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A Short List Of Things I Did Because You Asked Me Not To

1. We were watching Love, Rosie when you said that falling in love felt like coming home to a warm embrace. My hand froze in the bucket of popcorn, and of course you noticed. You glanced at me and whispered, “Don’t go there. Not right now.” But I had too. I pulled out my phone and jotted down my thoughts: “perhaps the act of falling in love isn’t so much of a falling but a desperate leap off the highest building/the kind that ends in not just a single casualty/but two.”

2. A few days later, I turned that note into a poem. You saw, and, as always, you saw past the metaphors. You asked me to stop being scared of love and to take a leap of faith for once. You promised that you’d catch me after the leap. But I only knew how to jump to conclusions feet first and land on the wrong side of consequence, so I kept writing, my words a last-ditch effort to hold on to the skyscraper’s ledge.

3. It wasn’t until a full month later, when I was compiling my anthology, that I finally heard the unsaid in your words.

“You said you’d catch me after the fall—“

“Don’t. Don’t overthink this—”

“You meant that you’ve landed already. You leaped and landed.”

“I… yeah.”

“I don’t know. I’m not ready—“ I stammered.

4. “Just stay,” you said. You asked again and again for me to stay for what we could have, to believe that we could turn my sad, depressive poems into the prettiest artwork. Yet the closer you got, the further I ran. I didn’t know if I was running away or running towards something. I just knew that the more you asked me to stop, the longer I had to keep going.

5. And on the day I finally left, you begged me to stop hiding behind my words and to stop thinking of love as the leap. Yet here I am, still writing about our story—how only one of us took the leap, but two casualties were found anyway.

I write because it’s the only way I know how to express myself.

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