by Giselle Renarde
This week, an excerpt from my pretty much completely autobiographical book, Audrey and Lawrence:
“I’m sorry,” Lawrence said, so heartfelt it made me want to scream.
“Don’t,” I stopped him. “Because the second you say you’re sorry, I’m supposed to say it’s okay. It’s not okay.”
“You had all this time to tell me!”
“Oh,” he replied. “Well, I knew not to tell you by e-mail.”
“Right.” I percolated, calm before the storm. “Because if you’d written an e-mail I would have told you to go fuck yourself. When you give me bad news in person, my love and my hatred get conflated and that fusion turns into sex. At least you get what came for.”
“I came to see you,” he argued. “This is more than just sex, to me.”
The worst part of was that I believed him. But I shook my head and muttered, “Whatever,” so not to lose face. The last thing I wanted in an argument was to seem uncertain. “Some day you'll break your legs or get pneumonia or something horrible will happen to you and I will laugh my ass off because you deserve it. And in case you think it's taking me too long to get over all your compounded lies and deceptions, let me tell you: I will never get over them. And here I have to carry this burden of being the only person in the world who knows what a fucking liar you are.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not sure how this is a lie, but I’m certain you’ll let me know.”
“You are a liar is a general statement,” I enunciated, incensed by his reaction. In my state of intense upset I was losing grasp of my English. My words were drowning in my accent, to the point where I wasn’t sure if Lawrence could even understand me anymore. “You tell lies. That’s something I know about you that nobody else knows. Not even you know it, because you delude yourself into believing lies of omission are not really lies when they truly, truly are. So here I hold this knowledge about your nature and constantly I have to make the decision, do I keep this secret? Do I tell? And every day I make the same choice: I detain this knowledge. I imprison it, though it’s a burden to me, though it’s the wrong thing to do.”
“It isn’t wrong if it’s for the right...”
“It is wrong!” I cried. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. You taught me that! And here your evil triumphs because I sit idly by. Just keep breaking those promises, Lawrence. Keep lying. See where it gets you.”
His whole body straightened, stiffened. “Is that a threat?” he asked, raising an eyebrow like he was the innocent. “You’re going to tell Ruth?"
“I shouldn’t have to,” I said. “You’re the husband, and you did wrong. It’s your job to set it right. But of course you’ll never come clean.”
“That’s right. I won’t. And you want to know why?”
I couldn’t remember ever feeling such hatred for the man I’d wanted so badly. “Because you’re a fucking coward is why! You can’t face the consequences of your actions. You’re just a little boy who wants everything for himself, but doesn’t want to pay the price.”
He didn’t move from the bed. He rested with such languor I wanted to punch him in his stupid mouth. It was like he didn’t give a fuck about what I was saying.
“My only lies are omissions,” he said self-righteously. “And those are to spare Ruth a pain she does not need to feel.”
“Who are you to decide what she needs to feel?” I cried. That was such a patriarchal attitude. “Just tell the truth for once.”
“Oh, I see. So, you want me to hurt my family.” He offered a simple shrug, like it was just that easy.
“I want them to know the truth, Lawrence. When you respect a person, you tell her the truth. Do you have so little respect for your own wife?”
I could tell I’d struck a nerve, but only because he flinched. His words still flowed out calm, cool, collected. “Respect doesn’t enter into this conversation. You know why I won’t tell her? Because she has enough pain already. I don’t want to cause her any more.”
“Bull-fucking-shit!” I spat. I wouldn’t buy that excuse for a nickel.
“And because I love her.” His expression was the dictionary definition of smug.
My throat was already so constricted that my gasp sounded like something struggling to stay alive. I saw my brain in pixels, vibrating in a frenzy of particle motion until the energy of my whole body started to spin out of control. A tornado whirled around my head, escaping with my words. “No you don’t! You love me!” The tears came pouring out, falling hot on the hands wringing in my lap. My chest heaved. “You love me!” I cried. “You love me!”
Sobs like mocking laughter escaped my lips as they opened wide and contorted, the mask of tragedy.
With my head hanging low, I bawled. “Why do you hurt me like this?”
Wrapping distraught arms around my waist, I made a desperate attempt to comfort myself. I must have been mad, taking his shit year in, year out. Who else would have?
“Would she have stayed with you if she knew what a horrible, horrible man you are? Calisse de crisse, I hate you so much! I hate what you’ve turned me into: this maudit whining little child. I hate who I am with you.”
Lawrence knew better than to comfort me. I would only have lashed out at him. He got up from the bed and pulled his jeans up. “I think I should leave now.”
“No! Lawrence, I love you,” I cried, confounded by my quick change in temperament.
I love you, I hate you, I love you, I hate you.
“Don’t go yet.”
Stay and share in my misery. Stay and watch me cry. Just stay.
What was wrong with me? Why did I abuse him and then panic when he chose to leave?
“Why would I stay?” he asked, retrieving his T-shirt from the floor. “So you can hurl more insults my way? More threats maybe?”
He was already at the front door when I wrapped my arms around him, like those children who hurl their entire bodies at their parents’ legs when they try to walk into the next room.
Burying my face in his chest, I whimpered, “You don’t really love her. You love me.”
I grasped his core, trying to squeeze a response from him. He held me, but said nothing, and for a long moment that was enough. I started wondering why the hell he was with me at all when my behaviour was so wretchedly unpredictable. Was it my fault, all this arguing? Or was it his? My energy was so zapped from the fight I couldn’t recall what it had been about.
“You love me more…?” I begged. My hopes were high.
When he didn’t say anything, the upset flooded my veins once again.
“Fine!” I replied, sullen as a teenager. Pushing him away, I cried, “Leave! Go! What do I care?”
But I must have cared to some extent, because I picked up a thigh-high boot and hurled it at his head. The heel made contact with his skull, issuing a knocking noise, and the boot fell back down to the floor.
“Audrey!” Lawrence cried, his jaw hanging open as he reached up to touch the gash across his bald head.
“What are you going to tell her now? My mistress threw a boot at my head? Try to explain that with one of your lies of omission...”