The man on the other side of the glass was visibly startled. Had he heard it? The sound of heartache can make a room close in on your ears. Pressure so intense it makes you deaf for years.
I cried big alligator tears all the way home. Texas sized tears that make the world feel as though it hasn’t been enough. Or it’s been to much. I get lost trying to figure out if it’s the tie that binds or the tie that keeps relationships rooted in our history.
There’s little in this world that can make my heart pound loud enough to feel in the roof of my mouth. Thud. Thud. Days have passed and I still feel like I’m the saddest girl to carry a burden. When I get down, it’s like carrying Andre the Giant on my shoulders.
It’s better than knowing your mouth needs a filter and worse than knowing you pushed the button to trigger the atom bomb. I didn’t mean to say it and never even thought the words. In my rage, I dug deep quick as a flash and found the cruelest thing to say. The worst letters to type. I’m sorry isn’t enough. Apologizing is a mercy sentence; it allows me to become a martyr, which I don’t deserve. Mother Teresa said, “the cruelest war is that of the tongue.” I crossed the line and charged straight into battle, mindless as a soldier.
The act of remorse is simple. The act of pity is like watching a rabid animal in front of a firing squad.
Standing in the airport I just wanted the pounding to stop. I wanted it all to stop and just fucking go away. I wanted more than anything for this man to stop staring at me through the glass. I wanted him to walk away, and to talk to me, and walk away while talking to me. Thud. Thud.
He remained seated, staring. I was an animal caged behind the glass to keep others safe from my spiraling emotion. I stared back, dabbed a beverage napkin at my eyes, and caught his heart like a fish to a fly. A minute or ten passed, and then my world went black.
When I came to, the stranger was next to me. Embarrassed, confused, and slammed by visions, I told the woman propping up my head, “No. I’m fine. I need to catch my flight.”
“Ma’am, we don’t think you should move. The airport EMS is on their way.”
“No, please, I’m fine. I haven’t eaten anything today and…” I trailed off, lost in my own head, and started again.
“Have you ever walked into a room filled with people you know, have known for years, yet still feel so lonely you can barely take the next step or utter a syllable?”
He was talking again, the stranger. “Holiday’s are tough.”
“I make them tougher.”
His hand grabbed my shoulder and he laughed, “We all do. That’s what makes them functional.”
I didn’t have the time or the words to explain what it’s like to look in a mirror and not recognize the face inside it. How the past few days it’s taken every ounce of my being to find the energy required to put on the mask and walk like a character I’ve concocted in a short story.
I have to catch my flight so I can’t tell him I’ve become clumsy to a point way beyond slapstick, bruising myself on every sharp edge. If I bruise, if I scream in pain, I must be real.
“Here let me help you, ” he said, not letting go of my arm.
Alarmed, I pulled my arm in tight and retreated back into my shell. Put my game face back on and repeated, “Let me help you.”
We paused – his hand stopped moving on my shoulder. We stared again, not knowing who struck the deeper cord. The air thickened to paste, freezing us in time. Life is a constant continuous buzz of humility without trepidation. It’s a life that screams for solidarity of the human spirit. A stranger in need of another stranger in need, everyone just trying to hold it together. His eyes stared back at me, aqua green, the type of color that is too pure to be real, like water in the Bahamas, and makes you feel like schoolgirl lost in a romance novel.
I was lost in my own head. “Too self involved!” my sister yelled across the room hours ago.
Looking in to his eyes, my internal battle raged. I wanted to continue and lose myself, while every self-preservation nerve screamed to run. “I ruin everything,” I said, and began crying.
He began to laugh.”I do too; this isn’t confession. What time is your flight?”