Ch 18 MEHWEDGE (As Pronounced in The Princess Bride)
It feels as though Jiro has reached over and pinched her arm with his words. His reach is subtle, but the pain is sharp and sustained. The hurt shooting through Hanako’s heart paralyzes her powers of speech and fans a flame of anger within her all at once.
Her comprehension of the conversation is now foggy, her desire to respond as weak as a dog who’s been kicked too many times. She had brought them to this place--as she often did--this place where each was forced into a corner, felt it crucial to fight until the other bled.
When Jiro apologizes later, she’s mute. He is often the first to apologize, even when she is first in the wrong. At these times, she sometimes remembers what her mother had said before she married Jiro. “Be mindful what you ask of that boy…he would do anything for you…even if it were unwise.” And “anything” seemed to include everything from being the first to apologize to making sure she was drinking enough water in a day, to getting her flowers, even when funds were low because she needed “beauty! Beauty everywhere!”
Hanako despised the way their conversations entered a freefall of chaotic words and too tender feelings. The way they could pick apart each other’s sentences like birds pecking at nearly bare bones. Hanako and Jiro had x-ray vision where the other were concerned.
At these moments, Hanako often felt as though she would rather die than admit she could have said or done things differently.
Once they began their freefall, Hanako seldom reached for the parachute, even when Jiro offered it to her by way of apology or spoke words crafted to initiate a ceasefire.
He would try to hug her (try, because she could not bear to be touched when she was upset), or tell her words of love, but she was not quick to move on. In her mind, she could forgive--even know enough to reciprocate with an apology of her own, but in her heart--in her heart she would say things like, “the iron has entered my soul,” much like the headstrong heroine she had loved since she was a kid.
After hugs had been accepted and after true remorse had settled into Hanako’s spirit, she would vow to handle conflict better next time but deep in her heart, she still had her doubts. She knew deep down that for real improvement to come about, she would have to think of Jiro first in her thoughts. She would have to ask herself things like: what was his reason for saying what he said? Was he really trying to do battle? When he chose that particular word to express himself, was he using it at face value, or as a bridge between one thought to the next?
To be honest, it was exhausting merely thinking about implementing these measures against conflict. Why should she be the one to have to consider them anyway? Why couldn’t he just use the “right” words? Why couldn’t he just be more sensitive in his use of tone?
Of course, the above-mentioned things were thought rhetorically. Hanako knew why “he couldn’t just…”. She couldn’t force him to do anything, just as he couldn’t force her to be less literal in her interpretation of what he said.
As one of her friends had pointed out recently, it was up to Hanako if she wanted the way these conflicts unraveled to change. “You have to fight for what you want, Hanako,” she’d said. “Do you want to?”
The look on Hanako’s face must have left room for doubt because her friend laughed. Hanako was in turmoil, it was true. If she did really want real, lasting change, what did that look like and feel like? How would she truly know if she wanted to change or if what she really wanted still--was for him to?
Thankfully, her friend had just given her a long squeeze. “If you do want to fight,” she said, “You have to be strong.”
“Yeah...” Hanako said, already thinking how hard this was going to be.
“Ganbatte,” her friend said. “Do your best."