--"The Reason", Hoobastank
He should have been awake for this conversation was his first thought. That thought hit him like an alarm clock blaring its morning reverie. The state he was in now, he was in no condition to be conversing with anyone, least of all her. The static drips of the telephone extension clued him into the fact that he was, indeed, still on the line with her and, indeed, she was proceeding with the rest of this conversation with or without his consent.
“Tell me one good reason and maybe I would consider it, sugar,” is all she said this time. The other times had been much worse. She hadn’t had time to temper her anger and she’d lashed out like the hellcat she was. Nope, this time her voice held a curious calm about it, almost as eerie as the stillness of winter. She didn’t sound upset at all… which could mean she was boiling over inside for all he knew.
He peered over to the alarm clock on the shelf. It read 11:15. They’d been going to and fro for the last two hours. Neither party was willing to give ground. He knew the ground rules. If you gave an inch, she would utilize the opening to seize a mile. If you allowed yourself to be doubted, she would crumble the very walls of defense you had so carefully erected. This wasn’t a war of attrition. It was the stalemated and calculated give and take of a chess match. No one had the upper hand. No one was on the verge of conceding. The game had only just begun.
He liked her. That much was evident in the fact of the frequency of their phone calls to one another. She was usually effervescent and funny; she was usually the most delightful individual to ever hold in one’s life. That’s probably why he felt so much on the defensive.
“You don’t even care how it affects me. I don’t even matter to you,” he said to her blankly.
“If that were true, would I even be listening?”
He liked her so much he didn’t want anyone else to even have the opportunity to like her as well. She couldn’t go out to whatever church social she was telling him about. She just couldn’t. He wouldn’t allow it. She just had to accept that. In his mind he was firm on the matter. It would be one thing if it had been something innocuous, something innocent that would ultimately lead to nothing. He himself had been to many a church fair or church carnival. He knew the deal of going with one’s classmates just to make an appearance. Some of them had even been mandatory. He had gone, put his head in, and then left an hour later. No big deal. To him the quicker these things were over, the better. She was different, though. When she consented to going, she stayed for the day. They weren’t something to be avoided. These gatherings for her were a on-the-cheap hobby. Her mother had seen to it that her daughter had been instilled with the sense of duty and reverence. Church functions weren’t something to be dreaded. They were to be celebrated with as many people as you could possibly get to see you celebrating. More than that, her mother had voiced her opinion that the majority of socializing was done in a church capacity. That’s how she’d met her husband, and that’s how she expected her daughter to meet someone special.
That’s exactly what the young man was afraid of. She couldn’t meet anyone new. She’s already met me. Why would she need to meet anyone else?
“It’s probably going to be as boring as a cow on a diet anyhow. I don’t see the big whoop. I really don’t,” she said.
“The big whoop is that the weekends are the only time I get to talk to you as long as I want. And you want to ruin that by staying out all day at some square dance?”
“I told you not to call it that.”
“Excuse me, church fundraiser. Better?”
He heard the confusion in her voice. She probably expected him to be okay with all of this. She probably didn’t have any idea how much ruckus she would raise by telling him of her plans for the weekend. To her it was as natural as going to school every day and coming home every night. You met with your church whenever they wanted to meet. That was as easy as pie to decide or, as she had so delicately put it, “it was as natural as breaking wind.” Even after all this time he knew she could never quite get used to the senseless jealousy she provoked in him.
“I don’t know why you’re getting your britches all in a bunch, darling. I will be back in plenty of time to call you if that’s what you want.”
“That’s not what I want. What I want is for you to keep your promise. You said the weekends are mine and that I got first dibs. I don’t want you to go. Why can’t you just keep your promise, Breannie?”
It was cheap. But aside from guilt-tripping her, he didn’t have many weapons in his arsenal to use against her. He knew he didn’t have any right to say where and when she went out. He knew he didn’t have any say in how she spent her time. The only thing he had was the idea she valued this friendship. That’s the only thing he could hold over her. That’s the only way he knew how to get his way.
“I don’t know what to say to you, Patrick. I want to go, but I want you to be okay with it, you know?”
“That’s not going to happen. How do you expect me to be okay with you abandoning me like that?”
“I’m not abandoning you. I’m not. It’s one day. A couple of hours. I promise I’ll talk to you as long as you want the night before and as soon as I get back. Would that be okay?”
“No, because it’s not what you promised.”
