By Kate McCadden
I was having an excellent time not being in love. I had finally figured out how to be free of all the conventional things I always thought that I wanted—babies, marriage, or dependency. I hardly knew who I was for a while. I didn’t like myself very much. You told me that was good, that I was on the right track, that my period of self-loathing was just the first step in my path to really understanding.
As I began to comprehend what you meant, the emotional baggage started to fall away like golden maple leaves in the fall gently turning and floating to the ground. Everything I had carried with me blew away in the breeze. I realized that there was no need to search for a deeper meaning and to possess those that I love or worry about the infinite possibilities. I started to become blissful about just being alive.
I grew into myself after the worst year of my life. My engagement was in shambles. I had a miscarriage and watched friends and family suffer through abuse and heart-wrenching deaths. I always thought that I knew what I wanted, and when faced with having it, I discovered it was never close to what I wanted. I didn’t understand myself at all. I threw it all away, but the sun still came up the next day. My heart shattered into a million pieces due to the loss of the family I could have had, but the sun still came up.
Suddenly I was so free. I was free to be myself as if I hadn’t been since I was a child. I had forgotten who I was and what made me eccentric. I dyed my hair, went to the gym, bought a pocketknife, and roamed through the woods. I became myself and began to do whatever I pleased. I had very little remorse, and I certainly didn’t love the men that I invited to sleep in my bed. I spent most of my time fighting off their affections. Sleeping with men who are in love with you can be a mess.
However, I thought I solved that problem. I found Dave, and he was clearly not interested in “wife-ing up.” He just made love to me, treasured me, complimented me, made me feel good, and went away. He demanded nothing of me, and I felt good about not being in love with him. I thought everything was perfect.
Then you asked me to come over for a beer, B. Of course, I accepted. I have never been able to deny you anything, nor have I ever wanted to. We debated things that had remained unspoken between us for years while Tony and your dad commentated and cheered us on. You wouldn’t let me buy Bud Light at the liquor store. Instead, you bought me a microbrew six-pack like the one I always drank when we were younger. I offered to pay and you said to me, “I’m not some helpless 17-year-old that needs you to take care of me.” As if, I ever thought of you that way. I buy you everything because I want you to have everything, not because I think you’re helpless.
You nudged my beer towards me many times and made gestures with your eyes that suggested I should drink it. If I know you, B, that meant you were going to try to get it on later.
You told me that I should wear my hair in the way that you liked it, and then pulled up pictures on your camera of when I did wear my hair the way you wanted me to. Showing me how nice my hair looked was very convincing. You knew I was going to change it back to that. I love to do what you tell me.
You picked up my necklace too. You touched my jewelry often. I used to skew the clasps of my necklaces because you couldn’t help but fix it. I love the tiny things that you try to control about me.
You looked at the pendant on my necklace (an onyx arrowhead with a silver wolf howling on it) and examined it with that dark mysterious look in your eyes. Then you looked at me sharply.
“Do not take this off.”
“I don’t plan on it,” I threw back.
I was not planning to take it off for the exact reasons you did not want me to, I’m sure. The boy I was going to marry gave it to me, but clearly, it is a totem to you. I don’t think it mattered that I told him a million times that you never wanted me. He knew I loved you. We never said it aloud, but it is painfully obvious to anyone who knows us, B.
We talked about that night in the mountains when we were alone in the woods. The thunderstorm was beautiful and awesome, in the ancient Greek myth sort of sense of the word: awe-inspiring. I told you that we wouldn’t have sex. I was in love with you, and you had told me that you weren’t in love with me repeatedly. I told you if we were back there now, I wouldn’t have stopped you. After years of being in love with you, the first time we had sex would have been better alone in the thunderstorm than in Robby’s spare bedroom with him walking in on us every few minutes. I will never forget the smile on your face after our first time, no matter how much you tried to hide it.
We rehashed that whole weekend for Tony: losing your keys, waiting for Triple A in the thunderstorm, going out in the kayaks in the fog, and seeing the ghost.
Every time I said I was going home, you asked me to stay a little longer. I made my intentions to go home clear. You knew I was supposed to meet Dave earlier, but I had cancelled on him the first time you nudged my beer towards me.
I put on my shoes and collected my purse to walk out of the door, and you asked me to wait; you claimed that you had something you wanted to discuss.
As soon as Tony closed the door, you grabbed my jaw, kissed me hard, and started biting my lip until it hurt. For half of a second I was surprised, even though I clearly knew what was going to happen. It was just that you hadn’t kissed me in so long, two years, maybe. I wish I had just melted, but you make me so cautious and constantly wonder if I am imagining your feelings for me.
You pulled my face back by the jaw and hypnotized me with your dark look, challenging me.
“Are you leaving, or coming upstairs?”
“What kind of a question is that?” I shot back, still somewhat hurt about our falling out. At this point, it was becoming difficult to hold on to my sense. I began submitting to you without any intentions to do so.
“Rhetorical.” You retorted, and your fingers dug into my jaw as you pulled me back in.
Somehow, I scurried upstairs.
You held your knife to my throat, the long sharp one that I liked, and the waterfalls of cathartic submission washed over me. What a relief to be at your mercy again.
You bent me over and wrapped your hand in my hair while you fucked me as if you never had before. Again, I couldn’t just melt into the experience, I remained cautious. I am surprised that what was happening turned out to be this.
I felt overweight, and honestly, a little grimy. I did not expect you to try to have sex with me that night.
