When I Leave You
The first time I leave you, I don’t look back. You’re a pair of too-small jeans; fitting into you would mean starving and I want to taste it all. I can’t deny my nature; I won’t stay, no matter how you grab my hand and hold it against your crépey chest. Like a manipulative dowager, you try everything. Polite requests, then begging, and even threats. You won’t change and I can’t stay the same. Kissing you goodbye leaves a bitter taste on my lips. The band serenades me as I ride out in full regalia. I don’t do regrets.
Fear was a lightning storm and I stood in it, fearless. I begged for oblivion; let the rain try to wash me clean, countless tiny needles driving down on me. The wind and water of existence carved me away until I was transparent. The world was too big; I felt like Atlas, trying to hold it all, stumbling beneath its weight. Two choices were really only one. I tried not to let you notice my return, or my damage.
I hid for months. When my wounds had recovered, and I was opaque again, I told you what you wanted to hear.
The second time I leave you, you say nothing. You’re as resigned to your sameness as I am to your narrow-mindedness. You revel in the thin, tinted windows of your worldview. Circle the wagons. Change is dangerous. I invite you to join me. The world is beautiful and strange, I say. There’s more. You keep your hands folded neatly in your lap, a prim housewife on public display. We have nothing more to say to each other. When I board the plane, I have a fortune in extra luggage and a one way ticket. The clouds gather, the crowd doesn’t, and I wonder if I will see you again.
This time I was ready. The stubborn youth had grown into a pragmatist. When the lightning storms came, I stayed away from the trees. When the weight got too heavy, I put it down. Instead of withering, I bloomed. As I grew, I softened, and I began to wonder if, after lifetimes of blindness, we might finally see each other.
Now when I leave you, we both know better than to ask anything of each other. You, in your polyester dresses and dingy buildings, smoothing wrinkles out of the lace tablecloths, blinds closed to the outside. You pat my hand, but don’t get up to see me to the door, in silent denial about what I’m going back to. I smile and nod, accepting that you don’t want to understand, that your ignorance is your bliss, that I am blinding to your monochrome. And we both know that I will keep coming back, and keep leaving you, and it will be strangely comforting. For both of.
Amanda McLeod is an Australian author of fiction and poetry. Her words can be found in Terse Journal, Ghost Parachute, Elephants Never, along with being a now-regular contributor here at Sick Lit Magazine. McLeod is one of Sick Lit Magazine’s featured writers for the month of May. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has been long and shortlisted in a number of international competitions, and has won several prizes. She is also the assistant editor at Animal Heart Press where she enjoys helping authors bring their books into the world. When she’s not immersed in words, she’s a keen painter and enjoys quiet places. Connect with her on Twitter @AmandaMWrites