“Hell’s bells to what I promised. Plans change.”
“Not for me they don’t. I would never spring something like this on you and you know it.”
That’s the other thing he could hold over her, that he kept his word. He was resolute in making plans and abiding by them. Whenever he made a promise with her, it might as well have been written in concrete. When he promised her that he’d keep her safe, he kept it. When he promised he would put her first in his life when it came to opening up or sharing secrets, he kept it. When he promised that he would be her friend, it was a promise he took with the utmost seriousness. She wasn’t something he could take lightly. He saw it as his duty to make her his priority. All he wanted was for her to take the same sweet steps to making him feel important.
“I can’t stand you sometimes, do you know that?” she asked him rheotorically. Gone was all sweetness in her voice. Gone was the patience that he heard all evening up until that point. In their stead, he was greeted with the sound of grievous indignation. Oh, yes, he could hear that she was about to relent, but it would come at some cost to him.
He could live with that. Let her be mad, he thought. In the end, she’ll see that she can’t just make a promise and break it. Not with me. Not ever.
“It’s like most of the time you’re this person who gets me and who treats me as somebody worthy of respect. And then it’s like you put on this disguise. You turn into somebody who twists my words, who uses them against me, all to just get your way. It’s childish. It’s amateur. Worst of all, it’s something I would never pull on you,” she surly said. “I won’t go if you don’t want me to. I did promise you that. But I’m hoping you’ll pickle through this in time and see that you’d be better served if I did go. Trust me on that. I’ll call you on Saturday, like I said, but if my lily-white ass had to stay home because of your insistence, you are not going to like what I have to say to you on that day. Guaranteed.”
Then she hung up the phone without so much as a “think it over” or “good-bye.” She was gone in a hurry, leaving him to parse through what exactly she meant. He’d heard her upset. That was a given dealing with him as often as she did. What he hadn’t heard was the requisite patience that had been present all evening. She hadn’t poised an ultimatum to him. More like a dire warning of his fate come this weekend. He could either take her at her word or relish his hard won, albeit small, victory.
He chose to do the latter.
It wasn’t that he didn’t feel for her. He knew he could be callous and overbearing to her, but, the way he figured it, that was just part of the package. She knew what kind of person he was. He never tried to hide it. He never tried to deny it. If he had a thought to changing that part of his behavior, it would definitely be for her benefit. Yet as hard as he tried to manage it, the fact that she persevered provided him the excuse that he couldn’t have be that bad. No one stays if it’s unbearable, right? Her patience justified his behavior in a sense for as long as she continued to stay he would continue to stay just as he was.
Yet in the same idea he was ashamed to admit lay his weakness as well. For, if she ever truly stopped to analyze the situation, he was afraid she would see the truth. As much as he held their friendship as some carrot above her head, dangling it when he needed something from her or threatening to take it away should she ever decide to do something he disapproved of, she’s the one he was afraid of taking it away from him. For good. That’s all he had was threats. All he could use was the veiled hints that his trust and devotion were temporary. She had to know he could never really pull the trigger. She’s the one with the real authority, he conceded. If she ever decided she had had enough and walked away, it would be him who would be doing all he could to preserve the connection. He was the Wizard behind the curtain—all theatrics and histrionics. She was the real power. She was the real magic, driving forward everything they were or could be. Why he couldn’t ever let her know that was beyond him. He considered it was because he relished the illusory power over her, but, in truth, it was more because he hadn’t ever considered that the dynamics between them could work any other way. He’d always dictated to her how he’d like it to be. She’d always been happy to agree with him. It was only recently, he thought, that she’d began to think she had more influence than he originally given her credit for. It was only recently that she began to realize he needed her more than she needed him.
The phone rang.
It was her.
“I’m going. You can’t change my mind about it. You can hold it against me all you want, but I’m going,” she said clearly upset.
“Why do you have to be such a bitch, Breanne?” he asked her, matching her tone for tone.
“Probably for the same reason you have to be such a baby about everything. I mean—who does this? Over a nothing church get-together. What kind of nonsense is that?”
“It’s not nothing and it’s not about your bake sale of whatever you’re doing. It’s the fact you’re breaking your word. You’re breaking your word to me. That’s why I’m upset.”
