Turn around. Look at me!
Of course he doesn’t. He never allows himself a backwards glance when he leaves. All I can do is hope that he’ll choose to return again when he’s ready or when he needs me, and that it won’t be too long until he reaches that point.
I’ve spent too much time on my own. I thought I liked it. As long as I was alone I couldn’t get hurt or bullied. I’ve never been tempted to harm myself, so living on my own has meant a life without abuse. I believed being alone was a small price to pay for being safe and had no reason to doubt that conviction…until he walked into my world and showed me what sharing my life could be like when it’s right.
I can’t make myself walk away from the window despite the fact that it’s far too cold to be standing around naked. Although I know better I can’t help hoping that he’ll turn around and come back to me now. I stand there; staring at the street he just walked down and, not for the first time, contemplate keeping him prisoner here in my apartment.
I play the scene out in my head and can see how it would unfold all too clearly. He wouldn’t understand. He trusts me far more than I trust him. He has no doubt that he’ll be welcomed back whenever he chooses to show up; whereas I’m never sure he’ll return. He asks for so little—some of my attention, food when he’s hungry, a drink when he’s thirsty, a place in my bed and the freedom to come and go as he pleases. If I were to deprive him of any of those he’d find a way to escape, and that would be one departure from which he wouldn’t return.
And I’m happy to give him what he needs, delighted that he continues to find his way back to me while I worry that today may be the day when he doesn’t. Nobody has ever stayed with me. Everybody has always come into my life and walked out of it again according to their own wishes and desires, without ever considering my feelings. A small but loud voice in my head tells me it’s only a matter of time before he too will find a place where he’s happier than he is with me.
I turn away from the window because I’ll need to go shopping if I want to be able to feed him again when he returns. Maybe, if I continue to be ready for him, he’ll keep on coming back to me.
I stand at the window again, fully dressed this time. It’s getting dark outside. If he sticks to his usual schedule he should be back any minute now. Just as I think those words I spot him, gracefully and unhurriedly strutting my way. As relief flows through me I open the window a nudge before walking to the kitchen.
When I turn and bend to put the bowl on the floor he’s sitting on the windowsill. My tomcat has once again returned to me.
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