To Lie Awake and Pretend You Can Hear Me
She didn’t remember the night they met each other for the first time for the seventh time. She’d somehow lost sight of the first six with time. The pattern they had established was confusing her, leaving her alone when she in truth had seven men of drastically different personas who would each kill to keep her.
The second time they met for the first time they met, it was in a subway station. Kind of an experiment to see what would happen. It was awkward at best: the majority of their conversations consisted of numerous breaks in character and recurring continuity errors in each of their structured personas. But it was romantic and sweet nonetheless. And for a while, the spark of their relationship boomed. But when a spark has to be relit, it never lasts very long. It died out within a couple of weeks. So they tried it again.
He—or rather they—knew this was a bad idea.
“This isn’t normal,” he would preach.
“What if something happens?” he would ask.
“And what could possibly happen?” she would laugh as she clasped his hand in hers lovingly, taking specific time to stroke each vein and joint with a careful touch. That was the one thing they had in common with one-another. Through all of the strange outfits and varied personalities, he couldn’t ignore how soothing her touch was. And because he couldn’t ignore, neither could they.
No matter the outcome of their first encounters; whether it be romantic or sexual or funny or sweet or even angry, every night he would inevitably fall asleep to the feeling of her fingers on his. It was like a safety net. If the roleplay ever became too unfamiliar, she could just take his hand in hers and be assured that they were him.
Maybe that’s where he went wrong. Maybe having that one consistency in every encounter is what confused her. Maybe she wasn’t as stable as he had thought. Maybe he was just too good of an actor. Whatever it was, he was beginning to lose her to them. They were slowly becoming her reality while who he truly was started to become the roleplay. The more characters he created, the worse it got.
So he stopped. He told her it needed to end. He told her why, but it only made her upset. She didn’t believe him and the more he tried to convince her, the further away she slipped, this time at a frightening rate. He begged for her to stay, for her to see the truth and the more he fought, the more disgusted with him she became. She saw him less as her eternally devoted husband and more as that guy who liked to hit on her despite knowing she was a married woman.
But married to whom? Apparently that shifted day to day. Some days he would wake up and refuse to see anyone other than Leon as her lover. Other times it was Jameson. On occasion she even loved Marion, whom he considered to be the least appealing of all of them.
Until one day, he would wake up next to her after a night of being one of them. She screamed. She hit him and screamed and covered her naked body and screamed and threw things at him and wouldn’t stop screaming. She trembled like an animal that had been left out in the rain overnight; her speech shaken and utterly distraught. She was about to call the police so, in a panic, he put on the wig and became one of them. And instantly, she calmed down. She clung to one of them as if she had just been raped, like some stranger had drugged her the night before and done horrible things to her as she slept.
But she simply did not remember him.