Kite string

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Her obsession with her phone is out of control. Facebook, email, LinkedIn, Words with Friends, text. She makes the rounds, sliding between screens to check for updates several times an hour. It would be more efficient to put those apps next to each other on the screen, but she has yet to do it. That would be an admission of guilt.

From the outside looking in, she can see that an obsessive disorder diagnosis wouldn’t be far off the mark, that her behavior comes damn close to stalking, even though she has tried to shut all connections to him down. It’s not good to have a constant feed of anything, but especially not this. She doesn’t want to know what he’s doing.

The waters are confusing now. Is she sinking or swimming? What once felt like breaking the surface now feels less clear. She feels unable to draw a fresh breath.

This is the behavior of a crazy person. A person so freaked out by what is or isn’t happening in her life that she embraces distraction. The best thing she could do at this point would be to throw the phone into the Sound. She can imagine standing on the sidewalk above the shore, watching it sink into the green gray water, the light going out, a feeling of freedom, a lightness of being. She might look like a figure in a painting, leaning against the railing, long hair blowing back, dark but luminescent clouds on the horizon. It might feel very, very good to disconnect in such a dramatic way.

When she’s able to think clearly, she can see what needs to happen. She tells him, no more. She makes the effort to explain, to close it down, to give him a clear offramp, one that doesn’t require admitting or confessing anything. She feels the finality of it. She cries. But it gives her something to feel. He’s in the abyss, unchanged by her changes, and she knows she needs to be much stronger to live there with him. She goes a week without checking her phone. Facebook, email, LinkedIn, Words with Friends, text—she steers away from all of it.

And then it buzzes. Him. A message with just enough context to make her question herself, to make her wish she could be different; lighter, freer, less hung up on the specifics. And her heart aches again, because there’s not enough to make her buoyant, and not enough to sink her either. He holds her, like a kite, pulling on the string just enough that she remembers there is one.

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