Ana, if there’s any hesitation, any at all, then u know it’s not good news. You just know, u know. There should be no hesitation, he says. Easy for him to say. He’s not the one shaking in her shoes. A slow cold sweat down the side of my temple. I swear if my hands don’t stop shaking, I’m gonna have to sit on them. You know what’s the worst part of being nervous? The helplessness. You can’t do a lot to control it. You talk to yourself, you scream at yourself, you pray for yourself. Wishing desperately for calmness to come, long for bodily control. You know when you’re in bed in the late Fall and you suddenly feel that first winter chill? You jump out of bed to grab your heavy blanket and the warmness that comes with it – safe, encompassing, delicious. That’s what I was silently praying for – calmness, control, warmness. Instead, I was sitting there shaking – hands, feet, chest. So cold. So uncontrollable. You’re gonna be fine, Ana. Look at you. You’re gonna be fine. I look over to him and wish I could believe him. Wish that I could be as certain as he was. I smile. Telling him with my forced lips that I appreciated him, the pep talk, his belief in me. I lose myself in that moment for a second. Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, Buzz. I snap out my trance – where r u? The text reads. Almost dere, I respond.
You can drop me off right there. Yeah, this is fine. Thank you. I say. Remember Ana, no… yea yea I got it. Thanks. Heart starts pounding. You know that second before you start dropping on a rollercoaster – that very first drop. All your organs jump to your throat, your eyes widen, your jaw clenches, you hold your breath. Yeap, that’s exactly how I felt. Breathe. On 3. 1… 2… 3… I get out the car and start walking. My heart pounds harder with every beat, my breath shorter with every inhale. I has to use every ounce of concentration to makes sure my legs didn’t buckle under me. Left, Right, Left, Right. Keep your legs under you, Ana. You’re almost there… Hey, hey.
I sit Indian style in front of him. Me on the table, he on a chair in front of me. What did you want to talk about? He asks with a tone of confusion in his voice. Everything ok? I nod and look at him first for the first time. He’s under the weather – fighting a cold. In his sweats, hair with the pillow marks imprinted on his waves, glasses on, eyes a little glossy. I feel bad getting him out of bed, a bed I’m intimately familiar with. But if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it. I, clear my throat, I… I have to tell you something. Heart pounding, hands folded in front of me to stop them from shaking. What is it? Pound, pound, pound. My heart wont stop. You would think I was running a sprint. I, I, I really care about you, I whisper. And I want to be more that what we are. Oh, he looks down. Suddenly sitting up in the chair. There it was – the hesitation.
Punch – buggy!!! Ahhhhh, what the fuck!! That hurt!! Why you gotta punch me so hard?? Grimacing, fuck that hurt! That’s how you feel when someone gets you good when you’re playing that stupid game. Arm throbbing. A pain that shoots out your arm like a firework. Your arm, your elbow, your fingers all feeling a surge of painful electricity. Fuck that hurts. You rub the spot of the punch trying to massage the pain away. A firework of hurt. That’s how my chest felt at that very moment. Like someone was playing Punch Buggy and punched me right in the middle of my chest. The sudden, unexpected pain. The pain started in the center and within microseconds was shooting out in every direction – heart, stomach, back. Everywhere. A firework had just exploded in my body. He didn’t have to say it, I already knew. My body was already reacting. It took every fiber in my self for me to keep it together. To hold that Indian style in place.
I’m not ready. It’s not what I want. He said the words. Put his head down. I look up. Fighting my tear ducts, they were on the verge of mutiny. And I saw it. A bug. A bug on the wall, doing nothing but staring at us. I dig in my pocket and take out my phone. Snap, snap, snap. What are you doing, Ana? I’m taking a bio class and we’re studying bugs. My professor will wanna see this, I respond. That’s what I wanted him to believe but in reality, I concentrated on that bug so I didn’t cry. I needed my eyes to focus. I needed my tears to not betray me. Not in front of him. I look back at him. The knot in my throat grows tighter – strangling me from within. The bug stunt did the trick. I was able to gain some strength in those 15 seconds. I understand. You don’t have to explain. I jump off the table. My eyes begin to water. There they come. Fuck!! I kissed him on the lips and walked away. Out the building, out the squad, out into the night. Beautiful Spring night. A little moisture in the air. Fresh air. Trees blooming. A night full of life. The moonlight lit my path and I walked and walked and walked. I can’t say many thoughts ran thru my head. Not one, actually. I just walked and walked. Hoping that with every step the throbbing in my chest would be easier to bear and the knot in my throat would loosen. Left, Right, Left, Right. Into the night.
I wish I could tell you that our story ended there. But it doesn’t always end there, does it.
If I’m grateful for one thing that night it was that bug. It saved my dignity.