I woke up this morning with the overwhelming instinct to scream out your name.
But I swallowed it. I felt it slide down my esophagus but with both arms outstretched; as if it was trying to pull it’s way back up my throat and climb out of my mouth. I kept forcing it down until it was sitting next to my heart giving me chest pains, and anxiety, and reminding me of how you used to tell me I was all you’d ever want.
I woke up this morning with the insatiable need to see your face.
So I turned to a Macbook that sometimes decides to turn off, and a screen that you’ve never seen. I typed in your name with it’s improperly placed double letters, and the shortened version of what your mom calls you, and stared at a pair of hazel eyes I wish I could see one more time. I grazed my hand against the LCD version of your face, ignoring the little shocks that bit at my fingerprints when I lingered on your dimples.
And baby, I cried.
Not because of the mild electrocution or the inability to talk about you or the fact that I haven’t heard your voice since I pressed play on a YouTube video with you in it.
I cried because I want to shout your name from the rooftops and scream that you loved me, but doing so would be nothing but selfish. I want to hold your face one more time, put my tiny hands against your gangly fingers, hear you say something stupid about a stuffed animal just once more and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll know if we could still be in love.
But I chose this. So I can’t.
Instead, I’m resolved to being shocked from the screen and keyboard of a Craigslist computer while looking at photos where she smiles at you with such clarity.
Because she knew. She never doubted.
She was never embarrassed to say your name or to hold your hand in public. She was never unsure of where she stood because the answer was always, “Right next to him.”
She has been there. She’s seen you in times that I haven’t and she’s been by your side through things I’ve never even heard of. She knows a you, a man that I do not. It’s a you I have never known, never touched, never hurt, and never loved.
She gets to say your name.
She probably says it lazily, through the gap in her front teeth when she’s still half asleep and you’re awake before her. Or maybe she says it unaffectedly; like simply acknowledging that you’re the one texting her or the one picking up sandwiches on your way home. She gets to call you by name and say, “He’s mine,” and make you a declaration of love every single day.
I will feel your name crawling up my throat, prying open my teeth, scratching at my tongue and saying, “I’m the one she broke!” I will feel it in the air when someone tells me to not wear shorts to the party because I’ll be cold, because I know that’s what you would do. I will feel it in the hot tears rolling down my cheeks when I see a girl in a white dress so excited to say yes, when those three letters were the ones I could not say at 21.
I will feel you and your name scraping at the backs of my arms, peeling at my freckles, ripping at my skin when someone wrong is on top of me. When it is someone who doesn’t love me, someone who does not challenge me, someone who does not know me or even want to.
And I’ll want to cry out, want to give in, want to scream out your name and say, “I will always be sorry!”
But I won’t.
Instead I’ll choke it down, and accept my punishment.
I won’t tell you that I still cry about you, and try to check on you, and hope that she loves you as much as I did. I won’t tell you that I want to but don’t try to say hello, try to be in your life, try to push myself into a world that you build without me.
I do not say your name; even though every fiber of my being wants do just that.
Because when I’m the one who broke your heart, I don’t deserve to ask for help.