This room is bare now. The stripped bedding lays at the foot of the bed, the curtains sit drawn back into their ties, and the thick pine wardrobe looms ominously as though it will topple at any moment.
My luggage is packed and out in the hallway, and the tied-up bin bag waits to be deposited in the refuse bin at the end of the gravel drive.
I sigh, and reach my hand down to the baggage at my feet.
“What are you doing with that?” you say, accusation in your voice.
I feel my throat seize up against the words that want to retaliate something snappy. I swallow, and settle for, “You know.”
My eyes are averted but I can feel you frown.
“I do know. That wasn’t my question. My question was, what are you doing with that?”
My fingers close in tight as if to grip a handle and I look down at my white-knuckled fist. “You know exactly what I’m doing with it. This goes wherever I go.”
I raise my eyes defiantly to yours; it doesn’t last long. You step closer, a gentle hand catching me just below my elbow and warming my skin as though I were standing out in the sun. But it’s not quite enough.
“We’ve been over this. It doesn’t need to go anywhere with you. You don’t need it, it doesn’t help you to keep carrying this around everywhere you go.”
“Oh yeah?” Now I’m angry, and rapidly justifying my reasons for it to myself. “I’m just supposed to leave this huge part of my life here and walk away, like it’s no big deal?”
Your face grows sad, your hand slips away from my skin, and now I feel nothing but guilt.
“That’s the point. You don’t need to keep dragging this with you. It doesn’t need to be a part of you anymore. Any loyalty you feel to it is unnecessary and you know that. Why won’t you let go?”
“Because. Telling me to leave all this stuff behind is a bit like telling me to cut off a limb or tear off my skin. I don’t know how.” I feel my voice breaking and hate myself for it, especially as tears threaten an appearance.
“You do know how. You do. You just keep giving it what it wants. You keep fueling this fire and you let it engulf you time and time again. Why do you need to keep burdening yourself with this? Why won’t you believe that you deserve better?”
The baggage, which up until this point has remained dormant, decides to make its point.
You don’t deserve better. You are worthless. And you know, you aren’t anything without me. I’m the only thing that stops you from being the complete retard you actually are. I’m the only one who knows you, the real you. And if you think for one stupid second that you can just discard me after all this time, you’re a bigger fucking idiot that I ever took you for. I AM you. You don’t get to let go of me.
I swallow uncomfortably, avoiding your gaze, but it finds me anyway. You hands are suddenly somehow resting on either side of my face and you hold me there as though I were something precious.
“I know that look,” you say. “I know you’re hearing something. I know something is belittling you and fighting with you. Your eyes flicker like there’s an alarm sounding every single time it happens. Don’t you think I know you well enough by now to know when it’s happening?”
What does he know about you? He knows fuck all about you, or how ridiculous a person you are. If he knew the real you for even a second he would turn and run away from you in disgust. You are nothing. A big fat waste of space nothing that has just managed to fool him into thinking you’re something you’re not. And you, you believe him. Fool.
The conflicting voices confuse me, as they always do. So I do what I always do in this situation: I say nothing, and hope the conflict goes away.
You sigh, and the sound of it pierces as though you had rained shattered glass down on me. I watch as you rub a tired hand over your face. I wait for you to tell me you’ve had enough, to admit I’m too much trouble, and that you’re finally, finally giving up on me like I always say you will.
But you don’t.
You smile, and nudge my arm with your elbow.
“Well. If you’re insistent on taking this with you, then I insist on carrying it with you.” You wag a finger in my face and wink, and I grab it, twisting it round so that your hand slides into mine. “For now,” you continue. “But it’s going. It’s getting left behind at some point. Deal?”
The baggage does something it rarely does; it feels panic. It feels fear, and for once, it knows what it is to be threatened with being left behind. But it’s cocky.
Yeah, but for how long? He won’t put up with your shit. And I can shout louder and scream harder than anyone. I’m not going anywhere. Don’t you ever, ever think you get to be rid of me. You don’t deserve happiness and you never did.
I feel another surge of anger. I look at you watching me, reading my face, waiting.
We’ll see, I tell the baggage, we’ll see.
I smile, brighter than I feel, and head out of the room, followed by both my past and my present.