The following is an excerpt of:
The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became
By Tex Batmart
If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here
Interlude: Love and Other Failures
Though Heather was his first love, she was not his last. Over the years, he fell in love repeatedly, eager to feel the same connection with another person as he had felt that summer back in 1988. He didn’t start dating until High School, but even then, it was more miss than hit, and even when he could get someone to go out with him, it was usually over within a month, having come to an unsatisfactory conclusion. He began keeping track of the girls he had asked out, noting how infrequently any of them had said yes. At first it wasn’t too bad, as he had other things to worry about, but soon his friends also began dating, and it became apparent that he would be the only one among them to die virginally alone.
Of course, that all changed in the summer of ’97, but that’s a story for a little later on. Suffice it to say that, though it lasted nearly four years, it fit into the same pattern which had characterized all of his relationships before, at least upon its conclusion. He kept putting himself out there, only to be torn down time and time again. And while a smarter man might have learned a modicum of caution over the intervening years, Tex was not that man. Each time he wore his heart upon his sleeve, only to dry his eyes upon it just a short while later.
As the years passed, and the number of his ex-girlfriends slowly grew, he began to see pattern coming into focus. It seemed that he found himself falling for women who were the absolute worst for him, while steadfastly discarding anyone who genuinely seemed to give a damn about him. Worse, this made sense to him, as it seemed in line with everything else in his life at the time. He found himself drawn to self-destruction, and it only made sense that he would recruit someone into his life to help him achieve his goals.
In the spring of 2006, he finally decided to do something about it. The decision was made easier by its binary nature. A coworker had informed him that two women seemed to be interested in him. The first was a sexy and sensuous woman who had easily caught the eye of everyone she worked with (not unlike his last long-term girlfriend), while the other was rather plain, but, he was told, was head-over-heels in love with him. If you have been paying attention, then it should be obvious who he chose. That he chose the irrepressible flirt is, then, no terrible surprise. But, as had happened so many times before, that relationship went precisely nowhere, and he was left alone once more.
He might have given it no thought, but then he bumped into the other woman at his friend’s wedding reception, and an idea came into his head. A few months later, he asked out for dinner at a local restaurant, and laid himself bare before her. He had decided on his strategy the week beforehand, and had come to the realization that, if he was to outwit his own instinct for self-harm, he would have to be completely honest with this woman. He told her everything that was wrong with him, from the mental illness to the idiosyncrasies of his apathetic nature. Part of his reasoning was a measure of full disclosure, so that she couldn’t accuse him later of having deceived her, but his other motivation was the small hope that she would become frightened and run away, leaving him to lavish attention upon people who only sought to do him harm.
Within thirteen months they had a son, and within three years they were married. It was everything he’d told himself he’d wanted, and yet he found that it was not. He still fell in love, though he knew he oughtn’t, and found that he was trapped within a prison of his own illusions. As he came to think upon it, he realized that perhaps it was not his gut which was outsmarted on that evening in April, 2006, and that the cruelest form of self-harm he could manage would be to allow himself to have everything he’d told himself he wanted, only to watch it fade and crumble as he realized that it must have been somebody else’s dream.
All he knew was that he wanted to be in love, to feel that excitement and anticipation of seeing someone again. He wanted someone to think that he was handsome, and charming, and something other than a complete and utter failure, which, up ‘til that point in his life, he’d been. What he craved was someone who would believe in him, and hold him so that he could feel vulnerable once more. What he desired, more than anything, was to have that summer back again, so he could tell that girl who kissed him that he loved her.