The party ended and I went to Gillian’s house. I was between places and Gillian was letting me stay with her temporarily, which given our history was a tribute to her character. We had been in a tumultuous three-year relationship, followed by two years of her not speaking to me after we split up. Or rather, after she kicked me out. Which, if I’m honest with myself, is what I, as a saboteur, had been angling for throughout our relationship. I needed to test the boundaries of Gillian’s limits. I pushed and pushed until I had gone too far, until we had reached that point of no return which I both craved and feared.
I went into the apartment and was greeted by Gillian’s cat, Midnight. She rubbed her head against my shin and purred, just as she had always done when I lived there. I thanked her for the warm welcome and stroked her scalp.
I went into the living room and found Gillian asleep on the couch. The T.V. was playing static. I didn’t know that could still happen in the 21st century. I turned it off.
I stood over Gillian and considered waking her up and telling her to go into the bedroom. I leaned down to nudge her but couldn’t do it. She looked like a small child. Her legs drawn in toward her waist, her face cradled between her palms. He breathing was slow and even. She was still wearing her glasses.
Her stillness got me thinking.
I thought about how everyone was a child when they were asleep, everyone was innocent. Then I thought specifically about Gillian, and the fact that she and I had been through a lot together. I felt blackly guilty for things I had said or done, ways in which I had hurt Gillian, and myself, during our relationship.
I’m sorry, I whispered to the sleeping Gillian. I had said sorry countless times to an awake Gillian. Elton John was wrong. Sorry wasn’t the hardest word. In some ways it was the easiest. And cheapest.
I reached down and carefully removed Gillian’s glasses. She stirred, but didn’t wake up.
I went to the bedroom where, for however long I slept, I could become innocent again.