The Most Important Meal of the Day

The Most Important Meal of the Day

As soon as we are finished here, I will want more. More than you can give me. You’ve made it very clear – I am not for you.

“Look, we can’t keep doing this. I already got somebody.” You smile when you say it. “She’s nothing like you. She’s a good girl.”

Yet when I call and plead into the phone, “Please, be with me,” here you are again. Like you’re doing me a big favor. I pretend not to notice.

You take it all anyway, every last ounce of my desperation. I almost insist. I can’t help myself.

Please tell me what I can do to change your unchangeable mind. Because I want whatever this is. And isn’t. The more I surrender, the less I have of what is left of me. And despite how awful this feels, I whisper, “Thank you. That was good.” It’s a relief to unload this emptiness into your reluctant arms.

Let’s just go again. Again. You can hang out awhile and leave, like always. I’ll show you how okay I am with you not caring. I’ll keep drinking after you’re gone. I quit counting how many pills. I just take them and take them. If I brush my teeth, it will feel like I’m starting over. That helps. I can stay awake until you come back. I’ve found a way to stretch time, get everything done. And still be available, just in case.

I’m never quite sure what to do with myself when I’m alone. I always need, I don’t know… something.

I should be vigilant. What if your heart opens and you see worth in me? Then maybe, I can actually mean something to someone.

I will wait for you for as long as I have to. I’ve put you in charge.

*******

He sleeps right after sex. They all do, it seems. But not me. My head spins and swims, filled with all the wine left in the house and my drugs. The low murmur of unanswered questions.

Will what just happened change how he feels?

Will those things I swore I’d never do – and just did – improve my chances?

Is he my boyfriend yet?

I know! I remember what he said. You don’t have to remind me.

But don’t I get anything for giving it all away!?

I wish I knew where this was going. It feels like nowhere. It’s confusing to be loved so hard, and not at all.

*******

My mother used to tell me, “Mary, you can’t love anyone until you learn how to love yourself.”

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Like she would know. I love myself just fine.

She’s so stupid with her fucking riddles that make no sense. It’s not even her saying. She stole it from an Ann Landers’ column she tore out of the newspaper and taped to the fridge so I’d see it. In a letter from this girl who kept sticking her fingers down her throat to make herself throw up.

*******

Here in the dark, with the distraction of no distractions, I struggle to be still. His breathing is rhythmic and smooth, punctuated by little clicks that seem to come from the back of his teeth and disturb only me. I want to climb inside his mouth and see what’s making all that noise behind his tongue. And get it to stop.

I feel left out again. I guess all the fucking is done for the night. The lights are back on in my mind. I am sweaty and sad. I reach for parts of his body that will respond to my touch, to get away from my own thinking.

“Cut it out.” I wait a few minutes and try again. “This is why I hate staying here.” He brushes my hand away and yanks the blanket out from under my leg. “These sheets stink.” He says it to be mean. I know he does.

I make my way to the bathroom. I sit on the toilet and squeeze my eyes shut. I am sore, and it hurts when I pee.

There are two hours left for sleeping, but I can’t sleep. It’s four o’clock. Soon, it will be five. Then, six. Two hours until it’s time to get up and go to work. But not if I don’t lay down. I stand in the shower with my arms crossed over my chest and fingers locked behind my neck. This seems to hold me in place. My eyelids come down. My heart and brain don’t feel tired, but they’re separate from the rest of me. I’m like a bunch of worn out puzzle pieces that belong in different boxes.

I let my mouth hang open. Water collects inside like a puddle. I listen to the bubbling sound. I pretend I’ve just woken up from a wonderful dream, where there’s enough time, enough rest, enough attention, enough of everything I need to go around.

I dry myself off. I crush a few pills quick and prepare a hefty morning line of speed. Man, I’ll need a big one.

Uuuuhn. There. That’s better!

Now, I’m two hours early for whatever’s next. One hundred twenty minutes ahead of the game. I’m ready! I’m ready. You see, it all depends on how you look at things. Me? I try to stay positive however I can. I’m resourceful like that.

I come back down the hallway and stop in front of the baby’s crib. I wake him up, so I have some company in the kitchen. He likes to pick his own cereal, so I put the boxes on a low shelf where he can reach them. It makes him feel like a big boy.

 

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