January 2, 2014 by Austin McNair
By Austin McNair (from Fall 2012)
This summer I became friends with Insecurity.
I first met her at a bar after I had graduated from college. It was late in the evening, and I watched as she tiptoed out of a damp corner moving closer towards my group of friends. I was in the middle of a wonderful monologue about my hopes, dreams, and plans for the future when our eyes first met. I continued until I noticed her listening. She stood there expressionless and stared at me intently through her think-brimmed glasses. I realized that the more I spoke the more my dreams morphed into anxiety. I slowed down and eventually changed the subject. She offered to buy me a drink, but I declined.
After that night I saw her everywhere. I saw her through window panes at coffee shops. I saw her smoking cigarettes outside of my house leaning on the hood of my car. I saw her at church, dressed like a saint, but with poison on her lips. At first, I was uncomfortable. However, she was beautiful, and eventually I began to like the attention, still avoiding our first conversation.
Finally, after about a month, I decided to give her a shot and talk to her. We were sitting together outside of the café near my house. She had been sitting at the table next to me all afternoon, minding her own business.
“Hi” I mumbled.
“Hey” she replied with a quiet smirk on her face.
I wasn’t sure what to say next. I was a intimidated. She was charming enough though, and continued the conversation for me.
“What are you doing?” she asked politely.
“Uhmmm.. writing” I stuttered.
“Oh, that’s nice” she said with a flutter. “Is anyone going to read it?”
I put my head back down and continued to write, but came to an abrupt stop.
“Why are you here?” I asked rudely. “Why are you following me around everywhere?”
“Do you like it?” she asked back.
“Well…. I… I don’t know if I do or not.” I said, lowering my voice.
“Why don’t we get out of here and do something else” she suggested. “You’re getting stressed out. You should take a break.”
I conceded, packed books away, and decided to go take a nap.
Eventually, Insecurity and I began to spend more time together. I started to believe what she told me. She started by telling me that I was justified in feeling so tired all the time. She made me feel sorry for myself. After all, I was unemployed and confused about what to do with my empty days.
So I spent my days with her. We sat together and watched reruns of old shows, played video games, and took naps. For a while it felt great. Time flew by. But as days passed by, she began to get more aggressive with me. She asked me the same questions over and over again.
“Why did you major in philosophy Austin?” she yelled at me as I drove down the road.
“I’m not talking about this right now” I replied. “We’ve gone over this before.”
“Don’t you know that your parents are paying for this gas?” she continued. “How come you don’t have a job yet?”
“Will you just relax?” I shouted, attempting to reconcile.
These conversations were beginning to take a toll on me. She was slowly sucking the life out of me. I wanted to break up with her, but had no idea how to do it.
One night, while I was driving on my way home, she made me cry. I don’t remember exactly what she said to me, but I was overwhelmed. Rain pittered and pattered against my windshield, but I could not hear it over her loud questioning and complaining. I pulled the car over, unbuckled, and stepped out onto the highway.
“What hell are you doing?” She questioned from the passenger seat.
The highway was empty. It was just me and her. I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head and walked around the front of my car, engine still running. She buckled her seat-belt and refused to get out.
“Get out of the car” I demanded.
“No” she pleaded.
“Yes, get out now!”
I yanked open the door and pulled her out.
“I’m done. Do not follow me, and leave me alone” I asserted.
She began to speak again, but I cut her off. Lowering my eyes, I slammed the passenger door, hopped back in the car, and drove off, leaving her on the side of the road all by herself.
The radio was off and all I could hear was the sound of the rain and my wheels against the shiny road. I was short of breath, and wiped the tear residue from my eyes.
“Alright, God what do you have to say?” I demanded as loud as I could, scaring myself.
I waited and there was stillness.
Then, from the innermost part of my consciousness I heard “You are my beloved son, in you I am well pleased.”
“That’s good” I thought.
I’ll stick with that.
Insecurity still bothers me. She is the relentless ex-girlfriend who will not let our relationship end. When I am getting dressed in the morning, I can hear the faint sound of my phone buzzing on my kitchen table. It is her calling. When I arrive to work as a substitute teacher, I receive a text. I know who it is from. And later in the afternoon, when I sit down to write, I remember her taunts.
But I am moving on. We have broken up, and I’ll never go back.