The Tightness

She waited and she watched and her boat didn’t come in and the tightness rose again in her stomach and in her throat and in her head. Her heart throbbed and ached. She had tested their limits – his and hers – once again. Then, suddenly, there it was. Unthinking, almost unaware, she stepped onto the ship to sail back across with familiar faces, familiar problems and familiar conversations. She wasn’t supposed to return. She did it on impulse. It just happened. She 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 made her weak. How could it last and not burn out? A trapeze act without a safety net. Dolly-stepping the cliff edge. There had been the rush gained from danger and from pushing to the limit and realizing it wasn’t the limit, not even close, onwards to what had before seemed impossible even to imagine, let alone realize. In the ebb and flow of her emotions, the ship docked – safe harbour home in a blinking cauldron of lights. She looked across a large, expectant crowd buzzing in the port. He was there, drawn and concerned. Concerned for her. Suddenly, everything from the past three years hit her. She disembarked, walked to the nearest cafe and collapsed inwardly. The tears rolled out, silently and uncontrollably. She sobbed. The more she sobbed, the better she felt. No-one spoke. What could they have said? Their Friday night animation stilled in shock – not her, no, she’s controlled, private, how can this be happening? They quietly admired and recognized the force of feeling, though thought it a stranger to her. She left, taking the long, back alleys home to shield her face and eyes in the darkness away from the happy, drugged, and contented. Once back, she sat and sobbed again. The phone rang at 10.10. She answered. Why? Why? (He asks). It’s all too much. (She answers). Tomorrow we’ll be together. (He reassures her). The next day, up early, eyes red, to go back across the sea, back to where the tightness rose – this time together, this time just them. A wordless day in complete understanding. Intimacy at last, once more with feeling. Intensity brings relief. She starts to breathe again. When they part this time, she has the pangs, then the memories and sense-self-advice. She’s calm now, you see.

 

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