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For the best

“I never lost interest. You were the one who disappeared for months without a word.”

“Yeah, I know. It was probably for the best though.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, if I’d been distracted all the time–not that you’re a bad distraction–I’d never have been able to patch things up with Z.”

I see. I don’t have anything to say to that. I’m bruised from calf to shoulder, constellations of tiny black marks shining over my hips. My fingers probe them absently. I want to feel this as pain but I don’t; the beating went on too long and all I can feel now is a dull ache.

It was probably for the best.

I wonder if this is the first honest thing he’s said to me. I wonder why I’m not angry. I wonder if he has any idea what he just said.

He lied for so long. He may not even know how many lies he told, if it’s as automatic as it seems. He stopped talking for so long. He wasn’t here to see the panic, how easily I was reduced to hyperventilation and fear, how every word, every glance is chased by distorted shadows of ulterior motive. It was probably for the best for him. Not for me.

It takes a moment to parse how I feel. Pythons uncurl from defensive knots in my gut. Nausea, and a frightening sense of vulnerability. Except I’m not; for now, anyway, there’s nothing to fear. He’s just let me know he doesn’t care. He looks at me and I don’t know what he sees but it’s not human. I can be discarded, and he’ll sleep well. I can hold that close. It will keep me from doing anything stupid. For the first time in a long time, I can relax.

I don’t say anything. I unfold to rest in a long sprawl with my head on his shoulder. Nothing’s changed. I’m still unhappy, still care too much, still thinking thinking thinking as though it will do any good. But I’ve remembered how to move under my own power rather than succumbing to the whirlpool of his, and that’s something.

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