Pugna Saeculorum

I picture us then like trapped birds – ricocheting against the walls and each other. Biting and clawing and trying to escape, but unable to do so in the chaos.

Our shouts drowned out the sounds of rain against glass, of cars below, of trains passing. All we heard was our own words echoing cruelly back at us, reverberating until the very air felt thick with rage.

It’s funny, isn’t it? How brief the path from hurt to anger. My hurt began in the pit of my stomach, dark and heavy – but was quickly engulfed in a white flame of fury that rose through my chest. It nestled at the base of my throat, hurling spite and meanness through my lips.

Your hurt followed suit.

A red mist tinged the corner of my vision. My fists were clenched, my jaw taut. I tasted blood once. I seemed to metamorph into something smaller, harder, more dense and compact – while you appeared to take up more space as time went on. You paced and flailed, throwing your hands up in exasperation, your body somehow becoming longer, larger, more spread out.

And so it went, hurt and anger, anger and hurt, like some massive undulating balloon shifting power back and forth. You could almost feel the gravitational exchange between us.

I don’t know how long we went at it like that – until we wore ourselves hoarse – before the tenor of our voices began to waiver, then fall. Silence filled the space more entirely than noise ever had.

It was as if the shouting made us weaker, like sails without wind. We collapsed, still panting slightly, refusing to make eye contact. Our gaze darted around the room as if searching for another battle. We sat tensed, posture not fully relaxed, still poised for a fight. But the ferocity of it had rubbed us raw.

All that was left was the ashes of our hurt, the burning embers of our anger.

We sat on opposite ends of the couch – on opposite ends of the world – and watched the embers glow.

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