I've been trying to teach myself to sleep again; I seem to have lost the knack. I get tired, but when I lie down my eyes don't close. I practice breathing: in for four, out for four, hold out for two. It works like a charm, but only if you remember to do it, and keep doing it. My mind tends to skip off like a stone. I have a lot to think about.
One day a while ago, I get a text from the Satanist. "Want to go for a walk?" Sounds fun, so I bike over to his house in the late afternoon. I think we'll stroll around the block a couple of times and call it a night, but he's got these graphite walking sticks and headlamps and we are going for a Walk.
We cut through the neighborhood a long way, and onto the municipal hiking trail and across the river. We get into the trees and the sun goes down and it is quite dark. I don't remember what we talk about. My mind keeps wandering and I am probably not saying much, but I'm having a nice time. It comes out of the blue when the Satanist tells me he fantasizes about fucking me in front of my boyfriend. He says it so casually it takes me a second to think about it, and then I say, "Yuck."
I want this line of conversation to end, and I don't want to return to it. I don't want to be riding the brakes on sexual tension all evening, and especially not out here in the dark, in the woods. I'm not scared, but it sounds like hard work, and if I'm going to work I want to get paid.
Everything changes after this and it keeps getting darker, because that's what happens at night.
"Where are we?" he asks, after a while.
"You were leading."
"I'm following you."
So now we are lost, but I can still see the lights from downtown and we keep heading towards them. We cross a bridge to the right side of the river again, but once we're on the bank nothing looks right. We're by a busy road that I ought to know but I don't see any signs, and I could swear there was no road here. I must have been here in the daylight a thousand times, but it doesn't feel like it. To my right I see downtown, closer and brighter than before. So that's good. To my left I see a stretch of dark highway and lights and cars that could be anywhere, any city, any time. The Satanist points left. "This way," he says.
When I look left I don't know where I am. I feel dizzy, like the sky is pressing down on the top of my head and my knees are going soft. I point to the right, towards beautiful, glowing, comforting downtown. Once we get there there'll be other people and all the streets will have names. We'll know exactly where we are and his house is just a stone's throw away. We'll say goodbye on his front porch and I'll get on my bike and ride home and everything will be OK. "This way," I say.
He grabs my hand. I pull back. We look at each other the best we can. It is dark now, completely dark, and the only lights are cars on the road zooming past, too bright and then gone again. "You're being weird," he says. "You've been somewhere else all night."
I start to nod. This is true. I've been somewhere else for weeks, actually. But he's not done. He's raising his voice, and this is the first time I realize that we are actually fighting.
"You're in fucking space and I don't even want to be around you right now but I can't get away from you."
I feel a sweet relief. If what we both want is to get away from each other then it's easy. I point back to the right again. "I'll go that way."
"Fine," he says. "Give me my shit." He snatches the walking stick out of my hand, and the lamp. He's angry and rough and it's the first time I really feel scared of him. I feel like a big dog just snarled at me. I'm glad I'm going my way, not further into the dark with him. I turn around and don't look back.
That was weeks ago. We haven't talked again, and I don't know if we will. I don't think about it much. I have a lot on my mind. I still can't sleep.