It was important to me that he loved me. I remember that. I remember curling my lips just so, and getting every gesture just right, and marketing myself professionally to him as The One. I played with my hair and looked sheepishly away when he complimented me; I was just the right amount of confident, and just the right amount of submissive. I cooked him his favourite meals and learnt the words to his favourite songs. I organised, planned and performed my life in such a way that I knew he had no choice but to fall, deeply, desperately, suddenly in love with me. Because just love wasn’t enough; it had to be mad, possessive, anarchic love that took hold of him completely, so that he wanted to take hold of me completely.
I revelled in his adoration of me. ‘I was made to be loved,’ I trilled, laughing at my great luck and wit and triumph. I felt an inner glee every time he whispered to me sweet nothings, or brought home flowers, or held me close by his side in a crowd. I flourished in his spotlight, grateful for all the new, exciting attention he was giving me. The game was going splendidly, just as I had planned. I was loved. Wasn’t that wonderful news? I was loved. I was treasured. I was cherished and spoilt and treated like the queen I’d always wanted — but never expected — to be. I was the light of his life, and he chased me like a little moth. I was a prize, high on a pedestal, housed in an expansive temple, worshipped; I had sacrifices made in my name and controlled the universe accordingly. I had power in the palm of my hand, between my lips, behind my eyes. My first conquest. My little colony. My flag flying deep in his chest. It was ecstasy. It was perfect.
For a time. I kept up my little performances: my lights were always down, the stage always set, the show always going on. It was wonderful. A little, established routine, ticking past like minutes on a clock, full of significance, passion, love. I played my part with dedication and panache. I was a star. But the audience waned. His sweet nothings were more nothing than sweet; his eyes looked at me less frequently and for less time; he sang songs I hadn’t heard before and claimed not to like the things I’d always cooked. I was sure that it would pass; it was just a crisis of faith, a little doubt here and there, but nothing that our church couldn’t survive. But the garden was no longer tended and the flowers began to die. The weeds grew up and the holy books in the pews grew yellow and tired and started to curl at the corner. I was desperate in my attempts to renew and strengthen his faith. I giggled more and sang louder and pouted and smiled and danced and solicited greater beings than myself to tell me how to stop this dreadful… secularism… Absence.
He left anyway. He did love me. I know he loved me. He loved me because I grew to love his favourite songs like he did, and I greedily devoured his favourite meals as he did, and I loved the frisson of excitement that ran through me when I saw how he saw me, when he reacted to my great arias, my compelling scenes, my triumphant final notes. When the church was mine and mine alone, empty and faded, I recited these ancient texts to myself, sang myself hymnns and danced singly with the ghost of his devotion. I inhabited it; I began to live there; I made it my home — a deep well inside of me that went down so far, even I wasn’t sure of its end.
It was very important that he loved me, that I possessed him.