“What is it that you actually want from me?”
Jonathan ran his fingers through his mess of dark, unruly hair. They had been going around in circles for hours. Well, for years if he was totally honest with himself. Somehow, no matter what kind of friend, or brother, or lover he tried to be to her, still he felt like he was wasting his time; like he was the intermission of a more exciting show. Jonathan was a on a constant spin-cycle, with no idea whether he was coming or going.
Sometimes they were family, bickering, and tussling, stealing each others clothes and wearing one another down with crude insults. Other times they were chaste lovers, flirting, smiling, giggling, getting so drunk they would have any excuse to expose their souls to each other and not talk about it the next day, for fear of change; for fear of losing each other. For the most part though, they were friends, sharing the summer, the road, the beach. Making memories of sand castles and talks of short-lived, summer romances.
Claire hadn’t responded, so Jonathan took a deep breath and composed himself to speak again.
“It’s not a hard question Claire.” Claire blinked, blankly, which infuriated him.
“Except that it is,” she blankly informed him.
“It’s not. You just can’t pick up your meat sacks to say it.”
“I don’t know what it is that you want me to say J. Nothing I say is enough for you.” She waited for him to respond, but no words came to him, “What’s the point of doing this again?” She asked him rhetorically.
Jonathan hated that she’d marked the repeating of history. Even though he’d already marked it himself, it was awkward; their communication was not what it used to be and it felt like they were just pussy-footing around the outskirts of the issue.
He also hated that she’d called him ‘J’. As womanly as it sounded, it wasn’t really a nickname-using conversation that they were having.
“I think you love me.”
“I think you love me,” Jonathan repeated, speaking slower, more clearly. He’d surprised himself, just as much as he’d surprised Claire. They’d always shared an undefinable friendship, but feelings further than that were in the box of things they didn’t think about. The ‘Don’t Go There’ box.
“Tell me I’m wrong.”
Claire’s forehead wrinkled, “You’re wrong.” Jonathan lost all the breath in his lungs and breathed in sharply before retorting.
“I don’t believe you,” he informed her.
“Why are you determined to make everything worse? I don’t set out to hurt you.”
“Everything’s already worse. You’re lying to everyone, including me. Worst of all, you’re lying to yourself, and it’s so disappointing that you’re the only one who doesn’t see it.” Jonathan didn’t really believe Claire was lying to herself; actually he knew full well that Claire felt nothing that she couldn’t explain away or put down to some misguided experience. For the longest time, it had felt to Jonathan like she was just biding her time, waiting for when the training wheels could come off, so she could take her first venturous steps into the world. He held on so hard, because he knew that one day she was going to let go.
“I think I mean more to you than you do to me.”
He lost his breath for the second time in less than a minute. She knew how to be cruel when she wanted to be. It was an electrical pain, but not pain Jonathan had not experienced. He had been here before; they had been here before.
“So, I ask again, what do you want from me?”
Claire sighed. “I don’t know.”