I ready myself because I know you will leave eventually. I don’t usually sit still and do nothing because the demons, they haunt me then. So a couple times, I jump up and suggest we do an activity, but you are content with talking, being with me, just taking it all in. You tell me you like me and I fear you think I am throwing you out, sick of your company, so I apologize, retrace my steps and settle back in to continue talking and being with you.
I sense you feel reluctant to leave but I make no show of holding you back. You are not mine to keep. I see you off. I walk away before you pull out of the parking spot. Not my usual m.o. I usually wave until taillights have disappeared. I climb upstairs and plop in the chair you just vacated. It’s still warm. I debate what to do next. Then I remember!
I call you. Voicemail. I try again and you pick up. You left your left overs I say. You are turning around. I have it waiting for you when you pull into the driveway. I hand it through the window and say for a second time, drive safe! I start to walk away. You call after me asking if I’m okay. I shrug my shoulders and open my hands. I half turn and reassure you I will be okay. I have to be. What else, have I got?
You ask what I always wish someone would ask me but they never do. “Do you want me to stay?” I say no before I process that someone has asked me this question for the first time. I say no then I plaster it with sarcasm: “I’ll probably be sick of you in about an hour.” You say something about me speaking the truth. I turn away before you can see the tears. See that I do want you to stay but I am scared you will have to leave eventually so I cut my losses and let you leave then.
I tsk myself as I return upstairs, but even as I do, I think: you aren’t mine to keep. You would eventually have to go home. Always being left makes it easy to build a thick skin, and my wit laced with sarcasm smooths it just so. No one can pick out the scab hiding beneath. The scab over the place of the original leaving.