He met her on a Wednesday three years ago. He proposed to her on a Sunday a month ago. He married her on a Friday, just a week ago. He slept with me on a Saturday somewhere in between.
Some cultures believe that no one is really dead until their name is spoken for the last time. Most days, most sober nights, I avoid forming the letters that make up his name. But we have mutual friends. I get asked how I’ve been. Am I coping? His name eventually gets spoken. The memory never dies.
I wonder if I am dead to him. When we hung up the phone that final time, was that the last time he said my name? Was that night the final time my name tumbled off his lips, the way it did on that Saturday night sometime in between his happily ever after with her?
I wonder if he remembers. Actually, I can answer that myself. I guess what I really wonder is if he lets himself. When he breathes her in, when he feels every inch of her, when she sighs his name, do I ever flash into his mind? Does he ever have to bite his lip, just for a second, so my name does not tumble from his lips like it did that Saturday night, somewhere in between their happily ever after?
It hasn’t been that long. To me, it feels more like a minute. From what I hear, they are quite good at pretending it’s been more like years. We’re all lying. Do they remember? Was moving on that easy? Moving on from me, from all that happened? Maybe it was. Not sure if that speaks to their love though or to the desperation he felt when he realized he could lose it all. Not sure what it says about me.
He knew he might. Lose it all, I mean. He knew our Saturday night was a mistake—it could cost him what he cared about the most. I knew it could cost him her. He did it anyway, though, didn’t he? Not sure if that speaks to his lust for me or the loneliness he felt being away from her. Or maybe it was just the bourbon. Does he think about it, try to figure out why? Does she? I used to. I don’t anymore, though. With everything that followed, the decision he made that night is not the one that haunts me.
If they don’t speak my name anymore, if I have died, I wonder what version of me has become their ghost. I wonder if I haunt them in the same way. I wonder if I haunt them at all. Or have their hearts been saged, their vows serving as the chant of an exorcism, ridding their minds of me? Here’s the thing about ghosts, though: Even if you have gotten rid of them, you still think back on them. Being haunted isn’t something we tend to forget. Sometimes I wonder, between the three of us, who sleeps the worst at night?