49. swirling arabesques and wobbly pirouettes

What is there to say when a person you’ve loved stops loving you? When the reasons he gives you betray the thinking and vocabulary of someone else; when the eyes he sees you with belong to someone else. All at once, he perceives you as though you were a stranger: what was beautiful has flaws now, yet it’s not the flaws themselves that you find shocking, but his sudden perception of them, as though they had not already and always been intertwined with everything else that goes to make up the swirling arabesques and wobbly pirouettes of your unique beauty. To realize that he failed to see it in all its interconnectedness, the power and paralysis, the fear and the fortitude, saw only what he wished to see; that you mistook this selective perception for love. The body senses it first: an alteration in speech, in posture; the person who was at your side, drawn in by another orbit now and drifting away. You experience relief, the miracle of freedom and autonomy regained, until the internal monologue arrives and you see each moment of misunderstanding laid out clearly before you as on a tabletop, or a chessboard. There are no moves open to you that do not compromise him, imperil his Queen. You hold out your hand, speak in words as pure and unambiguous as any you’ve ever known, but it’s no matter now; he is no longer listening, or if he is, it’s with a filtered understanding, peering imperiously through armor acquired from past battles, past pain. And who can blame him? A perilous business, love: you worried about him, allowed yourself to begin dreaming with him, you nearly began leaning on him and finally broke down in front of him when the dissonance and disconnect became too overwhelming. To realize that Q. did not understand the reality of your anguish is to become aware of the level of manipulation he’s grown immune to, but this isn’t much help as you maneuver yourself to a safer place, and second person singular slips into third.

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