This is a continuation of a story from previous installments. Trigger warning for relationship abuse and self-harm.
He passed me a note during class.
Rather, he set a folded piece of paper on my desk and sort of slid it toward me before continuing to his seat. Sitting apart during class wasn’t unusual for us; not speaking — even if it was just saying hi — to one another beforehand was. I gazed forward as I pulled my hair back in a bun and waited for class to begin.
Only as people became involved in the clarification discussion of whatever poems we’d been reading did I nudge the note toward my lap and unfold it under the desk. It read:
I got my work schedule switched around. Now I can see you during the day sometimes, and your parents won’t have to worry.
PS — I really am sorry. I was out of line, and I know that’s not an excuse, but I won’t let myself get out of line again.
I refolded it, still facing forward.
He’d been trying to change his work schedule for a while, that much was true. And it would be more convenient for us to see one another. If we wanted, if I wanted.
Strangely, even in that moment I didn’t believe he wouldn’t let himself “get out of line” again. I could hope that “out of line” moments would take their time in coming to fruition, but at that point, I recognized a repetition as inevitability rather than possibility. And at that moment, I recognized that the life of our relationship was limited.
But not over, not yet. For that, I still don’t know why. Part of me wanted to explore. Even though I knew this relationship wasn’t going to meet my initial hopes and expectations, I still wanted to see what it could be. I thought I could do that and still keep myself safe when I needed to.
I didn’t believe I was in control of the situation, but I thought I was at least in control of myself. I wrote back:
This is your only second chance.