A Stranger

by Bernice

“What’s wrong? Why are we like this?”

I stare up at the ceiling blankly. I noticed that’s how all my stares have been like lately. I don’t have the answer he wants and neither does the ceiling. I want to look at him, but something keeps me from doing so. Pride? Hurt? I can’t be sure. Lately, my emotions have been an incoherent ball of mess. I lash out sometimes. Sometimes, I withdraw.

Is it because I’m a stranger, here? It can’t be. I’m used to this place now. Or at least, I think I am. Or maybe not. When I think of the people, and their ignorance of my pain of longing for home, I get—angry. How dare they not understand how it feels to be a stranger in a place that looks nothing like their own? I’m angry, but also confused. How can I be angry at them for never traveling? It makes no sense. Lately, I make no sense. I don’t know why. I wish I could tell him everything—everything I’m thinking, or everything that I think I feel.

Why are we like this? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions. I’m deeply uncomfortable—the most uncomfortable I’ve been in a long time. Everywhere we go, I’m a stranger. How can I be okay, when I’m a stranger? Sometimes, I feel like a stranger to you, too. You feel like a stranger to me too, sometimes. But how can I say this? Everything I say doesn’t come out right. All of these thoughts never form coherent lines of thinking. They’re like my emotions—everywhere.

“I don’t know.” I answer quietly.

I squint at the ceiling, trying my best not to let those hot tears flow down the sides of my face. I know you hate it when I cry. I know you’re frustrated, too. I don’t want to hear that familiar sigh, and turn to see those tired dark eyes.

But I think you notice anyway, despite my best efforts. Sometimes, it’s like you know me so well—as if I’m an extension of you. But, that can’t be true, because then wouldn’t you understand not to ask me such questions?

“That’s all you have to say?” You ask.

I hear it. The annoyance. You know there is a lot going on in my mind, but none of that is escaping my lips. How can it, when it doesn’t make sense?

What do you want me to say? The question clangs around my mind, like some balloon losing its air. It’s disorienting, and frustrating. I can’t think clearly. I can’t feel clearly. Nothing seems right. How can I have no answer? What is it? What has changed? Why do we fight so much?

I’m a stranger.

Before, when I wasn’t a stranger, I thought that I wanted this. If being in a strange land meant that I could be with you, I would happily go. I thought that being together would solve everything. I was unhappy before, but am I happier now? No. I think I’m unhappier, now. I know that you would be hurt if I told you, but it has nothing to do with you. I love you—that hasn’t changed.

But I feel like I’m in a cage. How did I get caged? I thought I was flying, but now I’ve landed. Weren’t you a bird too? Weren’t we flying? When did we land? Why did we land? Isn’t that what changed? We’re meant for the air, baby. We’re not land animals. We need to fly, or we’ll both be unhappy.

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