Laying on the couch, Modern Family on the television watching them, She and He exchange wordless alternating glances that simultaneously say everything and nothing at all.  Leaning in toward his arm where her head happened to be resting, his kiss lands unexpectedly on her cheek – not its intended destination.

“What’s wrong babe?” He asks.

“I’m fine.” she responds.

“No, you’re not.”

“You’re right I’m not, but … whatever.”

“Well … what is it … what do you want babe?”

“I don’t want anything.”

I want a paper wind chime.

A paper wind chime on a long porch that sits on a big lush lawn. Colorful, with little carefully stringed beads that are supposed to make pretty music when the wind blows, but really just kind of create a racket at the slightest breeze, and the beaded strings get entangled in each other, but still hangs there proudly because it was made by a handsome three-year old that looks like you and calls me mommy.

I want the prettiest, most elegant olive green dress that matches perfectly with the tie you’ll wear to my literary awards ceremony.

I want the usual “good morning” not to be typed words in black font from your blackberry to mine, but a muffled sound from your mouth in the crook of my neck.

I want an old album full of goofy pictures taken on vacations and random days when I looked particularly pretty, and the camera was your eye.

I want this to be given a chance to grow and show and know what will be and won’t. I want to just be. Without insecurities and reservations about how I feel about you and how you feel about me. I want it all. You, us, this, completely.

Or

I want nothing. Absolutely nothing to exist in this space so filled with our Saturday morning lovemaking, under the slivers of sunlight that squeeze through your beige blinds. Maybe our forever has defied the laws of time and reached its limit. If that is the case, then I want an eraser. For us to devolve into the strangers we were before my tongue knew the syllables of your name.

I want to go back to perfectly peaceful nights spent devouring bestsellers, and luxurious bubble baths made for one. I want to return to easy evenings of free meals and good conversation in little black dresses, with men who have caught my momentary fancy. Until one comes along that moves me in the way that you did; the way that wind moves trees, that sways me so effortlessly it can only be felt, not seen.

Understand love, that this is not a bitter declaration meant to force your hand … or your heart. I only need to make you aware of my desires. Much too much thought has been given to this back and forth dance we know and do so well, and now I’ve found myself at my heart’s poker table. Going either all in, or walking away.

I want love to reside on my lips for you and you only.

Or I want remove the taste of your name, wipe my palate clean of your essence.

All, or nothing.

And if you are to choose all, then we will celebrate with expensive wine, and things not meant to be mentioned in public. But if you should choose the opposite, then I’ll wish you love and life and all the best that this journey may bring you. Above all, I will be happy. No pleading. No debating. No pressure. All is fair in love.

She turned to him, unable to allow such sentiments to reach her vocal chords, breaking the loud silence residing with them, “What I really want to know is … what do you want. What exactly, do you want from me, from us?”

I want time. I want time to sit back and enjoy the perfection that is now without the weight of future forevers adding unnecessary gravity to our present joy. I want time to allow whatever this is I’m feeling for you to grow and make itself more known. A man who fears nothing is said to be a man who loves nothing. Never before in my life have I allowed myself to love a woman, but I’m afraid of losing you. I’m not sure what that means and my inability to figure it out scares me. Does it mean I love you? I don’t know. But what if I do? Let’s say I do love you. Does this mean we’re supposed to spend our lives together? I need time. I’ve tried my best to mask this bit of confusion from you, happily dancing to the rhythm of right now, but in truth it has always been there– a tectonic rumbling beneath the surface of our relationship, precursing doom. Lately the air around us has been thick and tense with the humidity of unspoken words and those words unsaid are beginning to matter more than every term of endearment and adoration we’ve ever expressed to one another. We are dying slowly, I can feel it and the death of us is killing me.

Every so often I’ll find myself slipping into a daydream. I see myself zipping you into the perfect black dress and you adjusting my tie as we prepare ourselves to head someplace deserving of our combined awesomeness. Or sometimes I’ll see your slight smile peeking at me across a crowded room as we share a moment of silent hilarity. And sometimes, on rare occasions, I see myself on an ice cream sundae date with a curly topped little girl who has your attitude, grandma’s heart, and my sense of humor. But these dreams, however wonderful cannot be allowed to settle into expectation because I cannot say for certain whether they are dreams I have for us or dreams I have for myself that I’m projecting on you simply because you are here. I want to dream of you, but I don’t want to be irresponsible with your love.

And so we are here, at a turning point no doubt. I can see in your eyes and sense in your heart the festering discontent that comes with our unspoken understanding that what could be, what probably should be may not be. I just need more time. I want to ask you for more time, but I know that doing so would be selfish since I can’t guarantee that I won’t be wasting it. One of the things most amazing about you is that you never allow me to be anything less than the man I expect myself to be. This is both inspiring and frustrating. You’re not going to make this easy. You’re not going to tell me you’ve had enough and walk out. You’re going to make me be a man about it. I know what I need to do, all that’s left is for it to be done. And so it will be.

Pulling his arm from around her shoulder and clutching her hands in his, “What do I want?” He said, repeating her question.  “I want us to take the memories of what we had with us wherever our lives might go.”

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And so began the beginning of their end.

***The above is a bit of collaborative fiction by Mr. Spradley and Muze. (You can read more of her work at www.becauseimwrite.com). We’ve all been here, or some place close to here. That unhappy but inevitable place where a relationship goes to die. The hardest relationships to end are the ones that end because two people have grown apart and are no longer seeing their future through the same eyes. It’s been awhile since we all got in our feelings on the blog. Today, we’re talking break-ups. Have you been here before? Have you seen a relationship that you thought might be forever come to its end? Share your break-up stories. No judgment, just cathartic release here on the SBM couch.***

***Admin Note*** Please check out this week’s issue of Howard University’s student newspaper The Hilltop as they did a nice write up on SingleBlackMale.org. You can Find it online here: DMV Blog Series: Inside the Male Mind***

Next week, I’m back with Part Two of the Future Father Series: Five Things About Men I’ll Teach My Daughter … till then … stay low and keep firing.