I had no idea how long I sat there but at some point I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. My ears were ringing and I felt like something was pressing on my temples with great force so that my eyes almost popped out of their sockets. I had to hold on to the door knob to get up. I was about to go back inside when I remembered my shoes. One was still on the top of the stairs but to get the other I had to climb an entire floor to the landing between our floor and the next one down. I hoped that none of our neighbors were home. I retrieved my shoe and went back inside. I carefully placed my jacket back on the dresser and my shoes next to it. I didn’t hear Sasha, even though I knew he was still there.

I didn’t know what to do or say when I spotted him at the kitchen table. His head was in his hands, there was a half smoked joint and a glass of clear liquid on the table which could have been either water or liquor, I didn’t even want to know. As I stood in the door frame Sasha finally looked up. His eyes were bloodshot and I could see that he had scratched himself underneath the soft tissue around them. „Emma, fuck..“ was all he said. I couldn’t move. I wanted to but my legs wouldn’t work. I wanted to go over there and slap him as hard as I could but I just looked at him. Tears were still silently streaming down my face. I thought about how awful I must have looked and though about how he would never find me attractive after this again. The realization that he might not have to made me let out a loud uncontrollable sob. He got up and walked towards me holding out his arms like he had never hugged a human before. His palms were facing upwards, his hands too high but still I almost fell into them. „Emma, I don’t want to loose you. I am so scared. If you leave me I’ll die. Even if I have to do it myself.“ I didn’t think it was possible but my cries came harder shaking my body with every sob. „Emma, please say something.“ „I can’t…“ I couldn’t finish the sentence, I didn’t have any air left to talk. I just sank deeper into his arms until finally I felt like I had completely disappeared into them.

When I was finally able to breathe again I peeled myself from Sasha’s embrace and finally really looked at him. He was paler than I had ever seen him and I could see that the redness in his eyes was caused by crying and not by smoking. „Sasha, why are you like this?“ He drew a deep breath and exhaled noisily. „Emma, I swear I didn’t mean any of it. I am just so scared to loose you. Each time you threaten to leave me I..“ „I never threatened to leave you.“ I interrupted, irritated. „Yes you did. You do, all the time.“ I could feel my eyes moving towards the floor. Did I really do that? Was that what he felt like with me, insecure and needy? „I never intended to anyways.“ My voice was small. „It’s ok Emma. I know you don’t mean it. I just get so intense because I cannot imagine a life without you. Look.“ I looked down to his hands as he took out 2 bottles of pain killers that I kept in our bathroom cabinet. „I am going to go through with it the next time, you know.“ It took me a second to understand what he was implying. „Sasha, please. I was never going to leave you, you have to know that.“ „I didn’t.“ He put the pills back into his pocket. „Give me those.“ I held out my hand waiting for him to hand them over. „I will put them back, I promise.“ I held his gaze and finally I kissed him. If I had been the one to cause him this much pain I could surely make it better again. „Sasha, please just promise me, that this will never happen again.“ „I promise, babe.“ I felt like I had heard that sentence more than once before.

As I brushed my teeth in the evening before we went to bed I spotted Sasha’s sweat pants in the hamper on top of the dirty laundry. I picked it up slowly, knowing that I had locked the door and Sasha was already in bed waiting for me. My hands fumbled for the 2 small bottles and found them quickly amongst some change and some tissue crumbs. They were almost empty.


It felt wrong not talking about what happened again but at the same time I didn’t dare to. I was scared of setting things off again so I just went over it in my head for a million times, determined to figure out what I had done wrong. I knew in my heart that what he had done wasn’t right but I was struggling to understand what I had done to cause this behavior. I was awake for most of the night, Sasha being awfully tired the entire day and not leaving my side, now snoring loudly next to me. It had to be the stress of his birthday that caused this and whatever his mother had to do with it. Whatever I was doing to trigger this sort of behavior it was up to me to stop doing it. He said I was to sensitive and blew things out of proportion and maybe that was true. I knew I could be somewhat of a drama queen when I was drunk and I had been drinking more since I was with him. I knew I could fix this. I would just stop drinking so much when we went out and would be more in control of what I said and did. He was so fragile and he loved me so much, I saw it in his eyes and the way he held me, he just couldn’t help the way he was. He had said over and over again that he couldn’t bear the thought of being without me and I was determined to never make him feel that way again. When I finally solved the puzzle sleep found me easily.

