Summary: Max muses about the ways Tyson keeps his secrets.
Tyson’s got this thing where he fidgets when he’s hiding something. I don’t mean fidgeting like twiddling the thumbs or bouncing the knee. I mean fidgeting like pacing the floor or having trouble deciding if he wants to be inside or outside. He’s restless, and he toys with things: his beyblade; a pair of scissors on the side table; scraps of paper; a ceramic mug, and all the while he’s mumbling incoherent streams of some inner-dialogue.
Tyson’s always so energetic that it took me a while to distinguish his behavior from anything out of the ordinary, but I’ve learned to recognize the signs. It’s most obvious at the end of day after dinner when we’ve settled down to watch movies together, or I’ve picked up a book to read, and he has started flipping through some tabloid he’s picked up at the grocery store last time we went. Normally we chatter over the movies, doing improv. for the actors or yelling at the heroin “not to go in there”. If I’m reading, I hear him guffawing at the ridiculousness of one of the articles and rustling the recycled pages that crinkle like tissue paper in his grasp. In both cases we sprawl all over one another, comfortable with invading each other’s personal space. When he’s fidgeting, when he’s keeping secrets, he talks during the movie but only to himself. He gets up and leaves the room periodically without any real destination in mind. Sometimes he rises to his feet, and I watch him walk outside, circle the yard, come back inside, and flop down next to me on the couch. He asks me what he missed. Sometimes I see him crumple up his tabloid and toss it into the trash can only to pluck it out again a few minutes later. He says my name a lot, too:
“Max, could I . . . forget it.”
“Max, what if I told you . . .”
“Have you ever needed to just say something, Max?”
I get frustrated with him when he’s like this. Tyson is frank with his words because he doesn’t understand pussy-footing around the point. Things are resolved faster once they are out in the open. His honesty is his way of being efficient, really, and I respect that, I love that. If something Tyson has to say is important or delicate enough for him to hide it from me, then he’s willingly allowing it to eat away at his insides until he finds a way to spare me. He’s selfless when he’s keeping secrets. The fact is, I don’t mind if he isn’t telling me something. That just isn’t what frustrates me. What frustrates me is that he won’t touch me like he normally does. He doesn’t grab my hand when the movie gets frightening or pull me against him when we’re reading. He lays on his side of the bed, curled in on himself, mumbling until he falls asleep instead of lying in my embrace, his fingers laced in mine. I try to make up for it by being extra affectionate which is saying something. I’ve always been more physical than Tyson because I just need the contact. I need to be reassured that he’s still there, that he doesn’t disappear one day like my mother did. I hug a lot, brush hands, throw an arm around his waist, lay my head on his shoulder, anything that lets me touch him. He always accepts what I give him, but he doesn’t reciprocate because he’s feeling guilty. I wait patiently, though. Tyson never keeps anything forever.
The hour in which he chooses to reveal his secret is never when I expect it to be. It’s at a strange moment like when I’ve got one leg in my pajama pants.
“Max,” he says. “When you’re finished I need to talk to you.”
Sometimes he chooses the fifteen minute time span that I’m in the shower. He’ll just pull open the curtain enough for him to sit on the side of the tub, completely unaffected by my nude and soapy self.
“Max, I need to tell you something. Watch where you’re flinging that soap!”
He might wake me up in the middle of a dead sleep.
“Max, sorry, but you need to know what’s been on my mind. You’re drooling, you know.”
He looks me square in the eyes the whole time he’s talking to me about whatever it is that’s been bugging him. Half way through his confession he grabs my hand like he’s afraid I’ll take off before he’s through, which, if I’m in the shower, is highly unlikely. By the end I’ve got his head in my lap, and I’m swiveling my fingers through his dark, soft hair. The exception to this is when I end up with my head in his lap, and he’s whispering comforting things or soulful apologies. We stay that way wherever we are for hours . . . until pain or shock or sadness or anger dull. We’re both drained, and no matter what was said we go to bed the right way: flush against each other, sharing body heat and confident that in the morning we’ll wake up and know we’re still in love.