This is not a surprise anymore, but somehow this one feels the worst of all of them, because I went out on a limb this time, I tried something different, I allowed myself to hope, just a tiny bit.
I digested what I could of it, and when the full weight of it settled in me I cried, the first I've cried over any specific, nameable event throughout this entire awful, pointless process. Yes, I've cried over the general frustration and futility of it many times over many months, but never before has one single strike merited more than a frown and a grunt and updating my spreadsheet with another R. I guess if there is anything to be proud of here it's the fact that I made it to 79 before crying over a single one.
I said aloud, wailed, "I still believe in this book." In disbelief at my own stupidity for still believing, in astonishment that after being told seventy-nine times that this book isn't any good, I still know it is. In self-loathing, because as long as I fail to listen to those seventy-nine I will continue to do the same repetitive, slashing, stupid, fruitless thing to myself, and I will continue to hurt.
You came home shortly after, and stopped me in the middle of my distracted laundry because you could tell something was wrong. I told you with my slow, stupid, tripping tongue -- how I hate my worthless mouth and my artless voice. If I could have sat you down beside me and written it, I could have made you see how this is a knife inside me, twisting to get in or out, I can't tell which and the difference doesn't matter. Instead I held onto you and frantically felt the shape of you, breathed the warm air around your neck, finding solace in the fact of you, who I haven't seen for a week and without you I know I will fracture along seventy-nine cracks and be nothing but sharp-edged pieces.
You made me lie down beside you until it was time for me to go to work. I couldn't sleep, but feeling you sleeping calmed me. When I left I told you a storm was coming. I drove to work with one eye on the lowering mass of cloud in my rearview mirror, crossing the sky as a bar crosses a door, a deep and awful stab of ultramarine blue.