Living In Her Fiction

I fell in love with the girl with the crooked smile. Her eyes have a brown hue to them, and I can hear my Dad’s voice telling me it’s because she’s full of shit. The trajectory of my life, at the time of our passing, is flat. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do and struggling to see how that looks.

She said she was polyamorous, and maintains that line with some to this day.

We sit in her apartment, and she wants to record our conversation. She wants to be a writer. I snort some Xanax and have a few beers, espouse some philosophy, and when I am leaving, she says she wants to hook up again, but she and her partner have rules — they don’t bring people home to their space.  

We could spend whole days in bed. Mostly exploring one another and having meaningful conversations. We are always at my house. I get the call or text late at night, drinking is involved, things move forward. This is the beginning. It’s something new. It’s something exciting. Somehow my mind tells me it’s a little off, but the connection is strong nonetheless.

A few months in, the walls are breaking down. I’m showing more and more of myself to her, and as I peel away each layer, our time apart gets harder and harder. I start to snap under the weight of my own emotions. Fitting yourself into someone else’s lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. Never make yourself less of anything to make someone else happy.

In the moments of quiet with her, I know I have fallen in love, and it is chipping away at my soul. You will meet these kinds of people, the people that get under your skin, find your soft spot and kick it repeatedly. In the midst of it, you will make a choice as to how it will affect you: whether you grow and change from the experience, or just keep plugging along, headfirst into the abyss, hoping that (as in the true definition of insanity) you can repeat the same action over and over and expect a different result.

Months later, I’m sitting at the bar with two friends. The day has been good, though I am still treading water, waiting for a purpose to come my way. My lover walks through the door and sits alone at the opposite end of the bar. She is noticeably upset; and when I greet her, she asks to talk outside. In the late night, with the cold Pacific air clinging to both of us, she explains to me that she’s pregnant and unsure what to do. I tell her that I will support her decision, no matter what, and ask that she not panic. She tells me she has a plan: the weekend is coming, and she is going to buy a bunch of cocaine and do it with her boyfriend to induce a miscarriage. She tells me she’s sure that the child is mine, that there is no chance it is his. I believe her.  

We have begun this emotional tug of war, and each day I suspect more and more that I am being lied to and manipulated. I know this game, I have lived this life — this level of dysfunction is the family fire I was forged in. I do my best, and when situations arise with her, I try. I am the secondary boyfriend now. The yin to his yang. She has it all, split between two men. Time continues to pass, and all of it in a hazy blur of mostly feeling down and kicked around. She comes at me only when other women show interest, and I am punished frequently for being in love with her. I march along, unable to see what is happening. By the following Tuesday, she has messaged me saying the miscarriage took, and I have nothing to worry about anymore.

Weeks later, the dynamic has shifted very little, and we are still clinging to all of our same behaviors. She explains that her relationship is not poly, and that she has been cheating on her boyfriend with me for months. She comes clean about lying to me about so many things, yet she still continues to lie to me now. I tell her that I’ll never get too upset at someone telling me the truth, but that I want the lying to stop. She tells me she’s pregnant again. This time it’s different though. She’s afraid. I can see it on her face. All the times the hair on the back of my neck stood up, all the times things didn’t feel right, the times when my gut told me that things were off, almost every single time, I was right. At this moment, though, there is sincerity on her face. She is pregnant, and there is a 50% chance that the child is mine.

By way of comparison, it snaps into clarity that her previous pregnancy may just have been an emotional manipulation. Because there is a stark contrast in her demeanor this time around. Again I say that I will be supportive of her decision, and we have multiple conversations about it. I offer her money to offset the cost of her abortion — she declines at first, then takes me up on it. Knowing that I am now the other man, I struggle to be fully supportive. Her emotions run high in the decision-making, and I attempt to navigate the swell. Her boyfriend also believes he is the father, and he will be the one taking her to the clinic while I work my shitty cafe job, wondering what I can do to help.

I voice my opinion, but I stand by the decision she makes, and even now I do not go against it. These issues are complex, and the decision to bring a life into the world is made by the person who does it. All I can do is support the choice, and hope we can all move forward.

It’s been several months since that day. More lies have been told, more cover-ups. Things move forward in increments, only to be set back by miles. I still love her, and I still stand by her. She runs to me, then runs back to him. In my moments alone, I realize that I and many others are all carefully constructed characters in the fictional life she has created for herself. I told her once that I like to see how far people will take me for a ride, and I will say: this is farthest I have ever gone.

Two nights ago when she was in my bed, we spoke of the future. The next day she was out having drinks with him and repairing their relationship. The sex makes things more complicated, because I sit alone while she has another warm body to be with, and I’d be foolish now to think she doesn’t take full advantage of that. She uses words to describe herself, like “monster.” But either no one is a monster or we all are.

I loved the girl with the crooked smile. She will inhabit my heart for a long time. Someday she’ll be a wonderful writer, and the honesty and wisdom will flow out of her in a way that it doesn’t right now. We all have times and meet people who shake us and throw us for a loop. It may not be the best thing at the time, but if you look and if you listen, you will grow from it.

You can’t force others to do the same, though, and that’s a hard lesson to learn. I know she’ll get there eventually, but her demons and skeletons are the price she will pay for what has happened. I sit and have a beer with her boyfriend on my birthday. I tell him that everything is going to be alright, and part of me actually believes that. I created this situation, and I wanted to sit down and be honest with him, even though she begged me not to. As I said, we all live in her fiction.