When you are upset the skin beneath your eyes darkens. You move more slowly and sometimes cease to move at all, even though I know that inside you are racing. When you are upset your face is stiff and when you smile – and you do because you love me still – the line between your mouth and your cheek makes a crease that fades a few moments later. When you are upset you look older and also ageless. When you are upset it is too often my fault.
And when that expression, that nothing, appears on your face I am reminded of the danger. Each time it surfaces I have to add it to the last time I saw it, then the total to the time before that. When you are upset I can feel it everywhere, whether you remain in the house with me or not, and I know that each of the mistakes I make is something real, something tangible.
Each mistake is a stone that you pluck from your insides even as another grows inside of me. It is warmed from your palms when you cast it into a thick glass jar – it clicks off the other stones with a sound like shattered teeth. And each time I see your eyes stop and turn glossy I know you’re ready to drop another in.
I am waiting dreadfully until the jar fills and live in fear of fostering one so heavy that it smashes the entire jar. I don’t want the jagged fragments and smoothed stones to tell the story of the relationship we tried to have. I don’t want someone else to see you when you are upset.