Toxic Masculinity

5
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He almost didn’t hear the knock on the door.
It just happened that at that moment, the song he was playing had ended, and he was in the few seconds of silence before the next song started.

“Who is there??”
He put on the lights and went to open the door. Bare-chested and barefooted. He wasn’t expecting anybody, and definitely not at this time either. He had planned to work all evening and into the night, so he had cancelled all outings and switched off his data to avoid distractions and stayed in with his ears plugged in, playing music at an almost deafening volume while he tapped away on his laptop keyboard. This visitor was very unexpected and more than a little bit unwelcome.

The light from his room spilled into the dark passageway and on the face of his guest as he opened the door. Never in his life would he have thought he would be seeing her here.

“Hi, good evening”
“Hey, good evening, how are you??”
“I’ve been good…”
“Do you want to come inside?? my room is a little rough, but it’s not so bad. come inside”

He opened the door wider and motioned for her to come in. In three tentative steps, she was in the room and looking around at the mid-sized room. She didn’t sit down intentionally.
“Is your roommate around??”
“No, I live alone now. I decided to stay on my own here”
“I like it”
“Yeah. what do I offer you?? I think I have some drinks in my fridge or I could get something for you downstairs.”
“I’m okay. I only came to talk to you. it won’t be a long conversation.”
“Okay, so let’s talk…”

She came to talk. What did she want to talk about that she couldn’t text and had to come over at 9:26 pm without calling first?? And there was also the fact that he hadn’t given her directions to his new place. Hell, he hadn’t even told her that he was moving out from his former place.

“Since we broke up, have you been with anyone else??”
That was a question he half expected, and he answered truthfully.

“No, I haven’t been with anybody. I decided to take a break from the whole dating thing. I’ve just been on my own.

He answered and she looked at him like she didn’t believe him. She didn’t say anything though. Her friends had told her the same thing too. That he was still single to the best of their knowledge. She didn’t believe it though. Because she knew him. He was too good to be true. the almost perfect boyfriend. She had expected someone else to have scooped him up immediately they had broken up. But apparently, no one had.
The first question was the easy part. The hard part was the question she was going to ask next. Her throat felt like it was swollen.

“Okay. Um… the second question…can you please take me back??”
surprisingly, she saw his face soften. She thought he would kick her out and say mean things to her. But then again, he had never been the one to do things like that.
She wouldn’t have been surprised though, if she knew what had been on his mind.
After the first question, he had been expecting her to tell him that she had given him some sort of STD or STI. And from the look on her face, it was probably something terminal. especially since he hadn’t been taking drugs to treat whatever it was for a little more than a year now. He couldn’t have treated what you didn’t know he had.
So when she asked him to take her back, he was relieved. His mind had cooked up the worst-case scenario, and it hadn’t been that. It wasn’t even bad at all. Phew.

But this now posed a new problem. She wanted to come back together.
But did he want that??

“Vera…I don’t know…the reasons why I broke up with you are still very valid.”

“And the reasons why I fell in love with you are still very valid too. And to be completely honest, I was angry at first, but in the last few months, I realised that you’ve been the only constant part of my life. Even when we weren’t dating. You were always there.” As she said that, there was a mantra going off in her head.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
But it was getting hard not to cry.

“Vera are you listening to yourself?? How can you be happy with me when I’m not happy with myself?? I have issues I’m dealing with that you don’t know about. I don’t want you to be the person that I offload everything on. That would be very unfair to you.”
“But we can sort through them together! I can be there for everything. I’ll take it, I promise. I’ll be patient and understanding, I’ll do everything. Why do you always insist on going through everything by yourself?? You can’t always be independent of everybody. It’s okay to need help. Please. Let me help. Please.”

The mantra was useless now.

“I’m sorry…”
“Niiyi please”
“I’m sorry V, I really am”

There was really no point in pleading with him.
“It’s okay. Be the guy that eats himself up with the need to do everything by himself. you and your toxic masculinity. Mr Independent.
You’re being selfish by putting yourself before us, but I’m the same too. Selfishly wanting you to myself despite all your issues.
I hope your demons go to rest, I hope you pull this off, I hope you stay happy. cheers to the bright future that is not here yet.”
And she turned and left. Sniffing and wiping tears with the back of her hand and just walking till she got home.

As for him however, he just sat there. He didn’t move an inch after she left. He couldn’t even talk or think properly. it was just him and his troubled mind.
Eventually, he went to sleep thinking about everything he had and hadn’t done and he concluded that she was right after all. Maybe it was time to deal with his toxic masculinity.

Or maybe not.

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