He knew this day was coming. She wasn’t the same passive young girl who was just glad somebody was taking her seriously that she was three years ago. That girl had slowly grown up. She had begun to shed some of the reverance she had whenever she talked to him. With everyone else in her life, he knew, she had some stringent boundaries about who she was as a person. She had clearly established that no one was to be the boss of her—not her parents, not her boyfriends, not even her teachers or other mentors. She would gracefully accept any advice they had to give her. She would certainly treat them with the respect and courtesy they deserved. Yet, in the end, she made up she was her own counsel. She was her own boss. He’d like to think he had a hand in her furtive assertiveness coming to fruition. He had told her all along that she had a good head on her shoulders. Now it was finally coming back to bite him in the ass. He couldn’t hold her down with empty notions of loyalty and honor any more. She was finally going to test the strength of his convictions. She was finally going to see how much he could or could not walk away from her.
“The way it’s going to be from now on is going to be different. I don’t have the patience to babysit your infantile ego, Eeyore. You can call my honesty, truth, or what have you, into question all you want. You know what kind of friend I am. You can either believe that or you can shush the fuck up. Either way, I’m done with this feeling like I owe you something. I’m done with it. I know you’ve done a lot for me, but I’ve have to do a lot for you too, you know? You might be smarter than I am. You might be older than I am. But you’re not better than I am. You can’t tell me what to do. You can tell me how it makes you feel. You know I’ll always pay you some mind if you’re honestly feeling hurt. But you’re not the boss of me. I go where I want to go when I want to and with whom I want to go with.”
He tried to say something back. Anything. But he didn’t know how to be upset in this situation. All he could muster was a faint stab at contempt.
“You were helpless when I met you. Just because you’ve gotten older doesn’t mean you’ve got all the answers figured out. Don’t act like you’re a grown-up now because you’re not. You’re still helpless.”
He was met by the silence of the grave. She didn’t cry out. She didn’t respond back. All he heard was the hushed still of someone trying hard not to say something out of turn. Was she still angry? Was she hurt? Was she trying to process it all? He couldn’t get a bearing on where her mind was at. The silence persisted for a short while, the whole time with him questioning if he should say something, before her voice finally came back to the phone.
“I’m not helpless,” she said, sadness in every syllable.
He should have pressed his attack. He should have met such a mild retort with the full force of someone who could recognize an opening when he saw one. She hadn’t met his statement with a brilliant flash of defiance. On the contrary, she sound somewhat unsure. She sounded like someone who still felt helpless and had been once again reminded of how truly ineffectual she seemed to be. He should have taken advantage of this fact. He should have put her out of her listless misery.
Instead, he chose to do the worst thing he could do for his cause.
“No, you’re not helpless. I didn’t mean that.”
This was followed by another interminable silence during which he couldn’t tell whether or not she was crying softly to herself or only ruminating on the situation more. It wasn’t like her to cry, especially not during a fight. She’d cry when she was scared. She’d cry when she was hurt. But when she fought with him, she fought to kill. And killers don’t cry. He had obviously touched on a nerve with his comments of her inability to think or do for herself. He had obviously gone way beyond trying to flatten her arguments about going to the church function. He had obviously gone way too far.and be the one who catches all your tears
He still wanted her to stay. He still knew that it would drive him mad the whole time she was mucking about with god knows who over there. He still knew he would never feel safe as long as she was out of his influence.
But he also knew what had to be done for her sake.
“I don’t care if you go, B. I don’t want you to, but I can’t stop you.”
“It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to go anymore.”
“No, you should. You’ll have fun. Just try not to have too much fun,” he said.
He took her silence to signify she was sussing out her options. She probably didn’t know whether or not to believe him. She probably was wondering whether this was another one of his ploys to elicit sympathy from her. She probably thought he was trying to trick her again. Except it wasn’t a trick.
Sure, she had grown up a little, gotten a little more confident in the way she dealt with him. Apparently, she hadn’t been the only one. He still feared what her suddenly broadening her horizons meant. He still worried that she was going to be out of his life someday. Yet he began to see a new fear, a new worry—that of her growing up to be someone who never really knew what she was capable of on her own. In short, he didn’t want her to grow up to be someone much resembling him.
She deserved better than that. He could give that to her, if not outright because he was still rather new at this generosity racket, then in whatever portions he could afford to dole out and still manage to hold onto some of his pride.
“Just go to the thing.”
Then it was his turn to hang up the phone and finally get to sleep.
Labels: Breanne, Control, guilt trips, Hoobastank, Jealousy