Epiphany #59: “Silent Partner”


  I watched him as he sat looking angrily over the water, but seeing nothing in particular.  His arms were crossed over his knees as if he were giong to be able to fend off anything I might add to the moment.  It served the dual purpose of making him invunerable to actually listening as well.  I looked past him to the ocean and watched the sea crash against the bluff.  The waves rolled silently in, up and over the beach.

     “Do you ever think about how the waves take little pieces of the beach with them every time they come in?” He didn’t move.  His silence was rushing across me harder than the water would if I were sitting in it.  “Is this the way this day is going to go?’ I asked him.  I was trying to be gentle and keep my voice neutral, but I could hear it climbing up the scales of stress. Before long, it would sound as if I was whouting, even if I wasn’t.

     He finally looked at me. His blue eyes that were usually so clear, were stormy.  His body accused me. He only turned his head slightly. Nothing else about him opened up to me.  I didn’t know which crime I was guilty of today, but as always I imagined it was some huge relationship faux pas that I would never be able to fix. It had happened countless times before.  I had a thick cord of failed relationships that trailed behind me, tethering me to this moment, needing resolution and fearing that it would never happen.  By this time, he was looking at the water again.  His breathing was almost imperceptible.

    “All of my relationships end the same.  There’s anger and yelling, then silence followed by me crying and never understanding what went wrong. I always end up with that awful static sound in my head like when the record hits the last song and the needle skips back and forth over that little dead air space of vinyl.  Truthfully, if I get that something has actually gone wrong and I’m able to truly understand it, it’s usually too late for me to fix it. Are you going to be like all the others?”

     He didn’t move at first. I felt nothing coming from him that was a change.  I watched the water in front of us.  It rushed in and slowly drifted back out.  I looked at him. Watched him.  His hands gripped his knees until I could see his knucles glowing white. I waited.  He took a deep breath in and then blew it out.  The moment of his breath releasing seemed to take forever.  His hands moved to his head and he pulled his fingers through his tight blonde curls.  He looked down at the sand and stretched his legs out in front of him.  There was tension in his body still, but his arms went to his sides and his hands dug into the sand.  I could hear the water sweeping in and drifting out.  I could hear his purposeful breathing as if he was measuring every thought that was racing through his brain like gemstones and deciding which ones were exactly the right weight.  One leg bent back up toward his body and finally he turned toward me.  For a very long moment, I was afraid to even look at him.  I couldn’t  bear to even imagine what his face was going to tell me. I expected the worst so that I would not be disappointed. After an eternity, his throat cleared softly and I looked up at him.  He held my eyes in his gaze for the longest minute and then I felt tears well up inside of me to spill out of them.

     “Whatever I did, I’m sorry.”

     “I know, ” his voice was so quiet that I almost didn’t even believe he had spoken.  His eyes still had the hint of a storm in them, but they were clearing.  I bent my legs up and wrapped my arms around my knees.  He reached over and touched my hand.  Suddenly the whole world felt open again.

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