The Thaw (Story)

Marianne awoke groaning. This is how she’s been waking up this whole month – her body a tense bundle of aching muscles. He didn’t beat her, he didn’t scold her…and there were times when she hoped he would – a blow that would leave a cut on her brow or lip, or an angry avalanche of curses would be infinitely more welcome than his cold indifference.
He had stonewalled her.
Nothing reached him anymore.
When he looked in her direction, it was as if he was looking through her, like she was made of glass.
No. glass was classy.
Plastic would be a more appropriate metaphor to describe her.
Plastic, brittle with age;
plastic with stains and scratches;
plastic that would keep rotting endlessly.
He looked at her like she were made of plastic. When she tried to talk to him, he heard nothing. He wouldn’t even bother to up the volume of his headphones. When she poured her heartache on paper and left it on his table, he tore it away, and then told her that he didn’t give a damn.
Marianne was stonewalled.
And yet, she couldn’t give him up. Helplessness swirled around her, pulling her down by her ankles into the dark abyss that promised a vast emptiness. Marianne would be glad to lose herself into that deep well if only the nothingness wasn’t temporary. She had been there, and she knew well that this tempting nothingness would soon leave her in the company of despair laced with self-pity – and that it would make her cry and squirm. Her aching shoulders and stiff neck would twist and turn to the terrible music of her anguish and leave her more broken than ever. She knew that Inside that deep abyss of helplessness, she would be tossed about by self-pity, self-righteousness, self-doubt, self-castigation…
Once or twice…just once or twice, she had even considered suicide.
And yet, why?
Why had he stonewalled her?
Could it be that they were handling their stress differently?
She pushed herself out of the bed and lumbered into their living-room. There he was, asleep on the couch, his headphones resting on his chest. She sat down upon the floor and touched his face. He turned his side toward her, letting her run her fingers through his hair, the way he always loved it. She hadn’t done it in a long time. Then she heard the faint sound of music that escaped from the speakers of the headphone. She recognized the song…during the beautiful days of their courtship, they used to listen to it together.
Suddenly, she saw the year that had wedged itself between them pulsate violently and break into a crescendo of events. She saw herself becoming hypercritical of everything he did. She saw herself over-reaching, and him retracting. She saw the things he had been trying to do, to drown his sorrow – and she noticed her own reactions born of her fear that she might be losing him. She saw the fights they had – and how they had kept growing until their last happy moments had been consumed by the monster that fed on their mutual trust.
She didn’t trust him to listen and understand; he didn’t trust her to understand and appreciate.
She didn’t trust him to share his life with her again; he didn’t trust her not to destroy his peace.
She didn’t think he loved her anymore; he didn’t think she cared about him at all.
And then the little windows of events that made up the year changed, and she saw a bright sliver of light. There had been incidents, tiny and insignificant on the face, but incidents that told her that the wall between them could be brought down.
A rare smile, a tablet for her headache, his turning to face her when he was asleep, even the way he spoke of her to others – there were hints of tenderness, if only she would stop to see.
They were wounded, both of them. They couldn’t stand each other, apparently.
And yet…
They needed each other, to warm, to comfort, to love, to cherish.
They understood each other, like nobody else did.
They had twenty years of friendship and memories to fall back upon.
But now they quarreled relentlessly. Night after night after night. She cried hysterically, he strode out seething and returned hours later. She feared those lonely moments – they were scarier than the ones they spent fighting. They were the moments when she was driven to find ways to end her life. Her anger fed upon her loneliness, turning into a monster that consumed her sanity.
The wall, she knew, could be brought down. If only instead of provoking each other, they tried to understand that their raw wounds were making them touchy, and that their tongues was glibly following their hurt feelings.
Marianne bent her head and placed a kiss upon his forehead. He turned his head toward her and his fingers closed upon hers.
Marianne smiled.
There still was hope.

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