The next morning was uneventful and I was finally able to give Sasha his birthday present. I sheepishly hid the bag behind my back when I got up to make us coffee at breakfast. „What have you got there?“ he asked. „Your gift.“ „Oh wow.“ I could see him tear up. „What’s wrong baby?“ „Oh nothing.“ he caught his voice. „It’s just you do so much for me, I don’t deserve you.“ I didn’t want to start again so I just said „Don’t be silly babe, come and open it.“ He carefully pulled out the tent and the compass looking puzzled but intrigued. When he found the voucher and read it I could see his smile grow wider. „Babe this is awesome, I am so happy.“ He got up to hug me. „You really get me. You are the only one who gets me. Thank you so much. I don’t know what I would do without you.“ I hugged him back and didn’t say anything.

Later in the afternoon Sasha spend an hour on the phone with his parents. He had started calling them more often and his mom hadn’t fallen short of thanking me for it. „He called every 3 months before you came along, so thank you, for whatever you are doing.“ she had said. I was happy that their relationship was improving, maybe that would solve whatever issues he had with his fear of abandonment. I heard him laughing a lot while I was cleaning up the kitchen and doing our laundry. When he was done he hugged me from behind while I was unloading the dishwasher. „Hey, that was a long conversation.“ I turned around to face him. „Yeah, it was great.“ he smiled. „We were talking about me moving back to Russia.“ I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. „What are you talking about?“ „Well I am going to move back eventually.“ he increased the pressure on my hips. I wanted to ask „But what about me?“ but my mouth felt like it was taped shut. I swallowed back the lump that was forming. „Ok.“ was all I could say. „Well you are obviously moving with me.“ I looked at him still not knowing what to say. Obviously I was moving with him. I knew that he was planning out future and I was well aware that he wanted to go back home at some point but I still had so another 2 years left of studies and I wasn’t sure I was ready for a life in Russia right away. But of course I couldn’t tell him that. „Yeah, but it sounded like you wanted to go soon.“ „Yeah, I do.“ „But Sasha, I have my studies here.“ „Well finish them, and then come, it’s no big deal. I will set everything up and when you are done, you can come live with me.“ He kissed me and turned around grabbing an apple from the bowl in the kitchen table. I was trying to wrap my head around this. „And until then, I will be here and you in Russia?“ „Yeah, so? My dad wants me to start working for him. I think it would be good for me.“ Was I crazy or hadn’t he just told me yesterday that he couldn’t imagine a life without me? I wanted to ask just that but he cut me off before I could start. „Babe, you want good things for me, right? This will mean we will have a great future and money. You want that too, don’t you?“ „I guess, but..“ „But what?“ All of a sudden I was well aware of the underlying criticism about me making everything about myself again. „But I don’t think I want to be without you for that long.“ I paused, hoping that this was the right answer. „Baby, sure, I understand. But it will be so much better for us. Let’s not talk about this anymore. Let’s do something fun for a change, what do you say? Change and then go out for dinner?“ „Sure.“ My hands were shaking so hard I almost dropped the plate in my hand.

The following night I thought about what it would mean if Sasha went back to Russia to wait for me there. I found it more than sweet that he was thinking about our future together but I was also aware that I was not ready for that sort of seriousness yet. I didn’t know the language, which meant I couldn’t get a job. My parents wouldn’t be close and neither would my friends. A thought I discarded quickly. He would have to understand that. I hadn’t been home for a year and I missed it. For some reason I felt like before I could say yes to Russia, I would have to go home one more time.

I brought it up at dinner the next day. „Sasha, I think I want to go see my family next month.“ „What?“ This time he looked at me confused. „Aren’t you going over there on christmas anyways?“ „Yeah, but that’s still so far away. Plus I will have a break from uni soon, I could go for like 3 weeks.“ „Really? That is what you want?“ „What do you mean, yes I want to see my family.“ „Yeah, but do you really want to be away from me for 3 weeks?“ He looked me directly in the eye as if to challenge me. „Well it would only be 3 weeks.“ I said quietly. „Well,“ he copied my accent „if you think your relationship would benefit from that, sure, go ahead.“ He had used air quotation marks around the word relationship. „I will think about it.“ I barely heard myself say. Why I didn’t bring up Russia, I didn’t know.





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