He will call you late one Friday night and ask what you’re doing. You say nothing, if nothing means prepping your heart for battle. You have adorned a new set of armor, prepared to see him and not shatter. He will pick you up, and you will not shatter. He cups your face with both hands and for a moment, you forget about all those times you cried over him. You let the shitty night of unfulfilled promises and metaphors about your bodies like ships in the night fade into the horizon. You set down your ammunition as he kisses your cheek. But do not believe this somehow makes you special to him. His lips feel like Brutus. You taste betrayal on his tongue.
You will control the smile you flash him, reserve the real one for someone who doesn’t just hold you for the sake of warmth. It is winter. He wants your body close to his. So you go ahead, your body needs warmth too. He gently kisses your collarbone. Don’t think he hasn’t practiced this a thousand times on dozens of others. Kiss him back. But don’t kiss him all the way. His hands stroke you like this is all familiar, but he does not realize he is touching a stranger. You have deadened the girl he destroyed. You are born again. You are bulletproof.
Move slowly together, then quickly. Go full force, but hold back. He attempts to pull you under the covers, but you keep a layer between. Swallow words you secretly want to say him as he swallows you. Calculate the right moves. Anticipate what he will say, and beat him to it. Tell him you should really get going. Untangle your bodies and get out of bed.
He will try to pull you back inside, and you will be that girl again for just a moment. Someone capable of breaking into tiny shards of a human, but trusting he won’t drop you. He is Bull and you are China cabinet; you always knew how this would go. Taste his betrayal again, and snap out of it. Get up. Put back on your black dress flung next to the bottle of Makers. Don’t look back at his grenade eyes as you walk out the door. Don’t turn around. You are brink of explosion, and terrified of your own translucence. Nobody will see through this shell. You perfect the performance. You are the actor, and nobody will ever tell you apart from character. Except for him. He saw you. He saw you once, and he broke you.
You will step outside away from his kryptonite and dig your heels into earth, as if this can ground you. Think of how badly you just want to be stable and unmoving. You look at a tree and feel irrationally jealous, the way it just stays there. It does not go running to anyone. It doesn’t wear a mask. It does not pretend to be anything other than what it is: a tree. You won’t admit it out loud, but this is what you want. You want honesty. You want to show everyone exactly who you are. You want him to know what he does to you. You want them to know you’re not this cold, unfeeling thing. You are done wearing your mask. You don’t want to fake it anymore.
And maybe, one day you’ll get there. You will shed your leaves and stand before the world, bare and vulnerable. Someone may try to clip your branches, and it will not break you. They will grow back. And you will stay there, a tree without secrets or skeletons dancing beneath your roots. You will not be afraid of showing truth. You will not be afraid of the hurt. You will take it all, and never again hide from who you really are.