I can hear my alarm start to ring but I try to ignore it. It’s soft at first but it rings louder, gradually, until I have to reach my arm around, looking for the culprit. Mumbling about how cruel morning is, I hit snooze knowing that your alarm will go off just a few minutes after mine. I retreat back into the blankets and try to move my body closer to yours.
Just a few more minutes, I think. I keep scooting back, my hands are looking for you, and it startles me when I can’t find you. I whip my body around to find an empty bed and it sets in that you aren’t here. It feels like I’m dreaming but I’m not. I remember there is no second alarm, there is no one to curl up next to, there is no you. I sit for a few minutes as the realization sinks in and then I walk to the bathroom. I don’t have to try to peel you out of bed. I don’t tell you to have a good day at work, that I’ll see you later. I walk down the stairs but my footsteps are the only ones you can hear.
I’m drinking my second cup of coffee while I’m scrolling through the morning news. They’re putting a new brunch restaurant in town. I pick up my phone to send you the link because of course I want to try it with you. My heart sinks because I can’t text you. Your number isn’t in my phone, we won’t be trying out this brunch restaurant. We won’t be trying anything new together. The second wave washes over me and the weight of it pins me to my chair. I resist the urge to pull up your name on Facebook, like it would tell me anything more than you’re just a stranger to me now.
It is lunchtime and I’ve agreed to go out with some coworkers. They pick the bbq joint down the street that we used to meet at. The booths are filled with other people but all I can see is you. I see you walking from your car, up the walkway, through the front doors, in your black collared shirt. I see us when we were happy, laughing about lemon juice in a packet. Planning our next trip, our next outing. I can feel your arms around me as you hug me goodbye. Suddenly, I feel too sick to eat. I ask the waitress to skip me for now and I look out the window. I don’t see your car next to mine. Just an empty space, reminding me that you’re not here.
I open Snapchat for the first time today and your name is the first thing I notice isn’t there. After 300 plus days with pink hearts next to it, how could I not notice? I have snaps from friends and my sister but nothing from you. There wasn’t a snap when you got to work this morning, there wasn’t a snap when you were driving to lunch. You didn’t snap me at your afternoon Starbucks run. The lack of you haunts me. All I can do is close the app and put down my phone. Your presence radiates around me but you’re nowhere to be found.
I’m on my way home which is the opposite direction of your apartment. I picture myself on a day like today, a before day. I am leaving work, driving the distance, crossing the state line to see you. I picture us making pizza and playing Mario Cart, falling asleep next to each other, your arms entangled around my body. I picture you leaving work at the same time as me today. We’re on the same road, miles apart but we never meet. We’re two magnets repelling each other from miles away.
It’s not until the sun sets that I think about calling you. I think about leaving you a message and telling you that we can be friends, even if we can’t be together, we can be friends, we can make it work. I’m sitting on my floor of my bathroom and I replay the last time I saw you. I go through our last conversation. I told you I hated you and the truth is that I think I might. I think about calling you and I sob because I know I can’t. I could have pictured this ending a thousand different ways but none of them were this. I’m sitting on my bathroom floor with the light off. I don’t know how people do this, I think. My heart is so heavy that it must not be heart at all. Just a weight that anchors me down as it waits for the waves to push me around.
My insomnia has me up again. I need the sleep but I’m restless, tonight and every night. I think about the before and how I would send you a snap text to see if were awake. I think about the before and how you would be next to me. I think of the before and how I would crawl out of bed and stare at your chalkboard wall during the night. I can’t sleep because I know that you won’t be here when I wake up. I think of your wall and how the last words I wrote on it were “this isn’t real.”