Numb. Feel nothing. Shut it down.
I slipped into my mind, into the depths where everything was black and nothing—no voice, no pain—could reach me.
“Back again, huh?”I could hear Ian smirk through the dark.
“I am,” I said.
“You’re not supposed to shut down,” he said as if to pass the time.
“I don’t know what else to do.”
“What happened?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“You only shut down when you’re hurt or scared. What happened?”
I sighed. He knew me too well.
“No Ian now?”
“No,” I said. “I’m not in the mood to play… or pretend.”
“Alright then.” His words were sincere. Gentle. For Bergen, this was weird.
“Please hold me,” I said.
His arms enveloped me and I relaxed with a deep sigh into him. I felt him kiss the top of my head and right then, I lost it. I turned my face into his arm and allowed myself this moment to cry.
“Raven contacted me,” I said.
“I don’t him to,” I sobbed. “I want him to leave me alone. What could he possibly want with me? I don’t…” It was getting harder to think. “The thrill is gone. The risk… too great. I don’t want to loose my husband.”
“Don’t speak to him,” Bergen said.
“But then I fear he’ll just keep coming back. I don’t want him to. Why can’t he just watch from afar like me… distantly… quietly. In silence. Forever.”
“Is that how you love him?”
My heart screamed yes, but my mind screamed something else. Too many things looked like other things.
“I’m not sure if I do. I’m not sure if I did,” I said. “I’m just… not sure. My mind is too messed up right now to talk to him or deal with this. My mind is too frail… too broken… Bergen?”
I thought about telling Bergen right then that I loved him. I ached to say the words, but couldn’t bring myself to open up to him.
“Nothing,” I said instead.
“There’s a difference between loving someone… and loving what they do,” he said.
“Just like you can love someone and hate what they do,” he said. “You can hate someone and love what they do. Is this why you’re here?”
“It is,” I said. And it was.
“You know what numb does to you?”
Too solemn to lie to myself, I answered. “I do.”
“You associate danger and fear with being numb. It only reinforces the fear.”
“So you then look to empower yourself…” Bergen said.
“…And in so doing, I become sexually aggressive…”
“To avoid the weakness,” Bergen finished for me.
“Vulnerability,” I added.
“And that is why you cheat,” Bergen explained. “To empower yourself. To feel less weak and in control.”
“To take back the sexual control they took from me,” I said.
The darkness vanished and all at once I was in Ireland. An old cabin in the distance drew my attention and I wasted no time, I ran to the cabin. Maybe if I entered, he would be there. Maybe. My strode became a desperate run as I flew to the cabin and threw open the door.
The cold fireplace was filled with cobwebs that decorated the corners of each wall. A pile of blankets lay on the floor of the kitchen in front of the fireplace… Right where we had left them. No had had been in this room in months.
A shadow fell across the floor as Bergen entered, standing in the doorway.
“He isn’t here,” I said.
“And what would you say to him, if you could?” Bergen asked.
I slipped back into the depths of my mind, like a black hole within a black hole, I slipped back into a memory still bright and warm. All over I was laying on the floor beside him. I heard my words echo back to me.
Please let me be. I heard myself say. Please let me go. I love my husband too much to risk losing him or hurting him ever again. And talking to you, connecting with you would do just that.
I felt a familiar pain churn my stomach with sick. The words came to me, but Angel was screaming for me to stop.
There’s too much I don’t know about right now. Too much that just… I shook my head as if jarring the screams from my head. I’m too messed up to think for me. I can’t trust me right now. I need my husband. I need my therapist. and every time you talk to me… it messes with my already messed up head.”
I looked at Bergen who had heard every word. Nothing was private there in my head.
“But god I miss him so,” I said. “And my god, does it hurt.”
Bergen held me. Tight now. I knew he wouldn’t let go anytime soon.
“I blocked him,” I said. “I can’t risk… I can’t hurt my husband ever again.”
And I was.
“I remember,” I said. “I don’t want to remember this. I want to forget it.”
“You’re slipping again.”
The room was fading.
“Sing and skip the fairy mounds…” I sang.
Bergen’s voice was becoming an echo.
“Sing and skip… skip… skip…”
“Says the imaginary character.”
“Elizabeth,” he called through the shadows.
“It’s the hurt,” he said.