They all say “life goes on,” like I should find some comfort in it. But maybe that’s the true tragedy.
I replaced you with shot glasses and wine stained lips, with smoke filled lungs and drunken promises. My head full of yesterdays, my rib cage growing, or my heart shrinking. I have not the capacity to know which.
Your presence is replaced with longing and ache. An ache like embers of a fire. Dull lighting, and shifty eyes. How did I get here, chasing un-catchable shadows with a butterfly net?
There’s an emptiness in me, growing with every breath. Restless and thirsty. And my heart will never be still.
Do you remember… Do you remember the night I told you I loved you? I stood in front of you, naked and bare-boned. Throwing myself into the darkness. My hands shook and my insides rattled. The moon the shape of the slivers my mother use to pull from my finger tips.
My heartbeat, a line begging to be pulled and the distance between us could fill oceans. And I felt myself fall into it. I lay ruins at your feet, falling onto my own sword with the insanity of these sprinting thoughts.
If only you knew from the beginning, I bring my own matches and light myself on fire, as time is the oxygen feeding the flames. And I’ll write you into my world, letters onto my skin. And my words will make you immortal. Because all of this time I spent, keeping you out of my words, trying to make myself believe you weren’t worth the ink, you grew larger than life. And once you leave, I’ll only have memories, because those fade everyday.
- We had gone for sushi. I was unsure if this was a date, or just a ‘hang out.’ You had asked me if I needed a refill on my sake and began to pour. Unaware of how much was still in my cup, the sake began to overflow and pour onto the table. You laughed and slyly said, “good thing this isn’t our first date,” as you wiped up the mess. I felt relieved to hear you call it a date. Shortly after, right before we had gotten our check, the power went out. We sat waiting a few minutes for the lights to turn back on, but they didn’t. We paid our tab and left. As we drove through town, we saw the power on the whole street was down. I watched in the dark as we passed all of the unlit buildings. It was eerie, and I felt like we were the only ones left. In a strange way, it made me feel closer to you.
- The first time I told you I loved you, I was terrified, drunk, and hopeful. I waited until you opened the taxi door, and as I began to walk around the back, I blurted it out. Like I was a little kid with a juicy secret. You smirked as you got in the cab, knowing how much I had to will those words to come out. I joined you in the cab and couldn’t meet your gaze. You beamed and your hands grabbed at me like they had something to say. I could feel my heart in the back of my throat as I tried to choke out my address for the driver. I died a little more, every minute that passed that you stayed speechless. As we parked, I was the first to flee from the cab. I tried to walk as fast as I could to my door, thinking I could walk out of what I had just said, until you stopped me. You pulled me back, into your arms and repeated my words. “I love you.”
- It was late. All of my friends had left and we continued to finish the last bottle of wine. My head raced in the haze and I turned my words over in my head, again and again, trying to find the perfect combination. I told you I didn’t want to hang out anymore. I was beginning to have feelings, and I’m conditioned to know that never works out well for me. Your voice shook. “We can end this, but you’ll still be on my mind.” We just laid, silent, absorbed in our own thoughts for what seemed like forever.
- It was the weekend we had spent at your parents island house. You had gotten out of bed before me to shower and start your morning. I was slow and reluctant to follow. Mornings were never my favorite. When I finally dragged myself, bed head and all, down the stairs to the living room, you met me with a cup of coffee, black as I had always taken it. You greeted me with a smile and a good morning kiss, like it was something we could do for the rest of our lives. My heart swelled.
- We met at that little coffee shop on Middle street. It had been a few months since I had seen you. And a few months since I had any desire to speak to you at all. I was still mending a broken heart from our first go-around. Filled with confusion, anger, and pain, I let you say what you had to say. As I tried to make sense of it all, you continued to tell me you still loved me. Said you couldn’t get me out of your head. You didn’t understand any of it about as much as I didn’t. You swore you were ready this time. Your eyes were flooding with tears as you fought to find the right words to give to me. It was the most vulnerable I had ever seen you. You wore your hopeful will on your sleeve and poured everything you had out on the table. I wanted to soak it all in. I wanted to reach out and touch you and hold all of your words in my hands until they seeped into my veins and lived in my bloodstream.
- The first morning we woke up in our new apartment, you rolled over and looked at me like I was all you’ve ever wanted. I felt like I could breathe again, after spending so much time holding my breath. I’ve spent more than half of my life running from one thing or another. In all of that time, this was the first I had ever felt at home. And it wasn’t the new apartment, it wasn’t the furniture we set up, or the new dishes filling our cabinets, it wasn’t the bed sheets we were tangled in. It was you, you were home.
- We stood in the kitchen, you asked if I was still happy. I had no words. You had never asked me that. My breath felt trapped in my lungs as my head began to spin and the ground began to fall out from under me. I wanted to run. I didn’t know where but I no longer wanted to be there, for fear of the consequences to what ever my answer would be. All I could hear was my heart begging to beat out of my chest. Please no. Not now. I love you. You said you felt you were holding me back. That I seem so unhappy. That we have no future. Trying to put order to all of these words you were throwing at me, I put all of my focus on holding myself together. This man I pictured marrying someday, the one I pictured a family with, wondering if we ever were to have kids, if they’d have his laugh, or his gold eyes, slipping through my fingers. A fine sand that I can’t grip. Forever engraved in my heart, that soft smile. Suddenly all of the things I had ever been upset with you about, all of the times you disappointed me, everything I had been holding on to seemed so insignificant. All of my ways of thinking, my ideals, everything I had set aside to be with you, that I had let go of came flooding in. How could I have fallen for this, again? I had always told you people leave, no one stays. That I was scared of marriage because I didn’t want to get somewhere down the road and you not love me anymore. All of the fears I had told you about starting a life with someone had played exactly into what we had built. And I could see the ash begin to fall from our burning world.
- I’m laying in bed with you on my mind, secretly comforted by the thought that you’re just in the next room. What will I be when the day comes that we move out and you are actually gone? A life I never wanted to picture without you in and I’ll be thrown into it. An arrow shot off into a direction I have no choice on. Please give me the strength to be this person, whoever it is. What I’d give to not be the one who stays.
I spent the better half of my 20s chasing ghosts. But who knew loneliness could come in the form of people.
Don’t cling to anything that burns your hands to hold.