The Uninvited Guest 2
The room seemed so quiet after the noise of before and it made me feel a little uneasy. I was tempted to go and turn the music back on but he wouldn’t talk if I did that, and I really needed to hear what he said. He picked up one of the empty glasses and twirled it experimentally, making the crystal catch the light and twinkle brightly.
“You need me,” he said. “No, don’t speak. The more you push me away the more I will keep pushing back. I don’t mean you can’t survive without me. That’d just be stupid. Most people survive without guys like me. Two thirds in fact.”
“You’ve nearly killed me God knows how many times,” I said.
He simply shook his head.
“No,” he said. “That’s not down to me. That’s down to you trying to get away from me.”
He had a point. He’d never touched me and never would, not in violence anyway.
“You know I love you, right?” he said, suddenly unsure.
“Yes,” I said slowly. “You’ve been the one constant my whole life. I just don’t understand why you come and stay for months, years even and then just vanish.”
“We all need a break,” he said and I knew he didn’t mean me. It made me wonder how hard it must be for him; I’d never looked at it like that before.
“OK,” I said. “So tell me what you do for me other than make my life shit when you’re around.”
“That’s not me,” he said. “Again, that’s you. You ignore me, you push me away and you dive into anything that blocks me from you and wonder why it all collapses on you and you end up hiding in bed crying for days. I’m not the enemy, you know. I’m here to protect you against the enemy; that’s all I’ve ever been here to do.”
“I don’t have any enemies but you,” I said bitterly and he sighed, and rubbed his head, ruffling the dark hair that was just starting to show strands of silver. It seemed he was going grey just as I was.
“I’ve said I am not your enemy. I’ve said I love you,” he said, clearly exasperated. “What more can I do?”
“Tell me then who my enemy is that you claim to be protecting me from. Tell me why you hang around for months making me miserable. Tell me what earthly bloody use you are in my life.”
I almost screamed the last sentence.
He put his head in his hands for a second and then raised it to look directly into my eyes. His eyes seemed so full of sorrow I had to turn away.
“Your enemy wears many faces and many names,” he said. “But perhaps complacency might be a starting point. You’re like most humans; you like to get comfortable in a rut and call it finding your place. You have so much more to you than that. You never wanted the semi in suburbia with 2.4 kids, but you let yourself be convinced that it’s something that would have made you happy. You never felt normal and like everyone else, but you convince yourself that if you could just conform a bit more and hide your true self, you’d be happier and you’d get greater acceptance from the world around you. Shall I go on?”
“I don’t understand why you make me so miserable. Do you like doing it, coming along when everything is going well and casting your horrible shadow over it all. Do you like it? Does it make you happy?”
I was crying by now. I always end up crying before long when he’s there.
“No,” he said. “I hate it. I don’t want to do it. But better that than you going to sleep and becoming a robot, becoming a mindless clone watching EastEnders every night.”
He rummaged in a pocket and passed me a handkerchief, still warm from his body heat and smelling of cedar-wood.
“We should have talked before,” he said, as I blew my nose. “Years ago.”
“I wouldn’t have listened,” I said. “I’m going to listen now. Just, tell me something.”
“Anything,” he said, and took my hand. His was warm and the skin was as soft as mine.
“Just tell me you won’t ever leave me now I know why you’re here,” I said.
“I promise I will be here for as long as you need me,” he said.
“That’ll be forever, I think,” I said and smiled through my tears.