The man outside wore a suit and I didn’t own a suit which is one reason I thought we were different. He could have been my age. I saw him through the four window panes of the front door of our apartment building. His hair was cut like mine. The back of it at least. His back was always to me. He stood in the middle of the road. It wasn’t a busy road but cars still came down it though this did not seem to concern him.
His back wasn’t broad but his shoulders were. People have remarked how I have that particular design. Like a swimmer. You could rappel down this man’s shoulders, I thought, if they were used for a model of the side of a mountain or cliff. I cut myself in two once. I was certain I had done it. For a long time I had a part of me that would not allow me to face the world. I only knew fear. Nobody would know unless I told them. I probably looked strong. It might have been the swimmer’s build. The fear part ate my meals with me. It’d be rapacious then. I’d eat with an appetite that I knew my regular self didn’t have. I didn’t mind it and the fear part was kept busy.
When it was busy I would plot against it. The fear never wanted to leave. It liked where it lived. It had too much space I felt, like it had the bigger room but I payed more rent by a lot. It came to everything with me. I couldn’t say to someone, hey, I know we are doing this and I hope it works out well, but there is this third wheel here, I’m sorry, don’t mind him, that’s just the fear.
I woke up earlier than the fear. The fear slept in but he would really get going around noon and by the evening when I wanted to go to bed there was no putting him down. He wore me out. I don’t know how I got up for work. Sometimes I didn’t and you know how that goes. You can’t make a speech to your employer about this guy you have to deal with, this total pain, but he’s your responsibility. So I offered the fear a lot of money to leave, to cut out. You don’t actually give it dollar bills. That would be silly. That’s not what I mean.
You say, “fear, I need to shut off this part of myself for a while, I’m breaking down, and you’re a part of that, too, you live here as well. I need to not deal with that and not deal with anything. This is going to be boring for you, so why don’t you cut out for a while, we can resume later and have that long talk we need to have about our relationship and where this is headed. I think we both need space. I’m not going to be much good to anybody for a while, I won’t even be a suitable activity partner for you, so take some time for yourself. You’ve been talking about a trip.”