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There is a deep, animal thrill I get when I see your hands clench into fists. My blood sings in my veins. I feel light and powerful.
As I child, I remember Mama wiping the blood from my split lip and speaking softly to me about Fight or Flight. She told me that we all have these instincts, and that they could one day save my life. But then I remember her voice growing serious when she told me something had to been broken in me.
“You don’t have those instincts,” she started, shaking her head gently, then continuing. “You got somethin’ in the middle, called Push. You don’t fight, you don’t run away. You just keep pushing people ‘till...” Mama sighed, gesturing to my swelling mouth.
Maybe I am broken, I think as a smile spreads across my face while I see you struggle to keep your hands from grabbing my throat. I’m crushed beyond control.
You must have seen how broken I was. You must have felt sorry for me. I was something for you to put back together. For a while, I let you tinker with me. I liked feeling like the center of your lopsided world. But like most good things in my life, I just had to destroy it.
So I started Pushing. I ‘forgot’ to pick you up from work, just to see what you’d do. I would pull up into the parking lot across the street and watch you check your phone over and over. You’d call, and I giggled at the feeling of my phone buzzing on my leg. Just before you asked a coworker to give you a lift, here I’d come: a huge ‘I’m so sorry babe’ smile plaster on my face. And for a while, you let me push.
The day you snapped - one of my greatest achievements - you walked in on me ‘accidentally’ dropping your good china plates. I liked seeing them shatter in all directions; feeling little shards biting into my exposed shin. I remember you flew across the room, gripping my arms in a bruising grip. You shook me hard, making my pinned back bangs fall into my eyes.
“What are you doing?!” you hissed, swiping the hair from my face.
I looked into your eyes, seeing some kind of powerful emotion swimming around in there. I suddenly felt like a child being scolded, and I burst into tears. My face screwed up tight, and in no time, I was a snotty mess and it was hard to breath. You pulled me close to you, letting me sink into your chest. You stroked my hair hesitantly, mumbling apologizes for scaring me.
But I wasn’t scared. Not by your outburst, or by the dark circles your left on me. I was terrified by the love and hurt I saw in your eyes.
Now, looking into your eyes, all I see is darkness and confusion. You reminded me of a child, and that made me giggle hysterically. Your head snapped up at the sound of my laughter, and quick as a flash, I’m pinned against the wall. My head bounces off the plaster and for a moment I see stars.
“What are you laughing at!” You scream in my face, your voice cracking. I expected the stench of beer to roll out of your mouth, but all I smell is mints. It’s so much more fun getting you riled up when you’re sober.
A manic grin is all you see from me. I stand on my toes, my forehead just reaching your nose, and whisper: “You.”
Your face goes slack for a moment as if I just slapped you. Then I see your jaw clench and suddenly, you’re drawing back with your fist raised. You let out a from-the-belly yell, and I throw my arms up to cover my face. I tense up, but not hit lands on me.
My hands are shaking when I peek through my fingers. You’re breathing heavy, chest and shoulders heaving. It takes my a moment to realize that you’re crying. Big, fat alligator tears are streaming down your face as you dig your fists into your eyes. You sway like a tree in a hurricane; bound to break at any moment. But it seems like you already have.
I reach out to you, bunching my fists into the front of your shirt and pulling you towards me. I rest my head on your chest, listening to the rasp of your lungs struggling to get air. Eventually, your knees sag and we’re almost the same height. You bury your face in my neck, and I let you. I let myself feel like the center of your lopsided universe.
“Wh-whats w-w-wrong with u-us?” you gasp, shaking like a leaf about to be carried off in the wind.
I run my fingers through your hair, feeling suddenly worn to brink of being torn in half. All the adrenaline was gone now, leaving me feeling hollow. Maybe that’s what's wrong with me. I’m so empty inside, that I crave feeling anything to make me feel alive. I crave the sting of a slap, the deep pain of a hit.
“We’re in love,” I mumbled into the side of your head, “that’s what’s wrong with us.”