Dead man walking. I know it's cliché, but it's the only way I can describe what's coming. All the signs are there. The purposefully cryptic text, the immediacy, the late hour. It's even raining for heaven's sake.
I glance around at the lonely street lamps as they cast an eerie glow in the dim of night, the fog and rain adding a veritable cherry to top it all off. I wonder if she planned all this, or if it's just some sort of horribly lucky coincidence.
It won't be long now. Why did she have to pick the sea wall? This place was special to us. Was she trying to take that away from me as well?
I pause for a moment and squint into the darkness. Yep, she's there alright. At least I think that's her; who else would be standing all alone on a stone arch bridge in the pouring rain? My feet begin moving in her direction, much to the dismay of my brain. I really should have just turned my phone off tonight. I could have just told her later that it died. That happens all the time, right?
She's seen me by now for sure. It's not like I'm trying to sneak up on her or anything. She's purposefully using those long strands of soaking wet hair to hide her face from me. That's fine. Anything to delay the inevitable.
I stand beside her and stare off in the same direction. I find it's usually best to let the woman start these things. The only reason they reach out in the middle of the night is because they've been chewing on something long enough that it has literally driven them insane. So I'll just wait.
Her breathing begins to quicken and her head slowly turns in my direction. Shields up. All hands to battle stations. Brace for impact.
"Why?" she stammers, the pouring rain unable to mask the fact that her eyes are red from crying.
I say something stupid, as one does. I figure I might as well get it over with right off the top. At least now it's out of the way. I know she was hoping against hope that I'd at least try to take this seriously. On some level I'm mildly offended that she would even dare to hope I would. She knows me better than that.
She stares daggers at me through her bangs. I swear I can see rain drops splashing off of the invisible weapons being hurled at me from an arm's length away.
She turns away from me again and her shoulders begin to quiver. It's good of her not to cry right in my face; it lessens the emotional impact a little.
Try as I might, my internal defenses begin to weaken. I knew there would be a flood of emotional blackmail before I even left my apartment; I was supposed to be ready for this. Maybe it's the lighting, or the fact that we are, in actual fact, standing in the exact place that we first got together. I don't know.
And then my arms are around her and I'm whispering apologies in her ear. Who was I kidding? I always fold when the crying starts. I'm never as tough as I tell myself I am.
She pulls away and takes a step to the side. Really? Emotional blackmail at this time of night in the rain… AND making me work for it? Wow, I guess I must have really ticked her off if I'm getting the full treatment tonight.
She takes a deep breath, steadies herself and then starts her verbal assault. Clever girl – breaking me down with the tears before laying into me after I'm softened up. Do women go to school for this or are they just naturally gifted in the art of emotional torture?
She whispers, shouts, thrusts her finger in my face, whispers then shouts some more. Apparently I'm the worst boyfriend on the face of the earth and deserve to fall into a pit of flaming razorblades. Who knew?
I stand and take it like a man. At least, that's what I'll tell our friends when they come and ask for my side of the story. In truth, I know it's best not to wave a red flag in the face of a raging bull. Clearly she's got something to say, so it's best that I just let her say it.
Her face is beat red when the verbal assault finally winds down. She switches back to glaring again as she tries to blow away the soaking strands of hair plastered to her face. Apparently, I'm expected to make some sort of acknowledgment or rebuttal now.
This is, of course, when I am completely screwed. I knew I was supposed to be listening to every word bursting out of her round, perfect lips, but what can I say? I'm a man and I'm easily distracted.
Even when she's hopping mad, she's still the most beautiful creature I've ever laid eyes on. Yes, now I'm pretty sure it is the lighting's fault. The way it perfectly rims the top of her head, the way it highlights her amazing cheekbones.
Uh oh, apparently I've taken too long to make the required acquiesce. She's started giving me that 'Hello? Is anybody in there?' look again. I hate it when she does that. Now that stupid 'Say something, I'm giving up on you' song is playing in my head. I didn't think Christina Aguilera was very hot in that video for some reason. Maybe it was the hair?
Her arm is cocked and loaded. I can see it coming a mile away, but I decide to take it on the cheak regardless; I was the one that tuned out after all. I'm supposed to try and be present when she is expressing herself. At least, that's what that guy on YouTube said.
The palm of her hand finds its target and my head turns sideways. I think we are both surprised at what a loud crack it makes. Not bad. I think the stinging will last a full minute this time. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my cheeks are wet.
Thankfully, I'm able to successfully catch the reflex response to smack her back. One less thing for me to feel bad about later. It did get my blood going a little though; before I know it, a few unfortunate words manage to slip past my tongue. I guess subconsciously I always need a reason to dislike myself.
She gives a vicious little smile when I react. Maybe deep down she's happy that I'd slipped up and revealed she was getting to me.
I turn away. After all, two can play at that little game. I hear her breathing quicken again as she begins to process the fact that I just turned my back on her. I'm curious as to what her response is going to be.
Her breathing slows however, and everything goes silent. That's odd and makes me a little uncomfortable. I'm expecting her to find a blunt object and strike me from behind or something. I know I'd probably deserve it too. I am being kind of a jerk at the moment.
OK, I swear it's been like five minutes now. I wonder what will happen if I turn around? Actually, I wonder if she's even still there. I didn't hear her stomp off, but then again, it IS raining pretty hard. Speaking of which, I hope we're done soon. I'm starting to get cold.
An icy hand softly touches mine and intertwines its fingers with my own. I guess she was standing there after all. She gently turns me around and looks into my eyes. With some relief, I note the anger in her face has drained away and been replaced with something else.
We both start apologizing at the same time and chuckle. For some reason I feel compelled to begin listing all the ways that I've probably failed her. The look on her face tells me that I've finally said the right thing. I'm glad, but secretly wish that she had just written me a note asking for that list up front.
We both start to shiver in the darkness. The passionate exchange over the last 15 minutes or so was apparently all that had been keeping us warm. I suggest a hot beverage back at my place. She agrees and starts pulling me by the hand back toward my car.
I love it when she does that.