Forced Love Is Not Love

Leo Hidalgo
Leo Hidalgo

Forced love is not love. A mantra I repeat seven times when you do not meet me at the bar like promised. Forced love is not love. I say it in the bathroom before splashing water on my face, trying to disguise my tears as something else. Something far less pathetic than the dirtiness of unrequited affection.

Forced love is not love. Certain men have hoped I would break or bend, that somehow my heart would grow in a brand new direction that would have us both leaping into the sunset. Sometimes, I tried. I kissed someone and told my brain this could work. It would be alright. Maybe things can just be alright. Maybe you can wish your way into wanting.

Forced love is not love.

Everyone is crying out in the same key. Nothing about this song sounds Holy.

Someone on an opposite coast is begging for another chance. I can taste salt on all our cheeks. I wonder if I can feel the lonely when I look at strangers. People asking to be seen, to be heard. A woman doesn’t open her mouth, but I can hear when she says she loves too loudly. A man keeps his eyes closed and whispers, “How can I make her stay?”

Forced love is not love. I say it when I wonder if I could have somehow made your mouth cherish mine. How close it came. How almost we were. How fully I was. But I couldn’t be Hades, try to take you to my Underworld, hope with no other options, you’d see I had to be the one. That I was no better than the boys I had once called controlling. Boys I had condemned for seeing something in us that didn’t exist. Maybe it’s karma. I cough up half my lung. It is covered in wanting to call out your name.

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