You were a storm barreling toward me, full of boiling rage and leftover resentment. You needed a place to land the whirling brew of dust, wind and rain and I let you right in.
You were handsome. You have a darkness to your features which is my weakness, and it casts itself over your stern face giving you a severity that’s mistaken for shyness. Your arms are muscled though you hide them in sweatshirts. You seem like you could fly off the handle, which is partly why I start to like you. Trouble simmers on your skin. I like nice people, don’t get me wrong, and you are nice. But there’s a itch on you, under the surface and you seem poised to scratch it. Your hands tighten into fists by your pockets and you need an outlet for something so dark and deep you haven’t let yourself touch it. It’s magnetic because I am lonely and apathetic.
I seem to make you crazy, like it never occurred to you to think of me that way until I was practically in your lap, and then suddenly you were concerned that I would change my mind and never come back. And I understand why you were like that. You probably felt more like a vessel for my avoidance, distraction, and boredom than a human person I cared about or loved. I did not love you, but you didn’t love me either. (We could have. Maybe.) Why did you keep coming back? I wondered for a long time. If I made you hate yourself so much?
If I’m looking for something to do, then you’re looking for someone to hurt. You surprise me. You are someone who likes to inflict pain, someone masterful, someone who likes to play at danger and whose eyes drink in fear appreciatively. You have demons. Ones you don’t want to talk about, ones you can’t talk about, ones that splay across your face and move your hands for you like puppets. They sprung up in childhood and it seems no one has ever given you permission to deal with them. I tell you to take it out on me if you want. It takes a while for you to warm up to the idea and then when you do, you’re kind of a monster, slapping and leaving bruises in a way I don’t dislike.
But afterwards, you retreat. You curse your need for this kind of thing, body filled with religious guilt. You lament not being “normal.” You pull away from me, hunched over in your computer chair, pitying yourself. I tell you there’s nothing wrong with you. Doing it this way, it doesn’t mean you’re irreversibly messed up. That it’s not that big a deal. But it festers in you. It grows over the few months we see each other. You let go of something when we’re together and the minute it’s over, you are disgusted with yourself.
Then you meet her. Her curls spring when she walks. We’re not together so I tell you to go for it, and you do. The sex, you tell me, is not the same. I didn’t imagine it was. Lately, our interactions have become more about power than lust. And you continue to hate yourself and question your psychology and I continue to tell you that this is you, for better or worse. This is you and it is okay.
When you leave me for her, you tell me that you are doing it because she is “good” and I am “bad.” I am bad because I bring out something you know is true about yourself and you don’t like. Something you need to blame on me, (a jezebel, a harpy, a bad influence) rather than admit that it lives inside you. Deep down, you know what you really are. And you can never be with me, because I also know what you really are. She will make you better. She will never know. And it is easier to soak her up, pretend that she is you, take her light — than it is to admit you wanted to hurt me.
To you, girls like me don’t get the guy. Girls like me have bruises you’d rather pretend you don’t know are shaped like your hands. Girls like me let you be yourself when you want to erase yourself. Girls like me know you, and you certainly can’t have that, can you? No. Girls like me are a cautionary tale, a red flag, a tornado warning alarm whirring in the growing darkness you think you can escape.