Of Possession and Dispossession
There was no win or lose in this decision. Keri couldn’t stay with Victor though leaving him was killing her. Still, there was no other choice. Her mind was made, if not her heart.
“Why are you doing this,” Victor asked in stunned disbelief.
“Clare. That’s why.”
“Clare? What about Clare?”
“How can I explain what you won’t hear or will twist to suit your argument?”
“Don’t do this Keri. Leaving me won’t fix this.”
“Staying hasn’t fixed this and it’s killing me.”
“Wait a minute. Just stop and explain this to me,” Victor asked.
Keri paused and went to the window. Painful silence filled the spaces between them as she stared out at the distant moon. She gathered her thoughts and battled for control of rioting emotions.
After a moment to collect, she spoke the first words that came to her; words she never wanted to speak of again, “Don’t ask for things you can’t deal with, Victor. This is your out. I strongly suggest you take it.”
Victor said nothing, not wanting to push her over the precipice of the emotional cliff she was obviously teetering upon.
Keri continued, “Your wife has been deceased for more than a decade and you are still one.” She paused awaiting his inevitable denial.
“Keri,” Victor tried to make her see how unreasonable she was being, “How can I make you see? You’re jealous of a dead woman,” he accused.
“No I’m not,” she snapped sharply, “Clare is very much alive and,” Keri concluded bitterly, “she is in you and of you. Clare is everything that comprises you. She lives in your thoughts and resides in your heart, where there never was any room for me.”
“For Christ’s sake, Keri. Of course you’re in my heart,” Victor reasoned.
“Shut up,” she cut him off angrily, “Just shut the fuck up! Because of you, I’m dying a million deaths! I’m hemorrhaging emotionally! My heart is bleeding out and it’s your fault! You pursued me. You accepted my heart among your other demands.”
“Honey, you’re imagining all of this,” he stated with quiet incredulity.
“Oh yea, right,” Keri argued flippantly, “I invested two years of my absolutely- alive heart, mind, body, soul and life in you; in loving you with everything I am, only to be crowded out by a ghost.”
She retrieved her suitcase taking pains to stay out of Victor’s reach. He lay back on the bed holding his head with hands over his face.
“Why is Clare an issue all of a sudden?”
You think this was sudden,” she asked, infuriated, “You asked me to give you two years to get on firm footing. This was not sudden,” she yelled slamming her suitcase shut, “Sweet Jesus, I envy Clare!”
“Envy,” Victor muttered his confusion into his hands.
“Yes. Clare is dead! She feels nothing! Shit! I envy her that!”
“I asked you to give me two years and I made a home for us,” Victor stated the obvious, trying to maintain dulcet tones while untangling her rage.
“No. You didn’t. We found a place to live in together, where we exist around each other,” Keri stopped the torrent of words to follow, struggling to regain self-control. She knew this battle was over long before it began, before she had ever crossed Victor’s path, much less his mind.
Victor patted the bed saying, “This is where we lay together, the place where we express our love for each other.”
Keri sat next to her travel bag exhausted, “I thought so once.”
“You don’t think so now?”
“It’s obvious that my love for you is not enough,”
“To do what?”
“To exorcise her from your soul, from all that you touch, breath, think, feel, are… prefer.”
“I’m lost. You’re not making sense, Keri. Give me an example.”
“You persistently run from reality to hide in Clare’s possession of you. For instance: When was the last time we made love that you weren’t thinking of her?”
Victor lay silently stunned. He had no idea that Keri felt his very thoughts, and not just in bed, in everything. He dragged his hand through his hair remembering all the times he had looked into Keri’s eyes, how frequently her soft smile had touched his heart, how many times she had held him or they had made love, while all he ever felt or saw was Clare.
It was Clare’s eyes he had looked into so deeply, her smile that Keri’s resembled so. It was Clare’s arms that held him close and her body he had loved so intensely. Keri kept her silence for two years, giving him the space and time he had asked for. Victor was acutely aware of her pain and frustration, leaving him ultimately in the wrong and If it could get any worse, it did.
