BY LEN LANGE
That was her favorite word, wasn’t it? It certainly seemed as much, given she’s said it twelve times in the past five minutes. He’s done little more than slink back as she said it meanwhile, with what must have been something dramatic in mind. Maybe this was just the climax of a Shakespearean comedy, he was thinking, and they really would be married by the end of next week, sixteenth century sex jokes and all.
She’s said it three more times in the past minute now. That had to be a record.
He’s nodding and yessing in reply and nothing else. She’d get angrier if he said anything else. If she was angrier with him, she might leave him, and God he’d be ruined.
She always tells him he’d be alone if she didn’t put up with him, and she’s right. He’s not going to deny that. She puts up with him, and that’s the best he’s going to get because God is he in love with her. She knows that. That’s what started this rant to begin with. She said he says it too much, and he’s too emotional. He’s gotten that one since he was about ten. He needs to stop being so dramatic, she tells him. He nods. He needs to stop being so embarrassing, she tells him. He nods. She’s only getting more frustrated. He doesn’t want to argue with her. That’s gone awfully in the past. She’s told him not to argue before, and he’s abided. When she gets ticked off about another habit of his, though, she does want him to argue.
She’s come up with synonyms, now.
Overemotional, theatrical, ridiculous.
He knows full well that last one isn’t a synonym, but she meant it as such.
Why are you the woman in this relationship?
That was a favorite of hers. He’d always shrug, though when she first pulled that one out a few months ago he got the indignant, misty eyed look that only proved her point. He was more outwardly emotional, focused in arts, and shorter than her, after all. His 168 cm height was notable when standing next to her 172 cm, and it was embarrassing, according to her. Most things he did were embarrassing, her words, not his, and he had a lot to clean up before she even thought about going further than saying they were “dating” in passing, despite their having been a committed couple for one year and 4 months.
He didn’t complain. He didn’t want to start a fight. He hadn’t even meant to start this fight, but nonetheless she was telling him exactly why he was the bane of her existence again, and how, despite that, she knew full well he’d die without her. She’s probably right. He’s been called a mama’s boy for as long as he can remember. Maybe Freud was right, she’d tell him. She’d say God, you’re a mess. How can one person have so many issues? He’d shrug again.
In those demeaning moods, she preferred it when he shrugged, nodded or “yes, okay, I understand”-ed her. He obliged. When she gets legitimately angry at him, though, she wants him to glare, shake his head or “no, that’s stupid, shut up” her. He didn’t. He didn’t want to insult her. He wouldn’t mean it. She’d point that out when things settled down again, anyway. You can’t be mean to me, she’d say. She’d follow it up with an I love you, though, and things would be better.
That’s all it took. Those three words, and he’d be putty in her hands again. She knew that, too. In a few minutes, it’s been eleven she’s been ranting now, she’d end it with something demeaning, telling him how pathetic he is, but that she loves him. She really does. That’s what she’d say. And he’d believe her, just like he always does. He doesn’t hate that about himself. He’s got a lot to work on, but that’s not part of it. He’ll fall head over heels for her again, the second those words leave her mouth, because they’re real. They’re all he has to cling onto. They’re reliable.
But I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
And he takes it hook, line, and sinker.
Len Lange is a Canton High School senior who has been writing about a world of fascinating characters since she was 11. She has no plans to stop.