The series of text messages you receive, when read all at once, will break your heart. This is why you must read them constantly. This is why you must steal moments from your day and sneak furtive, hungry glances to your phone at your desk while your co-workers mill about and pretend not to notice. You will not make it easy for them.
You will drink too much because you are a cliche and because your friends have missed you while you were eating and going for walks and making love in the afternoon. Your friends will be there for you and you will feel bad and you will buy the next round. Good for you. You will wake alone in the bed you shared and your head will scream and throb. Your phone will offer no news from her and as the days pass you will have less and less of an opinion of this. Good for you.
That Sunday morning her hair was up and her shorts were short and she smelled like rain and fake cinnamon. She came up behind you and her smooth and flawless thighs rubbed pleasant and cloying against your own ridiculous, hairy, chicken legs while you made stuffed french toast. She wanted to tell you something and you had no idea that it was over. You were lost when she began to apologize. You were silent as she mentioned Thailand and her career. You replay the scene until it loses all meaning. Her trepidation becomes malicious. Her tears becomes a taunt. Her success sacrifices the happiness you thought was shared. Bad news, baby: My dreams came true.
For two months, her every movement was an apology you could never accept. The apartment you shared was a long first date, awkward and stale, a winter where no one spoke about the weather. You made love like a romance novel, begging her with your body not to go. She apologized with you in her mouth, hot and hungry and holding back tears. You reached for her like a child afraid to speak, while suppers burned and teakettles whistled, and laundry hid wet in beeping machines.
When her mother arrived, she did the crying for you. She cried while you packed and cleaned and loaded the U-Haul. She cried at dinner, with her daughters friends from work and the girls from yoga, apologizing and laughing over tiramisu and fried ice cream. She cried in her sleep, almost too quiet to hear. She cried her daughters tears.
The last time you touch her will feel remarkably like the first. She will be drunk and smiling and full of love for you when she steps out of her dress. You will forget she is leaving because you can still hold her face in your hands. You will forget she is leaving because her lips are soft and wet and inviting. You will forget she is leaving because you are drunk and smiling and full of love for her.
You will have impulses. You will want to yell. You will want to beg. Do these things. You will want to tie her to the bed and hurt her.You will want to kiss and worship every inch of her. Do these things.
Do not cry when you enter her. Do not show anger when you bite her neck. Be tender when you hold her down. Be sweet when you turn her over. Remember every second of her. Catologue every sound she makes. Commit to memory the flavor of her breast and her thigh and her kiss while it lingers on you. Live a lifetime in these final moments. Rally your strength. Keep your focus. Do not cry when you finish.
When she leaves with her mother for Iowa, you will deflate with exhaustion and relief. You will have been a muscle clenched for months, your blood too tense to circulate. You will laugh and feel horrible. You will smile and it will hurt and you will be happy for both. You will order take-out from that place on the corner that she always hated. You will eat too much and love it and be disgusted. By tonight, she will have left the state. By tomorrow, she will be at her parent’s house. In two weeks she will be Thailand’s girlfriend.
She will haunt you. She will stalk you without mercy in the murky bog between sleep and wake. She will keep you hard and alone and you will hate her for it. She will be just around the corner and half a world away. She will live in your head as a despot and a minx. You will make love to her in your mind. Your days will be thick and gray with her ghost. Your fantasies will be hot and sweet and sticky at the end. You will blame her for things she has not done. You will contemplate a grand gesture. You will blame her for all the things you have not said. You will reach for her in the night. You will be too late.
You will find excuses to avoid speaking to her. She will not fight to accept them. You will find photos on her Facebook. You will find her smiling and drinking and happy without you and doesn’t she look tan and happy and beautiful on that beautiful beach? You will find photos of the handsome and shirtless and happy Australian teacher that she’s just friends with on that same beautiful beach. You will think that he’s handsome.
You will go to a bar. You will go to another bar. You will yell and embarrass yourself. You will sulk and withdraw yourself. You will be hurt and unpredictable and aloof. You will be gaunt and tousled, with hungry eyes. You will be irresistible. Good for you.
When you go to the party, you will be grave and funny and comfortable around women that you have no interest in. Your anger will be mistaken for charisma. Your indifference will be mistaken for confidence. You will inhale whiskey and exhale cigarette smoke. When the girl at the party asks for a light, she will be clever and bleak. Her features will be soft and her voice will be severe. You will want to lay with her on a bed of nails. The bed in your apartment will have to do.
The girl from the party is not sweet. She does not hesitate to kiss. She does not wait for your hands before hers explore your body. She does not notice your meekness and shock as her clothes crumple at the foot of your bed. She engulfs you in a black fire of skin and tattoos as the night goes sharp and wet. The night is teeth and nails and kisses. There are no regrets here. There are no girlfriends here. There are no Australians or mothers or friends from yoga here. Good for you.
In the morning you forget so very many things. You forget the party and the name of the girl lying next to you. You forget that you’re alone when there’s someone else in the room. You forget you were ever angry through the fog of your hangover. You stand and stir and stumble forth, and see the world in shifting, painful clarity. You wander the apartment in shambling steps, thirsting and hungry and headsplitting.
You put the teakettle on and linger in the hall while it brews. Something inside you stirs. You’ve broken something and the world didn’t end. You’ve broken something and it felt good. The girl from the party wakes and stretches. When you pull back the sheets on her, you will forget to feel guilty. When her skin engulfs you, it feels like a soft goodbye. When the teakettle screeches, you have better things to do. Good for you.