Here is something real that I refused to put into words for a long time. Because we all want to believe that it doesn't happen like this. Because we all want just a little bit of comfort.

It is not easy to break me. I do not allow myself to become consumed by pain. Or challenged by setbacks. I simply pick myself up and go on. Get over it. So many times the leaver and rarely the left.

This is the exception.


There is a dark side to what happened in Idaho that is not easy to talk about. Much less put in ink. The people that care the most about me have allowed me to get by with saying, simply, It was over; it was time to leave. And that is the truth, not a bit false or exaggerated. It was the end. The end of Elliott and I. What I have always been permitted to fail in saying is that it was almost the end of me as well.

Idaho left me bleeding and broken. So did Elliott. I moved myself across the country to escape them both and only when I was sure I could return unbroken did I. Part of me knew from the beginning that I had to go back. Because I had never been back to anywhere. What I mean is I had never not moved on.

I spent many months without the mention of his name. Oh others would bring it up, but I was good at changing subjects then, just as I am now. If I do not want to talk about it, I will not talk about it.

It was my mother who figured it out first. Should have known the scientist would dig through all the dirt on me. She wouldn't tell me for ages how she knew, would play it off on a mother's intuition. Years later and she would admit that she knew the moment she tried to place her fingers on my shoulder and I cringed. Shriveled up my body; you don't get to touch that; hands off. I continued this behavior for months.

It didn't get any better for a long time. Oh I was happy, outwardly and inwardly, but my body was a terrified mess. Afraid of what hands could do to it. How could something so comparatively small in mass wreak so much havoc?

Look, I will not have you thinking he is a horrible man. He is not. Nor will I play the abused or sheltered or innocent. We were both volatile people at the time. Whether it was self-combustion or spontaneous or accidental or a long, slow burning fuse, I can't recall. But when it happened, it was over. I left Idaho without looking back. Just like that. No broken hearts here. Only broken bodies.


Years later and by all means I can masquerade myself as being over this. Have moved on and have given my heart away just as carelessly and as meticulously planned as ever. Did not change who I was or how I thought about the world or love or people one bit. No use in that. Am not bitter or angry. Do however still freeze up when greeted by unsuspected touch.

When I see him these days it is not really him. See him over distances or in crowds but it is never him in the flesh. Always a mistaken face, always a mirage.

Until, when I am alone at the gas station and then there he is. Very real and very up close. Almost on instinct, here I am shriveling up, pulling my body in the tightest ball I can manage without giving myself away. Part of me wants to jump back in the car and just drive off. Run away like it is not him, like it is not happening.

But it does happen. He says hello and he is cordial, more than cordial but in this moment it is hard to look in his eyes. Eyes that are not bright but dull and down. Not very warm at all but timid and terrified and in this moment it is easy to see he is just afraid of me as I of him. When I hug him his body does the same as mine had done before. I can feel the muscles beneath his skin contract and tense up and then, after a sigh, relax. It is a good hug and we both know it.

The monster is not Elliott for me nor is it me for Elliott. The monster for each of us is ourselves and this was the hardest part to accept. Which makes good sense in the end. It is a good moment not to run but to face down old demons and move on together. It is going to take some time, I think, but it will happen.

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