To The One Who Cheated: I Didn’t Want To Remember You This Way

Jesse Herzog
Jesse Herzog

I remember the night you first asked me out. I was at work. It was my first bartending gig at this really divey place, frequented by townies and college kids looking for cheap beer. I can still see the way your eyes crease in the corners as you smiled while I talked to you in that first conversation, keeping eye contact a beat longer than natural. I noticed the way your blonde curls laid on your forehead in an uneven swoop.

You got up to leave, but before you left you walked over to the side of the bar I was on and asked if I would want to hang out sometime. Do I like coffee or drinks better, you asked. I took a second to decide, then said I like coffee better. I put my number in your phone as the other bar guests watched, feeling kind of self-conscious I was being that bartender. I handed your phone back to you over the bar with a smirk.

I’m sitting here thinking of all of this now – because it’s over.

I haven’t woken up next to you in over two months. Your name with two hearts and a monkey emoji doesn’t show up on my phone a couple times a day the way it had for a long time. I miss sliding my hands underneath your jacket and wrapping my fingers around your waist in the not-yet-bitter November cold, but if I bumped into you on the sidewalk today I’d look down and keep walking.

It’s weird.

I always knew it wasn’t a forever type deal. Am I right in saying that was an unspoken understanding between us? I don’t think a romantic relationship can last with the differences we had. Still, there was an undeniable attraction.

You became a part of the rhythm in my life.

I sensed coldness from you a few months before we ended, and I realized I was on the rougher end of the deal this time. Your feelings were fading before mine. I braced myself for the goodbye.

It didn’t come when I thought it would, though.

A couple times during those months I told you through tears I didn’t know if you cared anymore. You told me I was reading you wrong.

I wonder what I was doing the day you looked at her and knew something was there, something that between us was wheezing out its last dying breath or already dead.

It was going to hurt to lose you as a lover, but only an affirmation of what I always knew to be true – what we both knew to be true.

There was always a goodbye in our story.

It could have been sad, but simple. Instead, you continued telling me you loved me with the same mouth the day before had been on her lips, going down her neck and under her shirt. You let me be goofy and silly and vulnerably not-self-conscious, and wake up to you and wrap my arms around your warm body – when I wasn’t that person to you anymore.

That’s a pretty wild lie you told me.

I never thought we were the type to have a really smooth break up, but I figured once we parted ways and the sting of an ended romance subsided, the memory of you would feel good. The creases around your eyes when you smiled and the swoop of blonde curls on your forehead would fade from the surface of my mind – but in my head you’d be your 24 year old self always, and I’d remember you as my first love.

I didn’t feel connected with you in a way that equated to forever, but it was rare. Cupped in my hands was a precious stone, and I watched it spill through my fingers as it turned to sand. I truly believe I lost my mind for a week after you confessed your affair to me.

In lieu of enduring the discomfort and uncertainty of a proper goodbye, you cheated on me.

Moving on isn’t easy, so you put me in your past little by little each day until I was nothing to you, then offered a shoulder shrug apology for what you had done and walked away. You rid yourself of me how a snake sheds his skin, then you slithered away good as new.

You’re a coward for that. TC mark

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