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Vital Energies

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hiding your emotions is despicable
holding back protects your vital energies
- from Truisms (1977-1979), Jenny Holzer

Cary Agos fucks like a woman. It’s sort of disorienting, but it’s also...

(She’s lost track of time and he wont let her come yet. He’s murmuring stupid shit that makes her want to die or kick him off her, but it’s turning her on in spite of herself. The compliments are excessive and over the top but he sounds sincere even he isn’t.

She has never been so pleasantly humiliated.)

The first time, she said I can’t give you more and he asked Because of women? She said no and managed not to tell him the question was fucking bullshit. Didn’t say she’d wondered sometimes about his sexuality in the past, but if he had to ask that then she had her answer. But at the same time she couldn’t help remembering the way his hand felt, cupping her jaw, stroking her face, in the lobby of her building. The kiss felt-

(She went upstairs afterwards and named off all the reasons she could think of that it was a bad idea, even though she liked him and they no longer worked together. She called him an asshole for kissing her anyway, a fucker for giving her a sliver of the normal she did, embarrassingly, want.

And then she got herself off anyway.)

Kalinda isn’t fucking stupid. She knows she has a type. There was a while there that... well, Donna and Tony weren’t quite typical. (Alicia wasn’t quite typical.) (Cary wasn’t, isn’t and the present tense is sort of terrifying.)

(Cary said you tend to use people’s feelings to further your investigations and Kalinda admitted something she shouldn’t have. She had pulled back because she wasn’t friend material and she hurt everyone she loved. Cary was soft in all the places he pretended to be hard and Kalinda sort of hated herself for how much she cared, but he deserved better.

She’d gotten complacent about the caring. She’d put down more roots in the past two years than she had since she’d first started ripping up her old ones in Toronto.

She walked out hurting and furious and guilty and left him the same way.)

Lana (fit Kalinda’s type precisely. Lana) asked why Kalinda liked sex with men and Kalinda said it was like choosing between kinds of food. Kalinda said Indian, Mexican, Thai and Lana didn’t ask why there were three options. Kalinda never figured out if it was because she understood or because she didn’t take the analogy quite that literally. It had taken Kalinda a while to realize Cary wasn’t quite one of the first two options.

(There’s something about the way he fights, too. Just a feeling Kalinda can’t shake about the way he slams the door in her face so he can grab his coat and get a drink with her. (Sleep with her. Neither of them had doubts from the moment he came out with his coat.) About the way he walked out of his office that one time without a word. About the way he moves when he’s upset.

Kalinda wouldn’t dream of mentioning any of it because it’s all instinct and when she lines up what little evidence she has it sounds like fucking bullshit.)

Dana (was sharp and clever and confused and made Lana look like a pale imitation. It made Kalinda stupid. Dana) would never have caught the third option. At least not explicitly. Dana said baseball without a bat. Dana talked a lot about sex. She found it interesting. Kalinda couldn’t read everything between the lines, but she still couldn’t shake the feeling that Cary wasn’t just chosen for his equipment. Dana orchestrated Kalinda’s indirect involvement in the relationship, and Kalinda sure found that interesting.

(She’d have liked to blame Dana for Cary’s suspicion but she’d earned it on her own, at least in part. Dana was complicated and Kalinda was stupid but when he said she’s not attracted to women she knew it was at least partially untrue. Not in a way that mattered as anything other than explanation, but still.

But Cary was so sure Kalinda had to want something, so sure she didn’t need to get him out of her own head too. Even after that first kiss a year before he had never seemed able to figure out that ‘normal’ was almost easy with him. It always felt like she could try, at least - for all the good it did her.)

Sometimes Kalinda looks at Cary and all she can hear is a litany: pretty toxic friendship, ignorance is bliss, different categories, complicated relationships are a breeding ground for misinterpreted action, mutually assured destruction. Sometimes she sees him and she thinks basketball injury and it is a year ago she is stupid enough to think that this time things are fine, this time no one will get hurt, this time she won’t lose everything. And she didn’t lose everything but it comes with transference and cycle of abuse and you can’t always get what you want and do not indulge false dilemmas and knowing yourself lets you understand others and you can’t expect people to be something they’re not and insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. She laughs so she doesn’t cry and muses that some of them are even untrue.

(Sometimes she catches sight of Cary and wants and can’t believe it’s anything real. Can’t believe it’s anything other than losing Nick and then Alicia and having Cary, however briefly. Other times she catches sight of him down a hall, avoiding her, and she misses him so fucking much.

And now they are touching and fucking and drinking but they are so far from okay it’s laughable.)

Kalinda has had less sex, has been less reckless in the last year. It is worth not losing everything, but sometimes she thinks that having everything to lose is punishment enough on its own.

(Lately his suits are beautiful, like he’s so much less scared.)

Cary prefers to be underneath her most of the time. Certain memories mean she usually prefers to bottom from the top anyway. She always knew they had this one thing in common, and everyone knows opposites attract. You can’t both be tied up or pinned down or held still or toyed with. Everyone knows someone has to wear the pants. They make it work anyway.

(She pins him down and he wraps his hand around her neck as they linger under a fucking blanket fort. He touches her like it’s a privilege and she kisses him like she can’t help herself.

He says Stay and she knows he’s lying about the wiretap but she buries her face in the crook of his neck anyway. He relaxes under her and she takes it as further evidence of his guilt.)

In moments of weakness Kalinda wonders what else they could make work, if they tried hard enough.

The whole world’s at sixes and sevens, and why the house hasn’t fallen down about our ears long ago is a mystery to me.
This is where you came in. We have to go on for ages and ages yet.
- from Act III, The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder