What Do You Expect?

Across the table, the tension. Felt with her eyes, with her rigid focus, on the ordinary plate in front of her. Every second she didn’t look up, the heavy stare settled even deeper. The dead air screamed for a word, and explanation, but she wouldn’t. He wouldn’t.

Expected. Him to say it first. Expected her to drip a tear. The stories of how it should have gone, played out over and again in a fuzzy future memory. Scratching the back of her throat when she thought the air was about to break, and it didn’t. He stayed quiet. She expected more. She expected different.

She could remember a time when she had high expectations. About life, about people, about the future. When she dared to expect love or happiness. When she trusted wildly and expected the future to tun out alright. When she expected those she was close to, to share her expectations. Inexperienced little girl, she still had to learn the difference between high expectations and false ones.

The weighted breath of the moment folded in on her expectations. Again. They had soared away from her. Again. She ended up expecting something great. Again. And yet, again, this disappointment hurt.

Raise the defenses up. As soon as he walks through her door, next time. Striving to defeat her own high expectations. Fighting to subdue the flawed hopes of her heart. Dragging this oppressor’s millstone in her mind, speech, and acton. No expectations. Then she shouldn’t feel if it’s only an imagined failure. No expectations. Then she can’t mourn the loss of a hope found false. No expectations. That was the safest game to play, for her too tired soul.

Could she always live with such a disinterested view. Only thankful, always watchful. Never expecting to be the hero or the queen. Checking her hopes, disbelieving the dreams. It sounded rational enough. To live without trust. Then she would be pleasantly surprised when anything exceeded those expectations. 

And if she does, if she will continue believe a story, a relationship, and world with no expectations, then she will kill off any and every hope. If she can possibly protect herself from vulnerability and heartbreak, she will protect herself from the volatile energy of ecstatic life. What is the greater tragedy? To let go of her expectations, or to look forward to them crushing her. Again.