by India LaPlace
We drove through Illinois once.
Actually, we were driving home to Utah,
From Huntsville, Alabama.
You were leaving me.
Not leaving me, really.
That wasn’t fair.
You were being deployed to South Korea.
I had to wait it out until the army said that I could come too.
I told everybody how sad I was,
How much I would miss you.
My heart was aching,
It had never felt so heavy
And I wanted to tear it out of my chest.
But it was aching because I knew I wasn’t in love
And I didn’t know how to leave.
This was real.
And I had made a mistake when I signed those papers.
I was nearly four in the morning when we finally stopped.
The hotel was shitty,
But we were exhausted.
You always talked about how you could drive for hours on a road trip without getting tired.
You were a liar.
You are a liar, still.
I think about all of this while I change the baby
And wrap her up tightly.
She’s asleep before she can complain.
She’s perfect and I don’t deserve her.
You drove for a couple of hours,
While I drove for nearly eight.
It’s symbolic to me of how much I think
Compared to you.
Which is also not fair.
But it’s like all those times you asked me to rub your back
And I push myself til my fingers are cramped and aching.
But when it’s my turn,
I get a minute, if I’m lucky,
Before you roll over in bed.
You don’t even say a word to me.
You just decide you’re done and roll over.
I wish I could be done that easily,
But when it’s reversed, you whine,
And I relent.
You won’t even play with my hair anymore.
When you come to the room,
Pulling a crib from the hotel behind you,
I clutch her closer to me.
This way I don’t have to hug you
And you can’t hug me either.
Not without waking the baby.
When you lean over to kiss me,
I move so you can only kiss my forehead.
I shush you,
Even though you haven’t said anything yet.
I tell you to go to bed.
I offer to make the crib comfortable for her.
I take my time, waiting until I am sure that you’re asleep.
Then I slip my body that I barely recognize
Out of my clothes and between strange sheets.
You turned on the heater
Even though I feel like you should know
That I can’t sleep if the room is too hot.
The sun starts to rise and you roll over to face me.
“Baby,” you whisper, because you never say my name,
“Let’s make love while the sun rises.”
My skin crawls.
There are several silent minutes
And I know I can pretend to be asleep.
But I won’t.
“Don’t ever fucking say the words ‘make love’ to me again,”
My whisper comes out like a hiss.
You don’t respond.
You roll back over.
But I saw your heart break a little in your eyes
And I wonder why I am like this.
India LaPlace is:
Writer. Feminist. Sunshine person. Associate Editor at Horror Sleaze Trash. Former mermaid, current Fleetwood Mac enthusiast, aspiring Queen of the Underworld. All about that grit, grace, and ganja in the SL,UT. Mother of a child who has far more patience for my subpar parenting skills than I have for most things. Generally pleasant, naturally cynical. Easily won over by a good book and a twisted sense of humor. I’m kind of like if a dive bar and a dumpster fire had a human baby.