You threw a couple of twenties at me as I laid there and recovered. You wanted me to buy a Plan B pill once the drug store opened in the morning, no matter how much I insisted that I would cover it. You held the long black knife to my stomach and ordered me not to do anything else with that money or, “God help me, I will carve out whatever grows inside of you.”
Now, at this point, I’m sure it sounds like you’re a terrible person, but you instill upon me this sort of authority that I have never experienced in my life. I trust you completely to follow through on anything that you say you will. I respect you completely and never doubt you. You got your point across, and I would never dream of defying you.
I’m sure a lot of my desire to find this perfect authority stems from authority issues in my childhood. I was defiant and didn’t understand why I lacked control.
“Because I said so,” was always the answer.
You are that perfect authority. You demand that I behave and punish me with your disapproval. There is no doubt in my mind that your threats are real ever since you told me to stop saying “obvs” or you would stab me with the Dremel, and I got stabbed with the Dremel. I had to know what would happen if I said it again, B.
To achieve perfect submission, there must be solicitation with flawless authority. You are mine; when are you going to realize that?
I asked you as I was leaving why you hadn’t always fucked me like that.
“I didn’t think you’d like it.” You said.
“That’s such a lie,” I asserted. Didn’t you know what I meant all those years when we talked about masochism?
You insisted that it was not a lie, and I didn’t ask about it. Your response shocked me too much. As I realize more and more how much you truly do not know me, it starts to become clear how much neither of us really understand what had been going on between us.
A few weeks back when I asked you, like such an asshole, if we were ever involved, and you told me: that this was as involved as you’d ever get– I was very confused, but then I started to gain clarity on everything that had gone on between us.
For the record, I know we were involved. I was just being an asshole. I keep saying things to you that I don’t mean because I’m hurt about this whole situation, and I wish I could catch myself before those silly questions tumble out of my mouth. We were in love, and you refused to acknowledge it for years and then you fell off the face of the planet because I broke the unspoken rules of our unspoken relationship. Come on, B, I didn’t know what was going on.
I begged, and begged, you to be with me that one-night years ago at Adam’s. I pulled all the stops and asked repeatedly. You told me in a thick, strained voice, “I can’t give you what you want.”
I’m not going to deny that you were right. You very rarely give me what I want, but you are constantly giving me a universe of everything I do not know I need. You push me when I become stagnant and inspire me when I feel empty. Whenever I felt weak, you built me up and dared me to become strong again. When I was my own worst enemy, you called me out. When I am lost, you show me the way. You make me feel alive.
When I left your house after you fucked me at knifepoint the other night, my mind was reeling from the herbs you fed me and high on a life with you back in it. I didn’t sleep that night, or the next. I found more energy and motivation than I had in a very long time.
The last time that I was this inspired by life was when you left for New Orleans. Watching you leave that day shattered my heart, but you told me I had homework: by the time you got back, I needed to learn how to fight and speak French. This was the first time you gave me “homework.” You left me, and in your absence, dared me to better myself.
I signed myself up for school and karate right away. I was determined to match you blow for blow and wit for wit. We hardly talked for months when you initially left. We were too busy bettering ourselves and focusing on our own lives. I was determined to live up to your challenges and expectations. I have begun to feel that way again, but this time, I am different.
I talked to Adam a few days after my drunken rehash of our years together and apart. Upon walking into Adam’s room, I announced that I did not want to talk about you. Adam, as one might expect of him in hindsight, immediately started asking me about you, and this went on for most of the hours that I stayed and talked to him.
I told him about everything that I had realized since Jared and I broke up, about how there are so many things that I don’t want in relationships. He said to me that perhaps it is not that I don’t want to have intimate relationships, but that I just want to define them by rules that are not conventional.
I told him about enjoying my lack of emotion. I told him about how you had stirred my feelings back up. He suggested that you had done it intentionally. I told him how I felt about everything these past few months, and how I didn’t want my feelings stirred back up. I enjoy the simplicity of not being in love.
I told him I wasn’t going to date again unless I find someone who is godlike, someone who is just of a higher caliber than everyone else.
“So, you want someone to worship, then?” He asserted.
“I can’t believe you said that. I just realized a few days ago that I worship him.”
“I know you do.” He snickered, with what could not be described as anything less than a twinkle in his eye.
I went on to describe to Adam how I idolize your drive and mentality. How I wear this necklace with the wolf on it and have a blanket of a wolf hung on my wall. How I think of what you would say to me when I’m stuck on something or hurt. How everything you have ever pushed me to do has motivated me to love myself more. You constantly challenge and inspire me to be the best version of myself. And not just inspire, challenge, or demand, but you dare me to be the best version of myself. You help me when I need a kick start, and refuse to help me as I struggle to discover who I really am.
I told him how you skip me past all the bullshit in life that makes me unhappy and push me to be everything I have the potential to be.
Then Adam said to me, “He wants a twin dragon.”
And the world and my heart stopped.
A twin dragon.
This blew my mind. To be honest, B, I didn’t know you wanted anything. But a twin dragon … well I am that.
And then it occurred to me: you have always seen my wings, even when I didn’t know what it was to fly.
You pushed me off every cliff that I came up to. And you seem to think that you’re some kind of horrible person for it.
You know, if I didn’t have wings, then yes, it would be pretty terrible to push me.
But, I am beyond grateful that you saw my wings and pushed me off cliffs until I learned to fly.
I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that I am a dragon; to see my potential to be just as much of a god as I deemed you. Now that I do, watch how high I am going to fly.