Acts of Guilt


Taking the stairs two at a time, for less time than I had wished, I felt five years old again. For the briefest of moments, the optimism of reaching the top reminded me of when a simple pleasure such as this was the only pleasure worth chasing. The illusion, however, was soon shattered. Clutching my chest, the stitch ate away at my side causing a sudden wave of nausea. I was no longer as young as I had once been, and although the heart and mind were more than willing, my body had given up on my exuberant exploits long ago. I couldn’t blame it. I’d treated it more akin to enemy territory than a temple. Doubled over and gasping for air, I looked at the door to our apartment and wondered if Meeko was spying on me through the peephole. The thought occurred to pretend I was doing up my laces. I didn’t want her seeing me like this—so out of shape and humdrum—but I gave up the ghost and remained hunched over trying to catch my breath. From the door opposite ours came a sudden blast of raised voices belonging to a young couple who had moved in not long after myself and Meeko had arrived. They were perhaps a year or two younger than we were, and if you could believe it, more prone to arguments. This was early for them, though, as they usually tended to clash later in the day. Shuffling to their door, I stepped out of sight of their peephole and listened intently for what they were fighting over. She was shouting about his laziness, and he in-turn was lashing out at her for pestering him, especially as though he was the only one of them to have a job. It wasn’t a very compelling argument, but it was comforting knowing other couples were suffering much the same as we were. Meeko didn’t like the girl that lived in this apartment, namely because she had once caught me helping her up the stairwell with several bags of shopping. There was nothing untoward in my actions, but that hadn’t been good enough for Meeko. Such acts of kindness aimed at the opposite sex were tantamount to adultery, and as such, I was careful only to be kind to other women when Meeko wasn’t around. But that just left me feeling guilty, and even the simple act of opening a door for an appreciative girl felt as if I were engaging in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

A Journal for Damned Lovers UK

A Journal for Damned Lovers US

Anthology UK / Anthology US

6 replies »

  1. My ex was possessive and it was hard work, always trying to stay one step ahead of him so he wouldn’t kick off. It only took me smiling at a waiter or whatever to start him sulking or worse. I was a lot older and he was history before I realised it was HIS own insecurity that made him act that way, but it was so displaced. That kind of behaviour is destructive, for everyone involved. There was only one woman who blatantly flirted with my man to the point that I lost the plot with HIM. Definitely not my finest hour! I was so disgusted with MY behaviour that I’ve never behaved that way since.

    • You’re right how you say it was all about his own insecurities. People act that way for a reason. It’s fine to feel a little insecure, but not to the point where you inflict it on other people, and use it as a way to control them. Writing this piece left me a little sad. Meeko reminds me of certain people I’ve known, and how they were their own worst enemies.

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