At this moment, I am spooning giant scoops of ice cream from a tub of Edy’s slow churned Rocky Road from my freezer, drowning it in sprinkles and eating it compulsively, my head cradling the phone as I eat.
I am listening to him, but it’s all just words; the same old tortured words of a tortured existence.
Today’s problem of the day has gotten itself pregnant and is now two problems. He has no protection from himself, so there is always the risk of multiplication.
During conversations like these, I am unable to keep the spoon out of my mouth. Luckily his diatribes need no response. He can talk on and on about his suffering with almost no interruption, leaving me free to torture myself.
I see his form, even though he is over the bridge and I am through a tunnel, sitting awkwardly on his bed; his face drooped as low as his body. The cigarette held carelessly in his hands. Smoke floating up past his glazed over eyes; the ashes falling on jeans riddled with the cigarette holes of frustrated days gone by. He might fall asleep like this if he stopped talking. He might fall asleep even if he doesn’t.
My spoon scrapes bottom. My stomach is extended, my heart divided. I reach for the tub again. It calms something out of control inside of me which threatens to explode in these conversations, but with every bite I grow angrier with him and with myself, so instead of being soothed, I boil.
“I want to stop talking,” I hear him say, his voice a cloud over my head. I want you to as well, I don’t reply. “I know I’m talking too much.” He repeats.
The recognition is brief. It is hard for him to focus on about anything but himself and his pain for anything more than an acknowledgement. Yet, he pauses to ask how I am; which should be considered some kind of progress, even though it’s fleeting and not quite genuine, because I know it is difficult for him.
I could interrupt and fill the space with my noise, but my tongue is numb and I can’t muster the effort to even pretend to be normal tonight. So, on he goes, moving without transition from one problem to another, one pain to the next.
I have heard enough to last ten lifetimes.
Still, he can’t stop talking. I can’t stop spooning. And we both can’t stop hating who we are at this moment.