There was a reason I stopped calling at night. I'd just forgotten it. A reason I moved further away, let bonds of love hang loosely.
It twists my gut with anger, that bastard form of fear. Because I know the multitude of reasons. I've proffered the excuses, the forgive and forget reasons why. But ultimately no excuse is excuse enough to make my heart slow down, to keep my voice steady, to make it all alright.
She conflates me with herself, and I shudder at the vehemence in my voice, when I try to remind her that I am not her other self, not her second half, not her ... not her. I know I'm breaking something when I do that. When I draw her up short with my own certainty. It's guilt and shame and fear combined that makes me do it, and a desperate longing to be different, to be other, to be my own.
She calls me a writer and 'I'm a critic' is what I return. How can the fundamental me be so obvious and so obscured to her? The great American novel will never be mine. I'll never seek to wrest the great American soul into some definable shape, with words and wilted longings. It's not her domain either, but she thinks it is. How can she forget that what I love is the subtle weaving, the theory and practice, the walk on a tightrope between scorn and wonder? That's me.
And I set the phone down, the call made, the pit of my stomach churning, and wonder, who is she?