The Slip

**This is a repost from June 5th, 2009.  We were talking about code-words in the forum, and I thought it appropriate**

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.