How It Feels To Love And Really Lose


Everyone talks about heartbreak like it really breaks you. Like your insides tangle themselves and your bones start to splinter the moment you find out you loved the bastard the whole time. Your lungs twist, your ribcage fragments, and your heart falls like a jigsaw when you drop the box. Just when you think you’ve collected the debris, you go to put the pieces together and you realize you’re missing half the sky, all those near-identical pieces of blue swept under the rug.

It’s the numb that hits you first, soaking through your body like December sleet through your jacket. Like you are in the ocean too cold and sad to realize you are drowning.

When you shared your dreams, they usually left you with your own nightmares. His breath in your ear felt cold and vacant like the sound of the ocean in a seashell, but much weaker and less eternal. There are supposed to be thunderstorms, perfect love songs on the radio, movies with Ryan Gosling and wondering when you’ll meet again, but god doesn’t budge on details.

You never did like the t-shirt he wore so often, coming off his body like a little boy and slipping over his shoulder in front of company. He loved when you sang along to the awful eighties bands while you drove, even though you hate eighties music and can’t drive for shit. You never let him read the words you scribbled down at the bar or the kitchen table, because everything you wrote was about wanting to leave him. He was beautiful, the time he accidentally strangled you while you were play fighting. Suffocation sucked, no doubt, but that was the most passion you’d seen in him, ever.

Sometimes, you’d wake in the middle of the night to pull him close and he’d fight you, every time. You were never going to marry. You loved the idea, and sometimes you still do, but you were never good enough for all of that.

You knew he bled in private, that he had habits that dimmed him to darkness. There were fragments of evidence in bathroom stalls and on tabletops, and all you could do was whisper, sad heart, it’s not as ugly as you see it. You worried the framework would crack, that the door wasn’t strong enough to hold both of you. All you wanted, for him to stop being a voice with no body and a heart with no follow through, to stop stopping where and when he pleased. He was a little glimmer, shining in all the wrong places, and if you could’ve managed, you would’ve tucked him in the pocket of your jeans, kept close, so he’d never get lost again.

You watched him ladder down the barrel of a rifle, suffocating in cheap adoration, and build god in the hollows of his heart. You watched him try and fail and try and fail and fail and fail and fail again. The sharp of your tongue was meant only for the monsters that tempted, it’s just that love got in the way while you were trying to fight his war. You failed him with unrestrained advice of how his world should end. He’ll never know he’s half the wind that set you adrift, or that you wore his hurt like a badge, but you’ve finally sealed your lips and so, should a new ship sail, your words will sink instead.

You believed in him the way you believed in pointing fingers, but his were longer, leaner and stronger. He was content with getting hard when he should have tried harder, and you said, more times than you can count, give me a heartfelt apology, now or never again.

There was a lot of love and pretending cotton balls were clouds because sometimes the sky was too high to reach. You learned vengeance is just a lazy form of grief, that every girl is manically depressed and every boy has a broken nose. You behaved, every minute, as if your entire life was a euphoric soccer triumph.

There are two types of people in this world, the kind that walk into a room and say, well, here I am! and the kind that say, well, there you are. He was a bulldozer and a dove trapped together in a body and he loved like he sinned: hard, without remorse. He smoked Marlboros, and was the black coffee at one in the morning type. He reminded you of freckled-covered shoulders and lost tourists and broken fingers and how to find beauty in hurtful things. He was a believer and dreamer, a dusty library window and thunder raking through your bones. He whispered to dandelions because they didn’t know how to hold grudges or forget him.

And when you said, it’s not you; it’s me, you weren’t lying. But you hope he didn’t forget, that he intended to write a letter or pickup the fucking phone.

You slip into bed naked because it’s the only way you know, and wake up feeling out of sorts because there really is a wrong side of the bed. Your history piles softly like dead skin on top of the television. Every year, a tragedy relived, but it is nice to finally have some closure, though you had to forge for it alone.

There is a lit brown Marlboro hanging from your too-pale lips, waiting for your dead muse to come stumbling out of a dream train car in the middle of the night, whispering, look at the moon, I’m sorry I let you down. TC Mark

Ashlee Schultz

Ashlee Schultz believes in the power of a positive mindset. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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