The Cure for Insomnia
“So, do you think that you’re interested in her? As more than a friend that is...”
I close my eyes for just longer than a blink, but I see years pass by. A handshake, a smile, a car ride in the rain. I see a waterfall, a dark bedroom, and her hands crawling up my thighs. I smell her smoky breath, and I feel her fingers in my hair as she pulls my mouth closer. My chest constricts, and I drop my head into my hands.
“Kayla? Do you need a moment?”
“No. No, I don’t need a moment. Thank you, though. Um. No. I don’t like her. Like that. I uh...I think I might love her? I mean. I have Natalie. I am with Natalie. I love Natalie. No. I’m not interested in Jade. She’s a close friend, but I don’t want more from her. It was just casual. Just fun.”
My therapist is not amused. Her single raised eyebrow makes any further comment unnecessary, so I hold her stare until she caves.
“Kayla. I need you to understand that this only works if you are honest with me but also with yourself. And more than that even. If you aren’t being honest, you and Natalie will never work. You can hold onto her for as long as you want. But you won’t be happy, and neither will she. It’s no surprise that you can’t stay asleep at night. You’ve both already had deeply intimate relationships that you tried to keep a secret from one another. Not to mention that you seem scared to admit that you may have been more happy in this secret relationship.”
I don’t respond. My mind is still racing through footage of Jade and what each moment meant to me. I’m thinking of nights when I held her in cars and beds and on strangers’ couches. Bars and parties. I’m thinking of how she felt like a part of me that I had lost. Of how many times I stayed with her when I should have went home and slept in my own bed. Her eyelashes brushing my neck and her hand in mine. Her soft voice whispering into my skin. I’m thinking about her slight frame. Of when I should have been holding another girl in my arms and how much easier it was to just hold onto Jade instead. How easily she could always convince me to go on adventures. How she actually made life an adventure. I’m holding the moments out in front of me to study.
“I want to back up, Kayla. You said you might love Jade? Do you believe that? Why are you holding on to a relationship with Natalie if you love Jade?”
My head is pounding with thoughts. I throw them up like so much bile poisoning my heart and my mind. I can hear the pressure building inside of me more than I can feel it. It sounds like I am underwater. I squeeze my eyes closed and swallow hard. I swallow Jade, and I forget what she felt like. My face feels hot and tense.
“No. I didn’t mean that. I just meant that she was fun. I had a lot of fun with her. I loved my time with her. I don’t love Jade. I love everything that we did.”
And for a second I almost believe myself. So when she picks me up it’s easy for me to look her in the eye before I get in the car.
“What’s up, babe? Get in.”
“I don’t love you. My hands aren’t yours to hold. And my eyes aren’t yours to hold. And you should have never kissed me. I don’t think you’re beautiful or any of that shit I told you. I’m glad you played along, but I think we both know the fun is over.”
“Kayla. What? Where is this coming from? Who said anything about love? Can you just get in the car?”
“Fuck you, Jade.”
I turn and walk home. I fall asleep holding Natalie. I pretend I don’t feel someone else laying beneath my arms. I pretend I can’t hear someone else’s shallow breathing. I pretend this is home. I pretend I’m not scared. And the lie’s so pretty, I don’t even need to open my eyes the next morning.