He had conjured up a particular image of me. And he felt let down every time I didn’t leave up to it. Occasionally I was ignorant. But mostly I didn’t care. Or at least pretended I didn’t. His treatment pricked. Not because he had underestimated or belittled me. On the contrary, he thought the world of me. And I had little appreciation for it or his feelings.
He was my punching bag who also mollified most of my outbursts, called or uncalled for, and always played them down. He never shut me up, unlike some other people around me. He’d always let me complete my rants. His patient eyes would watch me pace the room to and fro with frantically flailing arms and a loose tongue. And then when I’d go quiet, partly out of exhaustion, he’d enquire ever so soothingly, “Feeling better?” I’d nod a meek yes, wiping away the perspiration and pushing the hair off my eyes.
“Let’s go get some ice-cream,” he’d conclude. He never sought an explanation as to what brought on which outburst. But he sought to quell them all.
He never revealed how much I hurt him. I know I did. But he was one brave-natured soul. He soldiered on, not once claiming his pound of flesh.
He only insisted on honesty. In words. In deeds. In thoughts.
I don’t know if it was love. He never admitted it was. He was content being a friend. “Love complicates,” he opined. “Let’s keep it simple,” he suggested.