I wake and see Amber has left me a note on my computer, scribbled in light blue ink. It details what she loves about me and why. My eyes dart over it, looking for the "but..."
I love you, but I canít keep doing this.
I love you, but I am not ready to marry anyone.
I love you, but I want to have sex with the man/woman whom I saw while gardening.
This lethal conjunction isnít there. The letter is nothing more than an unsolicited profession of love for me because she had trouble sleeping, but it is a wake-up call for me that I am deeply worried we wonít get married. Possibly, this is because my last engagement ended almost as badly as it could, short of having been physically left at the altar or Emily dying. Possibly, it is because I fear irrevocable acts.
I may be more damaged than I realized. I like to believe that I meet my crises face-to-face, there is a bit of a neurological or psychoemotional tussle, then I emerge victorious (because, if I havenít emerged victorious, the fight canít be over yet). You think youíve figured it out, that you are now on an even keel, then the radio plays a song that you remember from a woman a decade before and you have to stop the car to cry (this has not happened to me, in that I kept driving and it was only six months after Emily left). The demons are not easily dispatched, instead attaching themselves to otherwise beautiful things, a favorite food or a love note left for you, to see how you react when they rear up at you.
Intellectually, legally uniting with Amber is one of the more sensible acts I could undertake. We see eye-to-eye theologically, I have enough money to support our humble lifestyle, we are not making this decision at the behest of a parasite growing within her womb. We spend vast quantities of time in the otherís company with no sincere irritation, just the kind I feign when she crawls into my lap as soon as I get home from work. I know that I reach for her in my sleep, that nothing feels as right as her touch, as has been the case since the first time I held her hand in mine. I know that there will come a day where my soul accepts that no one is going anywhere, that Amber will be the one who stays, but that day is not this one.
At work, I idly fantasized about the sort of person with whom I would have an emotional affair (I am a writer and I am allowed). Short and shy, dark hair and bright eyes, a quirky smile and a flowing skirt. It is a minute before I realize my brain has created an Amber clone for my mistress because it is the form in which I have found the most love and satisfaction. Actual Amber finds this hilarious. "Does she at least have blonde hair?"
"No, but itís longer."
"You should at least introduce me to... myself."
I told her nights ago that she is the one I could stand to lose, because I am strong enough. It would be devastating and I would always carry the wound, but I would not be crippled by it. She said simply that she would not be leaving, that she could not conceive of a reason she would. I echo that. I canít imagine why she would leave and I have no taste for that which would pull me from her.
Soon in Xenology: New Year.