Monday, 15 July 2013

Far from my finest moment...

“Door’s open baby.”
I could smell the chicken before I even reached the door. The doorway from the corridor opened up into a small hallway and directly opposite was the kitchen. Terry was standing in front of the oven, wearing a blue, striped butcher’s apron, matching oven mitts on his hands and a pair of maroon rugby shorts.
“Isn’t that a bit dangerous with all your fur?” I nodded to his scant clothing, “I can just see you going up in a woosh of singed hair standing there looking like a plucked turkey!”
He grinned, “I thought you’d like the view”
“Mmmm yeah, oven mitts really get me going”
“I know what gets my baby going,” he pulled me into a bear hug wrapping his big furry arms around me, making me feel small and safe. This was going to be harder than I thought.

I pushed the empty plate away, wiped my mouth on the napkin and sighed, “Y’know you didn’t have to dress for me.”
“Oh I didn’t want to distract you from the food” he teased, his sky blue eyes twinkling, matching the New South Wales rugby shirt I’d brought him back from Sydney.
“That was delicious thank you. I’m stuffed!”
“My pleasure, I like cooking for you.” He held my gaze, studying me, sighed and said, “Why don’t you go sit on the couch and I’ll go crack open another bottle…”
He picked up the empty wine bottle and started stacking the plates.
“Here let me help…”
“No babes, I got it,” he soothed, “you go relax.”
I took the two wine glasses from the table and moved them through into the living room.
A minute later and Terry walked in twisting the cork from a bottle of red.
He poured and handed me a glass before sitting on the couch, slightly apart so he could face me.
“So I think we need to chat, baby. Something’s going on with you and I don’t know what, but I can feel it. So come on hit me,” he paused catching the surprised look on my face, smiled and softly whispered, “are we ok?”

This was it. If I told him the truth it could, it would hurt him. But he deserved the truth didn’t he? This sweet, generous, warm man deserved honesty right? It would be selfish and lazy to offer anything else. Who was I trying to kid, I wasn’t trying to protect him; if I lied it would be to make things easier for me.

“Terry, this is hard, really hard. I dunno how to say it…”
He put his glass down on the coffee table, reached for mine and gently set mine next to it, so close they shared the same coaster, placed one hand at the back of my neck gently kneading it and rested the other hand on my knee, “Baby its ok. Talk to me, you know its fine to tell me anything. I’m big enough and ugly enough to handle it”
I took a deep breath... and lied.
“I’ve been offered a job in Australia. In Sydney.” I swallowed, “HR. Basically mine to take when I’m ready. And y’know, I’ve never had the chance to do this before. I think I wanna do it.” I looked up at him, desperately hoping he wouldn’t sense the lie, that he’d just take it at face value so I didn’t have to push him away, reject him.
“That’s amazing baby,” he breathed, squeezing the back of my neck, “I’m proud of you.”
He paused, letting it sink in. “When?”
“It’s an open offer. If I can be there in six months, great, but I have to be there within a year. They have several vacancies right now and I think it’s pretty much a revolving door.” I stopped. I could see the holes in my story myself. Great, huge gaping holes and if I could see them, so could Terry.
“Well then I guess you have to go and do it baby.”
My eyes were welling up, tears were starting to fall and suddenly I wanted to take it all back. Here was this gentle giant of a man letting me get away with it. Knowing that I couldn’t, wouldn't tell him the truth, but allowing me to ease myself out of it, telling me to go and be happy, to follow my dreams, that this was an opportunity I had to take, convincing me to go, even though his heart was breaking, tears dripping from his square jaw line as I was pushing him away, casting it all aside, ruining everything.
“But if I’m not going for a few months, we can still see each other right? It’s not over yet is it?” I was sobbing, the voice in my head chastising me for doing this, causing this, hurting this man who loved me, who to the last was giving; the impact of my decision, the pain I was causing this beautiful human, weighing down on me.
“Baby we both know it’s not good for us. You need to go and do this. Go explore. Conquer Australia. We’d just be complicating matters if we stay together; making it harder than it needs to be.”
He rocked me in his arms, hugging me so tight I could barely grab my breath between sobs. His tears splashed down onto my head, his hand drying them as he stroked my hair.
Finally, when our emotion was spent, he stood me up, put my coat around my shoulders, and walked me to the door. Having covered my face in kisses and held me to his chest one final time, he closed the door behind me.
I walked the three miles home that night in the rain, a self imposed penance that barely scratched the surface of my guilt. There have been times in my life when I’ve loathed myself more, but they are few and far between.