601. - Lucien
I catch the penny under the flat of my hand, and then take two more out of the jar. I'm not sure of what I'm going to say, or where I'll end up once I start, but it doesn't feel like one penny is going to be enough. I line them up together, gazed fixed on them. I have to. She was open and honest with me, and now I have to do the same.
"I'm... mad." I start, because that emotion has the most prominent since she left. It's always been the most prominent in me, the only thing I could easily recognise and understand. "And I know you just apologised for the things that I'm mad about, but I'm still mad. Maybe more so now that you're aware of what I'm doing. Before, it was just routine. Disregarding if it was healthy or not, it worked. I got up and made sure you had everything you needed. I could pretend to the outside world for as long as needed. I could pretend to you for as long as needed. It wasn't great for me, but I didn't really care. What's a little bit of suffering on my side, compared to what you were going through? If that's how we'd get to the other side, I would have kept doing it without complaining. But then you blew up on me, and put words in my mouth, and whatever I did wasn't good enough. And the one thing that I never had to worry about with you, was being good enough." I've picked one of the coins, rolling it over my knuckles. Slowly at first, but I quickly pick up speed. "And just because you've realised it, and that you've apologised for it, doesn't mean you're magically fixed. I can't expect that from you, either. But that means I'm going to be constantly..." I look for the right word. "aware of what I do and say with you around. Suddenly, I have to worry if I'm doing the right thing. If I'm good enough. My first thought when I heard the door was oh no. Not because I didn't want to see you, but because that meant I had to go back to pretending. In a different way, maybe, but still pretending. You are supposed to be the one person I can let my walls down around. But now you know that I'm hiding things because I want to spare you, and I know you know that I'm trying to lessen the load on you. The mirror cracked. No matter how much you want to, you're not suddenly okay. Like you said, you don't know when you're going to back to 'normal'," I make the quotation marks with my fingers. "And that's okay. But the idea of walking on eggshells, just because neither of us knows what I can and cannot do when I'm around you?" I shake my head, laughing soundlessly. "I'm not sure if I can do that. That doesn't mean I want to break up, or be away from you. I just don't... know."
I put one of the pennies down, pushing it halfway across the table. I'm still not looking at her, unable to bring myself to that. There's purple spots in my vision, a clear cut indicator that I'm going to be completely immobilised by another migraine tonight.
I put a second penny down. "Since you mentioned we never talked about what this loss did to me..." I take a short break, sipping the tea. Emma says nothing, hands tightly clasped around the mug. I'm surprised she's still wearing my rings. I'd thought them too be too much of a reminder of me. "That first night, when they sent me home, I ran into Gabriel. Matthew had told him that we were in the hospital, and he'd used his spare key to get in. He wanted to talk. To congratulate us. I screamed at him. Threw my glass against the wall. Yelled some more. And then, after he left, I told myself I shouldn't be surprised. I should have known. I don't get nice things. Curses might not be real, but good things are just not in the stars for the Du Castellons. My mother, Aleran, the poor-as-shit relationship with my father, the way Eschieve has found a new family and no longer needs me -" New information to Emma, but something that has taunted me a lot these days. "and now this. I should have seen it coming. I had no right to be surprised about it, much less hurt. So I did what I do best. I locked it all away. What's another traumatic event on the already long list? How much more broken could I possibly get?" I chuckle lightly, shaking my head. I'm rolling the penny again, but go to quick and it tumbles to the table, where it rolls off the edge and ends up on the ground. "What's a little more pretending? It's nothing new. It's not going to be the last. It's gotten me this far, hasn't it?" I shrug, only half-realising how dark this all sounds. "If you ignore it long enough, the pain goes away enough to make it bearable. I just need to get to that point. And I will. I've made it every other time. I even made it when I lost you, and I didn't think I would then. So I'll make it this time, too." I bend down to pick up the penny from the ground, so that I can put it the other one that's halfway between us. I still have not looked at her.
I put down the final penny, which makes the loudest sound. Fitting. "The last thing I want to happen, is to lose you a second time. I have said before that I love you more than I have ever loved myself. That has not changed. Will not change. You are currently the only thing that's keeping me from getting completely untethered. The problem is... I'm not sure if I see a way for us to make it out of this."
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