Category Archives: A Stranger

A Stranger II

by Bernice


“If you saw me at a bar—or any place—would you still be interested, and want to talk?”

Yes. I blink slowly. The ceiling doesn’t change. It’s always the same. Always white, with hairline cracks due to old age. I trace the cracks with my eyes, and back again. I frown.

“Why?”

Are you asking? Is the full question, but I don’t bother to finish it. He knows. He almost always understands when I don’t bother to finish my line of thought. Mostly, it annoys him. I’m too spaced-out or scatterbrained is what I think he thinks. He’s never called me either of those though.

“It’s a question whose answer Susanna thinks determines whether your partner is still interested in you.”

I nod slowly, although I don’t know if he’s looking at me. I place my arm over my forehead, shielding my eyes from nothing. The light on the ceiling is too dim to bother me.

“Yes, I would.”

I almost smile to myself, but stop short. What kind of question is that, anyway? With his thick, coarse hair, and almond shaped eyes, who wouldn’t be at least a little interested in him?

I sigh.

“What about you?” I ask quietly.

From the slight increase in pace of my heart, I’m aware that I’m a little nervous about his answer. I’ve changed a lot since we first met a year ago. I gained at least 15 pounds, and just two weeks ago, I chopped my hair off in my quest to go natural. He’d told me a million times before that he prefers long hair. But I wanted to be natural—I didn’t really care.

“Yes, especially with what you were wearing the other day. I think I’d want to talk to you, but would wait to see you again.”

I frown again. His answer is disappointing. All he needed to say was yes. Why did he include everything else? If I was wearing something else, would he not have been as interested? If he never saw me again after that, would he have been okay with it? I wonder if he knows his answer is dissatisfying, and purposefully made it dissatisfying because he’s mad.

He’s always mad. Or it feels like it. He has no patience for word games, or for when I don’t do something he thinks should be done in a certain way. He also hates when I don’t understand something that is evident to him. He’s a jerk in those times. In those times, I don’t understand him. We don’t understand each other.

We joke at times and say that he’s the scientist. I’m the artist. But aren’t artists scientists too? Of the mind, and the heart? I keep that to myself. I know he’d laugh. Or make that expression where he squints his eyes, knots his brow, and presses his lips together in mock confusion. I hate that, but not all the time. Sometimes, it’s cute. When I’m trying to communicate serious thoughts, I hate it. It makes me nervous—he makes me nervous. He doesn’t know that though.

When I’m nervous I don’t make sense, or at least, I think I don’t make sense. The more he makes that expression, the more sense I don’t make.


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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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