Clay had another close call.
“I really need to hear your voice”, he said.
I listened carefully to what he had to say and then we talked about other things. By the end of the conversation he sounded more relaxed – more relieved.
When it was time to hang up he said, “I love…” His voice caught, and he paused for the briefest moment, realizing he had let his guard down – that he had crossed that uncrossable line. But then, realizing it was too late, he started over, committing to it fully:
“I love you.”
I hadn’t heard him say those words in so long – I needed to hear them, they are medicine for my soul. But in hearing them I was viciously torn between joy and the fear that he had outed himself. I wanted to scream “SAY IT AGAIN!” and “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” at the same time.
It was time for me to say something back. My mind was racing. I thought how he needed to hear those words said back to him. So simple really, just to say them…
But then I think maybe whoever might be listening could have missed what he said, and if I say it again I could do more damage. So I just used our code word instead. It sounded so incredibly hollow.
I hung up the phone, drew my knees to my chest, and slowly rocked back and forth until I could breathe again.