blue eyes without flinching. I take my hand and begin tussling with your chest hair casually like I did before, hoping I convey a playfulness that will disarm you. This time, you don’t flinch. I feel ever so slightly more confident, but only slightly. “What about you?” I chirp like a flirt looking for a date to the prom. “Do you regret being with me?”
You’re silent again. It cuts into my act, even though I continue the gesture that sowed my assurance before. You remove my hand from your chest, which panics me for a second, deja-vous threatening to maul me. But then you take my hand, holding it by your side, which confuses me. Can I ever know what you’re saying to me, what you mean by your words and gestures? You speak once again, but not before you turn away from my gaze.
“No. I never would.” you state with the utmost confidence your voice can convey.
Your words unbalance me, make my heart feel as though it’s being crushed by a boulder. What do you mean, you ‘never would’? We’ve only made love for one night, yet we’ve known each other for months. You ‘never would’, what? Regret being with me, or ‘never would’ be the kind of person who regrets sex at all, or ‘never would’ be someone who would ever stoop to have the kind of sex you would regret, whatever that means? And are you speaking the truth, if you can’t even meet my eyes with yours when I probe you the way you have done to me? I can’t tell, yet I don’t ask you for clarification. I’m too afraid what you might state, as what you believe is evidence against me.
But your last words still hang in the air like a judgement, plaguing me. They feel like a commentary on me and my personal character, and I continue to fixate on them. Are you implying I’m the kind of woman who would have sex she’d regret, but you are too pure and superior for that kind of ploy? I find my heart racing, but it’s not with desire. I want to pull my hand away, but I don’t want you to question me if I do. It’s agony for me to stay put, to wait for your next move. I know anything I say to you can be easily used against me, and probably will.
I don’t know why I decide to tell you the next thing I do. It’s a last ditch effort for me to surface before drowning. I’m throwing down every card I have, hoping that I won’t be outplayed by you. But the silence demands I make some kind of move, forcing my hand. Even my arm is becoming numb from holding myself up, tired of waiting for me to choose sides. You begin to pull away as I delay, and I feel myself slipping away even further than before as I sense that.
“I love you,” I say to you in the silence. Everything is out now. The trial has finished, and now I await your verdict. I hate the helplessness you’ve put me through, hate that I’ve now completely surrendered everything I have to you. I want to climb back into the womb of denial I used to live in, when whatever I felt for you was far from my heart and my mind just because I ordered it to be so. I hate that you make me feel like I’m falling. The truth has set me free from my chains, but now I’m careening into an abyss with nothing to anchor me.
Your response is to pull me closer to you, holding my head by my hair like a chain to you in a way that does nothing to balance me. Your face is inches from mine, your breath coming in quick gasps as though the oxygen you breathe has been sucked from you permanently. It’s as though you haven’t heard me, and if you have I wonder if you even believe me. It is almost as though my words suffocate you, and I feel a loss that I can’t retrieve or describe.
But then, you clutch me to you, so I won’t escape you with the lies you think I tell. Your bury your face into the nape of my neck, like you are ready to posses me with one bite. The feeling of your breath sends shivers down my spine, and the groan of pleasure I can’t contain compels you to moan softly as well. You flip me onto my back so your body envelops mine, as I drown in this sea you cast me into with you.
I feel your lips travel the length of my neck until they reach the terrain of my torso, tracing me possessively and hungrily, like I will disappear unless you mark every part of me, consuming me so you will own me forever. The doubt that seeps through your desire seems to say, lie to me again. After all the denials I have subjected you to, you believe all that I say is lies. After pretending for so long that you were unimportant to me, I know you believe that nothing I offer you is real. The insecurity you convey as your lips travel the terrain of my body and soul tells me your truth. It informs me that you would love to believe that you were the pure one who always loved me, and I am the villain who deceived and rejected that love.
This is what your actions tell me you have heard. You have spoken the implication before with words, and I hear this judgment once more in your present seduction of me. I should eject you permanently from my life for this offense, for making it impossible for me to be trusted by you. But instead, I choose to forget this, because my desire demands that I do, so my conscience feels appeased in being with you.
I lie to myself, as I lay here with you. I tell myself that you will believe in my love for you, one day. I want to think that you hear the words I tell you. I long to believe that as you place your hand at my heart and you bring your lips back to kiss mine, you know and understand the truth. As I drown in you now, I forget that you only know doubt when you see me. I lie to myself, thinking now you know what I’ve tried to hide from you from so long, and speak the words once again.
“I love you.”
I bask in the sigh you utter as I finish those words, as you reply in your slow voice of confidence, “I have always loved you. Always.”
Your words convince me, at least enough that I feel bliss as I turn to you and let you embrace with me. The seduction of last night begins once again, the dance between me and you. Lie with me by my side, seduce me…..