In the end you want someone not fancy or even clean, but someone good. He has to always say things he absolutely means, he has to do the things that prove the words he has spoken to you not once, but always and again, and again. To be good means he doesn’t forget how to love you when you make him suffer. It means he will not let the old woman on the bus stand and wobble in the wake of every sharp turn. He will be good, he will say, Please ma’am, take my seat. If the dog is too sick to eat, to move, to even breathe, he will not hesitate, he will be good and in all that goodness, even as he buries that poor dog he will keep saying, You were a good dog, the best dog ever. When humans die he will not bring over a casserole or tell them how sorry he is for their loss. He won’t use words at a time when words cruelly chew up newer ghosts. He will use his eyes and his hands; he will place a hand on a shoulder or the top of a head. He will absorb the grief; he will drive it into his bones and release it through his own tears, out into the world where the grief can breathe again, where it will find a dark kind of love.
He will touch you when you want to be touched and let you be when your hackles rise. He will be good to you, resist the urge to shackle you in guilt. He will be good in the way that he listens, because he will hear not just the things you say but the notes beneath their sounds too.
He will be too good and you will go looking for pain like you always do. You’ll find pain, you’ll marinate inside its stale waters, its blackened pools. You’ll go so numb you will forget to even feel ashamed. You’ll believe that pain is good for you. You will trouble yourself with finding new kinds of pain. You will trouble yourself.
You will remember the good you haven’t found, the good that never came. The dream of that goodness rises in blue steam from the back of your neck. Your pain has been disassembled, liquefied and turned to vapors, gases that suffocate the memory of a phantom goodness.
In the end, you will want someone good. But you will choose the jagged edge of a broken rock over the smoothness of a round, naked stone. You will suffer because you believe you have to. You will choose building strength over finding peace.
Kristy Webster is the author of Coco a magical realism novella. Her work has been published in print and online journals such as Connotation Press, The Feminist Wire, Sirens, The Molotov Cocktail, Pacifica Literary Review and Ginger Piglet. Kristy’s work is also featured in two anthologies by GirlChildPress; Woman’s Work and Just Like a Girl. Li