Both knew it wasn’t exactly his fault, neither asked for what they had gotten. Keri knew as well as Victor, that he was well and truly possessed. Had it been less than his true love, Keri would have called out the clergy to exorcise his demon faster than he could blink.
“You see,” she said, interrupting his thoughts, “I’m no good at ménage à trois and you’re a man in love with a corpse; a spirit that can do no wrong; an eternally perfect ghost. That’s a competition I can’t… no, won’t live with any longer.”
“Wait,” he implored softly, “Don’t leave.”
“And stay for what,” Keri questioned, “You have immediately, and permanently, turned down any and all help that I’ve offered to get for you, or assist you in getting for yourself. Apparently, you are happy living in your misery.”
“No, Keri, I mean, I just realized. I never meant to…”
“Apparently, you never meant anything,” she laid her cards, face-up, on the table.
“Keri, stop. We can work on this. Don’t leave. Not now.”
“‘Not now?’ As though penciling it in later would be better? Maybe Clare has no expiration date, but I do.”
“I didn’t realize what I was doing, but now that I know we can start over,” He reached to extract the bags from her.
Keri moved to dodge him, whispering, “Maybe you can. I sure as hell can’t.”
She stood in the doorway wanting to drop everything and run back into the safety of his arms but she already knew with certainty, anything she’d felt in his arms never belonged to her.
“Why would I,” she wept, “Start over letting you love her and you use me like some morbid conduit,” she stated more than asked, hauling her belongings from the bed.
Victor followed her to the door hoping for one last chance; hoping for words that would convince her to stay, “I love you, Keri. Yes, I’m always going to love what I had with Clare, but I love you!”
“Oh, you think so?”
“I know so.”
“Guess again, Victor. Do you remember, before we lived together, when I busted my ass and my bank account to fly across the country to see you?”
“Yes. It was great.”
“It wasn’t,” Keri yelled, losing her tenuous grip on self-control, “It was a God damn, unmitigated disaster!”
Victor was holding onto the very end of his rapidly fraying rope, “That’s not how I remember it. We spent the whole week together.”
“Yes, we spent the week doing anything you could think of to please you. I rented a car. I drove your sorry ass all over town. I paid for everything and you still weren’t happy. You were hell-bent-determined that nothing short of Clare’s resurrection was going to make you happy. Also,” she screamed, completely unraveling and unable to stop now, “I asked you about the social site you’re on.”
“What? What about it now,” he yelled back at her.
“I gave you two years that you asked me for. You couldn’t wait two days until I was at least on an outbound flight, before befriending a skanky slut. I found out after I’d twisted myself into a pretzel trying to please you. I wish I’d known it was as easy as dying my hair and posting an ad for a smarmy, sickening affair!
“You are! You’re jealous and you don’t trust me,” Victor couldn’t have chosen a worse time for denial and childish accusation.
Say that just one more time and I swear I’ll knock you onto your lying ass so hard you’ll never stand up again! Your actions always spoke louder than your words, Victor and they were always in direct opposition.”
“Nothing happened! I swear I never met the girl!”
“Doesn’t matter. What do you think that did to me? You said you hadn’t even been on the site. You lied. So what the fuck else have you lied about? In my shoes, would you trust you? If your daughter asked for similar advice, what would you tell her? I gave you two years. I was woman enough to keep my word. My obligation is over.”
Keri opened the door and half-turned back to finish, “It’s not lack of love, Victor. Between your lies, Clare’s presence, and your terror of our real, live relationship, I didn’t see that I was the only one in it. So go now. Run away. Fuck the skanky slut. Fuck a million of them. They’re all Clare anyhow. I’m setting you free with fierce pity for any woman who ever falls in love with you. Goodbye, you two. I now pronounce myself dispossessed.”
DISCLAIMER: Any similarities to any person(s) living or deceased are strictly coincidental.
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