“This, to me, represents love. It’s something visible…tangible. It’s the physical manifestation of our commitment to each other, Calvin. Please don’t dismiss it without at least having a look around. Please?” The imploring tone in her voice cut to my inner core as inexorably as a dagger might.
I swallowed down the nausea and stepped across the threshold of the house. It was a modest bungalow in a reasonably-affluent neighborhood and would be the perfect starter home for a pair of newlyweds with the financial wherewithal to occupy it. She and I were certainly that. So, what was my problem with it?
It was the same problem that had seen me rent five different apartments since I’d moved to the city twelve years earlier. It was the same problem I tried, with indifferent success, to control…to subvert with three different psychotropic medications and a dozen hours a week of psychotherapy. It was a problem that had harried and hounded me since my early teens.
To her, it embodied the future…potentialities and possibilities. To her, it was an opportunity to take two disparate individuals and bind them together as one in purpose, one in intent, one inextricably joined entity.
To me, it was a prison…an anchor and a millstone. To me, it was a commitment to abandon my identity and be forever subsumed into the inevitable complacency of married life. If she were to have her way, there would be no more “me” and “her” but, instead, there would become this entirely uncertain and unfounded “us”.
This was not a point open for discussion or dissention. This was, in simplest terms, her metaphorical and her material attempt to draw a line in the sand and defy me to not step over it. We had been engaged for nearly five years. She knew all of my issues…my foibles…my flaws. This was her effort to sweep those to the side once and for all. This was her gambit to force me to choose between indulging my limitations and exorcising my demons. I could make this one great step forward…with her…to her…or I was free to continue to live my solitary life however I saw best without her as a part of it.
Standing there on the beige Berber carpet, my eyes swept the room. The polished sheen of the oak wood moldings, the strength and solidity of the rafter beams, the smooth plaster of the walls did not impress me so much as taunt me. They defied me to prove myself worthy of their permanence and their comforts. They challenged me to find within the necessary resolve, the requisite stability to put aside that which most threatened my future and bound me forever to an unsatisfactory past.
I would like to say I met that challenge boldly and bravely. I would love to speak of the triumph of my will over my demons. But such was not to be. I turned and fled it all and have never looked backward without embracing regret.
This story was written for the weekly Finish That Thought flash fiction challenge prompt phrase: This, to me, represents love.