Unsealed Lips

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He was lying down on his bed with one arm behind his head.  He had one knee up with his weight on his left foot, while his right leg extended out to the end of the queen size mattress.  I was kneeling beside him with a pillow on my lap as I watched his fingers trace the pattern on his sheets.  His index finger followed the interlocking circles that crossed over countless lines.  Watching him seemed much more interesting than paying attention to the blue glow from the TV.  From time to time, I played with the pull strings of my hoodie and my toes curled in my black socks.  He didn’t do much except smirk and shift his glance from the lines on his sheets to my face then back to the sheets.

The anticipation was growing within me.  I couldn’t tell if these glances would stop moving and just stay on me or if his fingers would move away from the stagnant pattern toward my hands.  I wasn’t sure if he would voice what we both knew or if he would just act like nothing was going on.  I waited, letting him talk for an hour or so about his jerk of a professor and how we should go snowboarding for a weekend until the moment of silence between our words destroyed what little patience and reservations I had left.  I could no longer hold it in and I had to say what I felt.

“You know I really hate Becca for everything that she’s done,” before I even realized I was speaking, the words were out and there was no way I could pull them back into my sea of thoughts.

He looked at me and his fingers stopped moving.  This time his glance stayed on me and I was the one who was shifting focus between my pull strings and his eyes.

“Where did that come from?  Like, what do you mean?” he asked with his eyes still stuck on me.

This time there was a moment of hesitation on my part.  I was trying to gather my thoughts.  I was trying to not compromise myself or at least not sound crazy, but, again, my emotions took over and I lost control of what my lips were saying.

“Well, I mean she cheated on you and you didn’t deserve that.  You were nothing but a good boyfriend to her and while you’re handing her roses, she’s hooking up with some random guy who she probably doesn’t even talk to anymore.  It just pisses me off that she did that to you when she knew you loved her.  The least she could’ve done was break up with you before any of that happened.”

My last few words trailed off into a mumble as I started to think that I said way too much.   I was trying to figure out if I could just shut up or if it was time for me to go home, but I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be right for me to just drop this bomb on him and then walk away, so I stayed with my feet still curled underneath me on the bed.  I was proud of myself for containing my words for the next thirty seconds, but what he said next just set off another series of thoughts that I simply could not bottle up.

He simply responded by saying “It’s whatever.  I mean I don’t really care about her anymore.”  He was now looking back down at the lines on his sheets, but his fingers weren’t moving.

“I know you don’t care about her anymore.  I’m not saying you’re still in love with the girl, but you can’t tell me that what she did didn’t hurt you.  Seriously?  You cannot tell me that you have ever been able to trust and love a girl like you did with her before she did what she did.  Even if you don’t have feelings for her anymore, what you went through with her still affects how you act now.”

“I guess, but I don’t really think about it, so I don’t really know.”

“You don’t really think about it?  Or you just don’t talk about it?”

My eyes were now looking straight at him and I don’t think I could’ve turned away even if I wanted to.  He hesitated to speak.  The struggle going on between his thoughts and feelings was all over his face.  His fingers couldn’t even correctly trace the lines on his sheets anymore and he seemed to be trying to pay attention to the muted commercials.  His silence gave me the courage to keep on talking.

“I’m not trying to upset you or bring up things from the past, but I know you’re not happy.   Whether you want to admit it or not, I know you want to find somebody who you feel you can actually commit to, but you’re scared.  She scared the hell out of you, so much that you won’t let any girl near you again.  Whenever you think you might have found the right girl, Becca just pops into your head and you start to wonder if this new girl is just gonna do the same thing to you.  And, honestly, I don’t even think you give the girls you meet a serious chance.  I think you just look at a girl and automatically assume that they’re going to cheat on you or play with you or whatever, so you just play with them until you get bored.  And I hate that she did that to you.  I hate that what she did still affects you like that because you deserve to be with someone who loves you and who wants to love you.  Someone who makes you happy and wants to see you happy.  Becca screwed you over and she screwed over the rest of us girls that have to pay for what she did to you.”

I felt that last sentence roll off of my tongue and I wanted to pull it back so bad, but it was too late.  He was already propped up on the bed focused on me.

“I agree that Becca made me lose a lot of trust in girls.  I don’t think I’ve been able to blindly believe in a person like I did before I met her.  And I think it’s true what you said that I don’t take my relationships with girls seriously, but I think it’s more because I don’t think they take me seriously.  I don’t think the girls I’ve dated after Becca have proven to me that they deserve my respect, which is why I don’t care about them.  I could care less about how they feel if I don’t call them or if I don’t take them out on dates because, if they’re not putting in any real effort to be my girlfriend, I shouldn’t go out of my way to be a good boyfriend to them.  You know what I’m saying?”

I nodded my head in agreement.  At this point, all I could do was listen to what he had to say.  I had never heard him express himself so much about his relationships and I wasn’t about to jeopardize that.  I had to let him keep talking.

“And, you know, I don’t think it’s true what you said about me pushing away all the girls I care about and you of all people should know that because you know that you’re the girl I respect the most and the only girl I care about.  You’re the only person who I will always text back, no matter what.  The only person who I will stay up for, even if we’re just watching TV or talking on the phone or doing whatever.  You’re the only girl who has been able to make me feel nothing for Becca and that whole situation.  I swear to you, if you hit me up in the middle of the night saying I need you for whatever reason I would be wherever you were in a heartbeat.  You wouldn’t even have to ask me twice.

“And if I never said any of this before it’s because I don’t want to lose you.  I don’t want to tell you that I’m head over heels for you and then you not feel the same way and then have our whole friendship get awkward, but I feel like you were straight up with me just now and you showed me that you care about me enough to say something about it, so the least I can do is be honest with you, too.  So right now, I’m telling you that I want to be with you… and I don’t mean like how I was with those other girls.  I want you to be my girlfriend and I want to take care of you and I want to make you happy because you make me happy and I just want to love you.”

As he spoke, I couldn’t help but smile and I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks and my heart pounding faster.  I was definitely grateful for the poor lighting in his room right now.  My stomach tickled with a mix of astonishment and excitement, while his arms were flying all over the place with every word that he was trying to get me to understand.

At the end of it all, he let out a silent sigh as if he was literally relieved to have said everything he had been feeling for so long.  With the sigh he looked down into nothing, but then looked up at me almost immediately like a child waiting for his punishment.  For once, I was at a loss for words.  There were no thoughts running out of my mouth and no emotions jumping through my voice, but I had to respond to him.  I couldn’t just leave him hanging.  If I did, he might get the impression that I didn’t feel the same way and just when I thought my emotions left me on my own, they took the reins and answered for me.

My hands moved closer to his and they found their way up his arms and around his neck.  My legs scooted toward him until there was nowhere else for me to go.  His arms wrapped around me, welcoming me onto his lap.  Our eyes stayed locked and a smile flashed across his face just before my lips finally gave my silent response.  Apparently, he liked my answer.

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About Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the mainland United States, I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and am a 2016 VONA Voices Alumna. I currently perform spoken-word in the greater Washington D.C. area and have previously performed in Philadelphia, Miami, and the Dominican Republic. Most recently, I have been published in Public Pool, Spillwords, and The Acentos Review, and Here Comes Everyone: East & West Issue.

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