He kisses me, his lips gentle on my skin, and shakes his head.
"Won't do any good to suggest you just mute him and move on?" he asks.
I smile softly, shaking my head, my fingers tracing patterns along his arms.
No, no it won't.
The first person I ever muted on the grid had made a habit of coming in drunk to the Enigma. She started off just giggly and unable to speak, but as the weeks went by, she went from giggling and incoherent to screaming for sex on the dance floor.
The night she tore her clothes off in front of her current boy-toy--and fifteen wide-eyed patrons of the club--I banned her on the spot, and muted her so I couldn't hear the obscenities she screamed at me. I banned her friend, the woman who'd urged her on, for good measure.
That one came back in the form of an alt and begged me to let her friend back in. I tried to explain what we did and didn't allow in the Enigma, and she kept asking. Saying, she's going through a bad patch right now...If you knew you'd understand...Please, I know she's out of control, I'll watch her...
Three hours of talking in IM, and I finally nodded my head. All right, I told her, but you will watch her, and the minute she steps a foot over the line--you're both gone again.
In the meantime, I continued, you have a seventy-two hour ban. That, I'm not budging on.
She agreed to everything, and three days later, they came back, cowed and quiet. She got giggly again, a few times, but didn't paint the air blue, and never lost her clothes again. And onward we went.
He doesn't understand. I know. He tries, but...Maybe he does, maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. All I know is, he wants me to turn away, and...it's ever been my failing, the holding on.
I'm learning. It's almost like slowly smothering part of me, but maybe it's a necessary thing. The holding on has held me back more than once, from moving on, from moving forward, from doing what I need to do. Being who I need to be.
I don't want that to happen again.
I've been shot in the face and blown up with explosives by Blue Boy VIPs; I've been caged by members of the former Barbie Club; I've been trapped in a bear-jaw trap and left to struggle my way free by Club Arsheba dancers. I've been collared by DJs and drained by demons and chained to walls for hours by clients.
None of them ever made the mute list.
He sighs a lot. Tells me it would be easier. And I know it would be. One click of a button and walk away. There would be an end to things.
Never more to know or fret or worry about what he's going to say, how he's going to say it; when he's going to reach out and contact me again; never more any sort of relationship, even one so strained and uneven.
To admit that there's nothing more the other can say, to make things better, to apologize, to listen to my apologies; to understand that no words can ever make what went wrong, right; to say, even if only to myself, that the other is effectively dead to me (for in general, the dead do not communicate)...that earns a position on the mute list.
Nothing else does.
I didn't even mute God, when he sent me that horrific picture of the girl with the alligators.
(Though, I admit, I was mightily tempted.)
In the end he just holds me, and lets me do what I think is right, even if it's not what he would do. He worries, though. And maybe he's right to worry. Maybe I should turn away from all contact.
Or maybe it's not time yet. Maybe it's a test, even if it's only one I'm setting myself. How much am I willing to let go, before I can't recognize myself anymore? And is that good or bad?
Is the person I'm growing into going to be more understanding or less? Is it better or worse for me to keep holding on? Is it better or worse for me to turn away, refuse, deny, refute...stop listening?
The vampire princeling is still on my list. So's the DJ, and the demonic once-fiance, though he's sailed far from the grid, investigating other things. Maybe that's what I should do, one of these days...go through, and remove every name for which my only tie is once-love, not current love...remove everyone for whom nostalgia is the only bind, and not even friendship remains.
I'm not sure I could do that either. But I might have to try.
That may be, in fact, the start of the next test. I wonder if I'll pass...