You’re going about your day (in this case, reading), and you hit upon something common.
It triggers something in your memory like a bad smell, and you’re back there on that day, doing that thing, when you changed.
It was a small thing. Easy to change, and it meant saving you this kind of grief down the road.
Another thing on the pile of changes you made to adjust. Until all that was left was a pile on one side, and what looked like you but wasn’t on the other.
Incremental shapeshifting, the gradual emptying of yourself.
Later (today), you’re right back there (because of a single word), and you wonder why you did it. Why you changed. Why so many times you bowed to it, to him.
And you know it’ll never happen again. But you mourn your losses afresh. Even if you’ve recovered them. Because they were lost, and you missed them when they were gone.
You missed them immediately. Surrendered to concession. But you took the easy road rather than leave.
Today, the thing was reading. The word was “scythe.” The smell was the pronunciation. I changed how I said it to suit him. To avoid his derision. “It’s like ‘sigh,’” he told me in that way he has of shrinking you. Like he has of cutting through your defenses.
I looked it up today. It’s like “sigh-th.” Which I always knew. I was right. I always was. But the road I take today is the high one. And he’s not here to tell him.