I knew you were trouble the moment you walked in.
It’s not as if we’re strangers — in fact, you’ve been lurking around my entire life. You always turn up uninvited at the most crucial moments. Sometimes I ignore your unrequested presence, but other times you steal the moment. Party-crashing is your specialty.
You’re really dressed to kill tonight. It seems you were preparing for this. Your eyes glitter just like the polish on your silent shoes. You’re striking, for sure. You always strike something into my heart. But that doesn’t mean I want you here.
Hello, fear. We meet again.
I feel your foreboding gaze trailing me and I blush under your disapproval of my every move. Something about your cutting gaze diminishes me into a small, pretending child.
I hope you don’t ask me to dance, but I see a threat in your eyes. I convince myself that this time, you’ll be reasonable. The violins strike up a wild, twisted waltz. Before I know it, you’ve grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me out to the floor. I can neither fight you nor face you. My hand does not belong in yours, but you’ve never let me escape before.
You speak to me, and I listen against my better judgment. You always. You never. It no longer shocks me how much you know about me. It’s as though you claw through my mind beforehand, taking inventory of rejection and failure just so no one could possibly forget. You know the names to recite. You know how to twist the salty, windblown memories so they terrify me. You know how to add element upon element of doubt. Every time we’re together, a dusty, ragged mob of haunts is never far behind. You know where to find them.
Why can’t I fight this nightmare? Why can’t I summon up the courage to push you away, silence your threats, swiftly escape? Why do I keep following you into this dreadful place?
We struggle on and on, and I lose ground. You steer me wherever you want to see me fall. My arguments are weak and yours are loud. I break into a sweat and shudder as you twist my arm one last time. You say you’re going to end it here and reach for a concealed firearm. Something I’ve seen before. Something you’ve threatened me with time after time.
And finally, I cry out. I don’t know why I didn’t yell sooner. Somehow, you subdued me. But now I’m desperate.
I see your boldness fade. You were heated and persuasive a moment ago, but now you whiten like a dead marble effigy. Your grip turns clammy. You’re startled. You’ve seen him.
I turn and meet his burning gaze. I didn’t know he was so close. He doesn’t tolerate party-crashers.
He heard me, and he’s about to intervene. He’ll pull me free and deck you, because he’s musclebound and well-acquainted with combat. His face bears the rugged marks of the front lines. His hands are victoriously battle-scarred.
You recoil. You’ve lost your brawn. I’m not afraid of you.
He’s already waged war.