The Tightness

I waited and I watched and my boat didn’t come in and the tightness rose again in my stomach and in my throat and in my head. And my heart throbbed and ached. I had tested our limits – his and mine – once again. Unthinking, almost unaware, I stepped onto the ship to sail back across with familiar faces, familiar problems and familiar conversations. I wasn’t supposed to return. I did it on impulse. It just happened. I saw the coast of another land, a small jetty of rock just a jump away – and all the summer memories flooded back. The boat journeys, the kissing-crossing, the laughing, the passion returned in a powerful surge. Its very strength being its very weakness, too. How could it last and not burn out? A trapeze act without a safety net. Dolly-stepping the cliff edge. There was the rush gained from danger and from pushing to the limit and realizing it’s not the limit, and pushing beyond there to what had before seemed impossible even to imagine, let alone realize. In the ebb and flow of emotion, the ship arrived – safe harbour home in a blinking cauldron of lights. I looked across a large reception crowd buzzing in the port. Him there. Her there. Both drawn and concerned. Concerned for me. Suddenly, everything from the past three years hit me. I disembarked, walked to the nearest cafe and collapsed inwardly. The tears rolled out, silently and uncontrollably. I sobbed. The more I sobbed, the better I felt. No-one spoke. What could they have said? Their still faces with eyes dancing in thought – not her, no, she’s controlled, private, how can this be happening? They knew to yield understanding, they had to. They did. Shocked yet reassured by the force of feeling, they coped. I took the long-back way home to cover my face and eyes in the darkness away from the happy, drugged, and contented. Once back, I sat and sobbed again and answered the phone at 10.10. Why? Why? (he asks). It’s all too much. (I answer). Tomorrow we’ll be together. The next day, up early with my red eyes to go back across the sea, back to where the tightness rose – this time together, this time just us. A wordless day in complete understanding. Intimacy at last, once more with feeling. Intensity brings relief. I start to breathe again. When we part, I have pangs, closely followed by memories and sense-self-advice. I’m calm now, you see. 

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