Turning Tables

The story for "Turning Tables" by Adele.


1. Turning Tables

Close enough to start a war
All that I have is on the floor
God only knows what we're fighting for
All that I say, you always say more

I looked up at him. The anger in his voice was above any emotion I have seen cross his features before. You didn't need to know the details of what just occurred to know what this scene enthralled of because all of the emotions were clear cut. Anger, hurt, dejection, pain--all present and abundant.

I grimaced. It's a if we were on a battlefield, targeting each other's heart. He had just stabbed mine.

"Maybe if you weren't so flirtatious, I wouldn't have to be jealous!" I stabbed back.

His anger only seemed to heat up.

"Flirtatious," he mocked. "You're the one hitting on every guy you see!"

I scoffed and crossed my arms again. We circled around each other like wolves, surveying the competition with eager eyes, ready to pounce at any moment.

I couldn't remember when it even started. Not just that fight, but all the fighting in general. I couldn't remember a time when anything I said was not made into an insult and retaliated by a snarky remark from my boyfriend Zayn.

I can't keep up with your turning tables
Under your thumb I can't breathe

It was suffocating. Suffocating, the way things had been. I guess one can only take so many blows to the heart before getting the wind knocked out from under them.

"You just can't face it," Zayn snarled again, "you're an annoying parasite that only survives by sucking the life out of others."

Tears stung my eyes, but I refused to let them fall.

He doesn't deserve to see me cry, I thought with a cracked voice. He doesn't deserve to see anything about me.

Suddenly I realized my relationship for as it really was. It was a balloon, blown up once with love and compassion...

But the knot was tied now. Somehow, somewhere along, a knot had formed. Fear, apprehension, mistrust, misguidance--anything could be the cause, really. Whatever it was, it stopped the airflow of love from entering.

What was going on then--I winced--the fights, the swordplay with words, the war raging on unvocalized or announced; it was because a hole had formed in the balloon. Punctured by a needle of hatred, anger, sadness even, the love was now slowly seeping out of our balloon.

There has to be a way to patch this up, I think hopefully. There must be.

This is where it might be easier if our relationship really was a balloon. One of us could run for tape, the other with a finger pressed over the whole, concealing it. The other would return. We'd press the tape down on time, before the love ran out, before...

I stepped back. I knew it was too late for repair. The balloon deflated long ago; there was only the other shell of what we once had. We were joking ourselves, trying to believe the balloon was still filled of air and abundant. We were grasping for straws when there were no straws to grasp at. I knew what had to be done then, and it was my job to do it.

So, I won't let you close enough to hurt me
No, I won't rescue you to just desert me
I can't give you the heart you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables
To turning tables

"I'm done," I remarked in monotone. "I'm through with this."

He started to protest. His strong and confident facade melted immediately into the sweet and innocent guy I once knew and loved.

"No!" his voice broke. "I-I'm sorry! I just get so mad s-sometimes and..."

I ignored the muffled cries of regret and apology from the other side of our bedroom door I had just shut and walked into.

"I can't do it, Zayn," I explained. "I won't keep exchanging insults with you."

Tears were flowing down my cheeks at that point. I tried my best not to let my voice tremble.

I continued: "I'll only get hurt by you. I can't go through that. I'm sorry, but I just can't."

A crippling sob racked through me. I fell into the bed and press my face against a pillow to muffle it.

"Please," he begged back at me, "I'll do anything."

The way he pronounces the word anything, the note of flooding desperation in his voice makes me glad I can't see him. Glad I can't see his glossy eyes, trembling lips, shaking frame... Glad I can't see what I broke.

It's for the best.

That provided, it still takes all the strength I have left mustered up in me to say it.

"It's over."

If I was watching him, the reply may have been different. If I was under the pressure of pleading eyes and a sniffly nose, who's knows what I'd have conformed to--but I didn't; I didn't conform to anything. Instead, I took a breath, shoved my stuff into suitcase, and walked straight out of the house and into my car, ignoring the desperate cries and pleads of Zayn.

Under haunted skies I see you (ooh)
Where love is lost your ghost is found
I braved a hundred storms to leave you
As hard as you try, no, I will never be knocked down, whoa

Once on the highway, I finally broke down. I remembered old memories of Zayn from when we met, when he helped me through my struggles, when we fell in love.

I remembered how he used to hold me when I cried, my head in the crook of his neck. I remembered how he'd stroke my back, and play with my hair. I remembered him whispering "Shh... It's okay; you're going to be just fine, darling."

I remembered how that was a promise. I remembered how he could promise that. Because it was true; things would be okay. As long as I could breathe in and lean against his chest and still smell the scent of his strong cologne on his shirt, I knew tomorrow could never be too bad.

But I didn't have that to depend upon now. I didn't have his scent to calm me or his arms to comfort me with warmth. I was a women now, a strong, independent women, and I would make it through this.

I will do this, and I will do it for myself.

I wiped my cheeks with the edge of my sleeve, stopped crying, blinked a few times, and focused on the road ahead of me.

Next time I'll be braver
I'll be my own savior
When the thunder calls for me
Next time I'll be braver
I'll be my own savior
Standing on my own two feet

I need to learn to live my own life, I realized after a few minutes of driving in circles, not knowing where to go.

Usually, I'd call the boys, Zayn's friends. However, they were the boys, Zayn's friends. I knew they were my friends too, but if I were to call them, it seemed like a handout to me, one from him--and I was not about to accept that.

Come on, I have friends right?

I bit my lip. Didn't I?

After a few seconds, I got over the initial block and called my friend Sara. She was on speed dial: I pressed 1.

"Hey, sara," I said.

"Hey," she replied.

"I need a place to sleep tonight; can I please stay with you? I'm sorry it's such short notice, but I--"

She cut me off. I could catch the hint of worry and confusion as well as concern in her voice.

"Yeah! Of course! Why; what happened?"

I sighed and shrugged my shoulders although she couldn't see me.

"Zayn and I broke up," I blurt out.

I can hear the sympathy through the phone.

"Oh, goodness, I'm so, so--"

This time, it was my turn to cut her off.

"I was the one to break us up."

The line goes quiet. After a few minutes, she breaks the silence.

"I'd love to have you come over. Why don't we talk when you get here? I'll put on some tea in the meanwhile. I'm sure we'll need it."

I manage a smile, and not a fake one.

"That sounds perfect. Thanks, Sara. You're a lifesaver."

"Sure thing."--she hesitates--"Hey, can I ask just one thing before I let you go?"

I answer: "Sure."

"What made you finally want to leave him?"

I laughed, smiled brighter and bit my lip in habit.

"I don't know. It was just time to say goodbye to turning tables."

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